Baby Minimalism?

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Lauren Lauren
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Baby Minimalism?

Hi,

I discovered this website a year ago and, while I do not live a zero waste life, I definitely have changed my lifestyle and am much more thoughtful about consumption.  I stopped buying ziploc bags, saran wrap etc and have become more creative in preserving food.  I started buying bulk and gave up my favorite canned black beans in lieu of dried beans.  The changes were easiest in the kitchen and shopping where I have more control.  My husband is on board, too.  

Now I am an expectant mother (baby is due TODAY!!! WOW!), I am disheartened by the amazing amount of packaging that comes with purchases and gifts.  The carseat we bought came in a huge box.  My mother in law is trying to be helpful by bringing used items, but my home is becoming cluttered with "must-haves."  I lack the expertise and know-how of what we really need for the baby (an infant carrier and a carseat? toys? a JJ Cole BundleMe? a stroller? I live in the city).  I'm afraid to say no to experienced mothers.  I'd love to hear from other mothers with a wee baby who strive for this lifestyle.

What are your thoughts?  Tips?
Heidi Heidi
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Hi Lauren,

Congrats on your little one! I had a baby one year ago and went through the same thing you went through. A couple of suggestions. First, do what you can but give yourself a break at least for year one. Your conciousness in itself will help minimize your impact. Saying that here are some of the things I have done:
1. Breastfeeding if you can. That in. Itself minimizes alot of unnecessary formula, bottles, washing, sterilizing, etc. it is also alot less work in the long run.
2. Cloth diapers or no diapers (too much for me but very common in other cultures). I bought about 20 cloth diapers and have used them for the last year. I do have some compostable ones on hand for when we are out and about or for bad diarrhea (when I give myself a break). I also bought cloth wipes (no chemicals) that I wash with my diapers. The best thing about them all is stains are broken down by drying them in the sun so it encourages line drying. I did buy a wipe warmer for the cloth wipes ( I know some would balk) but it keeps them moist. After I was them I put them directly into the warmer and therefore minimize my water use. We are on solar for all of our electrically needs which is how the warmer is powered so I feel a little less guilty about it.
3. Nursery supplies. I bought most on Craigslist except he car seat. Safety is important so I was willing to get hat new and I reused the box for storage. I also bought from moms groups. I got my stroller, bike trailer, crib, and changing table all on Craigslist. I bought a new mattress because I wanted organic and the crib converts to a toddler bed so we can use the mattress for a long time. Most bedding was made by my mother.
Heidi Heidi
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Continued:
4. Clothes- used, used, used. I have attended clothes swaps, joined moms groups and talked to my neighbors to get a years worth of free used clothes. No packaging!
5. Health, safety and cleaning. I really don't feel comfortable using chemicals around a baby. I have California baby shampoo in bulk but try only to wash once or twice a week depending on need. Two large bottles have lasted the year. I am now looking at making my own. I basically use olive oil for a cure for skin conditions although if diaper rash is bad I use constarch and air dry the best. We did have one time where we resorted to diaper rash cream because the baby was really hurting!
6. Food. Homemade all the way. Planting an apple tree, a pear tree and some grapes were the most cost savings investment we did. We always seem to have those and can supplement for what is available in the garden or farmers market. We are thinking of maybe getting ourselves a few chickens because my son can eat almost three eggs a day LOL.
7. Toys. These too can come through swaps, moms groups, Craigslist, etc. sometimes though we broke down and bought new (2 things at christmas). In general we try to buy toys with multiple functions and that can be used for multiple milestones. We asked for people to give us one of their kids favorite oys from their toy bin for presents at his birthday instead of new. I also host a swap with friends once a month or so to circulate toys so no one gets bored! Good luck!
Teebee Teebee
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Re: Baby Minimalism?

In reply to this post by Lauren
Hi there,
even though this post is old I wanted to add that there are lots of ways you can minimise 'stuff' for baby, as a baby's needs are very basic and lots of things many parents happily get by without.  Basic needs for a baby can be met at the mothers breast; nutrition, warmth and comfort, in addition necessary items are, diapers and clothes.   There are safety guidelines available if you want to consider co-sleeping, which many parents do safely with their babies, thus removing the need for a crib. If you invest in a good carrier (we found the ergo baby worked well for us, or you can learn how to tie a long piece of fabric into a sling - many instructions on you tube) you don't need a stroller (we never used one with out kids until they were 18 months and in fact some people argue by the time babies can walk it is great if they can get as much opportunity to do that - and they might sleep better for all the exercise too!)  Babies don't need special play mats or toys to dangle in their faces, nor do they need bouncy seats to prop them up. A soft blanket on the ground helps them get lots of exercise and when they are strong enough they will be very motivated to get up and start moving about on their own steam! And there is so much that is new for them to see in the natural environment without special objects.  Real faces which move and talk are of much more interest than special black and white images or pictures of faces.  Safe kitchen utensils make great playthings for babies to explore, so you can skip special 'developmental' toys  for young infants.  Many of these toys are in fact modelled on everything babies would do naturally with other objects anyway.  As babies grow into toddlers outdoor things are the best toys; leaves, flowers, sand and a simple container for collecting or pouring mud.  Also, you can involve toddlers in household activities like sorting washing, putting away cutlery, kneading bread dough... all activities that don't require special items but can be fun and interesting.  Singing a song to any activity can make it all the more fun too!  Enjoy your baby :)
Trish Trish
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Re: Baby Minimalism?

I sure this is too late for the OP, but I have some tips for a zw baby:

Borrow borrow borrow!  I borrowed almost all of my maternity clothes and a ergo carrier from my cousin, A car seat from my brother in law, all of our baby clothes from a friend who had a son just a little older than ours, and a baby bath tub from a friend.  All were returned or passed onto other expecting parents..

Sew sew sew!  I made 50 cloth wipes from an old flannel bed sheet, burp cloths from flannel pajama bottoms my mom had but never wore, 2crib sheets from a queen-sized flat sheet that was in great shape, though the fitted that went with it was worn, and drool/bottle bibs  from t-shirts and a dish towel that had a stain (I worked around the stain) all of my thread came from an estate sale.

We did without a changing table and other nursery specific furniture, matching crib bedding, the diaper genie, wipe warmer, baby monitor, bassinet, and lots of other baby "must-haves".  We did buy a new crib and matress, a swing, a pack'n play, and a bottle sterilizer ( you can just boil water in a regular pan, but we had a thrush infection so we had to sterilize everything several times a day, and found the sterilizer to be be very very helpful).  
Trish Trish
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As far as packaging goes, don't be afraid to return gifts that don't work with your zw lifestyle!  Babie r us was great about taking a lot of my gifted back, and I used the store credit to order cloth diapers ( still a lot of packaging, but it was all reused or recycled).