Baby care is big business.
All these things you need, want, are encouraged to, insisted upon trying, just can’t live without…
Well, guess what?
All a baby needs is you. You got it all – warmth, comfort, nourishment… That, and maybe a few diapers (more on this following) for the first few weeks (and even months) will do just fine.
Yes, it’s fun to buy, get, give and play with all this stuff. But think about it – is all this stuff for you, or the baby? How does this affect your finances, your space, the environment? Does your baby need, or even want it? What other ways can we creatively express our love, care and excitement? What better ways would our money (and the money of others) be spent for the true well being of your baby?
That’s right: Keep It Simple, Sucker. Don’t buy into it. Spend your money on something more important, things that may really matter – say, travel, education, books, healthy food, a warm safe home…
Realistically speaking, what does your baby need, or better put, what do YOU need to care for your baby? A fraction of what you’re told you need. Be smart. Start thinking not only of things, but of the principle of things. Make your choices consciously.
Yes, a car seat is essential. Safety is essential. These things work. Well. They are also “multi purpose tools” and can serve as a safe haven where ever you and your baby may be. Though when not in the car, your arms may be the safest choice of all.
So, the next thing you may want to look into now is a carrier of some sort. Every woman has their preference. I loved a front pack that converted to a back pack as I was working with my hands a lot and physically active. I think slings are great and soft wrapped clothes are beautiful. What would work best for you? A Reboza, Ergo, Asian wrap; a pouch, pack, a woven, stretchy or gauze wrap… there are some awesome options. Look around. Consider your lifestyle. And choose wisely. One is all you need. You’ll get used to it, your baby will get used to it, and both of you will think this is as essential as your breasts…
And speaking of breasts… Nursing bras are helpful for some. Sports bras work for other. An open front shirt, quick to lift t-shirt and nothing underneath works well for others still. Only you’ll know. You might have to experiment here. It’s worth it. You’ll be spending a lot of time opening, removing, lifting, etc. Make it easy and comfortable on you.
And more than likely, the only breast cream or cleaner or balm or what not you will ever need is your breast milk, your baby’s mouth, and a gentle cleaning with mild soap when you shower or bathe.
What else? A bed, bassinet, basket – maybe, if you feel you need something for daytime sleeping. I used a sheepskin rug which served as my son’s portable crib, bed, blanket, everything, everywhere we went. Today these are contra-indicated due to choking hazards, so I cannot recommend them, but some sort of blanket is all you need. Chances are, you’ll have your baby in bed beside you at night as more and more parents are choosing the family bed.
Really, what more do they need?
Not a lot of fancy clothes, gadgets, and please… stay away from the toys (though I confess: books are my weakness).
Some blankies, diapers, and as always… you.
Fresh air, sunshine, a little water to wipe up.
Not much else, huh?
Essential DIYs for the New Mother
So maybe there is one more thing… And you might need a LOT of these. I can’t believe how many most of us go through. And they work for mom (and partner and dog and kitchen counter…)
All natural Baby (and mother) Wipes
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon castile soap (or other natural, mild soap)
- 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel
- 1 tablespoon witch hazel extract
- 1 tablespoon sweet almond oil (or olive oil)
- A few drops essential oils of choice (optional, though lavender is highly recommended)
Here’s a trick I finally figured out – don’t do disposable. Keep this mixture in a spray bottle (even in a little portable one in your diaper bag). Spray it on, and wipe it off – with “home made” cloth wipes. Cut up old sheets, t-shirts or other soft cloth, and store these somewhere handy, along with a covered bin that serves as a little laundry basket instead of a trash bin. Storing fresh and used clothes separately in ziplock bags in your diaper bag works great for on-the-go, too.
You’re already washing diapers, right? How hard would it be to wash a few more cloths? This idea was inspired by a post I read about reusable toilet paper – don’t laugh – though I confess I did at first too – and then was intrigued – though not enough to try it yet.
Otherwise, a little warm water and a gentle wash cloth and some mild, natural castile soap and/or diluted witch hazel, and what more do you need for baby’s bum? Pure coconut oil is a good cleaner and moisturizer (and good for cradle cap too). And natural betonite clay, in a little spice jar good for shaking – just a dusting, works well for diaper rash, should fresh air and clean dry skin not do the trick first. Take the time to air dry. No creams, lotions, powders, chemicals, perfumes… yikes, who needs it? Let ‘em be naked when you can! Put a diaper under baby, not on baby, for a few hours a day.
And speaking of diapers…
We can take this a step further and simply remove the great dependency on diapers. I am interested but not yet familiar with Elimination Communication if any of you have first hand stories to share.
In the meanwhile, please consider cloth. Due to diaper services and/or using washing machines (electricity, water, natural soap) and driers (if you don’t have a place for a line, which works best) cloth diapers may not be a super environment choice , but natural cloth against your baby’s skin still seems like the healthier choice than synthetic stuffs.
If you can clean your own, you’re ahead of the game. My mom used to “pre rinse” in the toilet bowl, then soak them until laundry time, and then hang them in the sun for the brightest and whitest! Me, when my little one was in diapers, I lived where I had to haul water 20 miles… I was not going to do laundry, but I was going to do cloth. I resorted to a diaper service, and loved it. Though I didn’t have running water, a bathroom, or electricity, I felt like I was living like a queen when the little diaper service van would bounce along the dirt road to find me once a week.
If you can do your own laundry, there’s one more way you can switch to DIY to be more economical, more gentle, and more natural.
Homemade Laundry Detergent
- 1 bar soap, grated (homemade if you’re extra amazing, or a simple store bought bar like fels napha, dr bronners, coconut oil based, etc.)
- 1 cup washing soda (also called soda ash)
- 1 cup borax
- a few drops essential oils (optional – you may try lemon, grapefruit, lavender, pine…)
How to Make Laundry Detergent:
- Grate the soap using a hand grater or food processor. Grate into fine particles so it dissolves easily.
- Stir all ingredients together.
- Store in an air-tight glass jar.
- Use 1-2 tablespoons per load.
- Double, triple, or quadrouple the amount of detergent you make to save time. Just keep the formula the same.
For tough stains, try: boiling water, baking soda, white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or dish soap… Get creative. See what works best. Know too that different waters (hard vs. soft, and chemical or purified) will have different effects on the cleaning process, so you might have to experiment and alter a little bit to find the formula that works best for you.
And don’t forget the good old fashioned laundry line! Nothing bleaches as safely as the sun. Not only easier on clothing than an electric dryer, but a good excuse to get you and your little one outside for a few more minutes of soaking in the Vitamin D.