Minimalist Baby Gear (0-3 Months)

We’re well on our way to having baby number three and so child-rearing has become a practiced skill for my husband and I. We also originally thought that we would stop at two kids and so most of our gear has been gifted away to friends and family. In preparation for baby number three, we’ve had to start fresh, on a budget, and with our new minimalist mindset.

The following is my “must have” items for baby. I’m not including diapers or clothes in this piece because I will be covering those categories elsewhere (see link above). This is everything else and I hope that this is helpful to new mamas and papas out there as well as parents who have recently embraced minimalism.

Feeding

Everyone’s situation will be a little different. My two older kids certainly were: my younger would have nothing to do with any artificial nipple or pacifier. My eldest had major feeding and reflux issues and required just about every intervention and product you could think of. The truth is, your situation for each kid is very unpredictable. As a minimalist, I’m planning for my ideal and I will have no qualms buying additional gear if warranted.

These are my “must haves”:

  • burp cloths (about 6)

  • a nursing pillow (Really any pillow will do the job, but I’m spoiled.)

  • a nursing throne (Hey, I said I was spoiled. Stake out a place for mama, or papa, to sit for long stretches of time. I have a glider rocker and side table for this purpose.

  • a place to record feeding/changing information (You will be asked this information everywhere or, if nursing, you may want to keep track of which breast the baby drank from last. Some use their phone for this purpose, I have a little notebook.)

IMG_1026

Things I would wait to buy:

  • a breast pump (Manual is fine for occasional use, but an electric can be a real life-saver for kids exclusively on the bottle or for mothers working away from home.)

  • breast milk storage containers (I plan to use mason jars if I need these.)

  • bottles, nipples

  • bottle brush

  • more burp cloths (if the child has reflux or GERD)

  • pacifiers

 

Some Things for the Breastfeeding Mama:

  • Washable breastpads for catching “let down” milk
  • Nursing Bras or Nursing Tanks
  • Nursing Cover (if that is your preference)

The numbers you want will be determined by your laundry schedule, but keep in mind you may want more nursing bras/tanks than you usually have because milk and baby spit up can prevent re-use between washes.

A set up that I love is a nursing tank and a largish t-shirt (short or long-sleeved). My belly stays covered, my chest stays covered but I can still pop open my tank to nurse discreetly.

IMG_1027

Sleeping

Consider how you want to set up your sleeping arrangements. Are you and your partner both into co-sleeping? Would either of you prefer that the baby has a nursery? We got a convertible crib for my first-born. It seemed very eco-friendly. We could buy the crib, turn it into a toddler bed and then buy rails for a twin-sized frame down the road. He spent his first months in a nursery and I spent the nights jumping up to check on him at the slightest whimper.

For my second-born, I bought a sidecar co-sleeper for our bed (an Arm’s Reach Mini). This worked well for the first three months, but necessitated a new arrangement when he became more mobile. A major mistake that I made with his sleeping arrangements was relying too heavily on nursing him to sleep. This limited his ability to put himself to sleep.

My plan for baby three is to put the baby in our side-car co-sleeper for the first three months (we got this item back) and then outfit a pack and play with a comfortable mattress for the remainder of the crib years, eventually switching to a twin-sized set up and skipping the toddler bed altogether. If I didn’t have the co-sleeper, I might just begin with the pack and play in our bedroom.

IMG_1033
Arm’s Reach Mini Co-sleeper (not yet strapped to the bed)
IMG_1030
2 breathable blankets, 1 night light, 2 burp cloths, 1 organic cotton crib sheet (the other is on the mattress)

These are my “must haves”:

  • a safe sleeping surface + mattress (our co-sleeper for the first three months)

  • crib sheets (x2)

  • crocheted/ knitted/waffle woven blankets (x2, these are very “breathable”, unlike the heavy synthetic baby blankets which are great for day time snuggling but are potentially dangerous) NB: I am not suggesting that a newborn should be left unattended with a blanket, but that I am more comfortable with the breathable kind when I am beside the baby in a co-sleeping situation. Use your own judgment.

  • burp cloths (2 near the crib)

  • a night light (1)

Things I would wait to buy:

  • swaddles, some babies don’t enjoy these

Travel & Parking

I’m not sure whether this is true or not, but I’ve been told that hospitals won’t let you leave with your newborn without first seeing that you have a car seat. Regardless, as a car-dependent, rural mama, I didn’t feel the need to test this out. We originally had a car seat and stroller system. You could snap the car seat directly into a huge stroller and never have to wake your babe. As my eldest was born in a cold October and was shuffled from hospital, pediatric, and specialist care, this system had some appeal – until the snow melted and he was in healthier shape.

For my next born, we kept the car seat with the base, but let the stroller get dusty. We had gotten into baby wearing. He was a spring baby and carrying him around, especially on trails and around town just seemed so much easier. I never needed to put him in a sketchy shopping cart either as he snuggled me in his carrier.

This time around, we got a car seat with two bases (for both cars) and a newborn insert all second-hand. I ditched the bulky hood and added a car seat cover as we’re due for another cold-weather baby.

For the first three months, I intend to wear my baby in a stretchy moby wrap. This kind usually only works for around 3 months anyway, but it takes care of the issue that newborn’s have with their tiny frog legs. (After which, I have my choice between my trusty mei tai, a ring sling, and a woven wrap I’m borrowing from my sister-in-law.)

When I want to put my baby down away from home, I’ll put her in her car seat. At home, I have our old bouncer back (minus a few unnecessary attachments).

IMG_1021

I think as a minimalist parent, you should feel comfortable getting rid of the unnecessary elements on baby gear – especially when you don’t think you’ll be able to sell the item after you use it.

These are my “must haves”:

  • car seat (the kind with a base are really great for this stage)

  • baby carrier or a stroller

  • some place safe to lay your baby down during the day such as a bouncer or baby swing

This time around, I’m trying:

  • newborn insert for car seat

  • car seat cover (if you’re having a warm season baby this may be completely redundant)

Things I would wait to buy or reconsider getting altogether:

  • a stroller

  • a grocery cart cover

IMG_1023

Bathing & Pharmacy

Kids don’t need to be cleaned very often. And they don’t need a lot of specialized gear. I know, marketing seems to make this realization a little counter-intuitive, but think about it: why do babies need their own nail clipper?

These are my “must haves”:

  • a nail clipper (that the family shares)

  • a soft brush (mostly for cradle cap, both my boys had this so I expect to deal with it again)

  • a baby towel (x1)

  • baby wash cloths (I have a store of these for washing kids’ faces and for multiple kids bath times)

  • a mild soap (I like Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap and Nature’s Gate’s Baby Shampoo and Body Wash)

  • a mild lotion or oil (my favorite is coconut oil but I also have Aveeno’s Baby Lotion)

  • a nasal aspirator (for getting boogies out)

  • saline solution (for the aspirator)

  • a thermometer (the kids share)

IMG_1042
There is a hooded baby towel, baby wash cloths, Nature’s Gate Baby Wash, a soft, vegan baby brush, a nasal aspirator that comes apart for easy cleaning, saline spray, nail clippers, and a thermometer. I’m not a fan of Johnson & Johnson but this is one of their safer products that I intend to use up before replacing with coconut oil.

Things I would wait on or completely reconsider:

  • eczema care

  • cold care

  • pain relievers

  • a baby bath tub

Toys, Books, Stimulation

Babies from birth to three months usually don’t have a lot of interest in toys and you will probably receive some as gifts so there is no need to stock up on these at this stage. At about 3 months exactly, kids seem to universally gravitate toward those plastic keys – so don’t throw those out if you get some.

I believe in reading to your child, but a library card is probably the best route to take. You can purchase any favorites, but get a much wider selection and save a lot of money and clutter by taking this route.

Stimulation comes from you and all those people who want to be in your baby’s life. Simple games and cuddles are priceless and come without any clutter!

These are my 0-3 “must haves”:

  • a library card

  • any book that is fun for the parent to read out loud

  • some books written in French (or whatever family language you have other than English as these may be hard to get at the library, depending on where you live)

Memorabilia

I’m a failed baby booker. OK, I’ve admitted it. Moving on. I am a big believer in having some stuff to remember this time. It seems like a never ending cycle of kid care until you blink and then try to recall the time later on. The trick is to make memorabilia super easy for you.

For my first born, I tried the baby book thing because that is what my mom did for us. Later, I learned about baby’s first year calendars and I was won over. Put the calendar somewhere very easy to access, like in the pocket of your nursing throne. Keep a pen handy. Don’t worry over perfection.

Cameras that can be set to put the date in the corner or organize data by date are worthwhile. I haven’t used it yet, but I plan to have milestone stickers to put on the baby’s clothes for pictures. My husband made the brilliant observation that blank label stickers would be great for those milestones marketers haven’t considered. Such as: “baby’s first game night”.

Also, a fabric or permanent marker can be a great way to turn a onesie into some occasion-specific outfit. I’ve written all kinds of events or messages on my kid’s clothes.

These are my “must haves”:

  • baby calendar and pen

  • camera

  • fabric marker / permanent marker

Thing I’m trying out this time around:

  • milestone stickers / blank labels

img_1045.jpg
A first-year calendar, some milestone stickers, some blank labels for our own milestones (such as “baby’s first game night”), a permanent marker. We might use the marker on the kids’ clothes directly or add dates to stickers.

 

So, that’s it! I think you’ll find that a newborn comes with very little of his or her own expectations. This is a great time to introduce your child to the luxuries of less.

Happy Parenting with Mother Earth in Mind!