*Most* Waldorf moms now have read Kim Payne’s books, Simplicity Parenting and Soul of Discipline and if you HAVEN’T, I couldn’t recommend them more. This post won’t be a cliff notes version, but consider it a personal testament to their wonder.
I have mentioned previously that I went from living in 680sqft with 3 bedrooms to 1280sqft with 3 bedrooms and 1.5 bath, to now about 800sqft with 2 bedrooms and a tiny little bathroom….and if there’s anything in the world that makes you want to buy ALL the stuff, it’s a new baby. Most women can relate to the feeling that all things teeny tiny are adorable to us, but especially so in pastels. Cheers to any fellow parents who have ever gone broke in Carter’s.
But we needn’t. After all, though babies have cognition, they don’t have adequate memory retention until around age 3, and so no child will ever claim that as a 6mo they were disappointed to learn that their parents could only ever afford used clothes or that they didn’t have copious amounts of toys littering the common living space. I’m not saying don’t do well for your child, but I AM implying that perhaps we go a little overboard. Ask yourself- when was the last time you bought yourself a new shirt, and would it be organic cotton from Hanna Andersson.
And so, in an attempt to share the joy of my newly found simplicity, I thought I’d share our list of necessities that I’ve compiled as the mother of 3 children, a Waldorf homeschooler, and a madwomen living in an itty bitty apartment.
1. Clothes. This seems like an obvious one, but what wasn’t so obvious to me is how sleep deprivation a) makes you not give a toss as to whether or not your baby is fashionable or matching and b) saps the mental energy of coordinating outfits and the energy of keeping them free of vomit. The solution? Get about 10-14 footed pjs and rompers. I suggest the footed pjs over the rompers because they have feet and no person ever under the age of 1 is willing or capable of maintaining those ridiculously tiny socks, and there’s no sense in feeding the laundry demons at $1/pair. I suggest cotton because it breathes and I suggest getting some onesies to layer them. Most of them in the smaller sizes have the little mitts on them so your baby doesn’t claw you like a newborn cat (and you’re not feeding the laundry demons), and do yourself a favor and get the kind with zippers because 1 billion tiny snaps at a 2am changing feels like Chinese water torture. If you live in a cold climate, make sure you also get a sweater or two. You’ll also need some cotton hats, about a dozen. Of course, if you have a baby like my second child, you may need more than this because some babies are tiny volcanos, and simply cannot keep anything INSIDE them. As your baby learns to eat finger foods, you might want to get some bibs or just strip them when they eat. Burp cloths are also helpful, but around here, we just make our washcloths do double duty most days. If you’re a social butterfly, go ahead and indulge in a couple cute coordinated outfits to show off the baby- but believe me when I say your baby could wear a sack and still be cute. *Footed pjs ARE ok for babywearing as long as they’re roomy and not pulling up on the toes.
2. Blankets. Again, this amount largely depends on how much your child vomits, and you can always send someone to the store for more items if you discover you need more after the baby’s birth, but you should have about a half dozen receiving blankets and about 2 heavier baby blankets like small quilts. If your baby is sleeping in a cosleeper or another sleeping area that isn’t your bed, you’ll need about 4 fitted sheets. I also prefer cotton for bedding because it breathes, and I am head over heals in love with Aiden and Anais cotton gauze blankets. Target now carries 4 packs of similar quality blankets for half the price.
3. Diapering accessories. I don’t care if you put your kid in brand new $22 cloth diapers, biodegradable organic disposables or cheap diapers from Walmart, you will need a LOT. Cloth diaper estimates vary greatly depending on the age of your baby and how often you wash, and I feel more comfortable urging parents to do that investigation on a separate cloth diapering site. We washed every day and had two dozen newborn diapers. If you’re cloth diapering, you’ll also want to consider getting a diaper sprayer, a wet sack, and even a separate wet bag for travel. For wipes I used baby wash clothes from the dollar store and put them in a jar with Dr. Bronners baby liquid castile and water. I’ve also used disposables and organic wipes, and good deals are available on Amazon and at Babies R Us. Emily’s diaper cream claims to be cloth diaper friendly but I wouldn’t risk it, and though it’s superior, it’s also pricey, so if you’re not worried about gluten, I recommend Burt’s Bees. Sometimes corn starch is also helpful, but I’ve yet to use it with any success.
4. Some gear. This will also depend on your location, but what I’ve found helpful is a stroller system (the infant carseat that snaps onto a folding stroller), two types of baby carriers (a woven wrap for long carries, and a soft structured carrier, a Mei Tai, for quick jaunts into the store- or a REALLY good carrier like an Ergo), a playyard for when baby starts to crawl out of the cosleeper, the cosleeper (or crib), and a bumbo. This seems like a lot, but they all serve their purpose. Babywearing mom’s DO use their strollers- sometimes we don’t want to wake up a sleeping traveling baby, or sometimes we want a break. I have found the woven wrap extremely helpful for when baby is sick or fussy, and when I want to do housework without the little one under foot. I also have been saved by a dreaded baby swing, which I have a very conflicted relationship with, and I don’t usually recommend it. Some mother’s swear by them, others wouldn’t ever indulge. I’m a single mother 4 days out of the week, so the baby swing has saved everyone many tears. I also own a bumbo so baby can practice baby lead weaning in a child appropriate seat. I don’t believe in high chairs because I think it’s lunacy to put a baby 3-4 feet in the air in a tiny tower chair and expect them to be safe. The closer your baby is to the floor, the safer they are, but you still need to supervise your baby in a bumbo so they don’t smack their head going backwards. Also, a night light is very helpful for late night changes. By now you’ve noticed a substantial lack of baby gear at our house and that is intentional- baby gear is bad for babies’ development AND their bodies. Instead, childproof your home with outlet plugs, baby gates if necessary, bolt your furniture down, and use doorhandle guards or locks. A freeroaming baby is an independent one. If you’re minimalist, there is little baby can get into.
5. Stuff to wash your baby. For us, this didn’t mean anything until baby outgrew our sink and we don’t have a tub, so we bought her a little baby tub and a detachable showerhead to fill it up and wash her hair. If I had been in my old place, I would have just filled up the tub a little or sat in it with her, and used an old cup. Some people like to get baby wash cloths and baby towels but they’re not really helpful. If you like to use chemical soap on yourself, I suggest something milder for baby, and if you have an ashy baby, you’ll want some coconut oil or baby lotion. On the subject of baby toiletries, you’ll want a finger toothbrush for when teeth erupt, baby nail clippers, and a nasal aspirator for stuffy noses.
6. Medicine. Don’t be caught in the night with a screaming baby and a fever that is out of control. Studies are warning against using Tylenol on babies, but when your baby spikes a fever at 2am and needs a boost halfway between doses of Motrin, you’ll reach for the Tylenol. So have both on hand if you will, or the natural alternative. Also get a thermometer, and baby vicks (I diy from Wellness Mama’s recipe). Anything more than that and you need to consult a doctor. I personally chose to also get an amber teething necklace, because I believe that it aids in suppressing teething symptoms. Make sure you buy them from a reputable place and make sure they’re a safe size. We also have topical arnica on hand for bumps and bruises and some first aid items like antibacterial ointment and bandaids. I’ve also used colloidal silver and garlic oil for ear infections on my other children, but most breastfed babies do not experience them. I do not use teething remedies, as many have been recalled, and I have not used tylenol on my baby because I am skeptical of it’s safety, but I have not needed either. Make the choices that are right for your family. Something I have used and also found helpful is a humidifier, but they are not a necessity.
7. Mama items. You’ll want post partum items like breastpads (I strongly recommend washable bamboo, hemp, or flannel), post partum pads, something to sooth your lady bits like witch hazel, some belly balm, something for your nipples like coconut oil or lanolin, pain relief medicine, and Lanisoh gel coolies (they go in your bra). Bra’s are helpful if you’re well endowed, and Target has decent wireless nursing bras for under $20. As my baby has matured, I’ve switched to shelf lined camis, and I pull up my shirt and pull down my cami, so my belly isn’t exposed. I also recommend getting some new yoga pants. At some point the ones you wore during pregnancy will be too stretched out and since you will live in them, you owe it to yourself to get some new ones. I also really liked having a rice pack for aching shoulders and low back. (you can put rice in a clean sock and heat it in the microwave if you don’t have an electric hot pack)
8. A small backpack. I recommend this over a diaper bag because it actually stays on your shoulders. Most of them have water bottle holders, which you’re going to want because you’ll be thirsty all the time. Don’t overload it, but make sure you pack snacks for YOU.
9. Later baby items. As my baby has matured, I’ve found it helpful to have a few items such as a silicone teething necklace to wear while I’m babywearing, a carseat cover for cold weather (it goes over the carseat like a shower cap), baby leggins (for crawling and hiked up pants from babywearing), a few toys like teething rings, play silks, rattles, and balls all in a cloth basket, and a flash drive for photos. I have also really enjoyed having a rocking chair and a mobile, but they’re not necessities.
10. Ten healthy meal ideas that can be made in 30min or less or can be prepared by other household members. This sounds like an afterthought but don’t let it be. Some ideas include: black bean burgers with a side (think salad or a vege), Dr. McDougall’s corn chowder, Happy Herbivore’s Chick’n pot pie over noodles or rice, spaghetti, breakfast (tofu scramble with toast and fruit, oatmeal with add-ins, waffles with sides, etc.), grilled daiya cheese sandwiches and Imagine tomato soup, stir fry, chickpea tacos, beans and rice with a side, giant loaded salads, baked/microwaved potato with steamed broccoli and daiya cheese, etc. If you can get 10-15 meal ideas to rotate over the month of cheap inexpensive staples you can keep on hand with minimal trips to the grocery store, you’ll conserve a LOT of energy.
*I did not include feeding accessories here because some women choose to breastfeed and some choose not to or cannot. If you breastfeed, you should consider having at least one bottle or cup on hand, and perhaps a breast pump and storage cooler for milk, depending on whether or not you’ll be pumping at work. Though I stay at home, I have a pump for when I leave baby with daddy. If you are not breastfeeding, you will want to look into different types of formula and bottles. I’d recommend about 4-6 bottles, and contrary to popular belief, they do not need to be sterilized.
Skills to gain:
- Research babywearing and learn about babywearing types and safety. Here’s the link to Babywearing International.
- Research baby lead weaning and learn baby first aid. Here’s the link to Baby Led Weaning.
- If breastfeeding, find a lactation consultant BEFORE your baby is born and get the LLL book.
- Learn about appropriate baby milestones such as sleep habits, feeding habits, and developmental milestones by reading books such as The Baby Whisperer or What to Expect.
- Research baby care from a medicinal standpoint and know your options involving dental care, vaccines, medicine, etc.
- Compile a list of activities that will encourage you to practice self care such as making time to read, nap, or get out of the house.