Preparing for Baby: A Minimalist Wardrobe

Most conventional weekly pregnancy updates contain a to-do list which invariably asks the expectant parents to buy this or that each week. New parents hope to have a baby shower to help curtail the costs of the expensive and expansive baby gear. By the time the baby is born, s/he already has more belongings than the average medieval king.

This is my third go at it. At first we wanted two children, so I felt generous in gifting away my baby gear to friends and family with more urgent need. What these two factors mean is that I’m starting from scratch with a whole lot more parenting wisdom than I once had.

I like the minimalist wardrobes that I designed for my boys but a newborn has different needs.

Special Considerations for This Age Group (0-6 months)

  • A young baby does a lot of sleeping with few transition times, so clothing should be comfortable to sleep in. No one wants to wake up baby to put PJs on.
  • Unless you’re very lucky in hand-me-downs (or a shop-a-holic), you will probably never need to “cull” a baby’s wardrobe. This is because they grow out of sizes or damage their clothes so fast that the collection is pretty self-limiting.
  • Ease of nighttime changing should be a real priority. Waking up to feed and change a baby is exhausting enough without dealing with finicky clothing.
  • Footies are especially helpful as babies, with no control of their limbs, still manage to kick off shoes and socks which are much too difficult to put on those tiny, delicate limbs in the first place.
  • Hats and mittens for indoor use aren’t mere accessories. Many young babies have long sharp fingernails and can easily gouge their faces. They also often have bald heads which lead to heat loss.

My List of Essentials

  • 1 outdoor car seat / travel suit. These preferably have build in hand and feet coverings, a hood and a crotch so that you can fasten a car seat whilst the baby is snug inside. This is especially essential for winter babies.
  • 2-3 pair of indoor mittens. Light weight to prevent scratching. Baby socks can substitute for these.
  • 2-3 indoor hats. To keep that big bald head warm. They don’t tend to get really dirty and can be reused between washes.
  • 7-10 onesies. These are those snap-able white body suits used as infant underwear. Short-sleeved lasts longer, but if you intend to use them as actual shirts, long sleeve is great for winter babies or kids with eczema.
  • 7-10 sleep and play body suits. I prefer ones that zip and have feet attached.

 

That’s it! I know it seems like a small number of items, especially when compared with the boys’ wardrobes, but babies don’t do a whole lot except for growing.

This is a great base to have, but you’ll probably get gifts from family and friends to supplement these items and to change things up. There certainly are so many cute outfits that you may get (and not want to use on a regular basis due to finicky parts). Pieces with sweaters and pants and buttons in weird locations.

All About Sizes

For the uninitiated, baby sizes are really confusing. For the first year, a baby could go through as many as 6 sizes (preemie, newborn, 0-3 month, 3-6 month, 6-9 month, 9-12 month). Some garments will be marked with a single month (6 month, 9 month and 12 months are common) and some garments, such as outdoor suits and sleep sacks, are designed to hit a large range of sizes (ex. 0-9 months).

Sizes are more like guidelines, though. Different companies may use a different scale and a kid could be stuffed into the same clothing item for a large span of time, especially when short sleeves are used.

My babies have historically been on the large side of things. For this reason, I consider 0-3 to be the perfect first size for my family. Incidentally, I try to get this size in gender neutral prints so that if there is a surprise in the delivery room, I’m not unprepared.

When asked which sizes I want from friends and family, I usually ask for size 6 month and up. The reason being is that enthusiasm over a baby wanes and once kids start eating solids (usually around 6 months), hand-me-downs and stocks in used clothing stores dwindle due to so many garments being ruined by babies past.

Gender Talk

We think we’re having a girl. The effect this knowledge has on my minimalist wardrobe considerations is small. I have bought a couple of those headbands with bows on them to jazz up an outfit (especially those from older brothers), a few alligator hair clips in the event she has enough hair to keep it from her eyes, and I hope to pick up a single cute dress for photo shoots or meeting grandparents and such events. Future sizes, 3-6 month and up will probably include more feminine prints, but I think the onesie and body suit combination is perfect for this age group and especially for a winter baby (she is due in October).

I hope this knowledge from one parent to another is valuable and may your own little minimalist be comfortable and happy.

Until next time, live lightly!

 

 

Clothing Kids Zero Waste Style (Revisited)

A year ago, I figured I could buy all my kids clothes and shoes (minus socks and underwear) from a local used kids’ clothing store called the Lilly Bean.

img_0489

 

I’ve been doing pretty well. This store is still my first stop. I even shopped here for some maternity digs. But while the selection is pretty good, it can have gaps if you’re looking for specific items. This is something I’m doing more of. I’ve begun adopting a minimalist wardrobe for my boys which has also narrowed down what I’m looking for in their clothes. You also have to get there first. When the snow comes, you have to already have bought the used snow gear, for example.

This has led to filling the gaps with Walmart. Now, I don’t like Walmart for loads of reasons, but my Zero Waste complaint is that most the clothing there is new and cheaply made, while you can occasionally find a gem that will hold up over time, typically the cloth will pill, the seems will fall apart in the wash and the clothing will look old after a week or two.

What’s a zero waste mama (or papa) to do? The next nearest used clothing store (Salvation Army) is an hour a way, one way. Conveniently, it is also the city where I can buy bulk. So, the obvious resolution is to make this my next stop if the item needed can wait for the next bulk trip.

There is also the newish possibility of shopping online for used clothing, but I feel this tends to be a more expensive and shipping can be wasteful in terms of packaging and transport. Bea Johnson, author of Zero Waste Home, does mention shopping through ebay and clicking the pre-owned/used selection when searching. A preliminary search seems to indicate a range in price, you can still save money here.

To test this possibility out, I’m buying some necessary clothes for the baby-to-be. We’ve narrowed it down to needing 7-10 onesies and 7-10 play suits, and a warm winter suit at the minimum. (We’re skipping out on newborn clothes and going straight to 0-3 months size.) Even though we don’t know the gender, I tend to go with gender neutral to boyish clothes as I find these more universal and appealing.

onesies
We call these onesies. If we get white, we might do some tie dying this summer. 
play suits
These are what we refer to as play suits, also great for sleep wear and cover well for winter babies or those with eczema issues. 

I’m sure we might be gifted with some hand-me-downs to play with, and we’ve already been given a couple hats, mittens, and socks.

Going Forward

My first stop will be the Lilly Bean, local used clothing store. My second preference will be the Salvation Army during bulk trips. Then, I will make use of ebay. My last resort will be purchasing new.

How about you? How do you keep your kids clothed in a simple and zero waste fashion?

Until next time, keep that talk walking!

 

Minimalist Wardrobes For Boys (Ages 3-5)

Minimalist wardrobes for adult women have become very trendy. But I’m frankly surprised to see this limited range. Everyone could benefit from a curated and thought-filled wardrobe.

Young boys wouldn’t be stuck in finicky pants when potty-training. They would wear clothes in good repair and sized for them. It would be easy for them to pick out their own combinations and dress themselves well. The independence they would get in return for the preparation put in would go a long way.

Parents would benefit from the confidence that their kid has enough clothes and would not be driven to shop due to a feeling or assumption of lack. When shopping is necessary, they would know exactly what they were looking for and this technique would allow them to hone in on what styles, sizes, shapes, (etc.) they prefer for their son’s clothes.

Turning my sons’ wardrobes into minimalist capsules has been an eye opener. I used to rush off to buy more clothes for them whenever I worried they had nothing to wear. These trips were unorganized and I tended to return with more shirts when I needed new pants or a new jacket when they really needed socks. And I was only dimly aware of what made for a good pair of boy’s pants. Obviously, this approach was an unsustainable practice. Now, I feel unburdened and certain of exactly what they have.

Special Considerations For This Age Group

  • Unless you’re very lucky in hand-me-downs (or a shop-a-holic), you will probably never need to “cull” a young boy’s wardrobe. This is because they grow out of sizes or damage their clothes so fast that the collection is pretty self-limiting.
  • I’ve found it necessary to look in the reverse direction. How many clothes do I need to get through a week (and for some items, a year) of regular activity?
  • Your number needs to accommodate “accidents” as kids are generally potty training in these years.
  • If your kid attends a pre-school or day care, the institution may require a small stash in addition to your son’s minimalist wardrobe. Don’t count these additions because you may not see them for weeks or months at a time.

My List of Essentials

I’m providing the list I use to keep my boys stocked as inspiration only. Your particular circumstances will shape your need. Climate, family activities, religious gear, and how often you do their laundry are a few factors that may alter your list.
Since I do diaper laundry (3x/week), I can throw any “accident” pants and underwear into the next batch of diapers. For this reason, I only need to do the boys’ laundry once per week.

  • 7-10 pairs of underwear
  • 7-10 pairs of socks
  • 1 pair of sunglasses
  • 1 warm winter hat
  • 1 summer sun hat
  • 1 winter coat
  • 1 rain/light jacket
  • 1 pair of snow pants
  • 1 pair of snow gloves/mittens (more waterproof)
  • 1 pair of light gloves/mittens
  • 1 pair of swim trunks
  • 1 swim shirt
  • 1 age/size appropriate PFD for swimming pools / boating (we do a lot of swimming and canoeing, otherwise we would just borrow as needed)
  • 1 pair of winter boots
  • 1 pair of sandals/flip flops/ light summer shoes (that can get wet)
  • 1 pair of nice “school” shoes
  • 1 pair of “play shoes (usually a worn out pair of “school shoes”
  • 2 sweaters/hoodies
  • 7 pairs of pajamas
  • 1 plain long-sleeved shirt (to wear under short-sleeves when the weather is cooler)
  • 7-10 pairs of pants*
  • 7-10 pairs of shorts*
  • 7-10 short-sleeved shirts*
  • 7-10 long-sleeved shirts*

*I make sure that at least 5 of the 7-10 is nice enough for pre-school or other social activities. I believe it is important for kids to have some “play” clothes so that they can get completely absorbed in an activity and get messy without driving me crazy.

We prefer very simple, elastic waistbands for bathroom success.

We’re also fans of natural, plant-based fibers and used clothing. The vast majority of their clothing is from a local used clothing store.

On My Loose Use of “Minimal”

I know this list doesn’t seem extremely “minimal”, but unlike adults, kids don’t often reuse laundry between washes (the clothes get really dirty) and doing their laundry multiple times a week can be stressful. I feel that this number strikes a nice balance.

Until Next Time, Live Lightly!