By Daja, Contributing Writer
In my childbirth preparation classes we devote an entire session to preparing for postpartum and the early days of parenting. Understandably new parents always want to know what essentials they should have on hand for the baby. Of course if you consult any of the registry checklists at any retailer, the “Must Have List” is incredible. Daunting. Overwhelming.
Like, do we really need all this stuff?
Having a baby is so expensive!
Well, I have nine children. The first three spent their early years on the mission field with us in a Third World country where people define “essentials” very differently. We learned to do without a lot of those bells and whistles. And I’m here to tell you LESS IS MORE!
7 Things You Do NOT Need For Your New Baby (and 2 Things You Really Do!)
Without further ado, here are 7 things you do not need for your new baby:
These gadgets–sometimes free-standing, sometimes hanging in the doorway–are often a favorite of parents. It gives our tired arms a rest and entertains the baby for what seems like endless amounts of time. It’s just so cotton-pickin’ cute too to see your little one bouncing there on her own! But these gadgets can do way more harm than good. They place your baby in an upright position before she has developed any core strength. Her muscle development is not at the place where she can balance herself. This places tremendous pressure on the developing spine and nervous system. This is made worse by the constant “pushing off” with her feet. The muscular structure of the feet are still developing. This repetitive motion before she is developmentally ready for it can cause deformities in the foot. [source and source] Skip this on your registry!
Some new moms may need one, many do not. If you plan to immediately return to work, it may be worth it. But for many of us, especially those who stay at home, we don’t need to express. Breast pumps can be very pricey and not always a help to the breastfeeding relationship. But, you say, what about in the event of an emergency? Many places (hospitals, lactating clinics, WIC, etc.) rent or loan breast pumps! No sense in shelling out for one until you really need one. Hand expression is a wonderfully useful technique to learn that can often take the place of occasional use of a breast pump as well.
Baby Bath Tub
I had one for years. I found it bulky, difficult to store (especially living in small apartments) and unnecessary. When my baby needs to bathe (which is really not as often as you might think! Seriously consider bathing less. It’ll be good for your baby’s micro biome!) I take him in the bath tub or shower with me. It really is easy, saves water and saves time.
I know, shocker, right? You don’t actually NEED a crib. Of course, you can have one. It is nice for naps once a child is quite mobile. But you know what? It’s not essential. In fact, I haven’t had a crib for my last three children. At one point I had a co-sleeper up, but took it down when I realized it had become a place to pile laundry that I procrastinated about putting away! (I’m not the only one, right?) Where do my babies sleep? With me, of course. Co-sleeping/bed sharing is biologically normal and socially normal in most cultures around the world. Co-sleeping reduces infant and parent anxiety, encourages a stable breastfeeding relationship, fosters harmony between mother and child, and is a crucial part of ecological breastfeeding (natural child spacing). [source]
Cold wipes a problem? Hashtag that #firstworldproblem. It seems like an odd thing for which to expend energy. And when a smaller footprint is one of your goals, you think of things like that. When we are home we do not use disposable wipes. Washcloths or small cloth wipes made from old receiving blankets work just fine! (More ideas for replacing the disposable paper products in your house in this post.) A little warm water makes them quite warm enough.
Baby Laundry Detergent
I totally get that babies have sensitive skin! My umbrage is the fact that ONLY babies need non-toxic detergent. Our skin is our largest organ and is great at absorbing lots of things–good and bad! We should ALL switch to detergent that is non-irritating and non-toxic. There are many natural brands on the market or make your own!
For the first many months after birth my babies rarely leave my side. They are in my arms or in the sling or sleeping next to me. There is not need for a monitor. Besides the fact that truly my house is not big enough that I wouldn’t hear the baby crying even if I did leave him alone. Save money on batteries. Skip the monitor.
Two Things You Might Need:
Now that you know what you don’t need, here are a few things you might actually need:
I know those new fangled diapers can seem pricey. But, here’s the thing: I invested in a good set of about 20 diapers when my third child was born. They were not cheap. But, I used them for the next five children! The amount of money we saved on diapers and the amount of trash we kept out of the landfills is truly something to be proud of! A worthy investment!
I have a couple ring slings, a couple long wraps and some pocket slings. Different ones for different moods or different stages with baby. I truly don’t know how I would get anything done around here if it wasn’t for wearing the baby. Think of all the money you’ve saved not getting the ridiculous stuff and use that money to buy a carrier you love.
Having a baby brings with it a host of questions to answer, challenges to overcome, choices to research, ideas to field. You do not need to complicate the early days with more stuff. Stuff that is not beautiful or useful is an unnecessary burden to early parenting. Let’s keep it simple, folks.
What do you think? What makes your “must have” list?
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