Expecting your first baby can be such a confusing time, especially if you’re trying to live a minimalist lifestyle. Everywhere you look retailers are trying to tell you everything you are going to need for this new person about to enter your life. Did you know that Amazon suggests over 50 different items you “need” to add to your registry? That’s crazy!
Growing up I always heard how expensive raising a baby is. I’ve heard plenty of different figures for how much the first year costs, how much diapers cost, how much that kid will cost you until they turn 18. These figures are all dependent on one thing: consumerism. Saying no to filling your home and life with piles of things can make raising a baby easier! Your diaper bag won’t become a black hole; you’ll be able to reach in and pull out exactly what you need.
Here is a list of the absolute minimum items you need for your baby. Obviously there are other things that are super helpful, and definitely even other things I would recommend. But if you’re looking to carry your minimalism into parenting this is a great place to start!
Sleeping is what your baby is going to be doing the most of at first, so you want to make sure to have a place for them to do it (besides your arms).
We coslept with our baby for the first couple of weeks and it made life with a newborn so much simpler for everyone! I could nurse him without having to get up, and we just took turns with the diaper changes. Be sure to practice safe cosleeping habits (both parents are aware of baby in bed, keep all loose blankets and pillows away from baby, no gaps between mattress and headboard or mattress and wall that baby can fall into). All three of us slept much better when we started cosleeping… until he started getting too wiggly and needed his own space.
A simple, no frills crib is all you need! Make sure you can adjust the height of the mattress so it can accomodate your baby through all of their developmental stages, and keep them contained for longer!
You’ll need a mattress for that crib, and organic is the way to go. Their little face is going to be pressed up against it for hours on end, and many mainstream mattresses are sprayed with toxic chemicals you don’t want near your baby.
Babies are VERY wet almost all of the time. Protect your mattress and get waterproof mattress protectors. You’ll need 2 at the very least (one to change into in the middle of the night when your baby spits up everywhere) but 3 is more preferable (yes, they will need their sheets changed twice in one night sometimes).
A fitted sheet is all you need. The AAP recommends nothing else in the crib to reduce the risk of SIDS, which fortunately fits right along with your minimalist style! 2-3 sheets is all you need.
Swaddling your baby is the best way to make the transition from the womb to the world easier on them (and you!). I’ve heard some people say their baby didn’t like to be swaddled, but I’d care to disagree and say maybe they just hadn’t found the way to swaddle their baby that they liked! While many brands make zip-up or velcro swaddles, I don’t think these are the way to go. They are almost always sized which means you’re going to be going through a ton of them, and they can only be used for swaddling. Practice the art of swaddling your baby with big muslin blankets! They can also be used as burp cloths and play blankets, keep them warm in the car or the stroller, and be used as a sunshade or nursing cover! 2-3 blankets is enough if you only are going to be using them for swaddling, but I would keep 4-5 if you want them as multitaskers.
If you’re having a baby shower thrown for you, I would honesty not register for or buy any clothes on your own. They are the number 1 gift people love to give at showers, and you will likely end up with more than you need! If you do end up needing more, check with friends to get some hand-me-downs!
You don’t need as many of these as you think! 5-7 in each size up to 12 months is perfect. A little more for the younger sizes and a little less as they get older as they’ll not be needing as many changes. If you’re having a winter baby you can definitely get by with even less since it will be too cold most of the time (and separate pants are a pain on newborns!).
I know a lot of people have different opinions on this, but zip-up sleepers are so much more convenient! We won’t even use the ones with snaps anymore; it takes too much precious time when your baby is crying and wiggling when you could just be done in one quick zip! 3-4 of these per size is perfect. Winter babies will want more since they will likely be wearing these during the day as well as at night.
If you’re serious about minimalism and healthy living, breastfeeding is the way to go! It’s free, doesn’t require any products, and can be ready at a moment’s notice. If for whatever reason you are unable to breastfeed, you can still live minimally!
Cloth breast pads are the most comfortable, as well as affordable, sustainable, and minimal option. Be sure to get the right size (going off of your third trimester breast size should be fine) and keep in mind the different shapes. Some are flat and work better for smaller breasts, but bunch up and don’t fit in your bra if your more well endowed. 7 pairs should be plenty.
Your regular old bras CAN work for breastfeeding, but they will wear out very quickly if you are pulling down the cups all the time to nurse your baby. 2-3 clip-down, wire-free nursing bras for daytime and 2 soft sports bra-like nursing bras for night time is perfect.
Some moms are totally cool with whipping a boob out to feed their baby no matter where they are, but not everyone is! Some babies also get distracted easily and nurse better under a cover where they won’t be tempted to peek at everything going on around them. You can definitely use your muslin swaddle blankets for this, but I LOVE my Milk Snob cover, since it keeps your back covered if you are pulling your shirt up to nurse. My baby recognizes it from across the room and gets all excited when he sees it!
Sometimes you will want to be able to get away from your baby, just for a little while. Sometimes you will be engorged and need to pump a little bit to get some relief. You can probably get a breast pump for free from your insurance. My insurance does not offer this, but I simply use a Haakaa! It is so small, made of only silicone, and does exactly what I need. You attach it to the breast your baby isn’t currently nursing on and it will catch the let down that otherwise would have been wasted. I pour this milk into little 2 or 4 ounce mason jars for storage.
If you are formula feeding you will definitely need bottles! Breastfeeding mamas don’t NEED them, unless you would like the ability to get away sometimes. Mason Bottles are an amazing option. I just store my milk in regular mason jars, then when it’s time to eat you just remove the disk part of the lid and put the silicone nipple in instead! Perfectly minimal and plastic free.
I am a strong advocate for cloth diapering! Cloth diapering can be very minimalistic (as long as you don’t get caught up in all of the prints) as well as affordable. I don’t want to get too much into it here, but I plan on writing a post all about cloth diapering soon so stay tuned!
12-24 prefold or flat diapers is perfect and will have you doing laundry every 2-3 days. You’ll want 6-8 covers to go with them to keep your house pee-free :)
You’ll need bags for home and bags for on the go. 2 pail liners (to line a laundry basket) or hanging wet bags to store dirty diapers at home and 2 travel wet bags for the diaper bag. The idea here is one to use and one to wash. Because I guarantee you’ll have to change a diaper while the laundry is going (unless you only do diaper laundry after baby goes to bed I guess, but that’s “me” time!).
Cloth diapers and cloth wipes go hand-in-hand. Some people are intimidated by cloth wipes and start off using disposable wipes with their cloth diapers. BUT that means every change you need to separate your wipes from your diapers so the wipes don’t make their way into the laundry. I’ve had this happen. Don’t let it happen. 24 cloth wipes will be plenty. You can wet them as you go or fold enough for the day and keep them in this travel wipes case so they’re ready when you need them. I made my own but you can buy them too.
Unless you’re having your baby at home and plan on never taking them anywhere ever, you’re going to need some way to get them from point A to point B!
You’re going to need a car seat for your baby if you plan on driving anywhere with them. To be very minimal you can skip the infant car seat (the kind that detaches from it’s base so you can take it out of the car) and start them straight in a convertible car seat (these can last through the entire time your kid needs to be in a car seat!). This idea isn’t super practical though because babies sleep a lot and you’re not going to want to wake them up by taking them out of the car seat when you get where you’re going. A travel system is perfect because it includes an infant car seat and a stroller that are compatible, meaning you can remove the car seat from your car and click it right into the stroller without waking your baby! The Uppababy Vista stroller and Mesa car seat is an amazing travel system! Don’t let the price scare you, the quality is amazing and this stroller can grow to accommodate 3 kids at once! Perfect for growing families.
(Note: It’s super dangerous and deadly to let your baby sleep in their car seat when it’s not in the car or clicked into the stroller as the angle of the seat changes!)
Babies love to be close to their mamas. Babywearing in the newborn stage has so many benefits to mom and baby and I believe is essential. The Solly baby wrap is so perfect and snug for the newborn stage. It has a little bit of a learning curve, but they host an Instagram Live video every week with their babywearing educator who walks you through the process and answers questions!
A new little person does mean new little things are going to be added to your home, but that doesn’t mean your minimalist lifestyle has to go out the window. What items do you consider essential for newborns and new moms? Do you have anything to add (or take away) from our list? If you have any questions remember to Ask a Bestie!