This blog post came about as a side-project. After I read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, I went to town on everything we own in our house including everything I had accumulated over a year with a baby.
When our 2nd baby came along, I had been able to pare down everything and keep the most important things, which are on this list. It made a huge difference in the feeling of overwhelm and reduced our clutter.
I followed both Lucie’s List and Pregnant Chicken, which were awesome. I can’t recommend them enough. Add yourself to their mailing list. They were fantastic to learn from.
I pretty much bought everything they recommended because I had no idea what I was getting myself into with my first baby.
What motivates me to provide a gender neutral / minimalist list?
I HATE accumulating too much stuff. And it happens really quickly with kids. Clutter and “stuff” stresses me out. My goal is always to own items that I use at least once a week.
I found the process of acquiring baby gear SO OVERWHELMING. There’s an entirely new vocab. I bawled my eyes out twice. Picking out a stroller and picking out a car seat.
It wasn’t fun for me, even when it was just pinning on Pinterest.
People loved telling me what I would need and every time, I would answer with “What the hell is that?” – Clueless.
There is no possible way to guess what you’ll need until you’ve gone through it, so this list is written with the knowledge of hindsight and is really written in a “advice for dummies” way because I was a dummy myself and had no f*cking idea what a jumperoo or a swaddler was.
Most of these items are gender neutral (read: Can be used by multiple children!)
Aiden & Anais Cotton Muslin Lightweight Swaddle Blankets
Swaddling is a word, and a magical art all in one. That I did not learn until discharge day at the hospital. Then the Aiden & Anais Swaddlers alllllllll made sense.
The cotton muslin gets silky soft the more you wash it, and these patterns do not fade. Gender neutral too. These wraps are wonderful to wrap up those go-go-gadget arms and legs, as well as cover the car seat, cover the stroller, cover your boobs for a feed – all sorts of things. They are nice and large. There’s a reason people always buy these. They are just so multifunctional!
They’ll fit your baby from newborn up to 9 months. I also used these blankets to lie on the ground for diaper changes (no need for a diaper pad) cover the stroller, cover the car seat, on planes, as a feeding / pumping cover by tying around my neck, and as head support in the car seat. I STILL use them here and there. These come in a pack of four, which I’d recommend – it lets you keep one in the car, one in the bedroom, one in the stroller and an extra put away.
This is a very large light fleece blanket that has travelled the world with us. It’s been brilliant as a blanket for my kids and myself on planes, for picnics and beach time, and also as a make-do-tent on planes, by clipping it in the fold up seat tray. It’s my go-to for the stroller in cooler weather or as a blanket on cold nights. It hasn’t pilled or lost its softness despite a gazillion washes.
Babies can get way too hot in fleece blankets, which are generally too thick and warm, but they loove snuggly blankets. So this one is perfect.
Bonus is the fact that it is $2.99 at Ikea. Seriously, best $3 I’ve ever spent. I’ll keep using this for myself. Great couch throw. Gender neutral colours also.
THAT’S IT. NO MORE BLANKETS. YOU ARE DONE.
But sorry friend, you’ll get like 100000x blankets. And stuffed toys.
People loooove buying you stuffed toys.
You may have seen on Pinterest the “capsule wardrobe” concept. Essentially, you pare down your wardrobe to a few high quality neutral items, which are mixed and matched with accessories.
This is a technique that greatly reduces clutter and simplifies life. If you apply this technique to your baby’s clothes it is a game changer!
LONG OR SHORT SLEEVED ONESIES
Invest in long sleeved body suits in neutral colours. White, tan, grey, black. Whatever your preference. Buying them in four-packs is economical, working out to $5 each. I have been impressed with Carters’ as a brand.
It’s a little boring, isn’t it? Just buying super plain clothes. But here’s where it gets fun. My life was changed when I bought a few Hug Me Sew Bibs from Etsy.
DROOL BIBS / DROOL SCARVES
I tried out a few brands and these are the best quality.
These are cotton (fleece on the underside) bibs that you put on your little drooler. They catch all of the drool, save you from doing an obscene amount of laundry, and all of a sudden you are accessorizing that simple onesie with a variety of adorable bibs that are way cheaper to buy than a bunch of clothing.
PANTS / LEGGINGS
Here’s a sample of a 2 pack you can buy in neutrals for a boy. I tend to recommend Amazon for everything as I’ve found their prices cheaper. You can get great deals in stores though, so if you love shopping (me) stop in when you are out and about – otherwise, Amazon will almost always be a better deal. I also tend to recommend Carters or Baby Gap because they seem to hold together and resist fading better than other brands.
If you plan on going outside for walks in winter (I did a ton and am so glad, it kept me sane,) just go for a “bunting bag.” I know, wtf, all this strange language right? You learn a whole new vocab with a baby.
And again, go for one bigger so they last longer in it. Make sure it has ears. It is outrageously adorable and enjoyable looking at a baby bear in a stroller.’
Babies don’t need shoes until they walk, but they do need some kind of foot covering. Especially if you are Canadian and will spend any time shuffling babies around in the cold weather. The other thing I learnt is no matter what you put on those feet, the little mastermind creatures somehow get EVERYTHING off.
That is why I love Padraig knitted booties. Yes, they are expensive. I balked at the price and didn’t buy a pair till my 2nd born. But here’s the thing. You buy a pair in the 6-12 month size and they are going to last your kid an ENTIRE year.
It doesn’t matter that they are too big when they are little… it’s not like they are walking, and if they are in the car seat, or strorller, they are covered with a blanket anyways.
Hand crafted & stitched, you are supporting local business and you can throw them in the wash. Win, win and win.
I had no idea how tiny and blocked baby noses become. If they get a cold, it’s actually
quite stressful VERY STRESSFUL watching them struggle to breathe. New parent trauma I’m telling you. lol.
I’m going to horrify you with this recommendation but a snot sucker is the best & fascinatingly disgusting thing you could possibly put in your medicine cabinet. It’s absolutely disgusting yes, but it does the trick.
Especially if you “pre spray” your babies’ nasal cavities or drop some slightly saline water in there (which they’ll hate by the way.)
After trying at least 5 different brands, I finally got the best one and man, does it work a thousand times better than any other. Don’t go for the shitty $6.99 turkey baster style snot sucks in shoppers. GET THIS ONE:
Baby Bottles & Pump (So many brands. Personal preference. They all do the same thing)
Other useful additions to the medicine cabinet:
Camilia Homeopathic teething drops
Baby / infant ibuprofen and acetominophen
A baby bottle cleaning brush * I just gone one, 2 kids later and wonder on a daily basis WHY THE HELL I did not get this sooner.
Other miscellaneous items:
A portable travel crib (lots of brands. Personal preference = Phil & Teds travel crib)
A stroller (needs its own blog post. My favourite of 4 brands is still the Bob Stroller.)
A portable high chair – not necessary until 4 months.
A car seat
A baby carrier (so many brands. Personal preference = baby bjorn carrier one)
A baby swing / “baby bouncer” **This is key to being able to cook and drink coffee.
Each baby had different preferences with toys, so the requirement for this section was that both kids had to L-O-V-E both. These toys progress really nicely in age from 0-4 months, then 4-8 months, then 9 months plus. These three items were a life saver for being able to prepare dinner and generally function as a human being!
Yes these start to take up a bit of room but these three toys provided endless entertainment when all other toys’ novelty wore off.
Also, if you are going for minimalist for the love of god don’t let people buy you stuffed animals. They add up VERY quickly and babies never seem to want to play with them.
Activity Arch 0-4 months
Exersaucer 4-8 months
“Jumperoo” 8 Months+ *
*my toddler still tries to climb in this.