Dear Home-Ec 101,
I just recently found out I am pregnant with our first baby and ohhhh was it a surprise. My husband and I are just short of our one year aniversery and had planned to stay in our tiny one bedroom apartment for another year to save for a house. We were already bursting at the seams in our less than 600 sf of space and now we are going to be adding baby to the mix. So here is my question, all the baby books and sites have these huge lists of things it says we “need” but what do we realistically need? What are the must have items and what kind of quantities do we really need? Oh and just a note, our building does have inexpensive pay laundry facilities which is good since we are planning to cloth diaper.
Where the heck do I put the baby
Congratulations to you and your husband. I promise you, you’re not going to miss all the junk and longterm your family will be so much better off.
Babies don’t need half the garbage you are told they need. People all over the world have been having babies for thousands and thousands of years without wipe warmers or Diaper Genies. I want to tell you how encouraging it is to meet a lady like you.
Here are the musts:
- a carseat
- some clothes
- a couple of blankets
Thanks to my friend @beanjeepin for putting it so succinctly. Since you’re cloth diapering I’m going to assume that you plan on giving breastfeeding a try. I don’t know if you will be staying home or returning to work, if you return, you will need a good quality breastpump. I used one that was passed down to me and I used it for my second two children and then I passed it on to someone else. If you get a second-hand pump, you can buy new parts rather than a whole new machine. If you formula feed or return to work you’ll need a few bottles. Do your research.
As far as cribs and high chairs go, you can certainly make do with a pack-n-play style crib rather than a full one. We also used a high chair that strapped onto an existing chair rather than taking up valuable floor space. The one item “unnecessary” item we got the most use from was a swing. My oldest had colic and until he could walk it seemed he was only happy in the swing. (Yes, I did carry him in a sling, when he wasn’t in the swing).
We did splurge on an Amby Cradle for our second child since our experience with our first was so miserable and we were willing to try anything to keep it from happening again. (Uh, I’m not trying to scare you, I promise, just listen to your gut parent feelings.) We got a lot of use out of it and two other families have as well. All of the items we used are in storage until my sisters or another friend have a baby. You see, there is no need to buy most of these things new, with a very strong exception for car seats. Kids only use these things for a short while and then they are donated or put away until they are used again.
Now, it’s easy for me to look back and see what I didn’t need, but I thought it would be better if I included other people’s experiences, too.
What You DON’T Need For Your Baby
Yesterday I asked some people to share what they didn’t need. Keep in mind that many of these responses are from Twitter, so don’t knock the grammar. Here are their responses:
- @idreamofclean lived in 740sf w/ my 1st so I have a whole series on small living spaces. I had very little: pack &play instead of a crib, no changing table, only a few clothes, foldable bath mat (instead of a tub). I had cute baby towels but def not necessary
- @indybabyplanner Definitely recommend doing a drawer with a changing station on top. Works great and saves space. Did it with both of mine.
- @notdiyheather did NOT need a wipes warmer or baby swing. Or fancy baby dresses.
- @kooner923 all i truly needed were my boobs, a comfy chair, spit rags and a sling.
- @shandonfowler Changing table. Just use a bed and a basket.
- @betzwhite changing table
- @mygomom wipes warmers, bassinet if you have a crib, bouncy seat if you have a car seat, stroller that doesn’t fit the car seat
- @webprgirl Um, a million toys :).
Sense a theme with the changing table there?
I also asked in a group on Facebook, here are their responses:
- Megan Crume Diaper Genie (we could never get it to work), bottle warmer
- Kelby Carr Most swings… I later found one that was awesome and stuck with it for all kids. But I would wait to buy until they are born. One good bouncy seat is enough. Fancy clothes (why put them in them except for pictures so you kind of only need one… or maybe one and a backup for when you put the one on and they hurl).
- Kelly Whalen The list is SOOO long. But here are a few items: diaper genie, changing table, swings, bouncy chairs, strollers (only use them when they got older), all the baby lotions and potions, bottles (not everyone will say the same I know), cute baby clothes, baby towels (we just used regular ones), baby bathtubs, really anything that had one purpose we barely used.
- Robin Elton Anything beyond the most basic toys. And after seeing the documentary Babies, I’m convinced the only toy a baby really needs is a sibling or a dog.
****I mentioned that siblings may be hard to produce in short order****
- Michele Chestnut Diaper Genie and the warm wipe thing… they just dried out too quick.
- Jodi Fur A really big expensive, heavy stroller. I once cried at the mall because I couldn’t get mine to fold and someone honked at me and the baby was like a month old. And then I bought the $20 snap and go that the car seat fits in.
- Maricris Guadagna Baby Spoons. You don’t need them until baby starts solid food. I’d rather get GC and buy diapers 🙂
- Andrea Updyke baby shoes before they can walk. Get one pair for the picture and move on!
- Angela England I honestly didn’t even use my diaper bag
- Cindi Matthews Some of those baby bouncers that sit on the floor or table & prop kids up and the kids outgrow in 3 weeks.
- Audrey McClelland Wet wipe warmer. Total fail.
- Jill Berry Snuggly. I didn’t do enough research, so bought a “baby faces mom only” Snuggly. Also I found it almost impossible to place the baby in the Snuggly. I used it once.
And via chat from Brian Crawford who moved from the US to France with an infant:
We brought a swing and a pack and play. The pack and play served as the crib and basically that’s all we had! And believe it or not we didn’t buy too much else. Diapers, yes. But you really don’t need all the mountains of stuff that you get for your first baby (well, typical parents get that is – we certainly did).
The swing was used as a high chair/dinner table chair. We find the same thing with baby toys. Babies don’t tend to play with baby toys. You have to find what engages them, and go with that.
So Home Eccers, what about you? What did you find completely unnecessary when you had your kid(s)? Chime in in the comments.
Submit your questions to email@example.com.