Saturday, February 5, 2011

Baby Gear Guide

What do you really need to have a baby?
That is a question my pregnant friend asked me recently. And it's a question my husband and I asked a year and a half ago when we were wondering if we could afford to consider having a baby.
My search for an answer led me to this article: Is All That Baby Gear Really Necessary? It says, no, all that baby gear is not really necessary. It and other articles on the Natural Child Project site convinced me that it was in fact possible to have a baby quite cheaply, and introduced me to the concept of Attachment Parenting, which shaped my approach to parenting.

Now that I'm nine months into this parenting project, my answer is: you don't really NEED much, but you will want a lot. Sure you can raise a baby on next to nothing, but you will want to make your baby and yourself as comfortable as you can. How you do that is a highly individual process, depending on your own values, tastes and lifestyle. What's essential for one family might be useless to another. 

I wanted to go totally minimal, for both financial and ethical reasons. I didn't want a crib, a stroller, more than five toys, any entertaining gadgets, or anything disposable or plastic or not absolutely essential. I have stayed pretty minimal, but still have accumulated tons of stuff that I would not want to go without. I have learned that all those products made to make parents' lives easier are not just for lazy, wasteful, indulgent people. Having a baby is very hard work and comfort is not a luxury, it is very important. (Also, plastic is very hard to avoid, and babies actually do need a good variety of playthings).

So for the reference of those preparing for a newborn, here are the things that I have found indispensable, the things I liked having (or would have liked to have had), and a few things I didn't and wouldn't bother with:

Moms, what's on your essential list?
Moms-to-be, what items are you wondering if you should bother with?

1 comment:

  1. I agree with the list for the most part.

    I will say I used a lanolin nipple cream and it worked very well for me. I agree whole heartedly that this is on the essential list. My midwife gave me a sample size tube on her first home visit the day after my daughter was born and I really wish she had given it to me the visit before the birth or warned me to get some. By the time she visited the next afternoon I was so sore.

    funny the discussion around the diaper bag to. I have three systems I use depending on what I am doing. I was given a wonderful slim diaper bag with lovely compartments and it has been super handy especially in the first few months. I will pack it and throw it in the car for grandma's house or visits with friends. I have found it useful for traveling too, both in the airport and on the ferry it's a great little unit to carry with you and hang off the end of a change table in a public rest room. I do find it considerably less convenient if I have to walk any great distance.
    I also have a back-pack. I find the backpack is essential for walking any distance. Taking long hikes and fishing trips with my partner, baby and dog has been one of the only ways I have kept sane. I have a small hiking backpack with top and bottom compartments. I can pack a pick-nick and water and a blanket in the top and put diapers, wet bag and wipes in the bottom. I highly recommend, by the way, the long walk with pick-nick lunch as perhaps the perfect outing when weather permits for a new family.
    The third option is a small drawstring bag with just enough for one emergency diaper change. It fits in the front pocket of my Ergo Carrier or in the saddle bags of my Jeep Stroller and is perfect for a walk to the grocery store or a dog walk. Times where I am unlikely to need to change a diaper but then you never know.

    The sleeping place is an interesting one too. For the first month or two my baby slept exclusively with me cuddled in close where I could neurotically check over and over if she was still breathing. This is no longer the case, though she does spend part of the night there. Before she was born I was given a little crib, big enough to sleep her still but I'm guessing we only get another month out of it. Somewhere around three months I pulled this little crib out of storage put it together and put it at the foot of our bed. She's five months yesterday and now we have a system worked out where I will nurse her down around eight in the evening and then nurse again around ten after that session I put her in her little crib and she sleeps there till somewhere between three and five in the morning and then she comes back to bed with me until we get up, usually sevenish. I love sleeping cuddled up with her but I do sleep deeper if I can roll and stretch freely. I find this combo works so well for us both to feel connected and well rested.

    I would put baby monitor on my list of essentials though. Certainly not a wouldn't bother with for me. Maybe it's just the layout of my house but if she is asleep in another room I cannot hear her. When I first put her down at eight if I don't fall asleep nursing I get up and tidy up for two hours until she wakes up at ten. I wouldn't hear her until she was hysterical without a monitor and the house would be a health hazard without my whirl wind evenings a couple times a week.

    I agree internet is so useful. I also cannot imagine how women cope without it.

    Oh and I use receiving blankets and baby face clothes for everything too. Though it may be because my baby is also a puker.