By Andrea Vandiver, Contributing Writer
According to the all-knowing Urban Dictionary, a crunchy mom believes “that there is something bad or less beneficial about buying mainstream products or doing other common activities in the mainstream way.”
I’m a crunchy mom. Not because it’s cool or hip, because trust me, it’s not always easy going against the norm in your circle of family and friends. I’m a crunchy mom because I genuinely believe that we have strayed unbelievably far from God and nature’s intended way of living. Especially when it comes to babies.
I also don’t like having a lot of stuff. I’m not a true minimalist by any stretch of the imagination, but it influences my decisions regularly. And, I’m thrifty. Like counter-cultural this-kinda thrifty.
Throw all that together and my list of baby essentials looks differently than most. Even so, most of these are luxuries in comparison to what our ancestors used.
So if you think a little outside the box and are overwhelmed with all of the stuff you’re told you need as a mom, this list is for you.
An ergonomic soft-structured carrier
I prefer those over wraps or ring-slings because I just found them to be easier to learn and use. You want to look for one where baby faces you (whether on your front or later, on your back) and has a wide base that stretches from knee to knee. Like this Tula. Or my personal favorite is the organic Ergobaby.
The Ergobaby is a lot more affordable than others in the category and the organic option is super soft and cuddly. You can also find them at discount stores like Ross or TJ Maxx.
I hope and dream that one day I’ll get a toddler Tula but every once in a while I still wear my three-year-old in the Ergobaby. It doesn’t fit him perfectly anymore but that’s how much I love it. I just recently bought a $15 umbrella stroller that we use when visiting the zoo or the mall. But that’s the only stroller I’ve owned. The Ergo is just so much easier! Can you tell how much I love it?!
A car seat that allows extended rear-facing
My friends… change is coming. If you’re not required to already (and you live in the U.S.), soon you will need to rear-face until AT LEAST two years old. This is happening state-by-state and I can almost guarantee yours will adopt this next, if it hasn’t already.
A booster chair with tray
When we starting prepping for baby, we lived in a 900-square-foot townhouse. We had moved there from a house nearly double the size and brought that much furniture with us. It was cramped.
One of the things I knew right away was that we simply did not have room for a traditional highchair. So we bought this one. Once we moved back home (all of this because of a military move) we kept it. We enjoy having him sit right at the table with us. Now that he’s older we keep it in a closet and bring it out when we have guests with young children.
Approximately 531 jars of baby food
…or not. Seriously. My child has never eaten a bite of that stuff and *miraculously* he’s alive and healthy and eats fruits and veggies. We are firm believers in baby-led weaning. Half because we think that’s the healthiest, most natural way for children to learn to eat and half because parents – IT’S EASY.
Whatever diaper and wipe system works for you
That’s right. I’m giving you permission to cloth diaper… or not cloth diaper. Mother to mother. Peer to peer.
Me: Hello, fellow crunchy mom. Nice to make a friend with similar convictions.
Crunchy mom: Yes! Agree! So do you cloth diaper?
Me: No. *shamefully hang my head*
Crunchy mom: How dare you fly the banner of Crunchy Motherhood. Go back to ruining your child and the planet.
Cloth diapering was just something I couldn’t quite master. Although I probably didn’t try hard enough. I made all of my own covers but when baby boy came I was tired and already had a stockpile of diapers people had bought us. Six months later I decided what we were doing was working for us and continued with that. Even Beth, crunchy mom extraordinaire, wrote about her cloth diapering struggles.
Now if you want to cloth diaper, the Red and Honey team has you covered. There’s a lot of lingo surrounding that world and you may feel overwhelmed at first. The Newbie’s Guide to Cloth Diapering will tell you everything you need to know. We’ve even got a DIY tutorial for cloth baby wipes.
However, if you do choose disposable diapers and wipes, I recommend choosing a brand that strives to use the fewest amount of nasty chemicals as possible. You’re not going to find a perfect one but this site has a lot of good information.
That’s right. We celebrate co-sleeping around here and happen to think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. I won’t go into the whys of that because I covered that extensively here, but you don’t need fancy contraptions and doo-dads (I’ve been waiting all my life to use that word in a legitimate blog post).
Not only does co-sleeping save space and money, it’s healthier for everyone involved. My husband and I joke that the crib we bought was simply the most expensive laundry basket on the market.
Several different pricey nursing pillows
Wait. Just kidding! You don’t technically need one of those either. When I had my son, a beautiful, wonderful, hero of a lactation consultant named Ruth taught me about laid-back breastfeeding. I’ll never go back to what I thought was the right way to breastfeed – uptight and in a specific position and with a $40 pillow. (Of course, if the nursing pillow works for you, that’s awesome. Just don’t assume you absolutely need one from the get-go!)
I tried nearly every single brand out there of cloth nursing pads, and none were sufficient. They all leaked. Until I found these ones, and they rocked my world with how amazingly well they work. (I wash them with my regular laundry.)
I wore these all. the. time. Seriously. Find ones that have enough built-in support, toss in some nursing pads and you don’t need to wear a bra. Then you can use the two-shirt trick (lift your top shirt up and leave the tank down) for super discreet nursing in public.
I used this one. (Beth highly recommends this one, which the whole family can use.) And I used it sparingly and rarely in the early days. Like so rare I won’t admit how rare on the internet. Water is perfectly suitable for cleaning young babies. Too much soap can get rid of good bacteria and dry out their skin. Plus they just don’t get that dirty. A plain ol’ water washing in the places it counts is all you need.
And carry around an extra shirt too… for you. Throw in a few comfy clothing choices and you’re set.
Here’s what I didn’t need:
- Noise machine
- Swing, jumper or bouncer
- Play mat
- Wipe warmer
- Changing table, pad
- Bottle warmer, bottles, liners, nipples, bottle brush
- Baby towels and wash cloths, baby bathtub (Believe it or not, you can bathe with your baby until they are old enough to sit in the tub alone!)
- Crib, swaddlers, pack-and-play, bassinet, crib sheets
- Bibs (just take that shirt off or wash clothes shortly after soiled)
- Newborn hats (the newborn smell isn’t just for enjoyment, there are biological reactions to it), as well as mittens
- Plastic bowls, spoons, forks, plates
- Baby monitor
- Nightlight (use this instead)
I’m sure your list will vary a little from mine, as we all have our own favourites. When it comes down to it – use whatever works for you! Start with the basics, and add on as you find a need. Don’t worry about buying every single baby item in the store just because they’re there. You’ve got this, mama!
Andrea Vandiver is a work-at-home mom and freelance writer in Oklahoma. She spends her days imitating animals and blowing bubbles. Her favorite things are those that taste, smell, feel, sound and look wonderful: the stuff that romance is made of.
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