How to Be Minimalist With a New Baby

First thing’s first, I did not set out to become a minimalist. In fact, I’m still not completely certain that I am a minimalist in the true definition of the word. I can claim two things though: clutter stresses me out, and I like simplicity.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I did like most first time mothers do. I went to Target, got one of those lovely registry guns, and shot the crap out of that thing. Literally, if something was in the baby section and had a barcode, it was going on my registry. I registered for everything from bottle warmers to Baby Bjourns (yes multiple, even though I was only having one child), a Rock ‘n’ Play, diaper caddy, infant tub, and baby food maker. You name it, and I wanted it. I was completely and totally caught up in the moment – give a pregnant woman a registry gun, and watch her go nuts!

My baby registry was out of control! Who really needs 30 little baby towels? I thought I did!

My baby registry was out of control! Who really needs 30 little baby towels? I thought I did!

Then my daughter was born, and it took me less than 48 hours to realize that I would need to have a garage sale.

But seriously, the bottle warmer that I “just had to have” never made it out of the box. Those adorable muslin swaddle wraps that retail for $40 a pop – yeah, she hated them, and preferred the free ones from the hospital. Oh, and don’t even mention the Pottery Barn bedding that I just knew would be perfect. My child didn’t sleep in her crib until she was 6 months old.

We loved the hospital swaddlers. Thank you Baton Rouge General for sending us home with more than one!

We loved the hospital swaddlers. Thank you Baton Rouge General for sending us home with more than one!

If I had to plan for a new baby all over again, I’d do it from a minimalist’s perspective, and here’s what I’d do:

Buy basic onesies.  Smocked dresses are adorable, but I have several newborn sizes that were never worn. Why? We hardly ever left the house, and even when we did she was swaddled or wrapped. Basically, my child lived in white onesies for the first month or so of her life.

Basic onesies, sometimes with a splash of pink for special occasions - like the grocery store!

Basic onesies, sometimes with a splash of pink for special occasions – like the grocery store.

Skip the baby bath tub. I may get some heat for this… I bathed my daughter in the bathroom sink. It’s the perfect height ergonomically.  I’d just line the sink with a towel, and bing, bang, boom – the sink is now an infant tub. Once we outgrew the sink (it didn’t take long), we moved to the regular tub with a towel. When you live in a rental property, space is often an issue. Truth be told, we didn’t really have the space for a bulky infant tub, and we survived without it.

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Stock up on feeding supplies…for yourself. Forget the endless array of baby feeding supplies on the market. You’ll either use a bottle or a boob (or both). That’s the simple part. Skip the warmers, steamers, dryers, cookers, and whatever else is out on the market. What you really need is a stock of healthy snacks and go-to meals for yourself. Between late night feedings and tending to your lovely infant all day, you’ll need to keep your energy up.

Turn your dresser into a changing table. I didn’t buy a changing table. As I mentioned earlier, space and clutter were issues for us. We opted for a changing pad on top of a sturdy dresser. Truth be told, I only changed my daughter on her “changing table” maybe 5% of the time. The other 95% of diaper changes were on my lap, the floor, the bed, park benches, at the mall, the back of my car, etc…

Wait until the baby is born to buy non-essentials. I consider car seats, cribs (or other sleeping apparatuses), onesies, feeding supplies and diapers to be essentials. EVERYTHING else, in my book, is a non-essential. There aren’t many things in life I can’t promise, but I can promise that your baby won’t come out ready to sit at the table for family dinner. That being said, if you can, wait to purchase things like high chairs, strollers, toys, and play yards when they’re ready for it. If people want to buy these things for you, politely ask for a gift card or register for gift cards.

So there you have it, my tips for minimalism with an infant. Now to figure out minimalism with a toddler. Stay tuned…

Are you a minimalist? Share your tips for surviving on the bare essentials.

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3 Responses to How to Be Minimalist With a New Baby

  1. Ashley June 10, 2015 at 8:20 am #

    This is great! I was all about the gear and gadgets for baby #1 and like you, it all felt like it was closing in on me. For baby #2 I gave away so much of the gear and opted for a much simpler approach – no warmers, no changing table (not even a changing pad!), no glider, no diaper genie. I did get a ton of use out of swaddles and the bjorn but that is about it. Can’t wait for the toddler post!

  2. Marie June 30, 2015 at 11:46 am #

    Amen! Could not agree more with you on this. All that “stuff” is really confusing to new Moms too. I am about to have my second and have already decided to approach things differently this time with less.

  3. Lindsey May 15, 2016 at 5:32 pm #

    Yes! Thankfully, I saw my brother’s kid’s babyhood up close and knew what I needed and what was just extra.

    For us, no baby bath, but I did grab one of those $5.99 foam turtle bath mats. The drying over a regular towel is very worth it. We only have four baby towels, which is plenty.

    I, too, have too many swaddling blankets. At least they were gifts.

    I didn’t buy any crib bedding except fitted sheets. We’ve only used those (plus gifted blankets now that my son is 14-months.

    A lifesaver for bottle drying was/is our Boom Grass. We use them even now for sippy cups.

    I advise friends to get a bouncer or a swing or a rock’n’play, but not all of them, and ideally only one of them. We only used a bouncer and it was great.

    We skipped the bassinet and used the pack’n’play at our bedside for the first five months. It’s been great for travel, but I wouldn’t have bought it if I didn’t know that we do road trips every few months.

    Another idea for the big space hogs – pick up one at the baby consignment store, use it for the few months you will need it and then sell it back. We did this with a jumper and it worked really well.

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