The bare minimum for baby? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 24 Old 04-03-2011, 09:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Mr. Sith and myself have been talking extensively about baby nurseries and we're both on the same page- we want to avoid any sort of dedicated, themed nursery and we're both pretty sure that once the toddler years are upon us it'll be a fight as it is to stem the flow of toys and clutter that comes from having a kid! To be clear I'm not judging anyone who does have a "nice" nursery, it's just not really for us for a number of reasons. The problem is, when we both google and research how to do minimalist preparation for a baby, the information out there just doesn't seem practical or reliable (like, how is a bottle sanitizer the bare minimum??) and anything about organization tips and tricks seems to be geared towards the idea that you have a tricked out, dedicated nursery.

Some other info- we're going to decide when we get there but plan to have the baby in our room for a little while, but not in the same bed, then move them to their own room. They may or may not be too little still to just sleep on a mattress on the floor. Obviously this is flexible and will change depending on our kid's personality.

So to all of you experienced mamas, do you have any advice or tricks and tips to keep baby clutter to the minimum? What would you consider the "bare minimum" list of items, furniture, ect to get in preparation for a baby?

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#2 of 24 Old 04-03-2011, 10:12 AM
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Our son's room was empty storage space for the 1st year.  We had a crib in our room, but I only used it occasionally when I was in the shower or working in the garage & needed a safe space for DS to nap.  We didn't bother with a bassinet.  I picked up a used swing which did come in handy during meals but was definitely not a necessity, nor did DS spend much time in it.  I've never used a bottle, although we did try a soother.  DS would not take a soother, but it would have been nice if he would have for car trips. 

The only things I would say are a true necessity are diapers & wipes (I used cloth), car seat, baby blankets & clothes (sleepers) and a couple of baby carriers.  I really suggest 2 carriers - one to wash & one to wear.  I rarely used the stroller for the first year & wore DS a lot.  He had naps on a blanket on the floor or in my wrap. 

Once your baby comes you will have a better idea of what you would like to have & for me it wasn't a big deal to send DH out to find it.  I knew a girl from Russia & she said that it was considered bad luck to get anything ready for baby prior to the birth. 

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#3 of 24 Old 04-03-2011, 01:11 PM
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Bare minimum would be car seat, someplace to sleep (anywhere from a crib and mattress, minimum three sheets and 2 waterproof pads to your bed), diapers, wipes, pail and pad (we also cloth), enough clothes to get from one laundry to the next (and somewhere to store them) and a carrier or stroller. When they start solids you also need somewhere for them to sit while they eat and access to small spoons and bowls. You also need a plan and containers to store the too big and too small clothes.


After that pick and choose from the extras. How do you live? What do you prefer? I love my change table and am already on my second one. For me it works, other people never use theirs. If you ask around, borrow and buy used you can try things out with very little risk and pass them on when you are done with them. We loved our bouncy seat, but since it was $10 at a garage sale, had no problem passing it on after four months. Invest in the stuff that will be part of your daily life for years (I have never regretted a penny spent on good carriers or my stroller).


To keep the clutter down be ruthless about getting rid of stuff. I love our exesaucer (free for picking it up) when it is in use, but I also love storing it in other people living rooms so their babies can love it too. I do the same with all but the most sentimental baby clothes. My son is two and since he only plays with about 20% of his toy collection at a time, that is all that we have out, the rest is stored and gets rotated in and out to keep things fresh. That said, his favourites toys also include chopsticks, blankets and bags, all of which we had before him.


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#4 of 24 Old 04-03-2011, 02:20 PM
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bare minimum:


carseat - unless you will be walking/using public transportation exclusively

6 sleepers/baby gowns and a couple pair of socks if using the gowns (I actually prefer the baby gowns as they make diaper changes a breeze - used sleepers if we were going out and baby would be in the car seat)

3-4 receiving blankets - I used them for burp cloths and for swaddling

diapers/wipes (if using cloth then about 24-36 diapers, 36 wipes, 2 or 3 covers wet bag for dirties)




IMHO, everything else is optional and I'd wait to meet baby before making any purchases.  You'll also likely get TONS of clothes, toys and blankets as baby gifts so don'tover buy those things. 


My first would not co-sleep and we couldn't sleep with her in our room so we had a crib.  If you buy a crib you'll likely need 2 or 3 sheets for those middle of the night diaper leaks or spitting up


My first was not happy in a carrier so maybe borrow somefirst to see what you/baby likes before commiting to one (my second did love the Sleepy Wrap I had).


If you do not plan to breastfeed then you'll need bottles.


There really is very little that you ACTUALLY need for a baby.  And anything you decide you need can be easily purchased or borrowed if you decide you need it (there is always tons of baby stuff available second hand).


For my second I mostly skipped the sleepers - he wore longies (I had 3 pair of newborn size), t-shirts (4 or 5) and a couple of pair of socks

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#5 of 24 Old 04-03-2011, 02:48 PM
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I agree with the other posts about what the baby needs.


If you are planning to breastfeed...

I personally could not have lived without my boppy (nursing pillow) and a huge supply of thick, washable cotton nursing pads (I leaked a lot in the beginning).


Good luck!

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#6 of 24 Old 04-03-2011, 02:54 PM
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We just had #3 (our older 2 are 8 and 5, so for this one, our bonus baby, lol, we had nothing).  Here is what we got:


- something for baby to sleep in (crib, pack and play, co-sleeper, or whatever you feel comfortable with)


- linens - receiving blanket (I LOVE my Aden and Anais blanket - large enough to use to NIP, to cover carseat carrier on windy day if I leave baby in while I pick up other 2 from school, thin enough not to make LO hot), blanket (we were given 3 crocheted afghans which we use for everything), 2 sheets if you use a crib, pack and play, etc. and one mattress waterproof cover (2 if you like a bit more convenience)


- some sort of seat - for the first 6 months, the only break my arms get is when LO is in the swing or bouncy seat (or on the floor/playmat) - he likes the bouncy to watch me cook!


- some clothes - LO was a Fall/Winter babe, so sleepers were awesome!  We had hand-me-downs that were super; we had 1 more "dressy" soft outfit, and a few 2-pc knit soft outfits...and socks!  A hat is also a good thing!


- if you bottle feed, just some bottles and a formula dispenser; if you nurse and need to pump, get a pump (I have used my Avent hand pump for all 3 kiddos and it has been super)


-diapers - I cloth diaper this time around; I have just enough for one day, a wet bag for home that is large, and a small wet bag for the diaper bag


- wipes - I use Circo (from Target) baby washcloths that I cut in half...then I have a mixture of water, jojoba oil, and baby soap for the wipe easy!


- baby brush and nail clippers


- baby carrier - I would try some out first before buying...DH prefers the pouch for newborn time, I prefer a mei tei; we both love the Ergo now at 6 months!


- stroller if you need one


- carseat - always good to have, even if you do not typically case of emergencies it would be a good thing to have


- camera  :)


- baby wash, cornstarch, brush


- baby rubber-covered spoon, something to make baby food in if you plan to make your own (I just use my Magic Bullet), some sort of chair - I have never had a high chair with any of my 3 babies - we use a booster seat that straps onto one of our own chairs - it has a tray, can recline, etc. and our babies have used it for their first 2-3 years each so far.





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#7 of 24 Old 04-03-2011, 03:32 PM
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I am the same way. I did not want tons of baby stuff cluttering up my life. With my baby we have 

Carseat gifted

Moby wrap gifted

baby swing (baby is not a big fan of) gifted used Its nice to be able to set baby down somewhere. bouncy seat etc are handy at times. 

diapers, wipes, pail etc (we use cloth)

baby tub ( we use a tummy tub they are amazing)

clothes (we have too many of one size and not enough baby pants or something to cover his legs.) Look into Baby Legs they look so cute and handy wish I had some.

blankets (we have way too many also)

Breast Pump if you plan on BF (it really cuts down on 'gear' when you leave the house.

We have a crib (2nd hand) but baby has never ever slept in it. 

You do need somewhere to put all baby clothes and stuff

baby has one towel with a hood its a big person size and we love it. 

I have never opened the 'baby wash cloths' or the other towels with hoods as of yet.

we do co sleep and we have a playpen thingy that he sleeps in and it has a diaper changing thingy on it. We Love that!


Seriously we have way too many clothes, blankets, and tiny onesies for newborns. We love the gown type outfits in the early days because you change dips every second and you dont have o mess with snaps.

Oh someone also gave us a used stroler that I would never put any human into and plan on getting rid of it. But I do want a stroller for when he get bigger and i want to run or walk. :)


Just take a look at your lifestyle and get just what you must at first everything else will follow. :)

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#8 of 24 Old 04-03-2011, 07:11 PM
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I breastfed both kids and never really found a use for a pump or a nursing pillow.  Everyone is different.  It is not something I would start out with, but both are easy to pick up if you find you really need them.  I did end up renting a hospital grade pump for a few weeks with my first and ended up purchasing a pump after that.  I hated the pump I bought and never really used it and got rid of it the first chance I had.  With my second I just learned to hand expressed into a bottle if I thought I'd need one (which I didn't) - I was surprised at how easy and how much more milk I was able to get hand expressing compared to using a breast pump.


A kitchen sink works great for bathing a baby - or bathe with baby in the big tub.


Newborn fingernails are very soft and it is best to file them with a soft emery board rather than clip them.


Both kids go a little hat in the hospital.  If you plan to homebirth then a little beanie style cap is a good idea.

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#9 of 24 Old 04-03-2011, 08:29 PM
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My bare minimum  (which is what we're doing for this baby):


Good, all purpose carrier (I have a nice stash from the other kids, and my top picks would be an Ergo or a German woven wrap).


Diapers...probably 36 prefolds and 4 covers would be a good basic stash. Add in a large and small wetbag, a few snappis, and a pail if you're so inclined.


Carseat if you'll be using the car. Convertible saves buying a different one later on.


Clothes. Probably 10 sleepers...but my last two have spit up a lot.




I'd probably want 3 receiving blankets. One option is to just buy a lot of receiving blankets and they can double as flat diapers.



Other than that, baby can sleep in your bed. We have a nice stroller now since babywearing is sometimes uncomfortable in summer, for both parent and child. But I wouldn't call it essential, especially with the influx of solarveil, mesh, and gauze carriers available to add airflow. One of those things that can be nice (but in general, I've found strollers are more of a PITA than they are a convenience). A bouncer is nice to have a spot to put baby during the day. Especially when out in the yard doing work.



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#10 of 24 Old 04-03-2011, 08:29 PM
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bare minimum is ideal with a little one in my opinion. we have way to much stuff as it is!

You need a sling or a wrap, since all they do for months is act like baby kangaroos in your pouch thumb.gif

If baby is not going to be in your bed, I would get a small side car bed like the cosleeper, or a smaller crib like Ikea. 

We have both (ha, as you can see, must downsize!) 

Also, avoid the changing table. If you never get it, how do you know you need it?

Literally, I wish I would have chosen to survive with a few gowns, a few long onsies, a rocking chair, a sling, a car seat, and some diapers. You need nothing else. 


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#11 of 24 Old 04-03-2011, 08:35 PM
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My minimalist list for us<

*Car Seat...Infant for the first 3 month and the we switch to a convertible one after that.

* We EC:Cloth diapers for back up(non waterproof), some cloth wipes, 2 potties seats(1 home, 1 for the car)

* We breastfeed , for us just couple cloth pads. I use barely a pump for my first and non pump at all for my second. Also, non nursing pillows either.

* We bed sharing, just need 3 waterproof pads (for EC) and 2 baby blankets.

* We babywearing all the way, so at least 2 or 3 good carriers. (Maya ring, I prefer used because are more soft and breathable; Wowen wrap or Meit Tai and Ergo or similar for after 6 month or so)

* For starting solids, we Baby led Weaning, ...they started drinking water for good quality wide bottom little glass cups, they used regular silverware(they started finger feeding) and storkke seat or similar seat until they 8 yo., maybe some plastic tarp for putting under the seat.

Toys: 1 Chewing toy and a rattle, good quality wooden toys., 1 basket to keep the toys, a

1 drawer for the baby clothing.

I dress my kids in layers, we use cotton and wool mostly, Because, we EC they used 3 pairs or babylegs that last forever, and 4 plits pants per size, 4-6 pair of socks, clothing in the same  colors.No baby shoes until they started to walk around they first year.

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#12 of 24 Old 04-03-2011, 09:03 PM
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I think what has been suggested is spot on. What we did is got the absolute bare minimum and bought as we saw fit. Like, I totally needed breast pads because I leaked so bad, but my other friend didn't ever leak, so she didn't need them. So if you buy them, you might not end up needing them. We also got a swing once we figured that we could use it. The best way we did without when it came to baby is we tried to find things around the house that we could re-purpose for baby. Like, old t-shirt or any kind of old cloth, cut up, makes great reusable baby wipes. The kitchen is a great place to find 'baby toys' (think pots, pans, measuring cups, small strainers, wooden spoons) and once your little one is old enough to handle toys, if you walk through your house, there will be many things that baby can safely play with.

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#13 of 24 Old 04-04-2011, 07:44 AM
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You really have to consider your lifestyle to decide "bare minimum". 


With our first, we were a single car family. I walked miles everywhere almost every day, including to the market for groceries and the library and to the park and to visit friends. Even though I carried DS a lot in a baby bjorn, a stroller was very useful to carry packages, as well as the baby. I don't know how I would have coped without it. If you drive everywhere and don't walk much, except for a little exercise, then you may not need a stroller. 


Likewise the portable playpen. We travelled a fair amount with our baby. That portable playpen was useful for a safe place to nap, once he was moving too much to leave him alone on the bed.  YMMV. 


I didn't like using a rocking or gliding chair, but I know some moms who loved it and found it necessary. Our rocker became clutter in the nursery. 



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#14 of 24 Old 04-05-2011, 06:58 AM
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Well we have waaaaay too much baby stuff...started at the baby shower, and then the grandparents just couldnt quit buying stuff!  DS is a year old now, and has enough toys for several babies, and a closet full of clothes and random gear--bouncy chair, swing, walker, etc.  My hubby built a beautiful crib, but he probably wont use it until we convert it to a toddler bed (he sleeps in our room in the portable crib, or in our bed).  So really only get the very basics before the baby is born, and then evaluate what would make your life easier after.  All a baby needs is milk, diapers, and something to cover them! 

Question though:  now that we have this amazing amount of stuff, how can I declutter and tactfully get rid of some of the toys without making the people who bought them mad?  I tried to get the grandparents not to buy toys, especially plastic ones, in favor of natural wood, simple toys and blocks and books, but no one listened!  And I am tired of having so much in our house!  We are also going to move in a couple months, and I only want to move the basics!  So should I just donate/sell the stuff, and not bother with what the family says? 

Rockstar, hippie, pirate mama to W (3-2-10), wifey to S for 2 years and going strong

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#15 of 24 Old 04-05-2011, 11:35 AM
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Question though:  now that we have this amazing amount of stuff, how can I declutter and tactfully get rid of some of the toys without making the people who bought them mad?  I tried to get the grandparents not to buy toys, especially plastic ones, in favor of natural wood, simple toys and blocks and books, but no one listened!  And I am tired of having so much in our house!  We are also going to move in a couple months, and I only want to move the basics!  So should I just donate/sell the stuff, and not bother with what the family says? 

I found it easier to direct people positively with suggestions as to what my son would really like than tell them what not to buy. Stickers are my favorite place to steer the little gift giving impulses, Play-mobile the big ones. Art supplies are another great option, as are museum/zoo memberships, things that get used up. But you can only do so much. What they give is up to them. What happens when it comes into your house is up to you. (I also know people who immediately designate toys they don't want as toys that will live at Grandma's house).


I would only keep what YOU want to keep. Donate the rest and if they ask, tell them taking care of the stuff was taking time away from spending time with you son. You donated it to people who really needed and would get good use from them. If you don't want to go that far, just box them up, don't unpack them for a year and then get rid of them since clearly they are surplus.



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#16 of 24 Old 04-05-2011, 05:56 PM
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Bare minimum:


Diapers & wipes


Carseat (like someone else said, you may need one for emergencies even if you don't drive)

LOTS and LOTS of towels


A stroller or carrier is real nice to have, since it's not very realistic that you'll be able to carry the baby for hours in your arms every time you go out.  I found the swing useful too, but again, not an absolute necessity.


Things like teethers you can buy as the baby needs them.  You definitely don't need toys and teethers for a newborn.

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#17 of 24 Old 04-06-2011, 06:29 AM
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Thanks for the advice!  I think a lot of the stuff can probably live at Grandma's house, and the rest we will donate.  I did suggest for his first birthday the things he would really like, such as balls and books, and a handful of people took my advice, but also bought what they wanted to get too.  Like you said, cant help what they buy I guess.  Moving is going to be our big excuse for getting rid of some of the stuff. 

As for the original question in this thread, I also found a good breast pump super important, since we had some trouble getting latched and engorgement issues in the beginning.  It enabled me to feed exclusively breast milk until we got our nursing issues sorted out, and now we are still BFing at 13 months.  So if thats a goal or yours, I recommend a pump!

Rockstar, hippie, pirate mama to W (3-2-10), wifey to S for 2 years and going strong

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#18 of 24 Old 04-07-2011, 07:52 PM
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How refreshing to read these posts about baby themed minimalism!  It is so nice to know that I am not the only momma who likes to keep things simple. 


These have been my basics for my two babes...


*Convertible crib, mattress and basic bedding (mostly blankets)

*Infant car seat

*Infant car seat stroller frame

*Basic layette (mostly onesies for DD & sleep n' plays for DS)

*Diapers & wipes

*Bottles (glass), travel formula dispenser (good for snacks, too), manual breast pump, pacifiers (both babes only used these on occasion for the first few weeks) & burp cloths


At around 6 months...


*Booster seat & bib


At 12-18 months...


*Convertible car seat

*Umbrella stroller


*Sippy cup


Of course, more clothing, toys and books are added as needed.


Unwanted gifts are promptly donated to charity...winky.gif




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                        and wonderful little man (12/1/10)

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#19 of 24 Old 04-08-2011, 08:25 AM
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For us, we were fairly minimal the first time around but this time we are being SUPER minimalist because the fact is, babies need very little.


This is all we're doing for second babe:


  • Car seat
  • basic clothing -- onesies, sleepers, socks (our babe will be born in summer so depending on season)
  • diapers/wipes (cloth or 'sposie, whatever you choose)
  • breast pump (still have from first)
  • pack n' play  -- one with the bassinet and changing table insert on top, those are the features we primarily use since we cosleep mainly -- we use the bottom portion for storage. That gets put away when babe is rolling over (around 2-4 months). We have this from our first and it's still like new (which gives you an indication of how much it was actually used lol)
  • baby wrap or carrier
  • maybe a stroller (but to me it's not at all necessary in the early months)
  • things like toys, teethers, sippy cups, books and the like move in and out of our life frequently depending on age and need -- but in the early months are really not needed...


That's all I can think of for now!



Grace-based wife & mama to 2 unschoolers! One & . We live simply & mindfully. Expecting another blessing Feb 2015 Praying for another
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#20 of 24 Old 04-09-2011, 08:02 PM
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We're the oposite, we're actually going to be less minimalist in some ways with this baby.  For example: I used flats/prefolds with Ladybug and hardly bought any accessories (wet bags and such), this time around I have fitteds and wool-in-2s waiting (though I'll still use mainly flats/prefolds) and I bought a dedicated diaper bag, a wet bag and even the matching pacifier bag.  I didn't end up with flannel wipes until she was well past a year, until then I just used the washcloths we already had.  I only had one carrier with Ladybug to start off with and now I've accumulated three: all of which will probably get used.  BTW, we successfully ECed full time as well, but I still used diapers full time for back up, though we also had a folding travel potty and a potty for home.


But really: you don't need all that much, you'll figure out what you need as time goes on.  And it really varies from family to family.


I loved having large receiving blankets that my MIL made for me, my sister never swaddled her baby so she hardly used receiving blankets at all.  I found I got along fine with a carrier and a very cheap umbrella stroller (still do at 2.5), others might actually need a real stroller.  I found a boppy and any other kind of nursing aid (including a foot stool!) was just clutter that I never reached for.  We also got rid of the bouncer, though I may borrow one for a little while, and I never did use a rocker for nursing.  But, I found baby nail scizzors essential.


We still don't need a changing table.  We've gotten rid of the pack n' play and the bassinet and the crib is now converted into a toddler bed.  For the baby we have a Leachco Nap n'Pack for a bassinet.  I'm not planning on getting a stroller, we'll see how that goes.  My exercise ball will hopefully not be needed this time around but I wouldn't have survived without it with Ladybug who only stopped crying during colicky episodes when she was being bounced. 


All these are just random thoughts.  Get the very basics and then order exactly what you need.

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#21 of 24 Old 04-24-2011, 04:12 PM
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Car Seat

Baby Wrap

12 diapers (we did EC, used these for back up; started by using 'green' disposables)

baby clothes (whatever you think is best depending upon weather, location, etc)


that keeps it simple. we coslept.


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#22 of 24 Old 04-26-2011, 07:25 AM
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We tried to be pretty minimalist with our first, but due to some overenthusiastic grandparents, aunts, and friends, it didn't quite end up that way.  We got EVERYONE'S hand-me-downs.  I felt (and still feel sometimes) like their own personal Goodwill.  Of course, that came a bit after the newborn stage...  


Also, we did do a dedicated nursery, for naps, since DH works nights and I didn't want to disturb him every 2 hours when the newborn woke or went to sleep.  I bought secondhand Pottery Barn curtains and a bumper on ebay, and used hand-me-down sheets from my cousin, so it was still really inexpensive.  I also liked having the rocker in there to nurse.  When we had guests over (DH's step-dad is super-weird about watching women BF, so I went there to keep him from feeling odd), it was my little sanctuary. And because our house has little bedrooms and small closets, it's nice to have a room where I can stash all the baby clothes, diapers, breastpump, etc without it cluttering up other areas.


That said...  My essentials for our new LO on-the-way are:

- a few different baby carriers/wraps.  We have a sling, wrap, and SSC to accomodate different positions.

- diapers.  We used 24 prefolds and 8 covers, then laundered every other day.

- burp cloths/towels.  Great for leaky boobs during latching or for spit-up. Ours were homemade from flannel.

- Boppy pillow

- sleepers.  I did not like the gowns and preferred one-piece outfits or sleepers for DS.  He wore them exclusively til he was 3 months old.  Then we branched out into 2-piece outfits.

- onesies.  For wearing under other clothes for extra warmth.

- receiving blankets to swaddle

- 1 or 2 heavier blankets for extra warmth.

- maybe pacifiers.  DS had a crazy-intense need to suck, and my boobs were so terribly sore.  I also got thrush...  So after I found he was as happy with my finger as a boob, we picked up a few pacis to give my boobs a break.  Oddly enough, he self-weaned from them at about 4 months.

- a good breastpump, storage bags, and bottles.  I returned to work FT at 12 weeks, so the pump was my best friend.  I anticipate the same this time around.

- food.  I was STARVING after having DS.  I was so glad that we had cooked numerous meals ahead and stocked the freezer.

- water bottles.  I was insanely thirsty as well.  We had several water bottles stashed at my usual nursing spots.

- lots of good books.  Breastfeeding takes up a lot of your time, and I read a TON while nursing.

- nursing tanks.

- breastpads

- lanolin

- bottom balm (I used Earth Mama Angel Baby).  I tore and had some other issues "down there".  This was a godsend.

- jogging stroller

- bouncer.  Ours wasn't really bouncy, but it served as a safe place to park a sleeping baby in the bathroom so I could take a shower.


We definitely aren't as minimalist as some, but our needs are slightly different...

Strong single mama to Ethan (9/09) and Rowyn (7/12)
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#23 of 24 Old 04-26-2011, 08:29 AM
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Great ideas from others already, but one thing I'm not seeing on the list are a few good books.  Goodnight Moon and Pat the Bunny were favorites from a very early age in our house.   



Laura, Troy, Seth 6.24.06 , and Aaron 7.13.09
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#24 of 24 Old 05-04-2011, 04:03 PM
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I wouldn't bother with a change table. This is what I consider bare minimum....


box with flaps cut off or laundry basket for clothe dipes


bed- one or two sheets, one or two blankets. no pillows or stuffed animals.

rocking chair

pillow for mom to use while nursing

baby monitor

pictures of family members or things that can stay in the room while they grow.

a large beautiful blanket for baby to lie on and play

a few toys. like, 5-7. My babies never really like baby toys.

several books to read to baby

air filter

diaper pail

night light


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