Baby Gear I Lived Without

Because I have a small house and harbor illusions of leading a “minimalist lifestyle,” I wanted to limit the amount of baby gear I bought. When I was pregnant, I kept wondering if I really needed all this stuff: a wipes warmer, a bouncy seat, a swing, a white noise machine, a mobile, an arsenal of how-to-raise-your-baby books, a travel crib, a baby monitor? (The list goes on, but you get the point.) How was I supposed to know? Every time I’d consider not getting something, the consumerist girl scout in me would decide that I just wouldn’t be prepared without it.

After fretting over each purchase or non-purchase for a good three or four months, I had a breakthrough: Yes, I can live without (fill in baby doodad of choice here). And if I can’t, I can always get it later. That’s right! Contrary to popular belief and the aforementioned girl scout motto, you do not need to “be prepared” for every possible baby emergency. Not sure you need a bouncy seat? Don’t get one until you do. You may find, as I did, that you can indeed live without it.

Every parent’s list will be different, but here’s a list of gizmos I never had. My daughter is over two now and hasn’t suffered from deprivation. (She can always sort it out later in therapy, if need be!)

Bouncy seat. My baby slept in a Moses basket for the first six months of her life, so if I needed to set her down, I put her in there.

Baby monitors. Because our house is so small, there is no way I wouldn’t hear her if she cried.

Wipe warmers. We use cloth wipes dampened with a squirt of water from a squeeze bottle. Our baby never seemed to care that the wipes weren’t warm.

Swing. We actually broke down and bought a swing after a week or two of sleepless nights (and days). Unfortunately, the swing didn’t help at all, so it went right back to the store. Joy and her husband made the same sleep-deprived decision, with the same result!

Exersaucer. I knew I didn’t want this huge plastic contraption in my house . . . so I didn’t get one.

Glider. First of all, I find this piece of furniture hideously ugly. Second, I have at least two chairs with a rocking motion. I never missed having a gliding rocking chair.

You may be tempted to register for as much as possible so generous friends and family can pay for it. Remember you can always ask for gift cards if you find the need to stock up later. I didn’t feel like I was scrimping by not buying every item on the Babies-R-Us registry list–I felt resourceful, and my house remained blissfully clutter-free.


  1. Absolutely! I tried to write a short comment, but failed, so I will just I agree with all of this. I ended up making a blog post about it over on mine.

  2. Love the wipe idea. I haven’t been able to part with conventional wipes (seventh generation fan). I love my rocker too! Have the same bouncer. Participating in a mom to mom sale tomorrow and set up was tonight. Oh, the wasteful purchases so many moms (me included) have made. Great post. Can’t wait to report more tomorrow. Stay tuned for some big stuff over at Green and Clean Mom!!! Lovin’ your blog ladies!

  3. Haha! I agree a 100% with you. And, for much the same reasons. Wipes – from the very beginning, I have used a bowl of warm water in which I dip my wipes before applying. As for the hideous glider/rocker – well rocking and rolling baby while seated upright is better abdominal exercise, takes away the need for the ugly contraption, costs less, and keeps baby just as happy.
    Her moses basket was so very handy! Now, she sleep in bed with me with a guard rail, so I have eliminated the need for a bassinet. When she is old enough she will use a toddler bed, eliminating the crib. As for play pen – there is no way my little one is going to remain happily trapped in a 2 by 3 synthetic cage, and so I let her play on the floor on mats, with cushions as barricades. The only thing I do have is the Bjorn bouncer – simple, elegant, cotton fabric and wood. But hey, she is only in it for 5 minutes at a time….

  4. I used the Baby Bargains book to guide me on this, and there were very few things I got that I didn’t use. Most of what I did get was either a hand-me-down, garage sale find, Craig’s List or a gift. I plan on handing down to friends and family, too, so it will all get reused. We saved tons of money this way, and didn’t create more waste, which was important to us.

  5. anonymous says

    Ditto what La Reveuse said!

    The one that gets me is posh diaper bags. It’s, like, people don’t realize that the backpack under their bed will work just as well if not better. It might not have gone with my fashionable ensembles (ha!), but it didn’t scream Gullible Consumer, either.

    I’m stunned by the registries that I’m seeing these days. And the new moms who rationalize the addition of $2k or $5k worth of new plastics to their houses by saying, “*I* didn’t buy it!”

  6. I guess I start out low on the green scale because we live in a big house, so a monitor was necessary (particularly if I wanted to work in the garden while the baby napped upstairs), and we used the bouncy chair so my son could “sit” with us when we were downstairs or outside. And when he was still small enough, I don’t know how I would have gotten dinner prepared without the excersaucer in the kitchen (now he just runs around the house, or demands to be picked up and held). I did get the crib and excersaucer used and have already passed the latter on to another family.

    What I didn’t buy that some people feel are “must-haves”: a changing table (we just stuck the changing pad on top of the dresser and it works great); a bebe pod (because we had the bouncy chair); large toys like a play kitchen, etc., because there are coffeeshops and a toy store in walking distance where he can play with these things, so why should they clutter up my house?

    What I was given, but ended up not using: wipe warmer (we use Seventh Generation wipes and my son doesn’t mind them room temp), bottle warmer, the large diaper bag I was given at a shower. Those “bedding sets” they advertise that are so cute are also a huge waste of money–except for the diaper stacker and the crib sheet we never used any of it, and of course you can buy crib sheets separately and I could just as easily have kept the diapers in the top drawer of the dresser.

  7. Great post! Aren’t wipe warmers the silliest things! I even saw a portable wipe warmer the other day — it’s for the diaper bag!

  8. Brilliant! I was a minimalist mum too – I just can’t stand clutter (and it proves you don’t need half of the stuff when you go away on holiday for a week – we all managed with a car load of things don’t we?!)

    I would add that slings are fab – no need for a huge pushchair and you get to keep your babe close to you all the time (so then you don’t need loads of covers and blankets, because your baby is kept at a constant temperature close to you).

    And if you co-sleep, you don’t need a cot either; your babe can go straight into a bed when they are old enough…………

    Wipe warmers LOL! I’d never heard of those; perhaps we don’t have them in the UK

  9. You rock. World needs more souls like you.

  10. Thank you so much for listing some baby items NOT to get. Many moms disagree with the list that I personally compiled, but after having 2 kids myself and having discussed the theme with other moms, I feel compelled to share the list. Too many first-time moms feel pressured to buy everything for their baby, even though a lot of it is useless (wipe warmer anyone?).

    Here’s a list that I compiled in my post for you on what NOT to spend money on for your new arrival:

  11. Let me say that I am a father of three beautiful children. As parents our main priority is to make sure that our babies are safe and secure at all times, at whatever expense necessary. Baby monitors are just one way to help parents relieve some of the stress associated with being a concerned parent and as new parents or expecting parents, there is enough stess with just that alone. So, if baby monitors can relieve some of the stress (regardless of how small) it’s certainly worth it. Just my two cents.


  12. I have 2 young kids. When i shifted to a new apartment — i decide to give away the TV. Yes – NO TV at home. One year after — they kids didn’t even ask for it. They learn to live without it and both brother and sister plays with each other more often.

  13. I have 2 young kids. When i shifted to a new apartment — i decide to give away the TV. Yes – NO TV at home. One year after — they kids didn’t even ask for it. They learn to live without it and both brother and sister plays with each other more often.

    However, they keep asking for my iPad to watch youtube though. haha.


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