The baby industry is much like the wedding industry. The second companies slap “baby” in front of it or put it in the baby section, forget about it. You pay three times what you should pay. At about 35 weeks pregnant, I started to panic. I had nothing for the baby and I needed EVERYTHING. All of a sudden, I was extremely overwhelmed by all of the stuff I just HAD to have. And not overwhelmed in the way you may be thinking. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the consumerism. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the waste. I wasn’t even overwhelmed by the impact all my stuff would have on the environment. I threw EVERY SINGLE VALUE I have as an Earth Mamas out the door! I WANTED it all! Right down to the stupid baby wipe warmer. I have no idea where this urge came from but I gave myself a few days and it went away. I came back to reality.
Babies Need a Lot of Stuff … or Do They?
Babies need A LOT of stuff or so everyone tells you. In reality, they don’t. They just don’t. Does having stuff make things easier? Sometimes. It can also make you feel like you wasted your money, the clutter can make you crazy and you can be left feeling silly for having bought it all the first place.
My First Baby
In my first pregnancy, I had NO idea what babies needed or what I might need as a new mom. My family and friends were super generous and I ended up with more than I could have wanted. Some new and some used. Thank goodness for fellow Earth Mama, Erika who provided me with almost all of my maternity wear and tons of second hand baby items. I also could not have done it without my sister-in-laws, Elizabeth and Amy, who found me the best of the best and really helped me with what I would need and not need as a new mom.
So, What does a New Baby REALLY Need?
Not a whole lot. Since having my first child, I have really shifted my thinking. I think more about needs vs. wants and I try to use the tips Earth Mama Erika has given in Consuming VS Consumerism. So, here is my advice, think about the women and families all over the world that survive on very little for their children. If they can do it, we can certainly do it with all of the privilege, resources and for me, support I have.
Minimalist Baby Essentials
- A place for baby to sleep.
Now, this can mean a lot of things for different people. For me, it meant a co-sleeper. For my first baby, we were fortunate to have easy access to wood and my husband is super handy so, he built a cospleeper for us. This time, being in Malaysia, access to wood and a lumber yard hasn’t been as easy so, plan B. I waited for a friend’s baby to grow out of his co-sleeper and I bought it.
2. A changing area
*A surface of some sort. We are using an old desk.
*A place to put diapers, creams, butt spray and reusable wipes. We are using some cardboard IKEA organizers that we used with our first child.
*Drawers/baskets for easy access to baby clothes. We are using an old nightstand that we weren’t using before.
*Diapers. You can go two ways:
One, disposable which I completely understand in the first couple of months when you are figuring everything out. Two, cloth which is totally worth it to lessen your environmental impact and there are TONS of places to buy them gently used.
3. Some Clothes
Look for these second hand. Babies grow out of clothes SO quickly. Also, reach out to friends who have had children and see if they have anything they can pass on.
4. A Bag to Carry Stuff When You Are Out
Now this could truly be ANY bag that works for you. I definitely fell into the oh, I gotta have a baby diaper bag thing. First of all, they are pretty ugly in general. I am a grown woman, not a baby. I don’t want a bag with tiny rattles on it. At popular baby retailers, these bags can range from $50 USD to 200 USD! For a bag for baby stuff?! A bag you most likely won’t use after a couple of years. So, I suggest using what you already have and finding some small bags to put inside to make compartments or buying a bag you know you will use for a long time.
5. A Carseat
Of course you can’t forget safety. If you drive, get a safe car seat. A car seat can be purchased second hand as well.
There are a variety of options here. We were fortunate enough to get a stroller system from our families that fit our second hand car seat. We will be using the same stroller for our second child. There are tons of different wraps and carriers. Do some investigating and once again, buy used. We ended up borrowing a Boba Wrap from Earth Mama Charlotte and my sister in law helped me find a second hand ergo carrier that we used until our first child was one and a half. We’ll be using the Ergo with our second child. And a little heads up, you DON’T need the infant insert. Just roll up a scarf and tiny babies fit perfectly!
7. Baby Bath TIme
Use what you have! A small tupperware with a towel placed in it works. Baby towel with the little hoods are adorable but not necessary. You can use a towel you already have or a baby swaddle works too. We were gifted this one at my Zero Waste Baby shower. For washing, a castile bar soap and you can use one of the baby washcloth wipes (they have tons of uses) and a great moisturizer is coconut oil.
In reality, babies really don’t need “a lot of stuff”. You can get buy with just a few basics. In the end, narrowing what you get your baby will save you the headache of too much stuff , save you money and save the environment! Babies do need “stuff” but it’s not as much as you think and it doesn’t have to be new and all match (as much fun as that is).
So, here is my advice:
- Use what you already have! Be creative. Look around your house and check out what you already have. You might be surprised about what you can repurpose.
- Reach out to friends with babies -moms are the best and they want to give their stuff to you!\
- Look around for second hand -check second hand stores, check online for pre-used items.
- If you are going to buy new, evaluate the how long the item will be used and if it’s really worth it. Ask yourself if it has multiple uses.