Warning: the following post is merely informational. I am not making any Announcements, nor do I have plans to make any Announcements, at any time in the near or fairly distant future. I’m just saying. Really.
I honestly can’t decide whether I’m righteously minimalist when it comes to outfitting for a new baby, or just lazy. I’m afraid it might be laziness with a veneer of righteous minimalist. I do not, historically, tend to place a lot of budget emphasis on things “society” tries to tell me are really, really important to my baby’s development and happiness, particularly if those important things are plastic, have logos, or cost a silly amount of money. If I can do something cheap (or free!) and in a more simplified manner, that’s what I’m going to lean toward.
We have only four children, so it’s not like I’m the world’s most experienced Mom. There are many women with far, far more distinguished rank than I!
That said, if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed or rebellious regarding the information overload in the Childhood Industrial Complex, take heart. You’re not the only one. Here’s what’s worked for us:
We’ve never purchased one. A friend gave us a pretty Jenny Lind style crib, and we kept it for several years. One problem: none of our babies ever slept in it. Eldest went from my shoulder, to a Moses basket, to a mat on the floor, to a bed. The Boy went from a Moses basket, to my armpit, to a bed. Spicy Child went from my armpit, to Eldest’s armpit, to a bed. Lefty went from my shoulder, to my armpit, to a bed.
(I’m sensing an armpit trend. I am not good at sleep training, because I like cuddling babies, and there’s that getting-to-be-a-bit-thicker veneer of The Lazy… I wear a comfortable nightgown, and open up the All Night Buffet of Mom, and we all snooze. This may be why our children arrive at three-year intervals.)
Before Lefty’s birth, we finally admitted we were more likely to use a crib as a Gigantic Decorative Clean Laundry Receptacle than as a snoozing spot for a real person, so we gave it away. I am happy.
We didn’t get one of these, either. We change babies on the floor, or the bed, or the couch. Our older kids have not expressed any particular angst over the lack.
And we skipped this, too. Baby clothes are teensy, and I’m pretty minimalist about wardrobes (Righteous versus Lazy, yet again!). Instead, we use one of those hanging canvas cubby things that attach to the closet rod. Plenty of storage for bitty things, and zero floor space consumed.
Since God equipped me with a body temperature, we’ve skipped this one, too. Instead, I prepare for changing an infant by stashing a wipe or two down my cleavage to heat up for a few minutes. The added bonus comes at night, when the cold wipes help wake me up a bit, so I don’t diaper the wrong end of the baby. And, this technique has served to jolly up our days, as my Tall, Dark, and Slightly Neanderthal husband gets the giggles when thinking about my “Mary Poppins Bra”–so named for the amount of stuff he imagines I could stash in there. He’s really funny.
We’ve not had one of these, either. When you skip a crib, and a changing table, and a dresser, the amount of real estate needed to house a human being less than two feet tall just drops through the floor. Our babies either room in with us, or with the other kids, and it works out well. Due to the rooming in, we’ve been able to skip…
… it has batteries, and is plastic, and has a logo, so it’s basically a trifecta of Things I Strongly Dislike In Children’s Products. We were given one with Eldest, and I tried to use it for about a week. I found I slept a whole lot less. Instead, I had my ears perked up to hear every sigh, whisper, and static squawk coming from the little walkie-talkie. Whomever coined the phrase “sleeping like a baby” has obviously never actually observed babies in sleep. They’re noisy.
The baby monitor was later recycled as a spy tool by Eldest and The Boy, and eventually went to its death in The Boy’s Disassembled Electronic Things bin.
I’m a big fan of every person owning their own, spandy-new underwear, so each new baby gets 14 onesies (grow suits, union suits). Add seven sleepers, seven daywear outfits, and two Best, plus 10 pairs of socks and some booties my Mom made that look like little shoes, and the new baby is basically set. This minimalist set works because I have a washer and dryer in my home, and can do loads as needed. I also make homemade burp flannels, and love the satisfaction of folding a tidy stack of them fresh from the dryer, then seeing them in orderly fashion in the closet. It’s really lovely.
Have you tasted that stuff? Seriously? YUCK. We feed the babies real food, prepped mushy or whirled. I’m fairly certain that’s part of the reason we don’t have any terribly picky eaters. They’ve been enjoying real flavors, seasonings, and textures from about 8 months on. And, we enjoy lower food budgets because we buy minimally processed ingredients. For instance: I buy old-fashioned (non-instant) oats. For the nearing-1 crowd, I whirl it briefly in the little food processor to make it into oat dust, then mix it with a bit of hot water or juice, and a dash of cinnamon. Seconds later, we have baby cereal.
So, there’s a first round of ways I’ve rebelled against the Childhood Industrial Complex. There are others, and I’m sure I’ll share them later.
I take my small rebellions pretty seriously.