When you are preparing for a baby there are so many gizmos and gadgets to choose from! You don’t need most of them. Here are my essential baby items for a natural home.
As a mom of three kids plus one on the way I can say I’ve gone through a lot of baby gear. With our first we had everything (who doesn’t, right?). Swing, exersaucer, bouncy seat, Bumbo, jogging stroller, play mat,…the list goes on and on. Our house was loaded with baby items.
By the time my second was born I realized I didn’t need so much. I knew holding him was much better than setting him in some contraption all the time. They aren’t good for the spine and development anyway. Plus he hated being strapped into ANYTHING. So all of those toys were pointless. All I needed was a blanket for the floor and a carrier so he could be with me the rest of the time.
With my third I used even less. And now that I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of number four I know that there is very little you actually need for a baby. And it helps keep your house from getting so cluttered! So I’ve come up with a list of my essential baby items for a natural-minded mama. Yes, every baby needs a place to sleep (whether that’s by your side or in a crib) and clothes. But beyond that these are my favorites (and some are on my current wish list!!).
My Essential Baby Items
Soft Structured Carrier
I have used a carrier with all of my kids. It is probably my most used baby item. I carry them from birth until at least 2 1/2. But it has taken me until baby four to figure out which one I really like! With my first child there weren’t too many options. I just went with what was in the store – Baby Bjorn. Now I know they aren’t designed that well and put baby in a poor position.
Thankfully when she was around one I got a new soft structured carrier – a BabyHawk. I have used it with all three kids! And I really do love it. It’s been my favorite up to this point. It keeps baby’s legs in the M position, which is best for the spine.
With my son I also got a Moby (wrap style carrier). It worked very well for him because he loved being really close to me at all times. Though my daughters did not like it. It was not roomy enough.
After years of carrying my kids I’m actually deciding to get a new one this time! I love the comfort of my BabyHawk. BUT I hate the long straps. I’m so sick of tying my BabyHawk and my Moby. I feel like I’m always dragging long strings when putting them on.
So my final choice and top pick is a soft structured carrier with buckles. I also want a hood for when baby naps or to be able to nurse discretely while out and about.
There are quite a few great brands of SSCs out there. You just have to try some on and see what fits you best. Some great examples are Ergo, Boba, Tula, and Lillebaby. I have my eye on the Boba this time around. And can’t wait to start using it!! No more annoying straps. Just a quick clip and done.
We did not start using cloth diapers until my second child was born. I wish we had done it with my first! We have saved so much money by using cloth diapers. Plus it’s just so much better for baby’s skin.
There is an up front investment and a learning curve. Do you want all-in-one, pocket or covers? Growing up there was only one way to cloth diaper. But now there are so many choices! And they are so cute too. But once you have a good stock you don’t have to worry about running out of diapers. No weekly purchases.
We chose to use pocket diapers and have been very happy with them. The brands we use are Fuzzibunz and Bum Genius. Though there are so many others! Cleaning is easy with a diaper sprayer attached to the toilet. And we have accumulated enough diapers that we only have to wash them every three to four days.
I love that we are doing our part to help the environment by not filling landfills with so many disposable diapers.
I know cloth diapering doesn’t work for everyone. But I truly think it’s far easier than most people realize.
Now that we are expecting baby four a few of our original diapers are wearing out. The elastic in the legs is not so stretchy. So we’ve had to replace a few. But it’s still a very, very small cost in comparison to disposables.
Nursing Tanks and Tops
If you are planning to breastfeed nursing tanks are a MUST. I live in them when my babies are little. They make nursing so much easier.
With my first I went super cheap and just got a few from Target. They worked. But they weren’t the best fitting.
With my second I wised up and got some quality nursing tanks (I used Bravado). They are so nice and fit so well I can actually wear them alone as a tank top when I’m out and about (which is great with spring/summer babies!). After using them with two kids they are getting a bit stretched out. So I need to buy replacements. But almost daily wear of them for about four years combined is pretty good.
On top of nursing tanks there are now many options for nursing apparel. This was not a thing when I first had kids. I’m excited this time around to buy shirts that allow easy access for nursing…while still looking cute (here is an example of one I like)! I love that more and more efforts are being made to encourage breastfeeding and make it easier to do so in public.
When my third child was born my sister-in-law gave me a nice, muslin swaddle blanket. My first thought was, “look, another blanket to add to the pile.” But it quickly became a favorite! At three years old my daughter still sleeps with it!
I love how light and breathable these blankets are. They make awesome nursing covers because they are large and lightweight. Plus they are so soft. You can use it to cover a car seat or protect baby from the sun in a stroller. They are great for toddlers that want to snuggle too.
It would seem that I don’t need another muslin swaddle this time since we have one. But I don’t think my toddler is willing to give it up. So it’s one more item on my wish list for this baby. This is the one I want!
It may seem pretty obvious that you need a car seat for a baby. Unless you don’t plan to ever drive anywhere. I add this here as something to consider. We used the same infant car seat for our first three children. I have sort of a love-hate relationship with infant seats.
Yes, you need one. Yes, it’s handy to be able to strap baby in while you are in the house and carry them into your destination.
BUT – it disturbs me seeing people leave their baby in a car seat for so long! I’m not judging. I did it too with my first. But now I can’t stand it. My kids are only in their car seat when in the car. Other than that there is no reason to keep them in. Why keep my baby strapped in a seat when I can take them out?
My oldest had a somewhat flat head as an infant. And keeping her in a car seat (and other things like a baby swing) too long and too often contributed.
For this baby we had to make a choice. Buy a new infant seat (our old one is very expired) and then buy a new booster after that. Or go for an all-in-one? We decided to get a Graco 4-in-1 seat. It will last from birth until ten years of age. And I don’t have to worry about breaking my back carrying an infant seat. Something to consider when you are expecting a baby.
When it comes to toys you really don’t need many…at all. A baby can be overstimulated very easily. Instead of buying all the toys with flashing lights and music, stick to a handful of simple, non-toxic toys.
Something to chew and something to shake. Maybe a mirror. Baby really wants to see your face and your surroundings. Wearing baby, talking to him or her and spending some time working on motor skills is sufficient.
The great thing about only having a handful of baby toys is that you can spend a little extra to get high quality and they won’t overtake your house. As your baby gets older look into Montessori style toys to encourage creativity and learning.
It’s no secret that reading to your child is one of the best things you can do for them. One item we have an abundance of in our house is books! We read a lot. I always say you can never have too many books. It is one of the best tools for learning. It also encourages lots of time together and good communication.
Even at just a few months old my oldest would sit and listen to book after book after book. She ended up teaching herself to read at the age of four and is still our bookworm.
My son was a child that had to move. It took longer for him to be able to sit through books and to pick up reading. But it was still well worth the effort.
All of my children were pretty early talkers. I truly believe that all of our time reading together was a huge factor.
They all ask me to read to them the instant I sit down these days. And we go to the library every couple weeks to restock our book supply. It’s rare that we come home with fewer than thirty books.
This is one that a lot of parents don’t really think about. But your baby’s bed and bedding is so important. Babies sleep…a lot. Which means they spend a lot of time on a mattress of some kind. Which kind you use can have an impact on your child’s health. Many are made with chemicals that are dangerous to inhale. And some people even say it could be the cause of some cases of SIDS (which is why back sleeping helps…less direct contact with/inhalation of the mattress).
We are in the process of replacing all of our mattresses. We just started with our toddler. She got a new mattress from My Green Mattress. They aren’t cheap…but they are worth the investment!
In our family we are also very conscious of environmental allergies (since my husband and all of my kids have them!). Everyone in our house has a dust mite cover on their mattress and pillow. The baby should be no exception.
The final thing on my essential baby item list is an EMF-blocking blanket. Yes, another blanket. This one is unique.
EMF (electromagnetic frequency) may be something new to you. It’s a topic I have researched some, but not nearly enough. But definitely enough to know that we don’t know the full impact they have on us. This post from Wellness Mama is a great read if you want to learn more.
Sadly EMFs are all around us these days with the use of cell phones, laptops, wireless devices, smart meters and just about anything that uses electricity.
I am very intentional about not allowing wireless devices like phones and tablets to touch my children (or myself!) aside from our hands. The effect of EMFs is proportionate to distance. The farther away you are the less impact they have. I don’t put my cell phone in my pants pocket, in a stroller or in a pocket of my carrier. I turn off the WiFi on my phone when I don’t need it.
We limit anything electronic in the bedrooms. I do still use a monitor, but try my best to keep it across the room from baby and not right by my head.
That being said, there are EMF-blocking blankets to use over baby when you are sitting at your computer with them or using your cell phone by them. It’s just one more step to protect that precious little baby of yours. This is not something I’ve used in the past, but it is another item on my wish list!
Is That All?
As you can see my list of essential baby items is quite small. I wish I had been able to read this list before my first was born. It would have saved a lot of money and countless hours dealing with an overabundance of toys. Who knows, maybe it would have helped my oldest with her sensory processing disorder! She sure had more than enough stimulation.
A baby needs sleep, nourishment and to be close to mom and dad (both physically and in communication). That’s really it.
If you are expecting a baby (be it your first or fifth) or know someone who is, use this list as a guide to what is really essential and worthwhile buying for baby.