the minimalist baby

when i was pregnant with river, a friend told me that i would receive more baby clothes than anything else. she said before her son even made his entrance into the world, she piled up all his little outfits, covering the entire surface of her king-size bed. even though she had registered for a night light, a diaper stacker, a swing, a carrier, a playpen, a baby wrap, and so on, people still gave her clothes galore. who can resist the precious, little baby booties and adorable prints on tiny onesies?

i've talked with other friends about how overwhelming it is to register for your baby as a first time parent. you want to make sure you have everything -- after all, babies need a lot of stuff, right? i mean, there wouldn't be an entire super store dedicated to all things baby if not... right?! i've heard poor mamas say they've broken down sobbing during the process of registering (thanks to those awesome pregnancy hormones) and i can assure you john and i got into little spats here and there in the midst of deciding over crib sheets with safari animals or stripes, and similar, very important discussions.

the morning after river was born, we packed up and stayed at my grandparent's for a couple days while the air conditioner in our apartment was being fixed. since it was totally not planned and completely last-minute, and i had just given birth at home (not needing to pack a hospital bag, obviously), i didn't do much to prepare for being away from the house for two days with a brand new baby. we packed a couple onesies, diapers and wipes, socks, a pacifier, and a couple receiving blankets. i was worried that once we arrived, i was going to remember a bunch of things that we were in dire need of, and john would have to run to the store to pick it up. (the only time this happened was when we realized we didn't have a single burp cloth.)

when we arrived back at home two days later, i realized that i had not needed much to care for river. when he was hungry, i nursed. when he was discontent, i swaddled him. he slept in the bed with me and my husband. besides his hat and socks, i didn't even put any clothes on him because it was so hot. we used olive oil for his dry newborn skin, and breast milk to clean his gunky eyes. i was marveling at this to one of my midwives and she concurred -- she had raised six kids (seven? i can't remember) and it was true, all you really need to care for a happy, healthy baby is diapers, clothes and boobs (some may even argue the necessity of diapers).

with this little one on the way, i have found the desire to buybuybuy has diminished considerably. when you are a brand-new parent, the baby product ads really play on your emotions -- of course they do! preparing for a new baby is fun and super exciting, and the time surrounding the birth of a new baby is a romantic time. hello, it's like you're getting ready to play your own, real-life adult version of house (except this time, the babies actually do cry and poop and wake up seventeen times in the middle of the night).

of course, there are a few things that really came in handy, but if we don't get our hands on them for baby girl, i won't be disappointed. for one, i love exersaucers and swings. in those first few months, our swing helped me keep my sanity. and when river started wanting to be upright all the time, it was nice to stick him in the exersaucer for a bit when i couldn't necessarily carry him or put him on the floor. (but a brand-new exersaucer and swing that you will only use for a few months, a year at the most? not worth it to me. that's why gently-used is the way to go!) a stroller is a life-saver and i know there are quite a few anti-stroller people in the attachment parenting community, but let me tell you... when you are lugging a purse, diaper bag, camera bag, and an 18-pound baby while rushing to your next flight that is leaving in three minutes and happens to be on the complete opposite end of a giant airport, a stroller really comes in handy. just sayin'. oh and toys? pretty unnecessary for a baby, in my opinion. we never did the whole lights & music thing, and river was always way more interested in things that weren't toys at all.

what am i passing up this time around? a baby bath tub, pacifiers, a playpen, bottles, disposable diapers, a bouncer, a crib, a changing table... you name it. this baby has clothes, cloth diapers, a sling carrier, and breastmilk. (of course, i do realize that every family and every situation is different, so what may be realistic for one mama may not be realistic for another.) so far we don't have a swing or exersaucer. and i'm okay with that (for now... ask me in a few months ;). i want to get the hang of wearing this baby a lot the first few months, something i rarely did with river but always wished i could. and a bonus is the less "stuff" your little one has, the more his needs are met by human contact, which is what nature intended and how babies thrive!

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