What baby items do you consider essential? We have a small two bedroom condo (with no extra storage) and are expecting our first child this winter. We just aren’t going to have the space to have every single baby item out there!.
We want to live simply and not have a bunch of items around the house that we don’t need or use. My other (related) question would be: How do you explain to people that you don’t need all the “extras?” -Emily
Congratulations on your pregnancy, Emily! I love how you’re thinking ahead — what a smart mom you already sound like!
We were in a similar situation when our first baby was born and I know some of what you’re feeling as you try to determine what you need to buy and how you’re going to have room for the additional items.
Here’s some advice based upon my experience of living in a small apartment with a baby:
1. Don’t Buy Anything Until After Your Baby Shower
It’s tempting to want to purchase the adorable teensy tiny baby items that you see at Target or at garage sales, but if you know someone is planning a baby shower for you, wait to buy anything until after it’s over with. I found that people were so generous that we ended upon almost not needing to spend any money on baby supplies after our baby showers!
2. Borrow Items You Will Only Use for a Short Time
There’s no point in spending money to buy something that you’ll only use for a few months or less. And there’s a good possibility one or two of your friends have an extra baby sling, bassinet, or other such baby items in their attic or basement storage room that they’d love to let you borrow.
In addition, if you are thinking about purchasing a non-essential baby item, but you’re not sure if it will work well for you and your baby, wait until after your baby is born and see if you can borrow the item for a short while from a friend before purchasing it.
3. Accept Gifts Graciously
While it’s easy to worry about what you’re going to do about people giving you things you don’t need, focus instead on the fact that you are so loved that so many people want to bless you. If someone asks for specifics on what to purchase for your baby, you can graciously explain to them that essentials like diapers, clothing, food for your freezer (for after your baby comes), and/or a gift card that you can use toward a large ticket purchase would be the best things since you’re short on space.
However, if someone doesn’t ask and instead buys you something so you don’t think you’ll need, don’t allow yourself to feel any sort of frustration toward the gift-giver or view the gift as unneeded clutter. Just be grateful for the wonderful people in your life who are so kind to make sacrifices on your behalf.
As far as essentials go, I did a series on Having a Baby Without Breaking the Bank in 2009. Here’s the list of essentials I shared in that series:
Aside from lots of love and nurturing, here are the essentials I believe you truly need:
1. Clothes (For starting out, I think you can get by just fine with six onesies, six sleepers, a few pairs of socks, and a few hats.)
2. Bed (unless you’re planning to co-sleep) and bedding
3. Car Seat
4. Stroller (or sling/baby carrier — some people find a sling/ERGO to be more practical than a stroller)
5. Diapers and Wipes (either cloth or disposable)
6. Burp Cloths and Blankets (4-6 total, some light and some thicker).
(And if you are unable to nurse or if you are adopting, you would also need to add formula/bottles, etc. to this list.)
There are lots of other things that can be fun to have or that can make life more convenient, but they aren’t essentials, in my opinion. And babies have survived for centuries without them!