As the months and weeks wind down, we’re starting to *think* about how we’ll prepare for our new little guy. When I was pregnant with Alex, I really enjoyed reading other people’s lists of necessary baby gear. Just as each pregnancy/labor/baby is different, so are these lists. Some are over the top with gadgets and gizmos, others are relatively tame. Luckily, Calder and I are on the same page about many things, and minimal baby gear is one of them, so I thought our list might be helpful to other minimalist parents.
Today I wanted to talk about what we needed/will need for the baby in the first few weeks after his arrival, and I’m leaning heavily towards the notion that you don’t need much for a few reasons. I think some expectant parents may find it useful to hear a voice saying that those long lists of “necessary” baby gear, may not be necessary. You don’t have to empty your wallet in order to prepare for a baby. We care deeply about our impact on the environment, and by default, the more you buy, the bigger your environmental footprint. That said, so much early baby gear gets lightly used, and you may be able to find some great second-hand sources for clothes, furniture, swings, and seats; that choice saves you money and saves resources.
When planning for the new baby’s arrive, I keep two questions in mind : 1. what does an actual newborn do/need? 2. if we don’t have it, but find that we need it, can we easily buy it?
And here’s what it comes down to for us… Newborn babies need food, warmth & basic care, and love (oh, and a way to get around!). In another post we’ll discuss what new parents, and especially new mom’s need, because while it’s important to plan for the baby, a bit of time should be spent planning for your needs. Back to the babies ~
- Breast Pump. I was planning on breastfeeding, so that’s what I prepared for. Thanks to the new healthcare laws, quality breast pumps (like this) are covered by most insurance plans. That’s a great thing considering they cost a pretty penny. You may have to check with your carrier, but I was able to pick one up at a local medical supply store by just showing my insurance card. My pump is still going strong, but since it got a lot of use with Alex, I decided to purchase a new set of the replaceable plastic parts.
- Bottles. Since I was going to be able to nurse Alex directly for most feedings, we didn’t stock up on a bunch of bottles, but we made sure to have a few glass bottles on hand for the times when Calder fed him (we were more comfortable heating up the milk and having him drink from glass than plastic). Even though they’re expensive, our favorite glass bottle has been Lifefactory’s bottles with the silicone sleeve. We were able to get by with just two, and we’re still using them for Alex with the sip cup lids.
- Bottle Tops. For the first few months, I didn’t pump often, but when I did, I used the bottles that came with the pump. The one upgrade we made was to use the Medela bottle tops that allow you to track the day and time the milk was pumped. I couldn’t find just the lids for sale, but they come with this milk storage kit.
- Nursing shirts. For Alex, I only purchased three nursing tanks and about three or four nursing tops. The tanks were from the maternity section in Target, and all of my tops came from Figure 8 Maternity. My favorites were made by Boob; they had a great overlap design that made it really easy to nurse in public while still being discrete, and the shirt fabric held up well while some of my other shirts were full of pills after a couple of months of nursing. This time around I want to add a couple of nursing dresses to my closet.
- What about introducing solids? Dudes, that doesn’t start until they are 6 months old, so you have plenty of time to 1. not worry about it and 2. learn how to peel a banana.
Warmth & Basic Care
- Clothes. Babies need clothes, but they don’t care what they’re wearing. Being the first baby of his generation in our family, we were lucky to receive so many awesome clothes as gifts, and the buyers were smart enough to buy clothes in a range of sizes (because babies grow quickly!). Other than buying a few cute onesies from Threadless and American Apparel, I sat on my hands and didn’t purchase anything else until he arrived. Once he was here, I saw that the only thing we needed were just a couple of newborn outfits, while we could have gotten by with the 0-3 month clothes we had, the newborn size fit him slightly better and it was so cute to see how tiny he was!
- Swaddling blankets. We loved the swaddles from Aden + Anias, they are a nice size, super soft, and have fun prints. Two packs of four was more than enough for all of our swaddling needs, and they do so much more. I would always keep one in his stroller and use it as a shade in the sun. They are great cover-ups when nursing. When rolled, they’re good for propping up sleeping heads in carseats. etc. We have a couple that we’re still using now as a light blanket for Little A on hot nights.
- Bath supplies. We just used a wash cloth and towels from our closet. We did not bathe Alex every day. He really didn’t get that dirty (you should see him these days!), and we knew that the natural oils in his skin were better for him that the soap we would use to wash them away.
- Diapers and wipes. I won’t recommend a particular brand, but I will strongly encourage you to order in bulk. You can shop around and find virtually any brand online, the bulk deals are often better than what you’ll get in a store, and you’ll save yourself the trouble of having to load/unload them from the car.
- Wraps/Carriers. I consider the wrap and carrier mentioned in the next section essential for transportation. They are great for taking the baby on walks and for making errands, like grocery shopping easier when you have a baby that wants to be near you.
- Car seat. We went with the Chico Keyfit 30, buying two bases for our two cars, and we were happy with it. There are many car seat/stroller systems out there, but they all seem a bit too big and bulky for me, so we kept things simple with the basic Chicco Caddy. Eventually though, because I like to walk so much (and have aspirations of getting back into running), I wanted a jogging stroller. Its larger wheels and shocks make it great for maneuvering on bumpy paths and sides, plus we knew we would eventually outgrow the infant carrier/stroller. We went with the BOB revolution, which we still love (and we’re pretty sure every family is required to own one if living in Boulder – it’s in the city bylaws). We started using BOB when Alex was still little, so we bought the carseat adapter for it.
- You, your warmth, your cuddles, your time. Really, a new baby is just going to want to spend a lot of time snuggled up in your arms (at least this was our experience). In addition to just holding him, we invested in a couple of good carriers that made it easy to keep him close. When he was really little, we used the Moby wrap. All long wraps can be a puzzle to put on (I think Calder’s still confused), but once properly configured, they are so comfortable for you and the baby. We also used an Ergo with the infant carrier, and the ergo transitioned into our main carrier as Alex grew. Two years later and we still use it today as a back carrier!
Looking back at Alex’s first few weeks and thinking ahead as we prepare for the next little guy, this really is our list of baby essentials. Am I missing something that you found essential? I would love to hear about it! Are you curious as to how we got buy without a crib and changing table? I’m happy to tell you more about that too, just ask!
As I mentioned, I’ll follow up this post with a second one on how I prepared myself for the labor and first few weeks as a new mom. Then, if you’re still interested, I can continue the series, checking in every couple of months with comments about how our needs change as the baby grows and what essentials we add to our home.