What does a crunchy minimalist baby need? Not much, it turns out! Yes, you can skip a lot of the pricey baby items if you want to!
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.
Related: 10 Solo Parenting Survival Tips (From a Pilot’s Wife)
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.
And I think it’s great! Rear-facing is safer and in my experience children fall asleep faster and can’t see what I’m eating or drinking and beg for some. 🙂 We use and love this one.
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.
If you’re thinking “baby-led wha???,” Beth’s got your back. Check out her post on what it is and why we love it. And here are 15 Real Food Ideas for Baby’s First Solids.
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!
Wondering what a crunchy twin-mom would say? Check out: A Crunchy Parent’s Guide to Twins
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.
Do you have anything to add?
This is the great list that helps every mom, thanks for sharing. For more about listing, you can visit the Parenthoodbliss website.
I really appreciated this blog. I’m six months pregnant and a partial minimalist and the idea of buying a whole bunch of stuff for baby that I may never use is stomach turning. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one.
I just happen to come across your articles here, Andrea, while researching baby items I need! So cool to read your piece. Well written and so so helpful! Love you & miss you friend.
This is a great list! We had an overwhelming amount of stuff packed into a very small apartment for my oldest child (now 4), a very large amount of stuff piled into a decent sized house for my second kid (now 3) and pared down a lot for my 3rd kid (almost 2). Thinking about a 4th and this is seriously all the baby stuff I want in my house if I agree to give my husband another little one. They need so much less than we get them- toys that they never use, mass amounts of clothes that they grow out of before wearing, mats and swings and bouncers and rockers when all i really want is a moses basket to set the kid in that can travel from room to room (the basket is the only item i would add and added bonus my toddlers would love using it for their baby dolls when its empty).
even when it’s super cold, the sleep and play zippered jammies stay on so much better than socks. I use Honey to wash tiny babies, sounds crazy, but it doesn’t dry there skin and seems to be helpful against cradle cap. I used only carriers when I had 1 &2 kids, but Daddy prefers a stroller for the toddler and preKer now that we are expecting #7. We have always co-slept, I have wished for one of those bed rail mesh things so I could nurse on both sides without fear of baby falling from bed. I can only nurse on my left side in bed, so I just make a special effort to nurse on the right side before bed, and first thing in the morning. what I was hoping to find was a layette list like “4 sleep and play, 8 onsies, . . . ” it is just requiring too much mental energy to figure it out.
This is the first list I’ve seen that’s actually minimalist. I totally get adding in different things will happen to everyone, but this is a great resource if you truly need to start with essentials for budget/space/sanity!
Thank you Sarah!
Kylie D Hempy
Love this – we ended up buying a bunch of things we didn’t need for our first and came up with the idea of rentals. You can learn more about renting baby products here: https://rentyourregistry.com/
There’s lots of lists out there of what to get, but your list of stuff you did NOT need was super helpful!
Glad you found it helpful!
Wow. My changing table isn’t just for storage my baby literally loves it she is all smiles as soon as I lay her on changing table.
Noise machine. Omg I love it with timer and all. Helps her fall asleep fast.
Bottles, bottle brush great since exclusive pumper and I work.
Doorway bouncer and swing plus rock n play are god sends. She loves bouncing around and feeling independent. My first was running at 9 months cuz of bouncer.
Also cosleeping… woke up once with baby face down squished. So glad I’m light sleeper and felt her squirming. Crunchy or not that’s dangerous. Plus my baby can’t lie flat with Reflux.
The purpose of her list is to show that it is totally possible to have a baby and not use all the extra stuff… As a broke mom, that’s a sentiment and lifestyle I can appreciate.
If you *want* to use those things, or if you find they make your life easier, that’s what matters, and I think that’s what she’s communicating: do what works. There’s so many lists of expensive gear already out there, for many of us it’s good to see a list saying we can do it with little. You just may not be get target audience in this instance, and I’m really glad you have systems that work for you!
I’m expecting my 9th, but our baby is 10 right now so it’s been a while lol … the amount of so called essentials these days is CRAZY! I LOVED your didn’t need list it really helped clear my head of all the nonsense “essentials” …. thank you!
Thank you Marcia! Congrats on #9!
Seriously thank you! This is my second and I know I don’t need all the crap I had with my first, plus it’s been almost 6 years and I gave it all away. It’s nice to know parents can do it with all the stuff marketed at them.
Congratulations on #2! Seriously, parents would go bankrupt trying to get everything they tell us we “need”!
You’re welcome Shannon! We really need so little. Congrats on number two!
Thanks for the helpful list. The link to the nightlight alternative sends me to a broken Amazon page. What is it you recommend instead of a night light?
CRYSTAL DECOR 6″ to 13″ Inch Dimmable Hand Crafted Natural Himalayan Salt Lamp On Wooden Base – 6″ https://www.amazon.com/dp/B013V987AQ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_oxAyzbAKR8TFJ
This one! ?
Oh, and I have a great post-partum/cloth diaper story… I was at church when I was a few weeks post and I was just wearing a light pad because I hadn’t been bleeding much, and then ok and behold, things picked up a bit at church! Fortunately I had many cloth diapers in my bag, so I just grabbed a liner, went off to the bathroom, and stuffed it in my undies. Nobody was the wiser! Carrying around absorbent things for mama and baby (whether you cloth diaper or not) is definitely a must 🙂
I pretty much agree with this checklist… except on my 3rd kid I pretty much ditched the nursing bras and pads. It’s not a move for the faint of heart… but it makes my laundry that much less complicated. Another thing I never use is baby socks… but I live in a pretty southerly clime so I know that they are legitimately necessary in many places 🙂
Totally agree with no socks – or shoes! My baby was a barefoot hippie baby til like age 1. So unnecessary, and they fall off all the time anyway.