We live pretty minimally, part by choice and part by circumstance. We’re also expecting our second child, after swearing off having any more children after our first. So we got rid of and passed along a lot of our baby gear, much of which was handed down to us. This presents a new opportunity to learn from our experience the first time around and know what we like, don’t like, and what Amazon and everyone is telling us that we need, that we really don’t.
Based on our experience and lack of space (and a little bit because I’m grumpy at how much money we wasted with our first kid), this is the list of things your baby does not need, and why. Oh, and this is based on the Amazon registry checklist, by the way.
Crib, Bassinet, AND Play Yard, just for sleeping
Really, what you don’t need is the crib and the bassinet. We had all three: we used the bassinet when our baby was tiny, but he grew out of it quickly. After that, we used the play yards, because he was still feeding in the night and we were living in a temporary situation. We didn’t even set up the crib until he was seven months old, and he only used it for a year before switching to a toddler bed because it wasn’t convertible. We traveled with our pack ‘n play (or play yard, depending on your local dialect), but it was big and heavy. I don’t think we ever used it as a play pen – we didn’t need to.
This time, we’re going with a pack ‘n play and a Moses basket. The Moses basket is completely and 100% solely because I want one. It is the one thing we are buying simply because we want it. I plan on using it as a place to set the baby down when he’s sleeping and I’m not in the bedroom, which is where the pack ‘n play will be. The pack ‘n play has a bassinet attachment so I don’t have to reach all the way down in middle of the night for feeding and a changing station – more on that later.
I’m not saying you won’t use all three or that they don’t have individual purposes. But if you’re low on space, money, and/or this is your first kid, you don’t really need all three. If you’re going to invest your money in something, you should focus on getting a good pack ‘n play. A big, expensive, convertible crib can come later when your baby is older and/or not sleeping in your bedroom.
Baby-Specific Laundry Detergent
Seriously, Dreft is not worth your money. Just wash baby clothes with normal laundry and switch to a hypo-allergenic laundry detergent. We used All Free and Clear, then started making our own. Now we’re using Seventh Generation (because it’s hard to make your own when you’re living in a hotel).
A Changing Table and Pad
It’s a convenience thing, luxury, actually. Babies can be changed on any flat surface with a towel or blanket underneath. The bed was a favorite of mine. We had regular dresser, not a dedicated changing table, with a changing pad on top. That said, if you’re investing in a bedroom set, I’m sure it’ll look nice to have a dedicated changing table with the matching set. You just don’t really need one. We got rid of both the dresser and the changing pad and have no plans to to buy either, with the exception of what’s attached to the pack ‘n play.
Are they nice to have? Sure. Do you really need them? Absolutely not. Any plastic dishes will do (as long as they’re BPA free). We even had the suction ones, and our kid figured out how to pull them up almost immediately. You will need baby spoons though, and later, toddler silverware. The plates with the curved lips on the top are also nice when your kid is learning how to use a fork. No amount of overpriced baby dishes are going to spare you a clean-up though, so if you’re looking to save yourself some money, don’t bother.
Glider or Rocking Chair
This is a very personal decision. We actually had an antique family heirloom rocking chair, which I loved, but it really didn’t do anything other than keep me from falling asleep during midnight feedings…sometimes. And even then, we didn’t use it very long because I learned how to nurse on my side and didn’t even have to get out of bed. So it just sat there, unused. If you’re not breastfeeding or you don’t plan on sleeping in the same room as your baby, this could be a different decision for you.
We spent like $40 on a baby tub with a newborn sling. I think we used it? First off, newborns get sponge baths anyway until the cord falls off. Just wipe them down during a diaper change. You can learn how to wash a baby here.
Second, babies don’t need bathed very often. Neither do prepubescent children, for that matter. We give our son a bath once a week, unless he gets noticeably dirty. Sure, you might think that’s gross, but he’s not an adult. He doesn’t get smelly or sweaty like we do, and hair doesn’t get greasy if you don’t shampoo it often. The concept of bathing daily is very new.
Third, you’ve got a sink for that. And probably an full-size bathtub or shower, once they’re old enough to sit up. All admit, our kid hated (and still hates) showers because of the water in his eyes. It’s probably because we didn’t expose him to it early enough. And if your hesitant because of modesty or whatnot, I promise it’s not weird to co-shower with a young child.
If you have a pet that will be interested in diapers, sure. Otherwise, just dedicate a small trashcan, maybe with a lid, and take it out every night. If you have a particularly stinky poo, you can always just bag it separate. Or, better yet, invest in cloth diapers and wipes and just rinse them and leave them in the tub or washing machine.
Just use a towel.
This one is subject to debate among wipes-warmer-swear-bys and no-way-Jose’s. The argument for those who swear by a wipes warmer is that the baby isn’t “shocked” by the cold wipe, and is therefore less fussy during a change. The counter-argument is that babies who are used to warm wipes will now always be fussy when there isn’t a warm wipe (and also that wipes warmers dry out wipes). I think you need to know your baby before buying a wipes warmer – if your baby is changed easily without much complaining, skip it. If your baby fusses unbearably during changes, start by warming the wipe in your hand and see if that helps. If it does, maybe get a wipes warmer.
Again, this is a big personal decision. I mostly breastfed, but on the occasions that we used a bottle (for whatever reason), our baby got room temperature water straight from a water bottler or the tap. Usually when I gave him formula, it was because he needed to eat now and I was in a situation where I wasn’t comfortable with whipping out a boob. Eventually he just got used to cold food, so as I transitioned away from breastfeeding, he didn’t really care. That said, if you’re exclusively formula feeding, you might want a bottle warmer.
Don’t waste your money. Use an apron, a blanket, a jacket… or just don’t use anything at all. If you have a problem with that suggestion, get some clips and you can turn any blanket into a nursing cover. It’ll save you a ton of space.
Basically Anything in the ‘Toys’ Section
I’m going to let you in on a big secret: babies are incredibly easy to entertain. Everything is new to them. It’s all a toy. You’ll want to make sure what they’re playing with is safe, but they don’t need dedicated toys until they’re older. Keys, mirrors, and old plastic food containers have long been a source of entertainment. Our kid was fascinated with onions and wooden spoons when he was learning to crawl. When he was 18 months old, we got him a ton of new toys for Christmas. The next day, he played with potatoes in a plastic box and was entertained for a solid 90 minutes.
I can get behind a sound only baby monitor for when you’re not in the room, but you’re going to spend at least an extra $100 to get a video monitor. We didn’t even typically use our sound one- I really only turned it on at night, after he was in his own room, and when I had to leave our apartment to walk the dog and the baby was sleeping. Even then, I quickly stopped using it at night, because our son would talk in his sleep and it would wake me up. As a parent, you’re senses are heightened to respond to the needs of your baby – you’re going to hear that kid crying across the house, even without a baby monitor. Again though, this is a personal decision. The people I know with video monitors swear by them.
This is really a “it depends where you live” kind of thing. When we were living in Ohio, it was overkill, even in the winter. Here in Colorado, I could see it, but its a much drier environment. That said, a pot of boiling water on the stove or running a hot shower will do the same job.