Minimal Baby: Cut the Clutter, Enjoy the Child


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By contributing writer Ashley Haupt, blogger at Little Pieces of Ordinary.

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My fourth and last baby just turned ten months old.  I am officially a seasoned baby-mom.  But I had my newbie days and I remember them well.

When we had our first baby, I pretty much followed the Babies R Us rule book, which can be summed up as follows: buy one million infant items specially designed to hook excited moms-to-be.  Hello wipes warmer!

If you are an excited mom-to-be, or even just expecting another bundle of joy, I want to tell you this: you don’t need all that stuff.  Now maybe you love the baby paraphernalia. Maybe that’s your jam. Great!  But someone out there needs to read this.  You can do it differently.

Here are my recommendations for a minimalist baby experience:

  • Receiving blankets double as burp cloths. The babies don’t fit in those receiving blankets for long, and after they have outgrown them, throw one over your shoulder for a nice, soft, extra long burp cloth.  Instead of storing a supply of receiving blankets and burp cloths, consider just one or the other.  I prefer just receiving blankets because they are nice and long.
  • One basket of baby toys. This is hard, I know. I get it. But babies don’t need a lot of specialized toys. They are more curious about your hairbrush, your water bottle, and a speck of lint on the floor than they are about those noisy, light-up, colorful toys. Whatever you provide will be scattered immediately, so only provide one basket.  When babies have fewer items, those items become special. If you have an abundance of baby toys, consider watching to see which ones are the favorites, and donating the rest.

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  • One basket of baby books. They don’t want 100 books. They want to hear the same one over and over again because it is their favorite. Do yourself a favor: have one basket of books and another in the closet. Switch them out when YOU are bored. Baby won’t care.  You will obviously want to develop a killer library when Baby gets older, but you don’t see a lot of baby-age books.
  • Bouncers, Bumbos, Jumparoos, exersaucers, walkers. By the time we got to number four, we were just over these shin-skinners and home clutterers.  Really, you don’t have to have them. If you love them, keep them! But if you are secretly annoyed, ditch them. We liked to keep one toy that encouraged baby to sit up to play, and one toy that encouraged standing, but even these aren’t necessary because Baby’s favorite pullup spot is your coffee table.  Susanna had the least of these contraptions than any other baby and she has not missed them at all. She started crawling at seven months and is just about to start walking.  She has greatly enjoyed the wide open spaces not crowded with elaborate baby toys.  Baby’s curiosity and your involvement are all that is needed.

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  • Simple wardrobe. Baby clothes are traded like crazy and this is so awesome! However, it also has the potential to become overwhelming.  Don’t keep everything. When someone gives you a load, give thanks and chose what you need.  Pass on the rest to someone else. Baby’s closet should contain your most favorite items and a few play things. But keep it simple, not loaded and stuffed. Dressing Baby will be SO much more fun if you can easily access everything.
  • Shoes are not necessary until baby walks. If you love accessorizing, go wild! But if you are minimalist like me, pass on the shoes.  And most other baby accessories like sunglasses, tons of hats, rain boots, etc… Use these as a cute picture prop, then donate. It’s work to try to keep track of all those extra accoutrements before they are actually useful.
  • Baby bath tubs. Not necessary. Wash baby in the sink. It’s good incentive to keep your sink and dishes clean, you can use the sprayer like a mini shower, and most sinks are deep enough that it is very safe.

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  • Hooded baby towels. Not necessary! Just use your regular towels and rub off that soft little punkin head.  Hooded towels are a pain to fold and store.
  • Say NO to the diaper genie. Doesn’t hold in the smell, requires special trash bags, and is unnecessary. Let’s be honest here: the only thing that will help poopy scents is to change the bag frequently.  Just get a nice, stainless steel lidded trash can that can be used for other rooms later.
  • Diaper bag: only the essentials! Diapers, wipes, one extra outfit, diaper crème, paci.  You don’t have to use an enormous bag and you don’t even have to purchase one. Pick your favorite tote bag or a cute purse. Think outside the bag!

I loved having babies.  They are tiny, precious, and very, very brief. 

Your baby will be a toddler in the blink of an eye.  Don’t let your home be crowded with a pile of unnecessary baby stuff.

Keep it simple:  give you and Baby space to breathe and play and learn together how to do this crazy ride called parenting.

What’s your best minimalist baby tip?

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Comments

  1. Kristen says:

    This is so spot on! I feel bad that American culture makes new parents believe that they have to have the latest and greatest gadgets to be a good parent. The truth is, all you need is diapers, the crib, a few clothes, and you’re good to go. Plus, the less clutter you have, the less you have to clean up and the more time you can spend with your baby/toddler.

  2. Christina says:

    One basket of baby toys seems like a nice way to narrow down these items. Your comments about loving having babies are completely understandable.

  3. Mel says:

    The second time around I didn’t use a crib or a changing table. Sold them both and used the pack n play until I moved my daughter to a twin.

  4. Jennifer Hoffman says:

    Hi Ashley! I loved your article. I too have come to realize that babies do not need much. I had so much baby stuff with my daughter that I ended up giving away most of it. We also have a Pillowfort bin from Target in which we store our daughter’s toys. If the toys don’t fit in the bin, then we get rid of some. I am about to have my second child and I am trying to get the absolute essentials for him.

    • That is so great Jennifer! We are fixing to move into a new house (currently at my parents while remodeling), and I am planning to attempt what you’re describing. One bin per kid and that’s it! It’s encouraging to know others are doing it with success! God bless you with meeting your upcoming new addition!

  5. Rose says:

    I agree with you. Thanks

  6. Leigh-Ellen says:

    I love this so much! When I had my first child, I felt like I needed all of the “stuff” to take care of my baby. Three kids later, I’ve learned that keeping it simple, not only means less stuff to put away/organize but some things just aren’t necessary.

  7. Michelle says:

    Congratulations Katie! What a wonderful blessing for you and your family 🙂 If you can I would start practicing with your little guy in the stroller before the baby comes. Maybe a snack or special toy he only gets while in the stroller might help. A few months before our daughter was born, we moved our son into his big boy room. (we put our kiddos in the nursery right away) We wanted to allow enough time for him to get use to his new room and big boy bed. (not wanting to make him feel like the baby was kicking him out) It was a trying transition for us and him. He wanted to be back in his crib every night! Perseverance and a CARS blanket did the trick!

  8. Michelle says:

    Great article! If I could do over again I would pass on buying a lot of the “things” I thought we needed. The only thing I disagree with is the shoes. If I could do over with our third child I would have put shoes on her before she learned to walk. By that time she was so use to “not having shoes on” she didn’t want them on! It was a hard transition for her. A second hand pair in great condition would have done the job, new isn’t always necessary. 🙂

    • Oh no! Isn’t it funny how kids develop so many quirks and preferences based on what we do with them? My son is getting “spoiled” because he hasn’t had to sit in the stroller much, but now that we have another baby coming (quite on his heels), I’m worried about it! With three kids, those little two are just going to have to do the stroller if we’re going to do anything without dad.

  9. Jennifer says:

    My advice, buy as little as you can till you need it. So much can be purchased so easily once baby is here and you know their preferences, tastes, etc. And if you have something for your baby and then no longer need it, pass it on or loan to a friend until you have a new baby. Don’t fill your closets with ALL the things when you don’t need them.

    • I so agree. I think it’s tempting to get all “the must-have stuff” as an expectant, first-time parent as a coping strategy for the unknown and fears of having a baby. You want to be prepared. But most of it is surprisingly not at all necessary and if you need, as you said, it can be purchased once you see that.

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