Monday, September 16, 2013

Must Haves for the Minimalist Parent {a previous guest post at}


The minimalist parent needs very few things when parenting.  Here's my top ten necessities most of which are free.

1. Food.  This is the most important thing for your child and yes, it can be free.  Mama has everything she needs for her baby, built in.  Those mamaries are perfect for nourishing a new baby all the way up until toodlerhood.  The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization both recommend nothing but breastmilk for the first 6 months of life, that means no water either! and then breastmilk with the introduction of foods after, and breastmilk included up until 1 year.  Both also expressing the benefits of until 2 years if and when possible.
As for the concern of a working mom {who cannot pump enough} or mom with physical inability to breastfeed, there is still the FREE option of a space for lactating women to share their milk with other families in need.  It's up to each family to find someone they're comfortable with; and there is a list of safety information listed in the resource guide on every state has facebook page you can "like" to stay informed on donations and requests.  You may want to invest in nipple pads and a nursing bra (I recommend reusable pads, and I've found a sports bra is much easier to work with, since it doesn't change cup sizes as drastically as a normal bra, and sorry ladies but those mamaries do jump around in size).

2. Cloth Diapers or E.C. Cloth Diapers are all over the parenting community and while many people choose to catch a baby's waste with something reuable there is also the Eliminiation Communication option.  We use a combination.  E.C. is the process of catching a baby's waste in the toilet another free option.  When baby wakes up or finishes eating, it's a perfect chance to test out this method.  Simply hold the baby securly over the toilet and make a "ssss" sound for pee and a "uuuuuugggghh" sound for poop, baby will imitate you with his or her body and release any waste at that time.  I love using the combination because we save on laundry and diapers but still have the convenience of being out and about without having to focus one hundred percent on my daughters waste needs.
Cloth diapers are so popular right now they are even in Target stores! a nice option I didn't have while registering for my baby shower gifts.
Reasons for avoiding disposable diapers can be found here, and include chemical burns, environmental impact and general lack of cuteness.

3. Safe Sleep Space.  This can be in the bed with mom or dad, {but follow 4 safe rules; no alcohol, no smoking, not overweight, no medications} or next to the bed.  Co-Sleeping is the term for the first choice and is the free option.  Next to the bed is often perceived as a safer choice but does cost an investment in a side sleeper of some kind.  A nice guideline for co-sleeping families can be found here.  We choose a combination of co-sleeping with an in-bed co-sleeper like this.  I wanted to be SURE my daughter was safe as a newborn.  So we bought a co-sleeper and it was placed in the middle of my husband and myself, ensuring neither of us would roll onto the baby.  I think this was a great investment for piece of mind; I never worried about rolling over onto her.  Once she was few months old and I was sick of it being in my way, we removed it from the bed and continued sleeping as we did while it was there, my body trained on where to lay.

4.  Car Seat.  Unless you live somewhere that allows you to not own a car, you will need to make this investment.  If you are frugal and aware of the laws you know children have to be in a car seat for a long time, why not invest in a car seat that converts from newborn to infant to toddler?  I wish I would have known kids grow out of car seats.  I just sort of assumed when she got bigger we'd flip it around but they are all different and the first car seat we bought did not support her after about 9 months so we had to purchase another car seat, I went to Babies-R-Us while they were having a special and traded the old car seat in for 25% off a new one.  I bought this model and have been very happy with my daughter's comfort.  It will need to be adjusted again soon, but at 20 months she's still rear facing safely.

5. Moby {or similar} Wrap.  We used a baby carrier for the first year and a little into the second.  It made my life so much easier when my daughter was brand new.  I had my arms and was free to do everything I wanted and needed to, all while having my sweet daughter close against my chest.  She would sleep so much those first few months I really didn't have to stop doing anything to take care of her. I think this is the best investment any family can make, we didn't even use a stroller the first year because she was always in her wrap.  It's also great for a new mom, because I wanted to loose my maternity weight so I could fit into my old clothes.  By wearing her externally my body was burning the calories from growing her internally.  Now that she's older and almost two, my husband wears it on walks and hikes.

6. A Diaper Bag. Duh.  Make it a good one.  It should be multipurpose and if none of the "diaper bags" are what you want, use a back pack, big purse or even a reusable grocery bag.  It doesn't have to be what everyone else has, I was gifted a cute diaper bag and used it for weeks before I realized my back hurt and I was carrying way more than I needed to.  Now, I just use a simple bag that holds her diapers, wipes, and wet/dry bag.  It usually stays in the car since she's older. Before I used this one, I used an over sized purse as both my purse and diaper bag.  Also, note as baby gets older you need to bring less, adapt as necessary.

7. Bath Tub OR Shower.  You don't need to invest in a baby tub or floating baby holder for the bath tub! YOU can, and should, hold the baby.  By taking a bath with your baby you are 100% focused on the  baby.  Your attention is totally on the baby and therefore eliminating the risk of drowning.  The shower might seem a little slippery for a baby, but we found she actually was much grippier than we expected and enjoyed taking family showers while one person held the baby and the other cleaned her.  People kept trying to get me to buy a plastic holder for her, but my arms work just fine, and I prefer to keep unnecessary plastic out of landfills, one way I do that is precycling.

8. Food as Hygiene Products.  My midwife gave me some great advice while I was pregnant, she said, only put on your baby what you would put in his/her mouth.  Everything is abosorbed into their skin, so if you wouldn't eat it, you shouldn't use it.  So, let me break down for you the food products we used to clean our baby.  Olive oil - diaper cream, lotion, baby massage oil, we also really like coconut oil for those uses. Corn starch -  Instead of talcum powder more commonly known as baby powder, talc is carcinogenic meaning it causes cancer, and yet it is still used in Johnson & Johnson's baby powder formula. According to the US Health and Human Services you should not breath any talc. Tea - for calming a fussing or teething baby try bathing them with camomile or lavender tea.  Just add a few tea bags to the warm water and allow baby to play with the bags as toys while in the bath, as long as baby is over 6 months old, he or she can even suck on the tea bags without risk of reaction (I don't recommend it, I just wouldn't freak out if it happens).

9. Organic Cotton Blankets. Avoid pesticide laden blankets and toxic vapors from flame retardant sheets.  Opt for the slightly more expensive but extremely more beneficial option for your baby's health and the environmental by choosing organic cotton receiving blankets and sheets on whatever bed your baby is sleeping.  When possible choose the organic mattresses and if they're too much, purchase an organic mattress topper so the fumes from the mattress do not put your child at risk for SIDS.

10. Witch Hazel (for Vaginal Births).  This is one of the best things for a new mama.  If you are expecting a vaginal birth, have these ready for your postpartum care.  Purchase Large maxi pads and soak them with witch hazel and freeze (an additional "recipe" can be found here), use them as a compress for a healing postpartum mama.  I swear by them, I had no discomfort after about a week and right away the cooling witch hazel heals, so pain decreased immediately.

I'm sure there are a few other things new families might want or need but these will get you by I promise!  And I left clothes off the list, because everyone you know will buy baby an outfit if you let them and really our daughter spent the first 3 days of her life in blankets because she was so happy and cozy in them, it also allowed for more skin to skin contact when nursing in the early days of her little life.  Congratulations to any expecting family and congratulations to Gretchen and her little family!


p.s. A great visual for why natural parents are richer is available here

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