The Minimalist Baby, What Babies Don’t Need

Dear Home-Ec 101,
I just recently found out I am pregnant with our first baby and ohhhh was it a surprise. My husband and I are just short of our one year aniversery and had planned to stay in our tiny one bedroom apartment for another year to save for a house. We were already bursting at the seams in our less than 600 sf of space and now we are going to be adding baby to the mix. So here is my question, all the baby books and sites have these huge lists of things it says we “need” but what do we realistically need? What are the must have items and what kind of quantities do we really need? Oh and just a note, our building does have inexpensive pay laundry facilities which is good since we are planning to cloth diaper.
Signed,
Where the heck do I put the baby

what babies don't need
Heather says:

Congratulations to you and your husband. I promise you, you’re not going to miss all the junk and longterm your family will be so much better off.

Babies don’t need half the garbage you are told they need. People all over the world have been having babies for thousands and thousands of years without wipe warmers or Diaper Genies. I want to tell you how encouraging it is to meet a lady like you.

Here are the musts:

  • YOU
  • a carseat
  • some clothes
  • diapers
  • a couple of blankets

Thanks to my friend @beanjeepin for putting it so succinctly. Since you’re cloth diapering I’m going to assume that you plan on giving breastfeeding a try. I don’t know if you will be staying home or returning to work, if you return, you will need a good quality breastpump. I used one that was passed down to me and I used it for my second two children and then I passed it on to someone else. If you get a second-hand pump, you can buy new parts rather than a whole new machine. If you formula feed or return to work you’ll need a few bottles. Do your research.

As far as cribs and high chairs go, you can certainly make do with a pack-n-play style crib rather than a full one. We also used a high chair that strapped onto an existing chair rather than taking up valuable floor space. The one item “unnecessary” item we got the most use from was a swing. My oldest had colic and until he could walk it seemed he was only happy in the swing. (Yes, I did carry him in a sling, when he wasn’t in the swing).

We did splurge on an Amby Cradle for our second child since our experience with our first was so miserable and we were willing to try anything to keep it from happening again. (Uh, I’m not trying to scare you, I promise, just listen to your gut parent feelings.)  We got a lot of use out of it and two other families have as well. All of the items we used are in storage until my sisters or another friend have a baby. You see, there is no need to buy most of these things new, with a very strong exception for carseats. Kids only use these things for a short while and then they are donated or put away until they are used again.

Now, it’s easy for me to look back and see what I didn’t need, but I thought it would be better if I included other people’s experiences, too.

What You DON’T Need For Your Baby

Yesterday I asked some people to share what they didn’t need. Keep in mind that many of these responses are from Twitter, so don’t knock the grammar. Here are their responses:

  • @idreamofclean lived in 740sf w/ my 1st so I have a whole series on small living spaces. I had very little: pack &play instead of crib, no changing table, only a few clothes, foldable bath mat (instead of tub). I had cute baby towels but def not necessry
  • @indybabyplanner Definitely recommend doing a drawer with a changing station on top. Works great and saves space. Did it with both of mine.
  • @notdiyheather did NOT need a wipes warmer or baby swing. Or fancy baby dresses.
  • @kooner923 all i truly needed were my boobs, a comfy chair, spit rags and a sling.
  • @shandonfowler Changing table. Just use a bed and a basket.
  • @betzwhite changing table
  • @mygomom wipes warmers, bassinet if you have a crib, bouncy seat if you have a car seat, stroller that doesn’t fit the car seat
  • @webprgirl Um, a million toys :).

Sense a theme with the changing table there?

I also asked in a group on Facebook, here are their responses:

  • Megan Crume Diaper Genie (we could never get it to work), bottle warmer
  • Kelby Carr Most swings… I later found one that was awesome and stuck with it for all kids. But I would wait to buy until they are born. One good bouncy seat is enough. Fancy clothes (why put them in them except for pictures so you kind of only need one… or maybe one and a backup for when you put the one on and they hurl).
  • Kelly Whalen The list is SOOO long. But here are a few items: diaper genie, changing table, swings, bouncy chairs, strollers (only use them when they got older), all the baby lotions and potions, bottles (not everyone will say the same I know), cute baby clothes, baby towels (we just used regular ones), baby bathtubs, really anything that had one purpose we barely used.
  • Robin Elton Anything beyond the most basic toys. And after seeing the documentary Babies, I’m convinced the only toy a baby really needs is a sibling or a dog.
    ****I mentioned that siblings may be hard to produce in short order****
  • Michele Chestnut Diaper Genie and the warm wipe thing… they just dried out too quick.
  • Jodi Fur A really big expensive, heavy stroller. I once cried at the mall because I couldn’t get mine to fold and someone honked at me and the baby was like a month old. And then I bought the $20 snap and go that the car seat fits in.
  • Maricris Guadagna Baby Spoons. You don’t need them until baby starts solid food. I’d rather get GC and buy diapers 🙂
  • Andrea Updyke baby shoes before they can walk. Get one pair for the picture and move on!
  • Angela England I honestly didn’t even use my diaper bag
  • Cindi Matthews Some of those baby bouncers that sit on the floor or table & prop kids up and the kids outgrow in 3 weeks.
  • Audrey McClelland Wet wipe warmer. Total fail.
  • Jill Berry Snuggly. I didn’t do enough research, so bought a “baby faces mom only” Snuggly. Also I found it almost impossible to place the baby in the Snuggly. I used it once.

And via chat from Brian Crawford who moved from the US to France with an infant:

We brought a swing and a pack and play. The pack and play served as the crib and basically that’s all we had! And believe it or not we didn’t buy too much else. Diapers, yes. But you really don’t need all the mountains of stuff that you get for your first baby (well, typical parents get that is – we certainly did).
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The swing was used as a high chair/dinner table chair. We find the same thing with baby toys. Babies don’t tend to play with baby toys. You have to find what engages them, and go with that.

So Home Eccers, what about you? What did you find completely unnecessary when you had your kid(s)? Chime in in the comments.

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.



56 Comments

  1. Alla on June 19, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    You know what your baby needs? YOU!

    Diapers, Clothes, Bottles even if you breastfeed

    Safe place to sleep

    Carseat OR if you don’t own an auto, a “baby backpack”. For the trip home from the hospital/birthing facility, you can borrow or rent a seat from the facility itself

    Bright coloured things to look at

    Your IMAGINATION

    No kiddin’, really. Don’t fall for the “gotta have that” stuff. Just don’t. If folks give you things, then yay, use them if you’ve got space, and enjoy them.

    But your baby will thank you both for the mimimalist approach that will then allow you to provide a house.

    And one further thing, recent studies show that the parents who insist the baby is “cold” and keep mittens and booties on all the time? Yeah, their children are developementally slow, because they NEVER GET TO TOUCH!

    So the final item you need — Your Own Common Sense

    Good luck, and gratz on the little one to come

    —Mama Wuffie

  2. Corissa on June 7, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    We got so many clothes as gifts before my daughter was born, many of them in larger sizes so she could grow into them. Unfortunately she grew like a weed and was in 12 month sizes at 8 months making all those cute seasonal duds we got useless. I also never needed bottles, not for lack of wanting though! I chose to breastfeed but wanted the option of some feedings daddy could handle but baby had other ideas. We tried to get her to take a bottle nearly every day from 8 weeks to nearly 24, she 100% refused every time!
    One other tip, with only one income and the bills that come along with life we try tom save wherever we can. Mix that with a desire to save water and you get a baby in a storage tote at bath time! Once she outgrew the baby tub (gift) she went into a plastic tote so we could wash her without having to fill up a whole tub with wasted water.

  3. Sarah on June 7, 2011 at 12:02 am

    Baby clothes
    A carseat

    … That's it! We did elimination communication, cosleeping, and breastfeeding! 😛 We already had adult lap blankets that worked fine for our mild cold weather.

    Enjoy your pregnancy!

  4. Sarah on June 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Great question! I think there are some things you need to have, some things that are nice to have, and some things that you may not need, depending on circumstances and ones that you really don't need at all.

    For me, my "need" to have was:
    – Carseat
    – Snap N Go stroller
    – Boppy
    – 5 sleepers, 6 – 10 outfits, socks (tops that snap are the best)
    – burp cloths or something like that
    – some sort of "containment" set-up (crib, pack n play, bassinet, etc) – just so you can go to the bathroom or if you don't co-sleep, somewhere for them to sleep
    – I also loved my Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper but that is probably preference
    – First aid kit
    – Nursing tanks
    – Swaddling Blankets

    Nice to have
    – Lotions
    – Extra clothes
    – High chair that reclines (at first – just for having them at table)
    – Bumbo
    – Swing or bouncer – I'd probably wait to get once they are older and you can try out to see what they prefer
    – Bath tub and smaller towels
    – I really liked my ItzBeen timer – definitely not needed but helped me do the math late at night to see when he needed to be fed
    – Activity mat
    – mobile
    – we put a changing pad on top of a dresser and that worked perfectly

    Depending on need –
    – Unless you know you're going to need to pump, I wouldn't buy a pump
    – Ditto bottles unless you know for sure you aren't going to breast feed (you'll get a free one anyway, most likely, with a formula sample)
    – Nipple cream

    Not needed:
    – diaper pail (we use cloth and was much easier using hanging bag or bag liner in trash can)
    – diaper sprayer (we just rinse in toilet)
    – shoes
    – secondary stroller (at least not for a while)
    – I liked my bumbo okay, but not enough to recommend it
    – nursing cover (if needed, I just used a rec blanket to cover us)

    If you haven't checked it out, I thought the Baby Bargains book was great and it gave you tons of ideas on how much you need in what category.

  5. Milehimama on June 6, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    We used a crib for the first 3 kids, then we got smart and just used a pack n play w/ bassinet insert for the last 6 kids. My 4 month old sleeps in it right now! We use a dresser top or blanket on the couch or floor for diaper changes. You'll need a bucket, trash can, or similar for your dirty diapers. My oldest (first child) refused to sleep in his crib and spent his first 3 months sleeping in his carseat!

    BTW- you do NOT need those huge travel systems. Just get a car seat and a simple, foldable stroller. You can use the umbrella strollers when your baby is about 3-4 months old, with good head control. Consider a Moby wrap when they are small.

    BTW- my WIC clinic loaned me a hospital grade breast pump for free when I needed one. You might check that out.
    My recent post I’m Not Vain

  6. Frances on June 6, 2011 at 12:28 am

    We used a library table for diapering, with baskets underneath for storage. Saved our backs, I wouldn't have done without it. In a small space it could double as a desk…which is what ours was in its previous life. But I had a special diaper pail with a space for a filter (ie a sock filled with baking soda) and it was a godsend. No smell.

    I think a good lightweight stroller that reclines to flat is worth a splurge. Babies aren't supposed to be in their car seats all the time, and mine had some of his best naps out on walks. Some lightweight strollers are really bad, some are really good (love my Peg). Make sure it's comfortable to push and you don't have to stoop.

    No need to waste space or money on a dedicated diaper bag. I used a big purse. All you really need are a diaper, a few wipes, a receiving blanket to throw over the yucky restaurant change table, and an extra onesy. Fits in a ziplock bag.

    Ditto a playpen. If you think your child is comfortable sleeping in a pack&play, great, but they don't necessarily take up less space than a crib (but it is very nice to have your child's own bed with you when you travel!). Out in the living area, I just childproofed my main floor and let him roam.

    You REALLY don't need any so-called educational videos!

    My recent post painting elves rock

  7. Anne on June 5, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    We have a small bookcase in the living room for toys in baskets and now that he's older we also have a toy kitchen in the corner of the dining room. Two shelves of our built-in bookcases are filled with picture books. In the kitchen, he uses the same everything as us except we did have baby spoons when he was first learning to eat and we did have a half-shelf of bottles as I went back to work and my hubby stayed home with him. Oh, and he used a sippy cup for awhile and still does in the car…we own two. We bathed him in the sink or I took a bath with him in the big bath tub (really fun and cuddly and much easier on the back than any other method…I'd bend my knees and sit him in my lap facing me with my knees behind him to wash him). You won't need a highchair for quite a while but when you do, get one that straps to a dining room chair. Oh, we have a baby monitor too. We didn't for some time as we didn't think we needed it in such a small house, but it lets us even sneak outside and hang out together and is nice to hear him before he starts screaming.
    I had a breast pump that doubled as my purse since the only time I went anywhere without baby was to work. If we went somewhere together I'd use our "diaper bag" (backpack) as a purse. Don't buy a diaper bag, they are huge and inconvenient. A backpack worked great for us. We walk or take the light rail (commuter train) most places so need to bring emergency supplies along. Generally if I drive somewhere its usually not far so I've generally not brought anything with me except what fit in my pockets. I figured if he was hungry I had my breasts and if he needed a diaper change I'd just go home. We LOVED babywearing so I do actually use up an entire bin for our Freehand, freehand mai tai, etc. I still use the SBP sling at least daily. A stroller is a waste until you have a baby big enough to spend a couple hours at the zoo, too heavy to carry that long, and too little to do it on foot. When you finally feel the need and do get one, get a tiny and easy one and store it behind a door.
    Part of our 900 square feet is an unheated enclosed back porch we're hoping to turn into an arts and crafts room at some point but is currently not usable. When my brother moves out of our cellar, we're hoping to claim that space for a playroom.
    Sorry for this long reply. Enjoy living in small spaces. Some people choose it on purpose. We're planning on always living small. And if there's something that makes life easier, go ahead and use it and toss something else. We never had a baby bouncer, just not something our baby was interested in. But we both have mild back and neck problems so a changing pad was a priority. Do what works for you and ignore all the people who tell you that there's only way way of raising your baby. Congrats and HAVE FUN!
    My recent post Living in a Small Space

  8. Anne on June 5, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    We have a very active two year old and we're still in a one bedroom, 900 sq ft house with my little brother living here too (in our cellar…we didn't want him to be too comfortable and decide to stay forever so he has electricity and a bed and a less than 6 foot ceiling). Here's how we've laid out our house:
    Our bedroom has one big king size mattress on the floor (we co-sleep now, we've tried many arrangements; our two other favorites were a small bassinet our neighbors, also in a small house, loaned us and a crib mattress on the floor that he also used for a play area). We have a big armchair in one corner for nursing and cuddling, a couple wooden crates under one window that we use as shelves for toys and diapering items. The final usable corner has a dresser with a changing pad on top. In the dresser we have a top drawer with his hats, socks, mittens, pjs, anything small. If he was the kind of baby to eat stuff, his diaper cream, etc would be in there too. Second drawer is all diapers and wipes (we use cloth, basic prefolds with covers and made wipes by cutting up flannel with pinking shears). Third drawer holds all his clothes in priority mail boxes (my grandma used to send me pound cakes every month so we've collected quite a few). Babies don't care what they're wearing so long as they can do what they want to do so we have a standard uniform of elastic wasted khaki pants and t-shirts. When he was younger it was knit pants and onesies. We did end up loving both the changing pad and the wipes warmer as our son is very particular about what touches his skin. We didn't buy the warmer until a few months ago and the fighting during diaper changes has stopped. But it fits on the dresser with the changing pad. We have a tiny closet where we keep our own clothes and any bins of baby stuff that don't fit in the laundry room (we're planning on a second at some point so didn't get rid of things he outgrew…the clothes are so minimal its mostly diapers). We realized we typically only wear a few outfits over and over so we got rid of everything we hadn't worn in the last month (unless it was for seasonal reasons). The diaper pail is kind of in our walkway between the bed and the window/wooden crates/dresser conglomeration. (All we used for a diaper pail, btw, was a kitchen garbage can and used a cheap fabric drawstring laundry bag to line it.) That's our whole bedroom. We live in a 1920 bungalow so we have a lot of space taken up by a radiator and doors to the bathroom, living room, and closet.
    My recent post Living in a Small Space

  9. Mrs s on June 5, 2011 at 9:38 am

    We cloth diaper and do not use disposable wipes. A couple dozen cheap washcloths are sufficient, and we just wet one under the tap. No need for a wipes warmer. We attached a sprayer to our toilet to spray out solids from the cloth diapers. It is out of the way, economical, and saves the need to scrub out by hand. People bought us a few special swaddling blankets- my kids hated being swaddled past 2 weeks- it was a waste. I would caution buying a sling until the baby is here. My kids, even as newborns, despised being worn. Wish I hadn't spent the $100 on that Ergo carrier! We had a nice baby tub, but we had the space for it. My mom bathed all 5 of us in the tub by putting a hand towel in the tub and filling the tub with an inch of water.

  10. Becky on June 5, 2011 at 9:16 am

    I could be wrong, but I think that there wound up being a problem with the amby baby and Dr Sears is no longer a fan. We got a full size cosleeper, have used it through 3 children and have been very happy with it. It works great attached to your bed as an infant and then can be used as a crib/pack-n-play when they are older but only if you get the full size- the mini has a pretty low weight limit and can't be turned into a pack and play sort of thing. She might also want to check out babycheapskate.com No one beats that site for how to stick with the essentials for less. Jillian's Drawers has a really good cloth trial program and allows for gift certificates- sometimes you need to try a few types of cloth diapers before you find a good fit. Also, if you can, I would explain the situation to people wanting to give you a shower and either ask for gifts post baby or gift cards so you can figure out what you really need. Their needs for the first 3-4 months are so minimal and then you can figure out if you have a baby that would like a bouncy, etc. Plus, don't forget that you have Christmas and various other holidays coming up to fill in holes. The traditional gift from grandparents for 1st birthday or Christmas (whichever is appropriate) is a full size car seat to replace the infant carrier.

  11. Sharon on June 4, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Baby bedding is useless. You need a crib sheet and a waterproof sheet for leaks.

    We had a SwaddleMe, but returned it. Receiving blankets work great and are cheaper.

    Put dirty diapers in grocery bags, empty boxes etc.

    Shoes aren't necessary until your baby is walking outdoors.

    You don't need lots of cute clothes. My daughter wore sleepers everywhere. You'll have leaky diapers etc. so you need more than a few clothing items on hand. Thrift stores are a great place to get baby clothes.

    I love our baby bath tub. It has a mesh clip on part for newborns.

    My husband and I are tall and changing the baby in the bassinet portion of the pack n play just about did us in. Not to mention that you can't put the baby in there after they are a certain weight. Someone gave us their old changing table and we LOVE it! Especially since there is a drawer to put diapers in and two shelves to store other various things on.

    • HeatherSolos on June 4, 2011 at 9:00 pm

      We're tall, too and usually ended up changing on our bed, the couch, or the floor (on a towel or blanket). I find it easier to get all the way on the floor than to hunch over a too short surface. I'm sure you can relate.

      Now that the youngest is 3 and completely potty trained, I do NOT miss all the hunching and bending.

  12. Peach on June 4, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    I never used a baby monitor. It has always been something I've pushed around. Never used a baby tub. A folded up towel in the bathtub and a few inches of water is plenty. I never use the pack & play or crib. Baby sleeps with us, so we don't need either.
    My recent post Book Review- Plain Wisdom

  13. HeatherSolos on June 4, 2011 at 10:09 am

    This comment was sent in via email from NJ:

    There's not a lot of equipment a clean newborn infant actually needs besides clean diapers, clean jammies, clean swaddling blankets, and a legal car seat. In house laundry facilities & plumbing make life easier. If your washcloths are rough, some softer ones are nice for baby but they can be cut up pieces of old Tshirts. Your towels are ok.

    Until a baby is up on their knees, rocking, you can have them sleep in a drawer placed on top of a sturdy chest or table next to the bed. This also is nice to roll over in the middle of the night & pat the baby on the back, or pick them up to nurse while still in bed (stay awake enough to put them back in their bed/drawer) and you have time to find a crib or pack-n-play. When they start to creep, you put them in the new bed. I padded the drawer with folded towels placed in a pillow case.

    Until a baby is mobile, you can get away with very little. Once you know what type of baby you have, add as necessary.

    I used a backpack constantly once they could sit up. You can't bend over with it, but everything else is possible & they are not on the floor in a small space. They can see what's going on & you can talk to them(your neck & shoulder get drooled on more, but that's life) and if the backpack has a stand it is easier to put on. No stroller.

    Once you start doing the baby food route, a simple grinder that purees whatever you put into it with a few cranks of the handle.

    Gotta have books with sturdy pages & pictures. Read to them every day from the start.

    A baby needs engagement. They need touch & talk & music & movement with response to their communication. They need love; not mushy feelings but active interaction that acknowledges their individual need & meets it.

    A mesh bag to corral all those teensy baby socks keeps them from migrating. We had a flood in our basement & had to take apart the washer & dryer AND THEY REALLY DO EAT SOCKS! Particularly the thin ones.

    Once they are crawlers, take a stack of newspapers or phone books & tape them into a solid box big enough for a baby to crawl on top of & sit or lay on. Maybe 6-8" high. Cover with contact paper so you can wipe it clean. Your kid will think they are King of the Mountain & you can use it as a door stop.

    Use a playpen from the start…it can be the pack-n-play they sleep in. They must learn to be content for periods of awake time by themselves in a safe, confined space. There will be times you need to do something & need to know they are there. We had daily "Quiet Time" where everyone had a stack of books & a place to be & they stayed there. Mom needed that. As they got older, they could make a fort for it…but that's a different article.

  14. aprille on June 4, 2011 at 12:50 am

    I must say i don't agree with the bathtub not being necessary. I found it stressful to bathe an infant…mind you a SLIPPERY infant, without some sort of support when they can't sit upright on their own. I used a $20 tub that had the built-in inclined seat. It was perfect for washing her without worry and I could wash her faster and enjoyably. I would dry off the tub and throw in a closet.

    • Nicki Jacoby on June 4, 2011 at 11:46 am

      I found putting a large thick towel in the kitchen sink going up the side to the counter worked well; it helped pad things & keep the kid in place. Some people also leave a little tshirt on the baby during bathing for gripping.
      My recent post dandy lion bag

    • HeatherSolos on June 4, 2011 at 4:42 pm

      Like Nicki suggests I put a towel in the kitchen sink for the times when I didn't just bathe them with me.
      Keep in mind that if you do bathe with a baby in the tub, sometimes there will be a FUN extra surprise that involves startled shrieks and extra clean up.
      My oldest and and I spent a lot of time nursing in the tub, it just seemed to chill him out a bit. Then again I take long showers when I'm stressed out, so who knows.

    • Emily on June 5, 2011 at 5:41 pm

      We had a bathtub with a sling in it and used it from 7lbs to 20 lbs. I tried to go without a bathtub when I traveled at Christmas and ended up with a screaming child and an unfun situation – we borrowed a baby tub from a friend while I was there.

      I hope you don't end up with a csection, but that also made it where 'getting in the tub with baby' wasn't an option. Well, I guess dad could have done it.

      so I like the baby bathtubs. Just me and aprille, I guess 🙂

  15. Camilla on June 3, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    I pumped enough to use almost no formula on a Medela Harmony (the tiny $30 non-powered pump); I worked full work days, but only three of them per week. (Child #1 got no formula, child #2 got formula after 10 months or so, because I was determined not to over-pump like I had with child #1.) With the hand pump, you can feel exactly what you're doing, and I suspect it's more about mental tricks (cultivating a feeling of abundance towards milk) than the technology.

  16. Karen L on June 3, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Congratulations! We’re also apartment-dwellers, so we’ve minimised the stuff as much as possible, despite my being due with my third pretty soon. From an urban apartment-dweller’s perspective, I don’t think you’ll want to heed both the advice to skip a stroller and also the advice to skip a baby carrier. You’ll want at least one or the other because hand-carrying the baby and/or the baby in the carseat is not great for pedestrian lifestyles and since you live in a small place, you will be wanting out of the house for extended periods of time daily. There are inexpensive systems that will cart your carseat around until the baby is big/old enough to use a small inexpensive stroller. There are also so many baby carrier styles (Bjorn/Snuggli, wrap, sling …) that I’d recommend you try to borrow a bunch until you settle on one that you and your baby both like. Ask moms you know with a similar build to you. I’m broad very tall and so the Snuggli was fine for me but when I lent it to my friend, who is slight and petite, she hated it. The Snuggli is really big for a young infant, so I safety pinned it tighter to keep the baby from flopping around.

    I nursed both kids exclusively for 6 months (and then lots more) and never got a nursing pillow. I used one now and then at other people’s houses and they were kinda nice but it wasn’t necessary for me. Again it might be a body-type thing.

    I cosign on a lot of the other recommendations for stuff you don’t need:
    *high chair. The type that straps to regular chair is really convenient for years and really inexpensive.
    *baby tub. I gave ours away after a couple of weeks. We’d just go in the regular tub with the baby on our lap.
    *change table. We just changed the kids on a bed or the floor.
    *diaper bag. Any old purse or backpack can carry diapers, wipes, and snacks for yourself
    *diaper genie, especially if you’re using cloth, in which case, they are utterly useless.
    *most clothes. Our first wore hardly anything but sleepers (or receiving blankets for swaddling) until he was almost 8 months old. Though, he crawled early, so he did wear out a lot of the toes.
    *bottle warmer. had one. hardly used it.
    *wipes warmer. never even had one. For the fussy kid, I’d stick a wipe in my cleavage at the start of the change and by the time she was undressed, it had warmed up enough.
    *nursing cover. I never had one. more on this below.
    *crib. We got one donated to us but my oldest would have slept happily in the portable play pen until he was almost four. And in fact, even now that he’s four, he still likes to sleep in it sometimes.

    Some nice-to-haves if there’s some room in the budget or you get a gift-card or something:
    *waterproof mattress cover, if you think the baby will ever hang out in your bed (to sleep or to nurse). Mattresses are expensive! It’s also nice piece of mind if you’re worried about your water breaking in bed or about leaks from fem-hygiene products post-partum. (TMI? sorry!) We did invest in an expensive one that isn’t crinkly.
    *a digital camera
    *a video camera (we’ve never gotten around to buying one and I really regret that I have so few videos of my kids)
    *sleep sac, though YMMV. My oldest loved them, my second hated them.
    *breast pump, depending on how many bottles per day. We only gave one bottle per day, so I could have hand-expressed, but an inexpensive manual pump was good to have.
    *a blender. Jarred baby food is expensive. I tried several different types of food mill but never liked any of them.
    *spice jars from the dollar store. nice size for baby food and breast milk, if you’re not doing many bottles every day.
    *nursing bras
    *nursing tank-tops and Tshirts. Though two layers – one up, one down (a low-cut tank for example) – cover just as well, maybe even better. In conservative settings (there are not many where I live), I’d also use a receiving blanket (but I resented it.)
    *baby monitor. nice for when you’re at someone else’s (bigger) house.
    *one pair of baby shoes. They keep the socks on.

    Final piece of advice – don’t let anyone rush you out of your small apartment. Babies really don’t need that much space and the money you’ll save is important. If people lack imagination on how a family can live in an apartment, that’s their problem.

    Sorry for the novel-length comment!

  17. Stacy on June 3, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    I agree with nearly everything above. One thing, that may be listed but missed by me as I read too fast, was a rocker. It's not essential, but boy, I sure did use it a lot and still do. And if you get one, get one that reclines no matter what–no way should you get an upright only rocker because sure enough there will be times when you want to fall asleep together and it's nice not to wake up with a back/neck/head ache. I've also heard of people not getting a crib and just using a crib or even a bigger mattress on the floor. I'm not recommending it, but some people like that. I think they might also put on a railing, but not sure if that is correct. We had a crib, but my niece only used a pack and play and it worked great for her.

    • Nicki Jacoby on June 4, 2011 at 6:38 pm

      ooh, yeah~ a rocker is very nice indeed. Mine didn't recline, but it still is used a lot!

  18. Kathryn on June 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    As you are planning to cloth diaper, I would suggest skipping not only the wipes warmer, but the wipes as well. Rags or small washcloths are more effective and environmental. Just throw them in with your diaper load! And baby "toys" are a bit of a rip-off…my kids liked playing with everything but their "toys.". Best of luck!

    • HeatherSolos on June 3, 2011 at 5:03 pm

      Great point! I forgot. I used cut up flannel and a stack of cheap wash cloths that lasted for all 3 kids.

    • Emily on June 5, 2011 at 5:36 pm

      if you're not convinced with just 'more effective' and 'environmental', they're actually easier. Trying to do cloth diapers with disposable wipes brings up this whole 'do I need 2 pails or a trash can nearby?' type questions. If it's all cloth, it all goes into the same pail and gets washed together. No picking up the baby with one hand with wet wipes in the other hand walking to the trash can.

      I actually use wet wipes with my poopy diapers though, because I have to take the diaper somewhere to be emptied of it's contents and there's a trashcan there or on the way. and I feel like I deal with poop enough just with my diapers – but that's just me and my version of lazy.

      • HeatherSolos on June 5, 2011 at 5:41 pm

        With my 3rd I figured I had lessened our diaper impact enough that I didn't feel guilty about using disposables at night. We all pick and choose what works for our families and lifestyles.
        I won't judge anyone for what they choose, to a point. If your choices make my life difficult, then I reserve the right to be human and petty. 🙂

  19. Jess on June 3, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    we live in a small house, not as small as your apartment, but close. for some of the things – like high chairs, and, later, stools, we looked vintage – we found old cosco high chairs and stools because they were made in the 50s when everyone's homes were small – and that high chair has worked as a baby high chair from 5 months on to, now a small tall chair at the table (without tray of course) for our 4 year old. Because we don't have enough dining chairs or space for extra chairs to do the high chair on a regular chair option. Also, Look at Ikea. a lot of their stiff – cribs, dressers, etc, are made for small spaces. agree with everyone else – no wipe warmers, do a changing station on a bed or the top of a dresser (which is what we did – and we cloth diapered as well, so having the dresser for diaper storage was helpful. we didn't use a fancy diaper bin either – just a small, cheap flip top one. I do love my bulky phil and teds – not as bulky as some but still bigger than an umbrella – and worth the space for the ease of use and convenience (it seconds as a nap location for infants and grows with the family). Good luck and congrats!

  20. Carmen on June 3, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Needs: I agree with the list above, but would also add a place to sleep. Whether that is your bed, a pack n play (nice if you can get one with a bassinette insert), or a crib. Also, a place to put dirty diapers; we just use a regular trashcan with a waterproof bag for cloth diapers – makes it easy to dump the bag and diapers into the laundry without touching them.

    Wants:
    *changing table. Ok, so my daughter has old parents and we got tired of trying to get up and down off the floor. Also nice to hold supplies – diapers, wipes, diaper cream. Ours is a dresser so it also stores baby items we don’t need quite yet (dishes, bibs, etc).

    * electric breast pump. This was actually a “need” for me as a working mom. But some that stay at home could get by without one, or a hand-pump.

    * pack n play. We have a one in addition to the crib because our house is two levels. Gives us a safe place to lay baby down on the first floor. Also nice to take for sleeping arrangement when visiting relatives.

    Skip these:
    bassinette – they outgrow too fast
    bottle warmers – running under warm water works just as well (same with wipes)
    swings or jumpy toys – unless you can get second-hand cheap/free; baby may not like them
    baby bathtub – we used ours for two weeks and then decided it was either easier to give sponge baths or climb in the tub with baby.

    We picked up most of our baby’s clothing at rummage sales. Still in great condition. Stay away from fancy clothes or even things with lots of pieces, zippers, etc. (I hate hoodies on children! They always ride up). A bunch of onesies and sleepers work the best when they’re little. The only reason to own shoes at this point is to help keep socks on!

    • Nicki Jacoby on June 4, 2011 at 11:41 am

      For a while I had the ironing board against a wall as a changing table, with a hanging pocket thing my sister-in-law made that had a sponge in it (to put pins) and pockets for the powder, ointment, etc. That worked, but I ended up changing him on the bed the most.

  21. Jen on June 3, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    I thought we were pretty minimalist with our baby, but I guess not so much based on everyone's responses! The one thing we were given that I really hate is an exersaucer. It's ginormous and my kid hated it. But we used the hell out of our travel pack n play (insstead of a bassinet), changing table (because it was storage), and baby bathtub (because our tub is old and gross). A must have item I'd add to your list is a SwaddleMe Wrap. Much easier than swaddling with a blanket.

  22. HeatherSolos on June 3, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    The lid is also very important to keep that kiddo out once she or he is a toddler.

  23. ~Kris on June 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    i don't know about what i didn't need (lots that was given to us. Nice to have, but NOT needed), but i know when my first (a 6 week preemie) came, that all i needed was a car seat, diapers, warm blanket and baby gowns. Yes, even for my son, he had gowns. keeps them warm, but babies like to pull their legs up still, and they are super easy to do diaper changes in, no need to fuss legs in and out of clothing (esp in the dark, at night). No need for all the fancy outfits. Maybe 1 for 'show', pictures, but we didn't buy anymore then the gowns until she was about 6 months old. Any outfits before then were given/gifted from friends who had babies outgrown them. I needed a pump for my preemie since she couldn't latch, but my full term babies i had no need really. We co-slept with all our children, breastfeed (or as long as i could with the preemie, bad pump = bleeding nipples and drying up FAST) and we cloth diapered our youngest.

    • casey on June 6, 2011 at 8:33 am

      i still remember the shock on my brother's face last year when my SIL started buying gowns (they didnt know it was a girl at that point). "What do you mean you're putting my son in a DRESS!"

      They did end up with a lot of onesies that people gave as gifts. I was up there about 5 weeks after the birth, and we were trying to change her diaper and those d**ned leg snaps were driving us crazy! Somebody should invent velcro baby clothes

  24. Bobbie Laughman on June 3, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Bulky strollers – I used ours only rarely, preferring the ease of the umbrella stroller.

    My granddaughter currently sleeps in a drawer instead of a bassinet. Her mommy & daddy's mattress is right on the floor, so they took an unused drawer and lined & padded it with blankets and have it right next to mommy's side of the bed. A sturdy box, similarly lined & padded, would also work.

    Find a good place for used baby/child items – some even have websites. If you end up with something you really don't use, you can sell it on consignment through them. My daughter likes a store near them called Enkore Kids (and they also have a website http://enkorekids.shoprw.com/home.php)

    • casey on June 6, 2011 at 8:31 am

      Unfortuantely a lot of consignment stores will no longer accept baby items becasue of all the recalls recently (drop-side cribs, car seats, etc.) It was a big shock for my SIL last year when she went to a resale shop to buy baby stuff and pretty much the only thing they had was clothes and a few toys. They told her they no longer accept swings, carseats, cribs, or pretty much any of the 'big' stuff you might want to buy used.

      That said, places like e-bay still sell them, and individual garage sales are a good source.

  25. Beth Workman on June 3, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Congratulations! I'm a toddler teacher and we had our baby at home in our little 600 sq ft home. She just turned 7 and while we have to sometimes walk sideways through our place, we all fit here! You do have to be creative. You can totally make it at least a year in your 1 bedroom (my parents had twins when they were 18 in a 1-bedroom. Oy!) We put a 3 drawer dresser into the wide closet for baby's clothes. Baby clothes don't take up much space! One drawer was for clothes, one for towels and sheets, and one for mommy and daddy. We hung dresses on the closet rod above the space not occupied by the dresser and used the space above the dresser to hang a mobile. The top of the dresser had a changing pad and a long think basket for lotions and powders.
    As for gear, keep in mind space savers and multitaskers. A Boppy pillow is good for nursing, propping baby on her chest for important tummy time, and later as a sitting prop. A bouncy chair can be hung on a hook on the wall and takes up less space than a swing. (some vibrate if your baby likes that motion). We used a doorway "johnny jumper" when our daughter was strong enough. Because our place was is so very small, we were always very conscious that toys were open-ended and attractive because they're going to be seen! A pretty basket of these toys can be moved around the house. If there are a variety of ways a child can play with a toy, you're not going to need as many. This still stands true for our first grader and changes have been made to accommodate her growth (luckily we have a 2-bedroom) She has a loft bed. We arranged the living room furniture to create a play area for her doll house and the multitude of accessories. We have a craft armoire in the dining room so we can get creative at the table. With the economic times that we're in right now, there's a lot of make do that needs to happen. It's better than buying a place that you can't afford. I guarantee that no matter how small your place is, you'll be able to fit in all of the love!
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  26. Erica Mueller on June 3, 2011 at 11:44 am

    A friend of mine used Rit Dye to color some cloth diapers for me. We used these for burp rags and changing pads. The color made them a little prettier and less likely to show stains and when you're done using them for baby, they make great dusting cloths!
    My recent post What You Should Know Before Attending Your First Blog Conference

  27. Chele on June 3, 2011 at 10:56 am

    I don't think I disagreed with any of these. After 4 children… a crib, diapers (or cloth), bottles…. yep those are the necessities. I would also add that the fancy outfits are not needed. My kids were in their onesies or just a diaper for the most part!

  28. Tammy on June 3, 2011 at 10:45 am

    If you're looking to BF and pump later, check with your county health agency. Even our tiny county had a breast pump that they loaned out to qualified applicants. A friend of mine worked in the office & while I didn't qualify income-wise, I was able to use their hospital-grade pump because they had no one else that needed it. All I had to buy were new tubes.

    I bathed my kids in the kitchen sink until they were too big for it (about 6 months). Saved my back and it's a LOT easier to hold a wet infant while standing! Plus it makes for some really cute pictures. After that, we got a shallow tub (approx. 18-24" diameter) from Fleet Farm that we put in the big tub & then filled with water. The water stayed warmer and baby had something to lean against.

    • HeatherSolos on June 3, 2011 at 10:56 am

      Thanks for sharing such a great resource. I didn't know it existed.

      • JanetLee on June 6, 2011 at 10:25 am

        If you qualify for WIC, they have breast pumps available also.

  29. Carol Shive Mirek on June 3, 2011 at 10:45 am

    My live without items were a play pen, or pack and play. The pack and play can be a bassinet when the are older, most have a changing place, and then a crib or play pen when they get older.

    My son loved his swing and it also doubled as a feeding chair since I opted out of the high chair. I later got the booster that sat on the chair and used that a lot. It was great to confine them in their chair with books, small toys when I sat it on the floor, or in the bathroom wherever it needed to be.

    And for the bath I used a very small mesh bath bath sling, and then just threw them in the sink without it, and put a towel on the bottom when they got old enough to sit up properly. And didn't use a diaper pail, just small diaper bags I got at the dollar store, and used the regular trash. Good luck to you both!

  30. Danielle on June 3, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Since it really didn't come up that much, I feel the need to stress the utter uselessness (to us anyway) of an infant bathtub. Some babies don't even like to be submerged in water until they're old enough to use the regular tub, and so you end up sponge-bathing, and even if your infant does like baths, s/he'll fit in the kitchen sink. My brother found this really cool swing that converts to a high chair, which seems like a great space-saver, but since my son HATED swinging, this could end up being an unnecessary expense. Ditto a top-of-the-line breast pump if you don't already have a well-established supply; as someone who had terrible breast-feeding drama, I'd recommend renting a hospital pump for the first month or two, and then buying a good electric pump once your supply is established. Pumps do tend to lose suction over time, too, so if you have supply trouble, a secondhand pump may not cut it. As the swing and pump demonstrate, all parents are different, and every baby is different, and a lot of stuff you think you'll need will turn out to be uselessness, and then a lot of stuff you think will be useless turns out to be indispensable. Holding off on buying any gear you don't need immediately (i.e., car seat) until you get to know your baby a bit can be a good way to stave off the impenetrable clutter of baby stuff.

    • HeatherSolos on June 3, 2011 at 10:37 am

      Some hospitals have strict guidelines about not releasing until the child has been strapped into a carseat. That may vary by hospital.

      Thank you for sharing great advice.

      • Danielle on June 4, 2011 at 9:10 am

        I apologize; I was super-unclear! I meant car seat as an example of something you DO need immediately, and ended up saying the exact opposite.

        • HeatherSolos on June 4, 2011 at 10:11 am

          I do that kind of thing ALL the time, Danielle. I just remember on the pregnancy boards people living within walking distance of the hospital not understanding the policy.

    • Rachel on June 3, 2011 at 5:52 pm

      The "tend to lose suction" comment makes me think Dyson should tackle breast pumps next! 🙂

      • Lucy on June 5, 2011 at 1:35 pm

        Thank goodness I'm not the only one!

  31. Jenn on June 3, 2011 at 10:32 am

    On the topic of breast pumps: your insurance company may consider it a "durable medical device" and may cover part or all of it's cost. And most pediatricians are happy to write a prescription for a pump. So look into what your health insurance allows if you can't find a used pump.

    As far as quantities for clothes and such, I'd figure out how often you'd prefer to do laundry and work backwards from there. Expect an infant to go through 2-3 outfits a day. And expect yourself to go through at least one. Since as a newlywed you probably have lovely new towels I'd go to a thrift shop and pick up a few old ones for clean-ups.

    I'd also recommend a sling or Bjorn-style baby carrier. I had both and they were lifesavers!

    • Emily on June 3, 2011 at 10:45 am

      actually – that reminds me – as of 2010 taxes, it's a tax deduction!

    • HeatherSolos on June 3, 2011 at 10:55 am

      Great advice! Thank you

  32. Emily on June 3, 2011 at 10:07 am

    The only thing I can say about the pack and play is that our kid hated it. She would not sleep in it. We ended up transitioning her to a crib quite easily, but anytime we tested laying her in the pack and play bassinet thing, she would wake up and scream. Now, I try to use it as a playpen type deal while I shower and she just sits there like 'why would you do this to me' or rolls into a corner like a zoo tiger and looks up with these sad eyes.

    I would add a good breastfeeding pillow (if you're planning to breastfeed) to the short list. They don't take up a lot of room and they are great for tummy time as well.

    • HeatherSolos on June 3, 2011 at 10:57 am

      Kids are weird, aren't they, you'd think they were individuals with preferences. 😉
      Thank you for sharing your experience!

    • Erica Mueller on June 3, 2011 at 11:40 am

      I too would add a breast feeding pillow. I have a Boppy and used it for feeding, for propping up baby, and later to help him learn to sit up. It was used several times a day, every day and is one of the very few things I saved for the next child. Nursing without it really hurt my shoulders!
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    • ibiza hen weekend on June 4, 2011 at 5:34 am

      I remember when my oldest child was a newborn. I too had formula stains that never came out. And I was too afraid to use anything other than Dreft because I did not want my baby to have an allergic reaction. But I finally broke down and used Spray-N-Wash. Spray-N-Wash definitely gets the stains out and it should not harm your little one. Just spray it on the stain and scrub it a little. Let it sit until the washer starts agitating and toss those formula stained bibs in.

  33. Nota Supermom on June 3, 2011 at 10:06 am

    If you are interested in breastfeeding, you can even continue to do it if you work. I worked and even traveled while nursing two kids a year each. I had an electric double pump, but it was just from WalMart, so nothing fancy.

    We had almost nothing for our first children and were fine. The stuff I had for later kids was nice, but almost nothing was necessary, even a diaper bag. Big purse or tote work fine.
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