the best things in life are messy
parenting journal

baby essentials

Many soon-to-be-first-time-mamas have asked me the following question: What, exactly, do I need to have for my baby? 

This post is for you!

The good news? Most of what your baby (and you) will need in those first few months is free. For example:

baby essentials :: the fan

If you have one of these, you're SET. Oh, how I wish we didn't live in a rental and that we had the money to put in pretty fans, but hey, Finn loves them anyway. He talks to them. He laughs at them. I worry that, instead of speaking human language, he will just click, clack, and whirl in a rhythmic fashion.

But seriously. 

I hesitate to give a laundry list of baby essentials, because what works for us might not work for you. Every family has its own needs and priorities, and ours are highly influenced by my Montessori background, our decisions to co-sleep and practice EC, and our budget. The bottom line? Do what is right for you, your family, and your little one. Follow your convictions, follow your budget, but most of all, (in Montessori-speak) follow the child. What your child needs is YOU - your love, your smiles, your voice - not stuff! Stuff can be nice (and very helpful) but keep in mind that you shouldn't feel pressure to accumulate it. 

Also, do keep in mind that most of these items can be found second-hand. We have yet to buy new clothing for Finn, as we've been pretty determined to hit every Saturday yard sale in our neighborhood. We've found baby wraps and plenty of clothing. You might try looking on for other, larger items.

That said, here's a list of what our family has found helpful in the first four (almost five!) months of Finn's life:

  • the Moby Wrap. I've talked about it before, but this is our go-to option for soothing a tired baby. Daddy wears the Moby, and I wear ...
  • a ring sling. I've found that it's easy to get on and off and great for covering up while nursing out of the house. Our current favorite is the hip hold - we get a lot done in the kitchen and around the house thanks to the sling.
  • at least 50 pre-fold diapers. They are cheap, super absorbent, and perfect for EC backup around the house, worn with a diaper belt (known affectionately around these parts as Finn's sumo belt). Amanda Soule's book, Handmade Home, includes instructions on how to make your own pre-fold diapers from recycled cloth. We don't use diaper covers unless we're out and about (and we used g diapers with much success while traveling) but I'd say you'd need three covers to be safe.

baby care area in our bedroom

  • a dresser with the top drawers reserved for baby diapers and clothing. No need to get a special baby changing dresser - we already had ours, a mid-century-ish find from a thrift store. The above photo is our "baby care station" - a changing pad (with two cotton terry covers - one for the wash, and one for the pad), Finn's Baby Bjorn potty on top of a waterproof mat, a toy or two for potty time, wipes, and two burlap buckets - one for the 20 or so washcloths that we use constantly for cleaning up spit up, drool, milk - you name it, and one for holding my cotton breast pads.
  • a water repellent wool pad, topped with a flannel receiving blanket, for sleeping on top of in our family bed. You can make your own felted wool pad, or buy one here. You'll need lots of receiving blankets. I think we have about ten. You can make your own by buying cotton flannel at a fabric store and simply cutting them to small blanket size - zigzag the edges and you're done.
  • a co-sleeping pillow. This makes all of us feel safe and secure at night. Finn slept in a sleep sack for the first few months.
  • kimono shirts, baby legwarmers, socks and hats. Finn doesn't really have that many clothes - figure that your baby will go through one, maybe two, shirts per day (depending on drool and spit-up) and two or more pants if you choose to use pants. I rarely put Finn in pants because we EC. We prefer to use legwarmers and socks to keep his lower extremities warm. We do laundry every other day, so we only really need about four shirts, two pairs of pants, and a few pairs of baby socks. If you don't want to do laundry that frequently, then you'll need more clothes (and more diapers, probably!)
  • a wool fleece pad or lambskin, for hanging out on the floor, playing with toys, watching mobiles, cats, etc.
  • several mobiles from the Michael Olaf catalog or made by hand. Finn loved his black and white whale mobile.
  • Montessori baby toy set from Pink House Handworks.
  • and, finally, a Svan baby/youth chair. We've just started using it with Finn (because he's just begun to sit up on his own) but we LOVE it. It is an expensive item, but we knew we wanted it and spread the word - several family members went in on it together to purchase it for us as a gift. The chair is so great on many levels - the tray comes off so you can scoot the baby right up to the edge of the table to socialize with you as you eat meals as a family. It's beautifully made of wood. Perhaps its biggest selling point for us was that it converts into a toddler and youth chair which the older child can get in and out of himself with the aid of a step/foot rest.
That's all I can think of for the moment - I'm sure I've missed something. How about this - if you're a mama, think about something that you couldn't live without in those first few months and leave a comment. Let's make this post a go-to resource for mamas-to-be.