What Can We Do Without?

41uQfoqLHPLA friend who had a baby two weeks ago leant me a book, Ingrid Bauer’s Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene, which I started reading last night.

Bauer argues that focusing on the things a baby needs is actually an impediment to good parenting.

Instead of asking, “What do we need for the baby?” Bauer suggests asking, “What can we do without?”

There’s so much we DON’T need for a new baby.

On Bauer’s list are diapers.

Her book teaches parents how to pay attention to a baby’s need to eliminate, respond accordingly, and completely do away with using diapers.

I’m not there yet with the diaper thing (I’m only a few chapters into the book), though I’m intrigued by the idea. But here are some of the things we don’t have in our house, things we absolutely don’t need:

1) Disposable baby wipes: When Leone is poopy we fill a squirt bottle with warm water and wipe her with a washcloth.

2) A crib: Well, we do have a crib set up in the corner. It’s filled with receiving blankets and baby clothes. You don’t actually need a crib—at least not for many months—since it’s easier to nurse and care for a baby if you keep her in bed.

3) A bucket car seat: When I researched car seat safety a few years ago, I discovered that the bucket infant seats actually score much more poorly on crash tests than seats that do not have the pop-out option. I see so many moms carrying their babies in those plastic buckets, which are very popular. But I think it’s better to carry your baby in your arms.

4) A pacifier: Leone has a huge need for non-nutritive sucking. We wash our hands and let her suck on an inverted pinkie finger instead of plugging her mouth with a piece of rubber rimmed by plastic. You can use a finger until your baby finds her own.

5) Hand sanitizer: Old-fashioned soap and water are a lot more hygienic. Why put a foul horrid-smelling substance on your skin where it is absorbed into your body? (Unless you want to get high by sniffing it, as one teen in Lewisville, Texas, tried to do last year; or get drunk by drinking it, as the National Institute on Drug Abuse has received reports of.)

6) Paper towels: We don’t buy them and never use them. Cloth dishtowels and cloth napkins work just as well.

7) A microwave: We got rid of ours five years ago (click to this column in the Ashland Daily Tidings if you want to know all the reasons why), and have never missed it.

Another thing we don't have is a baby bath tub

Another thing we don’t have is a baby bath tub. The big tub (and a sibling) works just as well

What about you? What baby (or other) items don’t you need, despite advertisers, friends, and family trying to convince you otherwise?

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11 thoughts on “What Can We Do Without?”

  1. my favorite item on jennifer’s list is a crib. when guai guai came home from the hospital, he slept in a cardboard box. he was perfectly happy in there. then somebody took pity on him and loaned us a crib.

  2. Baby changing table. We got one as a gift when we had our first daughter, and used it about half of the time. Never used it with the second one–I found it much easier to spread out a receiving blanket and change her on the bed, or even on the rug.

  3. What a great post! That idea of doing without diapers was intriguing, but surely the author lives in a warm climate and is on her first child? Like Hope, I discovered by my third, that many of the things described as indispensable for a first, could be done without. And, the plastic binky with BPA, disposable baby wipes, and hand sanitizer all probably contain chemicals that are bad for Leone, so right on, I say!
    .-= Alexandra´s last blog ..Sven Has Successful Procedure at Cape Cod Hospital =-.

  4. TELEVISION! (Not that people specifically think of TV for babies, per se, but, OMG, what the world needs now is a generation of kids who think for themselves. . .) Ahem. Can you tell it’s my number-one soapbox?

  5. I’m with you on the spirit of this (& some on the material-lessness too although yes to diapers, wipes, & a decreasing amount of paper towels–a friend just launched a great product called full circle rags, helping me a bunch).

    No plugga plugga, no baby bath, but yes crib (because there are two older kids who have claimed the bed with us!).

    OH AND NO hand sanitizer (so scary).
    .-= Sarah Buttenwieser´s last blog ..Haiku for Health Care & Hope for the New Year? =-.

  6. Alexandra, the writer actually lived in a cold climate when she went diaper free with her second born. She gives examples of many peoples around the world who use a diaper-free technique and many of them live in frigid conditions! That said, I imagine it must be easier in hotter climates. The book, and the idea, are both very intriguing. I’m halfway through reading it and I suspect it’s something I’ll write more about!
    .-= Jennifer Margulis´s last blog ..Take a Segway Tour of Jacksonville =-.

  7. Hi!

    I LOVED Ingrid Bauer’s Book and i have been doing the “diaper free” thing with my son (now 10 months old) since he was 2 weeks! When he did his first pee in the sink at 2 weeks it was just incredible! YES babies ARE aware of their elimination needs just as much as for feeding or sleep. Practicing EC (elimination communication) has been a fantastic journey to get to know my son and respond to his needs. We went travelling in Asia with him when he was 2 months until he was 6 months and used a diaper that we would take of to make him pee or poop (at night also!) and since I am back in Montreal (home) he is totally diaper free (day and night). In ASIA, EVERYBODY does this! it is the normal way to do things for at least 80% of the world population. In china, babies have “chinese pants” it’s pants with a whole in it.

    Please, if you are interested in this, go and visit the great website : http://www.diaperfree.org.

    if you read french and want to see photos our son actually peeing, this is the link http://matteovoyage.canalblog.com/archives/2009/04/index.html

    In what concearns things we can do without:

    – my son had NO TOYS for the first 6 months (real things were his toys like spoons, watches, bottles etc).

    -A stroller you can do without! we bought a charriot carrie when he was 8 months to put behind the bike or to put skis on in the winter (we live in canada) but a stroller for a small baby is not usefull i think.

    – Matteo lives without a pacifier (and he doesn’t suck his thumb either), has no transition object to go to sleep and he’s fine!

    – he has never had bottles for milk, only breasts!

    – you can do without a “parc” or a thing that swings or wathever is invented by the companies to keep your baby alone.

    Thanks for your wonderfull blog Jennifer! And thanks for posting about this realy unknow thing that is “the diaper free baby”!

    Joanna (Montreal)

  8. Thank you very much for your comments Joanna. I’ll be writing more about not using diapers (and I’m also working on a feature about cloth diapers for the print version of Mothering magazine) on this blog. I am enjoying learning about this movement, and hoping to use EC with our baby. I clicked onto your site — the pictures of your son are adorable and I was inspired to read your story (Je parle Fran̤ais et je le lis aussi, mais pas aussi bien que je le parle…). It’s amazing how so many people around the world do not use diapers, and disheartening how so many of us in America are so ignorant about it. Thank you for being one of the diaper free pioneers on this continent!

  9. A physical therapist once told me that babies are developing differently than in year’s past because of all of the holding devices that we put them in (bucket car seats, swings, front packs, etc). I’m not completely sure whether or not that’s true, but I did try to carry my baby whenever possible. I did keep her in the car seat if she was sleeping and I didn’t want to wake her–because as every parent knows… you never wake a sleeping baby. Especially one that doesn’t sleep well. People sometimes asked me why I carried my baby so much–as if it were some sort of crime…
    .-= Alisa Bowman´s last blog ..She

  10. I was born and raised in Korea and my mother told me I was “potty trained” before I was a year old. She actually used this technique on me. Good luck trying it!

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