Today’s post is a guest post from Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama. Read to the bottom of the post for her full bio. Jennifer’s post is about things you really do and really don’t need for a baby, which is of great interest to me at the moment!
Simplicity is not the name of the game when it comes to new baby gear. If you were to ask any random mom on the street what her must haves for a new baby are, she might possibly prattle of a list that would rival the length of the Mississippi River. Creative marketing but major corporations along with societal norms put a lot of pressure on new parents to have all of the latest and greatest gadgets, toys, baby care items, and nursery items at the ready when they bring their new bundle of joy home. Parents are made to feel inadequate and quite frankly like a bad parents if their baby does not have every item on the standard baby registry.
I admit that I fell prey to this initially. I certainly registered for baby items that I never used and did not know that I would not really need. In these very tight financial times, parents are having to get more and more creative about what they purchase. Sure, you can look online for used bargains, shop at second hand stores, and borrow items from friends, but the fact of the matter is you will probably still end up with a lot of items you and your baby do not really need.
In the spirit of the new life Momma Jorje has birthed, I thought I would share a few things I have learned along the way about what new parents REALLY need and what things big box baby stores are pushing on you that you can do without. I also included my top 5 things that I am on the fence about.
Top 5 things you NEED
- Somewhere for the baby to sleep. This is a long topic in and of itself but in a nutshell, you need to figure out where your baby will sleep. If you plan on co-sleeping, do not waste money on a crib that you will never use. This is exactly what I did. I bought a crib that my daughter (Tiny) never used. Not once. Luckily the crib converted to a full size bed. So at least the money wasn’t totally wasted. The top of the line organic mattress? I gifted that to a friend. At least it went to a nice home. Anyway – if you are undecided about whether or not you will be co-sleeping long term, at least wait to purchase the crib or get one that converts to a full size bed so your money isn’t completely wasted should you never need the crib. If you do not plan on co-sleeping, then by all means, get a crib. You might also look into a bassinet or a co-sleeper for when your baby is a newborn. You will not want your baby all the way on the other side of the house when he or she is waking up every hour or two for those first couple of months. If you are using a crib, I suggest that you outfit it with 2 water proof mattress pads, two fitted sheets, 1 lightweight blanket, and 1 medium weight blanket both wool. Having two mattress pads and fitted sheets allows you to have a spare should your baby soil her bedding in the middle of the night. No reason for a midnight wash and dry session. For the blankets, I suggest that you get ones that are not newborn size. Your newborn baby will not use blankets so get something a little larger. Chances are, your one year old will not even use blankets. Little ones are notorious for kicking covers off. It is still good to have them for use in a carseat or stroller, if you use one. Wool is worth the investment because it adjusts to temperature changes by keeping you warm or cool, it absorbs moisture, and it repels odors.
- A car seat. Duh. Based on my personal experience, I suggest that you invest in a convertible car seat. These car seats are expensive but you will only need one and many of them will last from birth until your child is 60 pounds. I purchased the Britax Advocate CS and love it. Tiny will probably not hit 60 pounds until she is in high school so we will get a lot of use out of this one!
- One of the many baby wearing options out there. I had two…a Moby Wrap which I used when we were indoors and a Beco which I used for walks. I switched to using the Beco exclusively once Tiny was about 10 months old. It supported her better. If you aren’t into baby wearing then you certainly will need a stroller of some sort. Even if you baby wear, if you plan on doing a lot of outdoor activities, then invest in a decent jogging stroller. I didn’t start using a stroller until Tiny was about 8 months old and even then, it was only for really long walks. To this day, she still runs errands on my back, in the Beco.
- Basic health supplies. i.e. thermometer, nasal aspirator, nail clippers, etc… You will need these at some point in time. If you give birth in a hospital, there are a lot of these sorts of items that you can steal help yourself to. I made sure that I left with two nasal aspirators. Brilliant on my part since I lost one just a couple of months after Tiny was born.
- Diapers. I am an advocate for cloth diapering. You can read my post about cloth diapers HERE. Regardless of whether you choose cloth, disposables, or elimination communication, you will need diapers.
Top 5 Things You Do NOT Need
- YOU DO NOT NEED THAT SUPER FANCY, SUPER EXPENSIVE crib bedding set! Really, you don’t. Your baby won’t care about it and you will not use the set long enough for it to make sense spending the money on one. Yes, you will be in nesting mode and REALLY want that cute bedding set that costs $300 but you can do without it. Really, you can. Spend the money on an organic mattress and organic sheets and blankets instead. Plus those crib bumpers are very dangerous according to recent studies. It is possible for your child to suffocate if he or she becomes lodged against it.
- You do not need special towels for your baby. The towels and washcloths you use on yourself will work just fine. I never used a baby towel on Tiny. They were too thin and in my opinion, not nearly warm enough for a small baby.
- A special infant bath tub. The first month will pretty much be sponge baths and after that, just get in the tub or the shower with your baby. If you are uncomfortable with that idea, then baby can bathe in the sink. No big deal. Those infant bath tubs only fit the baby for a few months anyway so they are a super huge waste of money.
- Toys. Seriously. Your baby wants to be with you. They are not interested in toys yet. A few items made from natural fibers and materials will suffice. A small cloth doll, a silk scarf, a felt or cloth ball, a long wooden block to chew on, a set of wood keys, and maybe one or two small cloth or wooden animals.
- Doorway jumper. After much research, I discovered that these are really bad for baby. They actually can delay walking as well as cause injuries both from improper use as well as random accidents.
Top 5 Things I Am On The Fence About
- Changing table. I do have one and find it super convenient in terms of storing diaper supplies. It also saves my back and knees from constantly having to get down on the floor to do a diaper change. I am lucky in that Tiny still (at 2 ½ years) wants to be changed on the changing table (she only wears diapers at naps and nighttime). Most children despise it once they are mobile. So maybe you will get a year or so out of it. Personally, I found a great deal and the small investment paid off in storage capacity alone.
- Swings/Bouncers/Etc. if you plan on baby wearing, you probably won’t get much use out of these items. However, some parents feel more comfortable having someplace cozy to secure baby when mom needs a shower or is having a meal. Try to borrow or buy used as the cost versus length of use doesn’t usually pay off.
- Rocking Chair. I happen to LOVE my rocking chair. It is one of my favorite places to breastfeed and rock Tiny to sleep. However, if I had to, I could live without it. As long as you have a comfortable chair, you can make it work. You do not have to have some fancy chair to rock your baby. You can sway back and forth in any number of positions to create a rocking effect. I bought a super inexpensive “reclining/swiveling/rocking office style” chair from Big Lots and it works just as well as any glider.
- Pack and Play. We received one as a gift and well, never had a need for it. The idea of one is nice, especially for travel and possibly as an alternate location for naps. They can also be a great co-sleeping option if you are not comfortable having your newborn in bed with you. So they do have some benefits. I suggest that you leave it in the package and keep the receipt until you get baby home and see whether or not you will really need it. (It only takes a few minutes to set up so resist that nesting urge to unpack it!)
- Diaper Wipe Warmer. I made my own diaper wipes and did like the diaper wipe warmer for storing the wipes. However, I do not think it is crucial. The wipes aren’t THAT cold and you can always warm them between your hands or run a little warm water over them.
And there you have it! My thoughts on things. What are some of your must haves and what could you do without????
Baby Room: http://www.flickr.com/photos/justinliew/4145611385/
Bath Center: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dazed81/3178023785/
Jennifer, author of Hybrid Rasta Mama, is a former government recruiter turned stay-at-home mama to a precious daughter (“Tiny”) brought earthside in early 2009. She lives in the Sacramento, CA area with her husband and various pets and is passionate about breastfeeding (especially extended breastfeeding), bed-sharing, co-sleeping, attachment parenting, cloth diapering, green living, babywearing, peaceful parenting, a Waldorf approach to education and parenting, playful parenting, getting children outside, natural health, holistic medicine, as well as cooking and eating Real/Traditional Foods. A life-long lover of reggae music, Jennifer takes a little of this and a little of that and blends it all together into something that works for her family. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and Pinterest.