The Stuff You REALLY Need (Particularly When You Only Have 700 sq. ft)

Although we tried to sell it while I was pregnant, and although we still hope to “get out” before our little one’s first birthday, our 700-square-foot, one-bedroom condo is nevertheless our son’s first home.  Thanks to the market (and especially the market for condos) it became increasingly clear to us during my pregnancy that we were probably not going to be able to sell our place prior to the arrival of our baby.  Therefore, while I already leaned toward a minimalistic view regarding my baby registry, our living situation made “less is more” a necessity.

And so, with 10 weeks of mothering under my belt, I give you the “must-haves,” in no particular order, according to moi:

[Disclaimer #1: This is certainly completely subjective.  Every baby is different and every parent is different.  This is just what worked for us].

(1) A big exercise ball, sometimes known as a birth ball.  OMG.  My husband Simon and I both agree that this sucker is THE most important thing you’ve gotta have for surviving those rough colicky nights with your little newborn darling.  I promise, the ball is MAGIC!  Holding baby whilst bouncing on it stops crying immediately 98% of the time.  The only times it doesn’t work is (a) if baby is hungry, or (b) it’s “the witching hour,” in which case I recommend ball-bouncing be combined with other soothing measures 🙂  Bonus, its good for your posture.

(2) Swaddle blankets.  I really enjoy the Aden + Anais muslin swaddle blankets.  They are super soft and most importantly (to me), very breathable — my kid sweats like a water glass in July.  Lemme tell ya, swaddling is your best friend.  No, they often don’t “like” to be swaddled initially — until you pick them up and snuggle them, bounce them, etc and they fall sweetly asleep.  Those flailing arms and legs freak them out — wrap ’em up TIGHT.

(3) Burp cloths.  Granted, this is hugely dependent on whether or not your baby is a “spitter,” but if he/she is, lordy you need a million of these things.  We use prefolds (the cheap old fashioned cloth diapers) as burp cloths — works great.  Gabe spits up all the time, so I pretty much always have  a burp cloth within arms reach.

(4) Nursing pads.  Again, dependent on your milk supply and whether or not you leak like an old faucet like I do.  I really love cloth nursing pads personally — the disposable ones feel like you’ve got a feminine hygiene product stuffed down your bra.  Plus, who knows what weird crap may be contained in the disposable pads that your baby will later be rubbing his face on.  Some people feel that nursing pads are unadvisable in general because they can lead to thrush (candida, aka yeast, infection).  Personally, I cannot walk out my front door without pads because I. leak. constantly.  I always let down in both boobs at every feeding (awesome, right?).  So for me, nursing pads are a must.  I change them frequently (whenever I noticed I’ve soaked a spot through), and I feel that will keep thrush away.  So far, so good.  (I recommend Pink Daisy Bamboo Nursing Pads — sooo soft!)

(5) Somewhere for your baby to sleep.  I say it that generally on purpose.  We do not own a crib (we have no room for it — we barely have room for Gabe’s clothes!).  Instead, we own a bassinet-type gizmo (the Fischer Price Rock n’ Play Sleeper — LOVE) that Gabe sleeps in.  (He also sleeps in our bed sometimes.  He did pretty much exclusively for the first 2 months, now we do it on a part-time/occasional basis when I feel like snuggling, such as when I actually “sleep when baby sleeps” and nap with the little man.  I am planning a future post to share my thoughts on all things sleep). ANYWAY — you just need somewhere for your baby to sleep.  It can be a crib or something else.  Just something.  (I know a mom who is psyched about the baby hammock she’s planning on using — supposedly it creates a very “womb-like” environment).  Obviously, we will “graduate” from the Rock n’ Play to something bigger as he grows — but remember, this is a list from the mother of a 10-wk-old 😉

(6) Pacifiers.  I may get drilled for this one.  I used to be fairly “anti-pacifier” myself.  And it’s true, pacifier use CAN be detrimental to breastfeeding.  Which I way I waited to introduce one until I had nursing figured out, and I would encourage other mothers to do the same.  But for reals, it makes my life so much easier sometimes.  Because while there are moments I would honestly love to nurse Gabe all day long and be his human pacifier because I just love the bonding of nursing, there are also plenty of moments when I have to pee or eat or shower or brush my teeth.  Cause I’m human and I have needs too.  So if I can “pacify” him for two minutes while I empty my bladder, that’s a win in my book.  (Plus, its helpful for getting him to sleep at this stage in the game, and no matter how much you rock at breastfeeding, you cannot drive a car and nurse at the same time).

(7) A hairdryer!  Or, because it’s 2013, the hairdryer app on your iPhone (Simon and I have it on both our phones — it’s amazing!).  Most babies love white noise — apparently the womb is a fairly noisy place.  The trick seems to be figuring out which white noise is most soothing to your babe.  We tried static on the radio first — no dice.  But the hairdryer?  It’s pretty much magical, like the ball.  Put them together, you’ve got a wicked combo.  Conks him out QUICK.  And SAVES us on car rides!

(8) Yes, you need clothes.  But not very many.  (Granted, I’m sure you have lots; people just love to gift baby clothes, me included).  But if I’m telling you what you NEED, strictly, you do not need very many clothes.  Because you will be doing laundry all the time.  I mean every day.  Baby laundry every day.  So you can pretty much wear the same 4 outfits over and over again (per size, naturally).  Gabe has lots of cute clothes.  But do we tend to put the same few, our favorites, on him over and over?  You bet.

(9) Diapers.  Holy moly, lots of diapers.  If you use disposables, stock up and plan to buy frequently.  (You also need wipes and a pail or bag to put dirty dipes before you make a trash/dumpster run).  If you use cloth diapers, you need 24-30.  We have 30, but we could easily get by with 24.  (It just depends on how often you want to do laundry).  And you’ll also need wipes (cloth wipes work well with cloth diapers, no need to separate trash from laundry that way), a dirty diaper pail/bag, and a “free and clear” type detergent.  A drying rack is also nice, as well as “wet bags” for outings, to hold dirty diapers until you get home.  Oh, and yeah, you need a diaper bag — but it doesn’t have to be marketed as such.  Any large bag or backpack would do, really.  (And regardless of what type of diapers you’re using, you do not need a wipe warmer.  Your baby will live even if his butt is not warmed at every diaper change).

(10) A sling, wrap, and/or carrier.  If you’re newborn is anything like mine, he will cry when you put him down, and/or he will not tolerate being alone very long.  And because you don’t want your arms to fall off, a carrier is so nice to have.  Especially when you’re home by yourself with baby and your partner/family isn’t around to fetch your things (like lunch!) — “wearing” your baby allows you to still be (somewhat) productive.

(11) Of course you need a car seat.  Choose one that’s not too heavy!

(12) Bottles.  I’m pretty hard core about breastfeeding; it’s true.  But I also really like time to myself and date nights with my husband from time to time.  And that’s why you’ve gotta get a few bottles (we have 4 Born Free Slow Flow bottles), so you don’t go loco cooped up with baby 24/7.  And, therefore, you’ve gotta have a breast pump (electric is best) to get the milk to fill up said bottles.  And storage bags/containers to freeze the milk  until feeding time.

(13) Something semi-entertaining to occupy your baby so you can attempt to eat breakfast or get dressed or what have you (some things cannot really be done well, or shouldn’t be done (ie cooking bacon) while wearing a baby).  We have a baby swing and an “activity mat” that has a mobile-dodid suspended over it.  We also have some baby books and toys that add to the hoopla.  (Of course, when time is available, propping baby against your bended legs and kissing his belly the most fun activity of all :)).

(14) Nursing bras and tanks.  I feel like this is a no-brainer if you’re breastfeeding, but since you’re going to living in these things constantly, it’s worth it to buy some nice ones.  For bras, I really like Bravado’s Original Nursing Bras.  They are like sports bras in the sense that there are no cups, so they’ll fit when you’re engorged and later when you’re not :).  Tanks are also really nice, cause then you get the bra and a shirt in one — it’s less to mess with when nursing, especially in public.  (If I’m wearing a nursing bra and NOT a tank, and I’m leaving the house, I always wear a cami over the bra and under my shirt, so that when I lift up my top to nurse, my postpartum belly isn’t on display!  It’s more hassle-free though with a nursing tank, so you don’t have pesky cami straps in the way when you’re trying to take down your nursing bra.  Target has several varieties of nursing tank tops).

Stuff you don’t need: A changing table (bed works fine).  A baby tub or baby towels (Simon gets in our bathtub with Gabe, and normal, run-of-the-mill towels work fine).  A themed  nursery (totally adorable, but truly needed?  I’d say no).

What do you think?  Anything you thought you wanted but never used?

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2 thoughts on “The Stuff You REALLY Need (Particularly When You Only Have 700 sq. ft)

  1. Good list! We had sooooo much stuff before Harmony was born that people had given us (the benefits of being a teacher of fifty children!), but we only ended up using a small amount of it. Lots to gift away to others : ) There’s really only a small list of things you truly need for a baby.

  2. According to you I’m set to go! Hooray! I just need to pack my bag! The closer EDC gets, the less real it seems to get. Well, maybe not LESS real, but it doesn’t seem to be getting any “real-er” so the disparity between the calendar & my brain is getting larger! 🙂 Feels good to have reinforcement that the basics are covered and the rest is just the rest! So glad you decided to blog! I’ve never followed a blog before, but I think I’m gonna like it! Thanks for the list!

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