First, remember that babies have been born and thrived in less than ideal situations for thousands of years. Think of the Native American mamas that simply swaddled their babies, attached them to their backs and resumed hiking through the woods. Think of your great great grandparents who did not have electricity or running water and yet babies still thrived. My point is that babies do NOT need as much as our culture would have us believe.
So what do babies NEED then? They need good medical care, nutrition, loving parents and the basics: shelter, food and heat. They need to be warmed, bathed and loved.
- While pregnant, don’t start buying things. The day you buy your first baby item, you will start to compulsively purchase baby items from there forward. It is best to hold off as long as possible. Give yourself a date to start. I recommend waiting until your third trimester. By this time, others will know you are pregnant and start giving you items.
- What you can do is start looking for all of the local baby consignment shops in your. Make a list, write down directions and even feel free to “window-shop” at some of these places. They may also have maternity clothes available and we know, these can be expensive.
- Start looking for local clothing co-ops or create one with friends. Babies and children only wear clothes for a few months before moving on the next size. Many churches already do this, and I would call a few of them and ask if they are doing this. They may be happy to have someone arrange this for them.
- Write lists. As you find things in the stores or think of things, start a list. Create three categories: NEED BEFORE BABY IS BORN, WANT BEFORE BABY IS BORN, GET AFTER BABY IS BORN. For example, do not stock on baby diapers before the baby is born. I knew of someone who did this and her little boy ended up being allergic to the brand. She had to give away $100 worth of stuff to someone else.
- Consider cloth diapers. NOW, before you skip this step – I want you to check out this site: http://www.rumparooz.com/catalog.php?category=65. Cloth diapers have come a long way and are slowly making a comeback thanks to their sophisticated new style. They cost a bit up front but are well worth it in the long run (and can be used with the next kid).
- Plan to breastfeed. If you are squeamish about breastfeeding, get over it. I know that sounds harsh, but I can say that coming from a person who used to be squeamish herself. I decided to face my fear head-on and picked up books and DVDs from the library on breastfeeding. After exposing myself, I saw breastfeeding for what it is: natural, healthy and no-cost way to feed and bond with your baby. Talk with others who breast-feed to get more support when the time comes.
- Offer to borrow. Everyone seems to want to buy their baby’s nursery but there are so many people who have already done this. If you know someone who just had a baby and they will be toddlers soon, ask them if you can borrow their nursery and promise to give it back in the shape you got it. Do not let pets near this stuff because you have to hold true to your promise.
- Rent. Yes, you can rent carseats, breastpumps and much more. Most of this stuff is available through your local hospital. Ask around.
- Skip the non-necessities. You don’t need a baby bouncers (most babies tire of this after a month or two anyway). You don’t need a baby bath (they will grow out of it in three months!). And you don’t need a changing table that you will likely never use. I knew of one friend who turned her changing table into a cat bed because she prefered to use the floor.
- Food. When your baby starts eating, don’t waste your money on jarred baby food. Do you think your ancestors had this option? Oversteam or overboil veggies and mash in a bowl before serving. You can add garlic or sea salt for flavoring. My mother used to use a food processor to blend several fruits or veggies together (such as apple and yam), place them in ice cubes, freeze them and later pop them into plastic baggies. She would simply melt these in the microwave and we loved them!