Image via the Minimalist Baby Registry
The truth about baby stuff is that you don’t need it. Okay, okay, fine, you definitely need SOME stuff but really, you don’t need much. When I was pregnant with my first baby, I totally overdid the list of crap that I thought I needed and then I went out and bought all of it. LUCKILY I made some smart choices but it wasn’t by design it was by necessity. I was living in a third floor walk-up apartment in the U.K. and space was limited. I had a second bedroom which is more than a lot of my other baby mama friends could say but I was using it as my makeshift studio and guest room that, basically, I didn’t want to give it up.
Now I have always loved my stuff and I am a serious collector of random pretty crap; just ask my husband and he will literally go off on a rant about how I can’t go a week without “needing” to buy something new (this week it was a pair of Stella x Adidas sneakers that I “need” for summer since I’ll have a new baby and apparently have no shoes to wear for caring for said baby). Somewhere over the past decade, my collecting started to dwindle. This definitely had to have something to do with hubby being a minimalist (and I suspect he has a minor case of OCD about tidiness) but I think it started to dwindle mostly because I had to clean up after myself to keep him quiet and it’s a hell of a lot easier to tidy when there isn’t much to tidy up! Then I got pregnant, and as soon as the three month marker passed, I planned and schemed about all the baby shit I absolutely needed.
I got too much stuff. And then I didn’t use half of it. So T.R.A.G.I.C.; bye bye dollars (she waves off to the debt collectors in tears). I wasn’t even half as bad as my other parent friends and I still ended up with too much crap! How the hell does this happen? Well, whatever you do, don’t find yourself in a big box baby store browsing the aisles with some lady telling you why you need to buy STEM toys for a newborn. I also had to buy a whole chest of drawers to fit all the baby clothes my mother bought us. A WHOLE CHEST OF DRAWERS, WTF? Do you know how small those baby clothes are?
The baby industry loves to convince you that you absolutely need their product for your baby to sleep. Don’t fall into the trap. There is no magic pill (I lied, there is and its mommy’s boobs). I bought a crib and then I panicked and got a moses basket AND a co-sleeping pod–this kid already had more places to sleep than it had sleeping hours in a day and guess where that baby (and every other newborn) likes to sleep? ON. YOUR. CHEST. That’s right, your chest.
The doom of bed sharing will be drilled into you by any prenatal class you attend. You do need a place for the baby to sleep that isn’t your chest because the goal will most certainly be to wean the baby off co-sleeping asap unless you really like waking up in a startled panic praying that you have not crushed your child. Do yourself a favour and read up on safe bed sharing because unless you can afford a night nurse 7 days a week for a few weeks, it’s gonna happen whether you like it or not. Oh and also do yourself a favour and learn from my mistake: don’t buy 3 sleeping solutions for your baby, just go with something along the lines of a moses basket that is really snug. If you really are anti co-sleeping, I would get yourself a bunch of swaddles and use them religiously from early on. I had my midwives in the U.K. tell me not to swaddle my baby because it it was dangerous (!?), but, as soon as she left, my mother swaddled the baby while rolling her eyes at that comment and guess what? It worked wonders. I don’t know what that lady was talking about but I do know that babies LOVE being swaddled.
On the subject of being cheap, your newborn does not need toys. Heck, my toddler doesn’t even need that many toys. I have a small toy storage stand filled with options but he always goes to his Thomas trains and tracks and his stuffed toys. I’m not saying he doesn’t play with any of the other toys but it seems that when there is too much stuff around, he ignores it all and goes to his favourites anyway. Did you know there is actually a toy library in Toronto that you can borrow from? So instead of buying more crap that will end up in a landfill, head there first. Oh, and those foam floor tiles? If you have a pet, don’t even consider buying them because the they are like dirt and hair magnets. I used my very pretty, pastel (read: PRICEY) tiles ONCE. I was so grossed out by what the tiles attracted that I never brought them out again.
To make things simple, I’ll give you my list of essentials. If you want to buy a million things and have your house look like a day care centre thats your choice. But, if you don’t want your place looking like you run a home day-care, I’m here to tell you that it’s totally doable. Just focus on what you need for those first few weeks, you can totally pick everything else up along the way. If you are ever in doubt about how little stuff you have bought to prepare for baby’s arrival, remember that the Finnish Government gifts every single new parent a baby essentials box. It has everything you need for your newborn and guess what? The box turns into the baby’s bed! If you need a good essentials list, just look up this magical box and rest assured that you don’t need that $400 high chair you literally just need diapers, clothing, boobs (or bottles and formula) and a couple bits to help make the journey smoother.
Here is my list of absolute 7 essentials for newborns that will not only save you countless dollar bills but it was also save your sanity and quite possibly your carbon footprint.
The Baby Needs a Place to Sleep
Do buy something, like a tiny moses basket or a cardboard box. Trust me though, this place of rest is going to be on your chest for at least the first 3 weeks. ‘It’s not safe to co-sleep’ they say. Well trust me on this one, if you want to get any peace, you don’t have a choice. Every mama (and papa) I know has fallen asleep with baby on their chest so do yourself a favour, ignore the unhelpful scare-mongering and figure out how to co-sleep safely. Then get that baby out of your bed as soon as you possibly can!
If you have any intention of using a baby carrier, you don’t need to splash out on one right away. We bought an Ergobaby carrier before we even had the baby (numb skulls) and I didn’t use it until my son was out of the infant insert. What I DO recommend is getting an unstructured (read: CHEAPER) baby carrier wrap. I had one that I could tie myself and love it. I ordered a basic one on amazon for $20.
This will be your best friend for the coming year (you may want to keep your child-free friends at arm’s length when your extreme tiredness leads to extreme bitchy-ness). Buy wisely and spend as much as you can afford on what you want. We got a Babyzen YOYO because we lived all those flights up. If you have stairs or don’t drive, it’s the best and ONLY stroller you should consider. I am still able to comfortably carry it, ON MY OWN, with my 2 year old in it, down stairs, up stairs and onto the old school streetcars if I need to (and you will because apparently the general population who are not parents are all assholes and have no empathy and probably won’t help you).
To save yourself the misery of having to decide if its too tight or too loose (the prior probably is unsafe and the latter is ineffective) get yourself a pair of zip up swaddles like the summer infant ones which are cheap, safe and simple to use.
Bottles and/or a Breast Pump
Bottles are self explanatory but the breast pump will save you in that first month of breast feeding. You tend to over produce milk for the first little while and trust me, you want to avoid getting milk ducts clogged as it can lead to mastitis. I’ve had it three times and its terrible. Pump, pump, pump to avoid it!
Get lots of different shapes!
An Electric Baby Swing
The best way to be able be have free hands (and not have a backache from carrying a baby around 24/7) Now at first I was reluctant to get one but my 2nd baby doesn’t like a pacifier so he is in my arms all day. My mom (the wisest of all grandmothers) brought up the electric baby swing from her basement and BAM! That baby just fell asleep in there like he was back in the womb!
(Story by Contributing Editor, Dana Dallal)