Before my baby was born, I obsessed over what kind of baby products he was going to need. Like an anxious mommy-to-be, I bought almost all the “essential items for a newborn” that all the mommy bloggers told me I needed. Mommy bloggers, for me, are the most reliable sources for new mommy advice on the internet, but now that I have gotten the hang of this baby business, I can’t help but think that some of their opinions were skewed by sponsored posts. Honestly, you can raise a baby without a lot of these “essential items”. Don’t take my word for it – Wendy Swanson, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and author of “Mama Doc Medicine: Finding Calm and Confidence in Parenting, Child Health, and Work-Life Balance” says that ‘you need very few things to raise a healthy, happy child.’
There are so many baby products in the market and brand ambassadors, mommy bloggers and ads that are convincing new parents that babies are complicated and expensive. Despite an overall shrinking birthrate, according to Statista, $23 billion are spent on baby products in the US. By the year 2017, the global baby care market is forecasted to reach $66.8 billion in sales.
Baby Products for the Minimalist-no-BS-Mom
You know those Pinterest pictures of those angelic nurseries with blue-gray elephant themes and inspiring quotes that the baby can’t read? Wouldn’t we all like to have a nursery like that? Well, it’s not going to happen because I consider myself a minimalist-no-BS-mom. I NEED to be a minimalist -no-BS-mom because I’m on optional maternity leave earning 30% of my already low salary and about to take on a second mortgage on an old farmhouse that my husband and I are renovating. I know that there are so many new moms that are in a worse economic situation than I am in and can’t afford to waste money on useless, unnecessary baby products. This list, recommended for babies 0-6 months, is for you, minimalist-no-BS-mammas.
Useless Baby Products
- Crib Blanket – Unless your baby sleeps on top of the blanket, it’s considered a hazard and one of the factors of SIDS.
- Sterilizer – This takes up too much space on my countertop. To sterilize your baby bottles, you just need a pot and boiling water. Follow these directions.
- Wipe warmer – So useless. Babies want that cool feeling on their tush after it’s been suffocating in plastic underwear for hours.
- Brush – For what hair? My baby is still bald. I know there are babies born with a lot of hair. I’m sure you’ve got a brush or comb at home. It’s the same thing.
- Bassinet/Cot – I didn’t buy one. My baby slept in the carrycot that comes with the Inglesina Trilogy City 3-in-1 stroller. I bought the stand separately to place the carrycot on. When my baby started rolling around at 3 months old, we had to move him to the crib to give him more room.
- Apps/Tablets – Your baby is not going to get a head start by using language apps. Touchscreen capabilities might even hinder their stamina and patience that are needed for skills, like reading.
If you want your baby to get a head start with language, face-to-face interaction is the best way.
- Teething products – “When teething, babies most commonly experience itchy gums, not pain,” says Wendy Swanson of Seattle Children’s Hospital. “They can satisfy the itch by chewing on a cool wet washcloth.”
- Fancy Toys – Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the author of “The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World” says that it is important ‘for kids to be able to initiate and not just imitate, the toys and tools that do that are the ones that just lie there until kids bring them to life.”
- Pillow – Yet another SIDS factor. I have an anti-suffocation pillow but I find my baby sleeps fine without it. Actually, he uses it more as a toy than a pillow.
Baby Products that Make your Life Easier
- Baby bouncer – After my baby couldn’t stay in his carry cot, I needed something to place him in while I was in the living room ironing, working or in the kitchen, cooking. At first, he didn’t really like it, but when he started to find the hanging balls and rings entertaining, he could stay there for a full 30 minutes, which is an eternity for my I-get-bored-easily-baby.
- Chicco’s ‘next2me’ cot – I personally haven’t tried it but my friends and family say it is the closest thing to sleeping with your baby without worrying about squishing him during the night. I had the carry cot next to me and it wasn’t quite at the same level as my bed, so picking my baby up in the middle of the night was slightly more difficult than if I had him next2me. See what I did there?
- Baby bath – If you get a baby dresser + changing pad on top, there is usually a baby tub included. As long as you are strong enough to hold your baby, you don’t need one during the first few months. So, don’t buy one if it’s not already included.
Wash your baby in the sink. Just make sure it’s clean and that you have everything you need close by. At 4 months old, my baby was already 21 pounds/9 kilos and he didn’t fit in the sink anymore. I put the baby tub in our bathtub and started to wash him there. The problem is that the bath tub is lower than the sink and so, my husband and I break our backs every time we bathe our baby. The other problem is that we still have to hold him while we bathe him. I saw my cousin use this little bath seat which allows you to use both hands to wash your baby without worrying about him slipping and going under the water. I would try it out.
- Bottle warmer -Warming a bottle/thawing out milk in a bottle warmer takes the same amount of time, if not, longer in a small pot of hot water. The advantage of having a bottle warmer is that it won’t go over 37.5 degrees and beeps when it reaches that temperature.
- Crib bumpers – Not recommended by pediatricians. However, my pediatrician said that as long as there is no vertical space between the bumper and the mattress and that the bumper is secured to the rails, it should be fine. Even though we have crib bumpers, my baby has already hit his head on the wooden rails. So, we could have lived without these crib bumpers.
- Diaper pail – The diaper pail saves you a trip to your nearest garbage can and does a pretty good job of keeping the poop stench contained. You may have to throw out the garbage more often. Oh, your poor husband! Let him participate in the fun!
- Changing pad and Baby dresser – Changing your baby without having to bend over is a win. My back already hurts from just picking him up and carrying him around all day. My changing pad and dresser is in our bathroom next to the sink. Instead of using millions of wipes or cotton, I just wipe him down once, if necessary, and wash his tush in the sink. Infant bidet-action. I dry with a cotton towel and place him on the changing pad right away. Having the diapers, cream, wipes, and towels ready to take out in the drawer below is handy and saves counter space.
- Monitor – My house isn’t big. There are no stairs. The baby room is two steps away from ours. It’s most useful at night when I’m in a deep sleep and the HD sound amplifies my babies movements and cries enough to wake me up. It’s also helpful when I’ve got the fan running in the kitchen and can’t hear him as well.
Baby Products you Need
- Things to clean the umbilical cord – sterile gauze, saline solution and elastic net bands
- Diaper cream
- Wipes/cotton and water
- Washcloths/burp cloths
- Baby nail clippers/scissors – You usually start cutting nails after baby is one month old.
- Clothes – onesies or outfits, socks, sleepers, hats, depending on the weather
- Swaddling blanket
- Towel for baths
- Mattress protector sheets
- Crib and mattress
- Crib sheets – just the sheet to cover the mattress
- Sleep sac
- disposable sterile changing pads – to change your baby when you’re out
- Baby wrap – if you want to wear your baby
- high chair (portable one)- when he starts eating
- 3-in-1 stroller – car seat, carry cot, stroller and stand up
Just in Case List
- one bottle
- one carton of liquid formula
- one soother
- Breast pump
If your milk comes in as soon as you get home and you have no nipple pain whatsoever, you will not need these products. But how will you know? You don’t want to find yourself at 2 am in the morning, crying from pain and frustration because your baby is hungry and you are hurting bad and have no solution. You will need your husband to come to the rescue and feed your baby from the bottle while you get yourself together and give your nipples a break. You will try again later.
I consider my breast pump to be a life saver. I wasn’t planning on buying one right away because I was hesitant to spend 150 Euros on something that I might not have used. In the end, my cousin got one for me and boy, was I ever thankful. Since I was in a lot of pain, in the beginning, pumping milk was a way that I could feed my baby, give my sore nipples a break and also stimulate milk production. I would recommend renting a breast pump if you are unsure about breastfeeding and then buying one once you’re convinced you will continue.
I was hesitant to give my baby a soother because I feared there would be nipple confusion. I waited a week or so before I caved when I couldn’t stand the crying anymore. I couldn’t afford to let him use me as a soother either because I was already in enough pain breastfeeding him every hour. My baby never got confused between me, the soother nor the bottle. Maybe I got lucky.
There you have it! I hope I’ve helped you save some money. I know that everyone’s needs are different but just remember that babies don’t need a lot of things to be healthy and happy.