Minimalist Parenting, The First Year
What do you really need for the first year with your baby? Not much at all! Your baby will be happy to stare at you and explore their surroundings, we really tend to overthink what our children need and want. Bright, flashing lights and hard plastics aren't the best materials for babies, let alone older kids. When you start to create your baby registry, consider what will add to your day-to-day life!
When I became a mom, I was so overwhelmed by everything I thought I needed to maintain and do every day. With all the clothes, toys, and junk lying around, I became stressed. Now, I won't say it was just the stuff, but it added to my mental clutter and then to my to-do list. That was the main reason I switched to living minimally.
With less to clean, less to pick up, less to dust, and less bills (what a bonus!), I worry a lot less. I enjoy my kids and my life a lot more. I'm more spontaneous, and my monthly purge of the house is a religious activity for me. It is a processing and a restructuring of my life's current state, and I find I can create a lot of peace for myself and my family by doing so.
If you're interested in learning more about this style of parenting, Zen Habits and Becoming Minimalist are two of my favorite blogs on the topic. If you’re a visual person, I greatly enjoyed this documentary. Minimalism has no one definition, you make it work for your family! Here's my take on the first year of your baby's life and what I find essential.
Prenatal/Postpartum Gift Ideas for Families
An Afternoon of Babysitting/Help Around the House
Donations Towards Birth or Postpartum Doula Fund
A Home Cooked Meal (or pizza delivered, whatever!)
Gift Certificate for Activities-Yoga Classes, Massage, Haircuts, Housecleaning, etc.
VISA, Grocery, Gas Gift Cards
We always overestimate what we need for babies. Really! As long as they are warm, dry, fed, and with you, they will have most of their needs met. If you are practicing good self care and lying-in, you may not even leave the house much at first. Make your own choices about what essentials to start out with. You can always buy extra things you need later, it's more of a pain to return things after you find you don't need them.
Clothing (4-6 outfits or more per season, onesies, socks, hats, pjs)
Diapers & Wipes (Disposable or Cloth) - If you choose cloth, you will need cloth wipes, detergent, wet bags, etc. but you will save money in the long run. If you choose disposable, you will need to continually purchase disposable wipes and diapers.
Nursing Supplies - Pump, Breast Pads, Pillows, etc, but you may not need all or any of this depending on your style of nursing.
Bottlefeeding Supplies - Bottles, Bottlebrush, Drying mat, etc
Car Seat / Stroller
Swing or Bouncer - These kinds of products are sometimes useful, but some people really want to avoid the artificial sensations involved with them. Do whatever works for your family.
Baby Bathtub* - Some folks will use the kitchen sink or bathe with their baby until they are old enough to sit in the tub alone.
White Noise Machine* - Optional, but I used one of these nightly for 5 years with my kids. Incredibly useful!
Somewhere to Diaper- Changing table, pad, cover, etc* - Usually a waste of money. I used a thin, washable changing pad that came with my diaper bag, or just laid a thin blanket on the floor.
Little one should be able to lift their head and look around the room, opening up a whole world of entertainment possibilities! You don't need much more during these months, as they still aren't mobile. They are doing a lot of work this month stretching their muscles and developing muscle tone. A few fun items and things that make you more mobile with baby can be a huge help!
Pack N Play and/or Mobile Nap Mat
Baby is starting to move about, take their first crawl across the floor, and more. Exciting stuff! Adventuring requires boundaries, so if you haven't baby-proofed yet now is the time. Gates, outlet covers, whatever you deem necessary to keep them safe. They will be ready for more advanced toys and become increasingly curious. They will start taking their first bites of table food soon, so a cloth or permanent high chair is something you’ll need.
High Chair and/or Mobile High Chair
Quality Set of Child Sized Utensils, Plates, Bowls
First Shoes- I prefer TOMS brand. Water shoes are another breathable, close-to-barefoot option.
Age appropriate books and music toys, balls, blocks, etc
1 Year (Happy Birthday, Baby!)
After a year together, you and your baby have achieved many milestones and overcome challenges. At one year old, you'll need to adjust your toys, books, and clothes for growth, but their needs haven't changed much. You may want to invest in activities and experiences at this age group, instead of toys they will quickly outgrow. Most children start to drink cow's milk or other drinks from a cup around a year old, so a quality cup of their size may make the transition easier.
Memberships for Kids-Children's Museum, Aquarium, Pool, Zoo, etc.
Classes for Kids-Swimming, Music, Play Gym, etc.
Open cup or transition sippy cup
I hope this list was helpful to you! Feel free to share your favorite products in the comments. Watch for my next post on Zen, Buddhism, and meditation, and how to release stress during pregnancy and motherhood.