The Minimalist Baby: The Nursery

Friday, January 8, 2016

As you may know, we are trying to live a minimalist life.  That doesn't mean that we never buy anything, or that we hate stuff, we it means is that we want to bring things into our home intentionally and keep the things that actually are used and bring joy and value to our lives.

Anyone who has kids knows that you end up with a whole lot of baby stuff, even if you don't mean to.  Babies just require a lot of stuff.  Clothes, toys, diapers, furniture, bath time stuff, etc.  Seriously, lots of stuff.  Going to the baby section of most major retailers like Target or Walmart is absolutely overwhelming.

Over the next few weeks, I want to talk about some of the main points of keeping the baby stuff minimal and recognizing what is totally vital (diapers and wipes), and what you don't really need, if you are trying to go minimal on the baby stuff.

This is a tricky topic to split up, because there is SO much to talk about.  However, I am going to take the plunge and start from the beginning (ish) with the nursery!

You are prepping your baby's nursery, and want the perfect set up.  That is great and well, but it is expensive.  I have an incredibly easy baby, so you may need some of the things I say to skip, but as far as essentials go, this is what you really need to have when you bring your baby home from the hospital.

My main rule about buying baby stuff (the big stuff, not diapers, wipes and onesies) is "don't get it until you need it."  If you aren't sure if you will need it, wait and see if you actually do. Then, if you do need it, see if you can borrow it from a friend.  That way, when you are done with it, you can give it back, and not have to store it, and you will give them a break from storing it until they need it again. A win-win!

Now onto the part you have been waiting for!


The Essentials: 


- crib: My parents bought us a mini-crib that fits in the closet, where Fox sleeps.  If you don't want to buy a real crib at first, you can also use a pack'n'play for the first few months or year.
- crib sheet: important for going on the bottom of the crib when they are first born.  Plus, then if they poop or throw up on it, you can remove it and wash it. I am not sure what the current guidelines are for this, but it should fit very tightly so that the baby can't get tangled in it, and it won't restrict airflow.  
- blankets: I would get 2 of each weight: 2 swaddle blankets, 2 lightweight flannel blankets, 2 heavy baby quilts.  If you want to go super minimal, get 1 swaddle blanket (for swaddling, obviously) and 1 heavy quilt for laying them on the floor.  Just know you will have to be really careful about when you wash them, so you always have one available.
- pacifier: the hospital gave us 2 of these, and I bought one other pack.
- hat: The hospital will give you one of these, too if you are planning on having your baby there.  This will keep your baby really warm the first few weeks, which is great, since they are still learning how to be a human outside the womb.
- burp rags: get a few, if you baby has reflux, do laundry more often or buy a few more.
- diapers and wipes: buy a small pack of newborns, and a large set of size one to start with.  I like to buy the big packs of diapers, because they are cheaper, but for newborn, I would get a small pack, because your baby might outgrow them in 2 weeks, or need them for 2 months, you just never know.
- sleepers: 6-9 newborn sleepers (Fox kept pooping through these, so it was nice to have more than 2 or 3), then when you hit 3-6 months, I would reduce it to 3-4 sleepers.
- baby outfits:  you can totally get by with 4-6 outfits.  I liked outfits that included a onesie, because it kept my baby warm. When Fox was a tiny baby, I was really glad that he had sweats, because they were so soft and comfy.  I love stylish baby clothes, but with a newborn, I am all about comfort!
- baby socks: We don't want those toes to get cold!

Recommended by Me:


- nursing pillow:  I had a Boppy, and I used it all the time. It isn't necessary, but I felt like it was worth the space that it took up.

- video monitor: My friends at work gave one to me, and we love it!  It is great knowing what is going on with your baby, without having to run in there to check and make sure they are okay.
- sleep sacks:  We have had some kind of sleep sack for Fox his whole life, and they are great, because he moves a ton while he sleeps, and always wanted to sleep with his arms above his head, so swaddling him was out of the question.  Sleep sacks are a great alternative, because they keep your baby's toes warm, and you don't have to worry so much about a blanket ending up over their face!

What You Can Skip (according to me):

- the swing: some people swear by this, but I found it totally unnecessary (I did have a super easy baby, though. If you think this is necessary, I totally get it, but maybe wait to buy one until after you have your baby).  This is one of those items that you can only use for a few months, then your baby is too big and too mobile. If you are trying to save space, skip it.
- the bouncer:  Fox was totally okay on the floor and he didn't roll over for many months, so he was perfectly content and safe there.  You might want one for a second child though, so you can put them out of reach of the first child.
- bassinet:  We borrowed one from a friend, but because we had a crib, we just put the crib next to the bed, and used that instead.  I think the bassinet got used 5 times.
- changing table:  The floor, a large desk or your bed with a blanket on it works just fine.  Just make sure the baby is supervised at all times, so they don't fall off!
- glider:  Occasionally, I wished we had one, but with minimal space, you can definitely do without.  Feed your baby on a chair, the couch or your bed, with pillows propped up behind you.  I found a nursing pillow was my best friend and could make up for not having a glider.
- wipe warmer:  Totally fun, and makes you feel like an awesome mom, but holding the wipe in your hands for 10 seconds before wiping your baby's bottom is a much more cost effective method, and works pretty well, too.
- noise machine:  This is another controversial baby item, because some people think it is the best invention ever.  And it probably is, but I wouldn't know.  We just bought one and never, ever used it.  I would say give your baby a few weeks, and if they can't sleep because you make too much noise during nap time, order yourself one off of Amazon.

Baby needs are super subjective, and this is my opinion, based on my experience.  You are absolutely welcome to hate my ideas and think they are crazy, but please be kind if you comment!  

Also, this post was NOT sponsored, nor are there any affiliate links.  Someone asked me to post about baby essentials a few months ago and I thought it sounded like fun.  I just had a baby a year ago and thoughts about what to buy are still fresh on my mind.  The links are to items that we actually own. 

26 comments

  1. I agree with your list. We have a five year old and one year old twins. One thing we did was purchase flour sack dish towels to use for blankets or burp cloths. That way when the kiddos do not need them anymore, I will have some good dish towels. Love your blog. I really like this post! Lauren

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  2. For those who need the white noise machine, there is a free app for white noise. We just downloaded it to our iPad & turned it on for baby. It was the ONLY way to get him to sleep for the longest time.

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    1. Perfect! No sound machine required! Thanks for adding that! I forgot about those!

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  3. Great Post! I'm pregnant with twins and feeling overwhelmed with all of the 'stuff' I'm supposed to get. How do you handle the bags of hand-me-downs friends want to give to you?

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    1. Kelly, That is an awesome question! I typically say thank you and accept them, go through them and take what I want and then either pass it on to someone else, or donate it.

      When we had Fox, one of my friends gave me a large bag of 12-18 month clothes. I was really grateful, because it was stuff I wouldn't have to buy later. Her style was close, but wasn't exactly like mine, so I kept what fit with my aesthetic and passed the rest on.

      On the other hand, if you really don't want it or don't have room for it, just say "Thank you so much for thinking of us, but we are actually keeping their closet really minimal, and we have already gotten everything that we need!" That is the most tactful reply I can come up with currently :) If anyone else reading this has any awesome ideas, feel free to share them below! That is always a challenge to let people know you are grateful, but stick to your guns and not bring things into your home that you don't need or want.
      Thanks for bringing this up!

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  4. I agree with everything--except I'm all for the swing! My oldest wouldn't sleep in anything but the swing for the first three months. My second was the easiest baby alive. My third had colic and screamed for 4-6 hours every day NO MATTER WHAT WE TRIED and it was horrible. The swing was the only thing that sometimes helped, plus, like you stated, it kept her out of the reach of the other two. When she got older she was crazy mobile and was my only child who LOVED a walker (we got one handed down to us) and she cruised around on that thing like CRAZY and was walking at 9 1/2 months. So while I agree it's not necessary, if you have a fussy baby, I don't see any reason why not to try it and save your sanity a bit! Also---the advice to borrow/exchange is great. Although, if you plan on having multiple kids--it's worth the storage.

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    Replies
    1. The hardest thing about a post like this is that kid's needs are different, and some need stuff that others don't. As a parent, sometimes it is worth it to bite the bullet and buy the swing, or walker, but for some kids it isn't necessary.
      Hearing about your kids differences in temperament makes me worry a little about our future kids, and what they will be like. I got totally spoiled with the first one, and worry that future children will be much harder and require way more stuff... I guess we will see!
      Thanks so much for your comment and for stopping by! I love hearing other perspectives!

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  5. I really loved this post! We are super minimal when it comes to both of our kids. We borrowed a bouncer from one of our friends and were so glad we didn't buy it because both our kids hated it. We didn't buy a bumbo because I felt like both of my kids would grow up of it really fast, so instead we bought our kids a seat from summer infant I think is the brand that can be used as a bumbo, but the infant seat can be taken off when they outgrow it and it becomes a larger seat. It also has straps and a tray to be used at feeding time, and had toys that clipped on for them to play with. It was the perfect all in one for us, and cost $20 less than the bumbo. I do love our glider, and we had a changing table for both kids, but realized that we never actually changed our babies on them and they were a complete waste. We also went really minimal with clothes, and always giveaway all our clothes as soon as they're outgrown because we hate storing them, and know someone else will use them!

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  6. I in no way mean this to be unkind, but I work with an early intervention agency (kiddos birth-to-three) and it is really unsafe for a baby to sleep anywhere besides a crib or pack and play. Babies are most at risk during the first four months for sleep related deaths. There also should be no blankets in the sleeping environment for the first few months. I totally get where you're coming from and thing your post is otherwise great. Baby stuff totally gets out of hand quickly, but a non-negotiable in my opinion is a safe place for baby to sleep!

    I truly, honestly do not mean this comment meanly, but it's so so important to me to help keep babies safe!

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    1. I am not offended at all! I am so glad you pointed that out! I had forgot about that, and we definitely did it, because we wanted to keep Fox safe! I definitely agree that babies should have a safe place to sleep! I have changed that part of the post and appreciate you mentioning it! Thanks for your comment!

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    2. Thank you for not taking offense, and thanks for all the great posts! I love your blog!

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  8. Great suggestions! One of my biggest regrets is purchasing a changing table. I think I used it a total of five times total through two kids.

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    1. Bummer! I have an item or two like that. Such a waste of money, and so sad to just see something sit there, unused!

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  9. Our differences:
    +bouncy seat - our kids have been able to bottle feed themselves by 6 months old, so it was so helpful when the other kids needed attention!
    +car seat cover - Michigan winters are coooooooooooooooooooooooold!
    -baby monitor (three kids in, and we've never used one!)

    We also didn't need a nursing pillow, since we adopted our kids and they bottle-fed. But if we had had one, we probably could have skipped the bouncy seat. Wven with bottle feeding, we kept the bottles to a minimum, and didn't use a separate dryng rack.

    Also, mini crib = my favorite thing ever.

    Also, I think changing tables as changing tables are silly, but I upcycled a $10 Craigslist one to be my girls' dresser. 9 baskets from Joann Fabrics, and it holds all their gear!

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    1. Good point about the car seat covers! I will probably mention them in the travel post. We had one, and the day we brought Fox home from the hospital (in January), it was bitterly cold and windy, and I was SO grateful that we had one! Also, we didn't use a monitor for the first 3 months of Fox's life, but now we use ours regularly. Definitely not necessary, but really nice to have for us!

      Thanks so much for your comment! I love hearing different perspectives! It has been really a fun part of this post!

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  10. One way that we have dealt with too many clothes is by keeping a few senew sets for gifts for friends who announce that they are expecting. Any tips on dealing with excessive gifts of toys? My in laws are the doting type and they can't quite so buying toys. The thought is set but it's driving me crazy! Loving the minimalist posts!

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    1. I didn't think to do that at first, and washed everything. I was glad to have so much newborn stuff, because Fox was constantly pooping through his clothes (like every day), but I wish I had not washed everything until I really wanted to use it.
      I am planning on doing a toy post next (it should go up on Friday), and talk about what to do with extra toys. I totally get the excess toy thing! It is hard, because you love those who gift them, but maybe don't want that many toys...! Check it out on Friday, and hopefully I can adequately answer your question (this will also give me a few days to think specifically about answering that question :)

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  11. As you pointed out, this list will only work for the easiest of babies. A swing and ergo have been absolutely essential with my difficult baby and his fussiness and eating issues. We have spent probably $500 on different breastfeeding helps, pump parts, bottles, sleepers, mattresses, etc to try to help our baby with his eating and sleeping issues. I just hope that other first time parents don't set their expectations on having such an easy baby because it is hard enough as it is to accept a challenging baby's various struggles. If there are items that may help, just get them.

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  12. I agree with your list. Except the swing. But I didn't buy it, got it as a hand me down.
    The toy thing, I can't wait to see what you say. I have older kids, 8/6/4, and am trying to figure out how to politely tell the grandparents that if they really want to give my kids anything, I have started a savings account for college for the kids. Other than that the kids really like quality time. And I guess living minimalist can equal quality time. :) Thanks for this post!

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  18. I in no way mean this to be unkind, but I work with an early intervention agency (kiddos birth-to-three) and it is really unsafe for a baby to sleep anywhere besides a crib or pack and play. Babies are most at risk during the first four months for sleep related deaths. There also should be no blankets in the sleeping environment for the first few months. I totally get where you're coming from and thing your post is otherwise great. Baby stuff totally gets out of hand quickly, but a non-negotiable in my opinion is a safe place for baby to sleep!

    I truly, honestly do not mean this comment meanly, but it's so so important to me to help keep babies safe!
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