a simple non list of essential baby items.

It truly seems that each passing day brings a new word, a new discovery or excitement for my little one. Getting all weepy about this fact also seems to come in waves almost everyday. The point where you stop counting the months your baby has been in your arms, and start counting the years is swiftly approaching us. While having a tiny person in my life brings on a whole new set of challenges, requirements, worries, I can't help but consider all of the challenges, requirements and worries that came along when that tiny person was even tinier. Spending more time with baby Indiana while his parents work and look for a new caretaker doesn't help my weepiness, holding a warm and snuggly baby in your arms can be mildly addicting (until he starts that angry cry of boredom, hunger or general baby human fussiness, then, I am glad mine is older now). But, with experience comes wisdom and what I believe people refer to as "instincts".

When we found out we were expecting, X had just lost his job, and I was starting the enrollment process for culinary school, so financially speaking, we didn't think we were ready. Of course, we were excited and joyously anticipating his arrival but honestly, the thing that most overwhelmed me was not the idea of sleepless nights or sore nipples, it was what we "had to buy" for a baby. I could get on my soap box and rant about the totally useless and over priced products on the market and how predatory marketing companies are towards new and expecting parents, but instead, I will just elaborate on what I personally found truly useful. 

I recall when my friend Polina, who was raised in Eastern Europe, brought her little son Lev home from the hospital. Her mother had flown in from overseas, and greeted me warmly at the door, taking the bag full of vegetables and herbs I had brought as a gift over to the table. I looked around for Polina and she was sitting down on the couch, next to the precious tiny babe. I was a little shocked when I realized he was stark naked, just laying peacefully in the afternoon sun on a soft cotton blanket. It was such a beautiful sight! As I was admiring his tiny toes and fingernails, he started peeing all over in his sleep, (hah, what a beautiful moment right?) I watched her mother, unfazed and not in the least surprised, simply covered his little bits with the blanket and then took it away to be washed when he was done. Another soft cotton blanket was placed underneath him, and he slept through the whole ordeal. Now I know that this seems incredibly unpractical, but is it really?! With how much those tiny newborns soil themselves, it seems like it might take much more time to fully undress them and change a disposable diaper, throw it in the trash and then fully dress him again. Sometimes in the pursuit of connivence, practicality can be lost, no?  Im not sure I will do exactly the same with any new babies that come our way, but it certainly got me thinking about what we really need for those tiny humans.

Julian's room while we were waiting for him. 
When it comes down to it, all a baby really needs, for the first while, are breasts (or bottles), something to cover his butt, things to protect him from the elements, be they bitter cold or summer sun, and a place to sleep. We have somehow over probably about a hundred years, accumulated and acclimated to these outrageous ten page long lists of things the are considered "basics". The items I used most during those first few winter months when Julian was tiny, were a boppy, lanolin cream for sore nipples and any skin problems for baby, a set of flannel wipes and cloth diapers, a set of snap up baby pajamas with footies, a stroller for walks, a rocking chair and a cradle my dad hand made for us. These were items that didn't really take a lot of deliberation, or price checking and comparing, or safety hazard warning label reading. We didn't even need a crib! I bring this up specifically because X and I got into a minor argument over the purchasing of a crib and crib mattress. I had been reading all of those emails the baby sites send you about what you should have ready at what time. Being 8 months pregnant, I was breaking all the rules by not already having a complete nursery, everything imaginable that a baby might possibly sometime in his entire life time maybe use, and black out curtains. I cried when he told me I was being irrational by demanding we buy a crib the next day or else! Looking back, he was right (he usually is right by the way, but that is not on the record) and we didn't use the crib until Julian was at least five months old. The other things that were helpful, but certainly not required were a moby wrap, a insulated car seat cover to keep out the cold while transferring him from the stroller (we got the city min by baby jogger) to the house, a mixture of lavender, tea tree and jojoba oil with some water in a spray bottle for rashes, and a water proof canvas bag for soiled diapers.

I honestly feel that everything else can wait, or at least you shouldn't fret about them. Baby certainly does not need a bin full of funny toys awaiting him, he will probably like to play with whisks or bits of silk scarves and fabric, or if he is like my baby, yarn. Although all of the cutesy clothes for babies are very tempting, its a trap! They really do grow out of them before your eyes, best to stick to a few quality pieces for each few months. The more little clothes you have, the more laundry you will do, and the longer you will wait between loads (i.e. stinky loads of laundry). The baby food makers that have high price points do the same thing as a steam basket and a food processor, things you may already have in your kitchen, along with ice cube trays for storing and portioning fresh foods you've prepared.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, it seems that in the pursuit of "simplifying" parenthood with all sorts of baby themed products can actually make things a little more complicated then they need be. Of course I am also preaching to myself in this case, and remembering all of those little things I worried about and didn't need to. What are somethings that you bought or where given and really never used? Or what things would you really recomend to an expecting family?

Thanks for reading.


  1. I absolutely love this post, and completely agree. My list of things we bought, or were given, and never used, is much longer than the list of things we used consistently in the early days (which is pretty much your own!) ... One of the best things we've done, since having Maile, is to get rid of cable. I realize this might seem downright sacrilegious to some, but it's much harder to be marketed to, when you're not plugged into a tube all the time. And had we not done so, we probably wouldn't know how much Maile loves the music of Elvis. :)

    Thanks again for sharing.

    1. Hey Katie,
      I loved your comment! It's great that you got rid of the cable ( I'm still working on that one with Xavier... He just loves those funny picking shows, and I don't mind having food network) but we keep it off for the most part, I prefer listening to the radio set to NPR. I also remember all the commercials on when I was little, with the flashy toys of the moment and burgers and milkshakes. That is certainly not what I want Julian to be sold ( because they are all selling something). Maybe im old fashioned? Who cares, I think when we make those proactive moves in our family lives we are moving forward and doing good! Thanks for reading!

  2. I enjoyed reading this. I am not a mom (or even a soon-to-be-mom) but my husband and I both come from hoarding families - a tendency that I fight with more than my husband - so it's nice to know that we won't actually need all of that adorable, expensive baby junk. :)


  3. Chalayne , my parents are a little bit on the hoarding spectrum too, and I occasionally find myself leaning in that way, which is why I have to be intentional about it. Thanks for replying, that was a great comment!

  4. I totally love this post, I'm very broody and we're planning on starting a family next year and it's so great to hear all this info because I really like to keep things simple and wondered about those cotton nappies. Its good to hear they're worth the initial investment, any tips as to which ones are best? xxx

    1. Hey Lulu!

      We actually tried a few different brands of cloth diapers, and the ones I like the best are Rumperooz because they work well and the company has labor practices that I can support. They are well worth the investment, I love ours.

  5. Such a great post. My husband and I will be starting our family soon, and it's always good to hear such practical advice. I know I'll probably fall into the trap of cute little baby outfits, but perhaps not, if I consider the extra loads of laundry I may have to deal with...