The Basic Gear You Will Need for Your Baby (A Somewhat Minimalist and Gender Neutral List)

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!)

 

Blanket #1

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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.

aden + anais Classic Swaddle 4-Pack Twinkle

Blanket #2:

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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.

Ikea Link:

Krakris Throw Blanket Ikea

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.

 

CLOTHES

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.

“>Carter’s 4 Pack Long Sleeve Baby Onesies – White

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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.

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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.

Hug Me Sew Drool Bibs

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.

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Carters Baby Boys 2-Pack Pants Grey & Navy

WINTER BABIES

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.’

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Carters Baby Bunting

ACCESSORIES

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.

Padraig Knitted Baby Booties

MISCELLANEOUS

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.)

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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:

Nose Frieda Snot Sucker.

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Baby Bottles & Pump (So many brands.  Personal preference. They all do the same thing)

Other useful additions to the medicine cabinet:

Gripe Water

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.

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Other miscellaneous items:

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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.

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A car seat

A baby carrier (so many brands.  Personal preference = baby bjorn carrier one)

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A baby swing / “baby bouncer” **This is key to being able to cook and drink coffee.

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Toys

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

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Exersaucer 4-8 months

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“Jumperoo” 8 Months+ *

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*my toddler still tries to climb in this.

How to Have a Great Maternity Leave:  Return to Simplicity (Over,and Over…)

There are 7.1 BILLION people on this planet we call earth.That’s 7.1 billion people who have been either someone’s child, a parent, or both.

That is 7.1 billion ways of seeing the world, life experiences, mindsets, cultures, psychologies, engagements, beliefs, values.  There is an infinite number of permutations  & combinations.  

We live in the information age & we, the average person, contribute the most content to the web.  Not web professionals.  Did you know that?

It may be unsurprising, but there are vast and I mean vast amounts of information out there on being a new parent.  I’m not even talking about the parenting part.  You know that’s not my focus at the GML. My focus is on you, but you do happen to be a new parent.

The interesting thing is that parenting is presented as a system, an external model we take up and apply to these strange mini humans we call children.  And there are gazillions of models.

At the GML I always encirage you to take care of you.  My project is about you having the most fulfilling year of your life.

The cacophony of noise and voices of parenting tips and chatter and infomation and techniques and stages and shoulds and coulds and ahhh!  

It’s overwhelming.  I felt my pulse go up weiting that.

To have a Great Maternity Leave, return to simplicity, over and over and over.  Throw out the manual.  

We constantly shape our dynamic, responsive brains.  Here’s your chance to re-ground it and build your confidence.

Remember this, if this is all you read today, or one of a hundred things.

Return to love.  Return to being oresent.  Return to common sense.  Return to intuition.
That is it.  That is all you need to do on this leave.
Now take a deep breath.

Project:  Learn from your husband

Sometimes the male voice can be drowned out in the cacophony of female noise & voices, but the beauty of stopping & observing our partners, is that they often offer an uncomplicated perspective, beautiful in its simplicity.  

This has been a major 2nd maternity leave project for me.  
I started looking at my husband curiously across my coffee cup in the morning, and began observing his mindset and perspectives, particularly in the realm of self-care.  

I’ve written about learning from my brilliant husband when it comes to execution of self care in the gym.  Today I’m offering something else I have learnt.  It may not be easy to read.  These are harsh truths & a lesson I have to apply everyday. 
Let’s say your husband has come back from an evening hanging out with the guys after a long day at work, or perhaps he is competing in a hockey tournament.  Either one is hard mental and / or physical work. With that comes hunger, and with being a parent there comes the desire for social time to oneself.  I couldn’t ever imagine my husband not ordering a meal and a few enjoyable drinks, and embracing this opportunity.
Now watch yourself when you read this.  Are you quickly feeling resentment?  Because you shouldn’t .  He’s taking care of himself & recharging. Your feelings are not about him.  They are about you.  When we judge someone, it says more about us than them.  

If you are catching yourself… Then the next few paragraphs are important for you to read. Resentment sucks but it is a silver loning.  It’s a reminder for you to shape up on self care.

 It’s not what he is doing.  It’s what you are doing.  And your husband should be an inspiration, not source of resentment.

Often, I catch myself denying those very pleasures.  “Oh I shouldn’t get that lunch, I should be watching the budget.”  “Nah, I don’t need those drinks.”   “No, I don’t really need to go out tonight.”

Then, I thought… Wait a minute.  

The time I have been given to go out and enjoy myself, by my family, is a gift.

  Someone is giving a few hours of their time for me to enjoy being me.  I am wasting it by not letting myself relax and fully immerse into the experience.  
Holding back with a mind on the kids, or the budget, or what time one should be out, all the “shoulds”  – that is essentially wasting the gift you have been given by someone else.  It is their time they have lent you.  Don’t waste it. 

 So jump in & enjoy!
Doing this will also negate the dangerous little beast that is resentment.  

And of course, if you take it from your husband’s perspective it can be humorous.

  I could NOT see my husband saying “no guys, sorry, I shouldn’t.  I’m going to pick at this small affordable appetizer and sip water instead.”  WHAT? NO!

Now I’m looking at you, hard working new mama.  Your days are busy.  You’re probably super hungry, have not had an excellent meal in days, have abstained from wine for 9 months, and have been immersed in duty.  

Your husband thinks he deserves it.  

Guess what?  

You should think you deserve it, too!  

Start advocating for you.  And when the opportunities arise, take them.

   In fact, I think your husband will be so pleased for you, that you are getting out there & doing something for you.

(As I write this I am treating myself to lunch in my favourite cafe.)