New parents can tend to overdo it on the baby gear when having their first baby. Maybe they are afraid to be caught without that ‘one item’ that will make everything easier. In many cases, we can avoid unnecessary spending and accumulation if we question our purchases. Companies and shareholders are in the business to sell us as much product as we will buy. If you live in the United States or Europe, you can usually have it delivered overnight, and sometimes the same day. I wrote about what you don’t need, now read on to see what we considered truly necessary baby stuff.
How to Minimize Baby Gear
The first step to minimizing your baby gear is to shut out the marketing messages. Cancel cable and only use subscription services like Netflix, which will be commercial free. A 30-minute TV show like Big Bang has only 19-20 minutes of true content, and 10-11 minutes of commercials. An hour long program like Doctor Who has 45 minutes of content and 15 minutes of commercials. Average US citizens watch 5-hours of television daily, which means ~ 75 minutes of commercials. The average person is consuming ~ 465 hours per year or 19.38 days of marketing!
Turn off the Radio
There’s really no reason to listen to another radio commercial ever again. Free and subscription music services are widely available like internet radio, Pandora or Spotify. Podcasts and iTunes offer music, spoken word content, courses, and news channels.
Tear Out the Ads
If you love reading magazines and can’t quit them all together, I recommend, tearing out the ads. Even if you only tear out ads of all of your magazines as an experiment a few times, it’s a worthwhile process. Once the advertisements in a fashion magazine are removed, you’ll see how thin the product becomes. You may be tempted to keep some advertisements because they actually seem like fashion, but don’t. Tear those out too. Advertisers are selling you trends and shaping your desires. If we can stop marketers from whispering in our ear, we can develop our own thoughts on style, fashion and comfort that have nothing to do with current trends. You may even find that YOU become a trend setter by ignoring the fashion industry.
Once external marketing sources have been eliminated, you’ll notice that the onus is on you to figure out what you like. You will no longer be aware of ‘what’s popular’ so you’ll have to think about what you actually like and need.
Question Your Understanding
Even though we shut out the marketers, messaging manages to get into our minds. Also, past ad exposure is likely still lurking around in your head. So lastly, we must question our thinking on a regular basis. Why do we think the way we do? Are we repeating our own upbringing? Are we unknowingly repeating patterns? Do we seek out expert advice? Do we also look at contrary opinions and advice?
Ask the Baby
From day one, you’ll see that your baby will have preferences and make requests. Babies won’t even like many things that you’ll buy for them. Even before they can speak, you will see that babies have opinions. If you can borrow expensive gear from a friend and test it with your baby before you buy, you may find that you save yourself a lot of money and frustration.
Minimalism is about making effective, conscientious purchases and not simply doing without. Maybe you’ve decided that you don’t ‘need’ a bouncer or a saucer or a playpen. Having newborn can be pretty nonstop, and you may benefit from a few tools that allow you time to go to the bathroom, wash their face or just stare into space every now and again. There is no reason to feel guilty about buying a piece of baby gear that buys you 15 minutes to recharge and take a few moments to yourself.
Minimalism shouldn’t feel like punishment, and if it does, you are doing it wrong. To consume less and have your needs met, buy used. Buying used will reduce your frustration and financial commitment if a piece of gear ends up not working for you or the baby. Baby resale shops, eBay, Facebook groups and Craigslist are great resources for buying preloved gear without the packaging. The following is a list of what I would consider the necessary baby stuff to have before and after your baby arrives.
Necessary Baby Stuff
- A properly installed 5-point car seat, if you’re driving home from the hospital, own a car or will ever use a car service.
- A sense of humor
- Nutritious food for you
- Sunlight and exercise
- Stroller and/or body carrier
- A few baby t-shirts
- Soft washcloths for diaper changes or a pack of baby wipes
- Newborn cloth diapers or disposable diapers
- Digital thermometer
- Breast pump if you know you will be breast feeding and storing milk.
- Reusable or disposable cloth pads (maxi pads) if you will be having a vaginal birth.
- Baby Bed or bedside co-sleeper if you absolutely know without a doubt that you won’t be safely co-sleeping with baby.
- Bed rail for the family bed if you won’t always have the baby in the middle of the bed and for beds that are raised off of the ground.
- Formula and bottles If you know you won’t be breast-feeding.
- A few tops and bras (if you wear bras) that make breast feeding easy
I’d love to hear about any other necessary baby stuff or tools that you or your baby couldn’t have lived without. Comment below!
xo – Bar