Friday, January 20, 2012

My Take on Baby Needs

A darling reader asked me the other day...

"one thing i've been wanting to know from you is your list of baby "essentials". i so (SO!) admire your family's goal of living simply. we are expecting our first kiddo in about 7 weeks...& are trying hard to stay "minimalist" in the 'stuff' that seems to accumulate just for the pooping/screaming little squirt :) anything in particular on your "baby essentials" list (& seriously now, let's get specific...not like "onsies"-because obviously i'm not going to keep my baby unnecessarily nakie...)"

My response to her turned into a post of it's own.  So, this here post is dedicated to j and any other expectant mothers out there.  Other than love, love, love, attention, devotion and the grace of God, here are some suggestions....

 Waiting for Miriam...

Dear Sweet j,

When our son was born (9 years ago), I didn't have as much of a "living simply" attitude.  To be honest, I got caught up in all our culture told us we needed to have a baby.  As you can imagine, our small home was a bit over run with baby goods- as most expectant parents' homes are in this country!:-)  With three kids under my feet belt here are a few suggestions I would make....

1) Forget the standard behemoth of a high chair.  We used and love (and are still using) a feeding seat that straps to a regular chair.  Some have backs that tilt back for when they are young, most are portable and the tray can be taken off so it can be used as a booster seat (just pulled up to the table) when they get older.  When they outgrow them, they can be easily stored in a closet for when guests come with little ones.  I HIGHLY recommend these over big high chairs.

2) Don't be tempted to buy lots of toys.  Our kids favorite things were pictures of baby faces (I cut them out of magazines and glued them to a piece of construction paper and laminated it), empty yogurt cups (they loved knocking down the towers- and then they could be recycled when they outgrew them) and books, books, books!  Standard rattles little fists can grab and shake are precious, too.

3) Use a sling/baby carrier for when they're small, then an umbrella stroller for when they're a little older/heavier.  Big, huge strollers are such a pain (to move, store, and buy).

4) Breastfeed.  You may be choosing to do otherwise, but breastfeeding simplifies so many things (in my opinion).  It forces you as a mom to slow down and sit and spend time with your baby.  I loved disappearing into a quiet room in the midst of a house full of people with the excuse that we had to nurse.  It gave us one on one time that we both needed.  I had the luxury of staying home- I know that working/pumping can be a pain- but I still think it has so many benefits including the money saved and the lack of bottle paraphernalia.  I did find that lanolin, sports-type nursing bras (the next size up- for cup size changes) and a boppy were helpful.  Here's a post I wrote on why I loved it.

5) When they're ready, make your own baby food.  In the side bar you'll find a link to my Homemade Baby Food posts.  It doesn't take much work at all, but gives you peace of mind and saves you money.

6) The biggest one is to resist the urge to buy everything BEFORE the baby comes.  All you really need is: the car seat, some diapers and wipes, a bassinet/cradle/crib, some warm sleepers (caps and socks) and receiving blankets, and a thermometer (assuming you're breastfeeding).  Once you're living it, you can make purchases as you see fit.  It's easier to add them than make them disappear or feel guilty for not using them:-).

Oh, my.  I hope this is helpful.  If you have more questions, please feel free to email me at  I'm so excited for you to meet your baby!!!  Both my sisters are expecting right now so I have babies on the brain, too.

Who am I kidding?  I usually have babies on the brain anyway.

Blessings, j.

Jane Pin It


  1. Thank you for sharing this. It's really helpful! I find it so hard to narrow down all the choices. And we really don't want to end up all kinds of "stuff" that we didn't need. Wasting time and space (and money). Thanks again!

  2. How I wish I had known you when mine were still so little. Especially for your recipes and making your own babyfood. There is not much I would change if I could go back in time and do things differently, but this is one. I always love how you put your ice cube trays to use!

  3. Your good,a simple way to raise babies and after my mom had 14,i only had 3 ,i still learned you really just clutter up the house with non-essentials.I like your idea for the high chair too,our 1 year old[ yesterday ] grandson has been escaping his for awhile -[ watch "Please Don't Eat The Daises", ya ,its a OLD movie with Doris Day-don't know who she is,just watch the movie ]SO I HAVE 2 HIGH CHAIRS WAITING TO BE DONATED,BLAH,ANY BABY I'VE SEEN,AND I'VE PERSONALLY HAVE BEEN CARETAKER TO A LEAST 49 + OR - A FEW BABIES ,THEY ALL LOVE PHONES,S I DISCONNECT MINE AND LET OUR GRAND-SON PLAY WITH IT ,HE IS THRILLED. WITH ALL THE MODERN CONVENIENCES ,I'D SAY LISTEN TO YOUR HOST HERE ,Jane KNOWS BEST AND JUST BE GLAD YOU DON'T HAVE TO WASH DIAPERS IN THE LAKE [OLDEN,BUT GOLDEN DAYS]

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  5. As a mom of 3 and now a Nana of 9 (3 of whom are 7 months and younger), your post is so, EVER so practical, very sound advice. Decked-out nurseries are usually for the parents, anyway. I bought a couple of booster seats with trays several years ago and would do the same if I was starting over. Very nice blog...

  6. This is great advice and as the Mom of an 18-month-old I especially SECOND the booster seat over high chair. And if you have a boy, keep a STACK of full-size washcloths by your side during diaper changes. They just can't help it ;-)

  7. The perfect list. Now that #4 is on the way, these are all choices we have made as well. And I couldn't be happier with booster over high chair. As for breastfeeding, there's no comparison, but tell her to be strong and stick with it. I always hate when moms give up because they get discouraged.

  8. I can certainly agree with the high chair idea. We were given a giant high chair and I've hated through three children, but I just couldn't justify buying something else when we had it for free. It's not being used right now and I think it will find itself being donated somewhere.

  9. I would add a few flat or pre-fold diapers. They can be used for everything from burp cloths to emergency diapers for the baby. When the baby is finished with them, they make great dust cloths. Don't discount baby gowns, for boys or girls. They are easier to change in the middle of the night than the one piece sleepers.

  10. i have a "top" list, too, as i have had a few friends who have recently had babies and asked for advice... :)
    +i think swaddle blankets are amazing...a little pricy (you may be able to find the thin muslin-like material and make your own for cheaper), but i have used NOTHING but for the last 11+ months for my daughter... i love them - they are amazing.. :)
    +noise machine... not a necessity but they have been God-sent for us... white noise is amazing...
    +a rocking chair is wonderful, too :)
    +forget those bulky baby baths... grab one of those gigantic sponges that a baby lays on to bathe your sweet much easier :)
    +sheet saver changing for those blow outs, esp. in the middle of the night when you can hardly keep your eyes open to nurse. i am sure a towel may be just as good, but the changing pads are waterproof
    +a pacifier...even though you may be nursing (i did for both of my girls, exclusively), babies are soothed by sucking on a paci. they won't confuse a paci and nursing... i let my daughter cry for days (she had laryngitis when we left the hospital! :)) because i was nervous about using a paci after all i read about nursing... dummy me... use it :)

    enjoy every goes so quickly..even when you feel exhausted... being a momma is one of the most beautiful things in the world! <3

  11. I totally second the portable high chair (one that reclines) and a bobby- breastfeeding or not. I also could not have done without those little bouncy seat/papasan type things that you can put baby in while you shower/take a bath, or easily just move the thing to what ever room you want baby in, including outside in the yard. Great list! Oh- also super important- TRULY non-toxic baby products. So many are loaded with nasty things you don't want on baby for their first or 100th bath (California Baby is a great line)!

  12. We stuck to two basics: time and absorbing materials.
    Really, everything else can't compare to those two.

  13. I love this post and while I agree with most everything on here (i have both a high chair and portable highchair and i only use the real highchair when company comes over because we need the extra seat) I would like to add that not everyone CAN breastfeed and that doesn't make you a failure as a mother. I'm a stay at home momma/ soon to be homeschooling momma to a 4.5 year old boy, 3 year old and 17 month old girls and baby girl number three is arriving in about 3 weeks. With each of my kids (and yes i will do it again with this one) I struggled to breastfeed for as long as I possibly could but my body has not been able to produce enough milk to nourish my children and so all three have had to be formula fed from 3 months on and you would be surprised how many shaming/judging looks and responses I received while feeding. I only mention this because I feel like there is such a push on breastfeeding that if you are unable to do it a social stigma is often put upon you and its not fair to an already stressed out new mom. I cannot tell you how many times other moms would tell me just to keep trying and that the more baby ate the more I would produce, or that if I took this herbal supplement/tea the milk will come or that I needed to drink more water. None of it made a difference i could barely produce 3ish ounces at a time and my children needed more food. I found that it was better to switch to a formula and have a calm and focused feeding where I could bond with my baby that it was to fight with my body and always feel like a failure.

    1. You make a very good point and I know this is the case. I have several relatives who were unable to breastfeed even though they desperately tried and wanted to. I do not mean to ignore this group or assume everyone can, I just want to encourage those who are maybe hesitant to try because their circles are less than encouraging in this area. But, if it isn't working after a valiant attempt (you were more than valiant in your efforts!), a mom should chose formula and feel very good about her decision (and ignore as best she can the looks and comments of others):-).


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