A Cheap, Lazy, Green Mom’s List of Baby Essentials

I just took one of those silly quiz thingies about how many kids I should have.  It said that I should have a cat.  Apparently only people with lots of close friends and family who are willing to help, plenty of space, a minivan, tons of energy on 3 hours of sleep, and eyes in the back of the head should have kids.  Then I read a blog post about the bare essentials for a baby registry.   Yeah, I stared in open mouthed amazement at the list.  I used half of that with Onen and nearly none of it with Tia.  Thankfully, I also watched a video on cloth diapering.  It helped me feel like I am not a complete quack

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I knew from conversations with other moms, particularly some of my cousins, as well as my own reaction to baby care articles and blogs that I tend to do things a bit differently than most.  I guess it is because I am incredibly frugal, somewhat green and really lazy.  What a scary combination, a lonely combination.  I don’t fit in anywhere, except possibly with my own mom.  (I am not calling my mom lazy!!!!)  So what does my baby must-have wish list look like?

1. Diapers!!!!  Babies go through thousands of diapers a year!!!  So how does a cheap, lazy, green mom cope with all those bodily wastes?  If I were just cheep or green, I would have gone with EC, elimination communication, where I would have figured out when my baby was ready to poop or pee and have a little potty ready.  I am way too lazy for that.  I cloth diaper.

go green pocket diapers

This has been an area of trial and error for me.  I have tried a few things and at the moment I really like short prefolds that can be fastened with little stretchy stars or just folded up and laid inside of a snap diaper cover.  At night, I prefer to use a pull on cover that doesn’t have side openings because Tia sleeps on her side and will soak through the edges of a regular snap cover.  If I wasn’t so cheap I would probably prefer a nice fitted diaper with a cover.

These work great for me because they aren’t too much work.  I can dump her dumps in the toilet and throw everything in the washer every other day or so and hang them on the line or toss them all in the drier.  Because the prefolds are so cheap, I don’t feel guilty when I throw out a smooshed or loose poopy one. They also block newborn blowouts way better than disposables.  And since breastmilk poop dissolves well, they can be tossed directly in the wash.  Obviously you will want to wash the diapers on an extended cycle or twice if there are poopy ones.  Once you add any solid food such as peas, cereal or formula, your days of tossing poopy things directly in the washer are over.

2. Clothes.  A summer baby can get by pretty much with just diapers, but for the most part sleepers and onesies are essential.  I have kept a collection of 0-3 month and 3-6 month sleepers and onesies.  Pants, shorts, socks and leg warmers are all pretty useful.  Baby clothes are a common gift and are abundant at rummage sales and resale shops.  It is easy to cheaply clothe a baby according to your own sense of baby fashion.

3. Wraps.  This is one thing I really wanted but couldn’t bring myself to buy outright.  I had several saris from my time in India and they worked okay as long wraps.  These are great when you know that you will be holding your baby for quite some time, say 20 minutes or more and you will need your hands free.   I also had a few shawls that I put to use as short slings.  I found these tremendously useful when running errands.  I couldn’t carry Tia in her car seat because Onen was too rambunctious to stay politely at my side.  I could wear the sling and slide her in to go into the store, or return a library book or pay a bill.  Also, wrapped up with me, they can make use of my coat and body heat and don’t need blankets or coats.

4. Blankets.  I found most baby blankets cute but bewildering.  They are good for laying under a baby as a spit-up catcher or a changing pad, but I found small 40″x60″ lap blankets to be more useful for covering up a napping baby or wrapping or swaddling on chilly days.

5. Creams, soaps, lotions and wipes.  I found the simplest and cheapest (not to mention the most chemically-free solution to be placing my babies on my legs while I bathed using baby soap and just rinsing them in the slightly soapy water.  Then we used coconut oil (which is antimicrobial) as both a lotion and a diaper cream.  I do on occasion use Huggies wipes, but for the most part with TIa, I used damp flannel squares until she started tasting solid foods, then I switched to regular toilet paper for most poop wiping.

6. Breastpump and bottles and other food stuffs. Formula is both expensive and heavily processed and bottles are a pain to clean.  Therefore, for a cheap, green, lazy mom like myself breastfeeding was the only option.  Now, that being said, I worked away from home when Onen was small and found that a good breastpump was invaluable.  I like the Medella Pump in Style.  For me, three 20 minute sessions in an 8n hour work day were sufficient to provide all the milk he needed while I was away.  He did most of his nursing during the evenings and nights so he didn’t need too much during the day.  Obviously if you are pumping, you will need bottles. I liked the Playtex ones with disposable liners due to the nipple size and shape.  I have been a stay at home mom since just before Tia was born and I only pumped a handful of times during the first week after her birth to ease engorgement.

I also tend to avoid processed and packaged baby foods.  They are expensive and are sold in serving size packaging.  I also am too lazy to make my own organic stuff, so we have chosen to go with the concept of baby-led weaning.  Tia still gets most of her nutrients and calories from breastmilk, though she samples most of what the family is eating.  Onen loved food so much he was eating full meals with us by 11 months of age in addition to regular nursing sessions.

7. Medicine and such.  We used regular fingernail clippers.  Q-tips and flannel wipes worked just fine on little noses.  We could never get the bulb suringe sucky things to actually get snot out.  It is good to have infant Tylenol and Benadryl on hand with a doctor approved dosing chart.  A thermometer is nice, but really, if a baby is running a fever high enough to need Tylenol, you will know it just by kissing them.  I never could tell whether teething tablets, origel or gas drops made any difference at all to my children, but many parents swear by them.

8. Stuff.  I found all the other stuff to be completely optional.  I laid them on an extra prefold to change their diapers.  We cosleep for the first several months to ease nighttime wakefulness.  If I fall asleep while nursing a wakeful baby at 3 am (and I did), she is safer laying beside me than in my arms in a rocking chair.  My babies didn’t much care for pacifiers.  They much preferred nursing for comfort.  And since I am lazy, I much preferred sitting with them, or rocking them in a wrap or a sling than actually sitting them in a bouncy seat or a swing or a crib and getting housework done.  I also found that I was their favorite toy, blanky and stuffed animal.

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