After reading my other post about preparing for a new baby, a number of people have asked for more information about what I would consider to be necessary baby things to own.
So get ready for a photo tutorial of our baby stuff! :) We're currently a family of 5 living in a 900-sq.ft. apartment. Even though I didn't consider myself a packrat, I pared down even more when we moved here 6 months ago.
In complete honesty, I did get rid of some stuff when we moved (my baby swing and some toys are the things that come to mind). However, I obviously didn't consider them to be completely necessary! ;) But more on that in a minute.
When we had our first child 5 years ago, we were living in a smaller apartment and didn't have much. Some clothes, diapers, a car seat, stroller, and a small dresser for the clothes. As our baby grew, we were able to find things second-hand.
As our family grew, keeping the "stuff" under control became a growing challenge as well. Here's where we're at right now!
My changing table has always been a dresser top with a waterproof pad/mat of some sort. It started out as a tiny dresser top. Now I have this big huge dresser top (hand-me-down furniture is the best!). :)
I like having a raised changing surface of some sort since it's so much easier on my back, especially just after giving birth. :) Other drawers store clothes for the children, extra blankets, sheets, etc. (our last house didn't have a closet, so everything was kept in these drawers!).
We have one more dresser; this smaller dresser holds Yehoshua's things. The top is perfect for the picture Bible we use, a small lamp, and a cd player/clock. We love music and reading at our house! :)
The top drawer of the tallest dresser is also home to a few baby toys (I have about 10 small baby toys), Ruth's hair stuff, and other miscellaneous necessities (stroller pump, piggy banks, Bibles).
Our children each have their own bed right now, since we have a crib and bunk beds. I like co-sleeping, but a crib is still nice for nap time. :) We didn't have any sort of baby bed until our first child was a few months old. I got second-hand crib sheets and we just use any appropriately-sized blankets/throws as needed. :)
I especially enjoyed Kim's posts about how they fit many children into their bedrooms. Sometimes our idea of how much space we need per person can be challenged -- in a good way -- when we read about how others have worked around the difficulties!
Here is Eliyahu's favorite Doggie, modeling the infant bath support (similar to this) I used for Ruth. I got this at a garage sale for 10 cents and it replaced my large hard plastic infant tub. It worked great, and a huge plus is that it can be stored in with outgrown clothes and takes up hardly any space when not in use! :)
An infant tub isn't a necessity in my opinion, but it is a nice little luxury. :) I originally had a hard plastic infant tub from a garage sale, but it spent more time in storage than anywhere else!
I had a baby shower when I was expecting my first child, and was blessed with a good supply of gender-neutral clothes and supplies (including cloth diapers!). My mom made a diaper bag for me! Here it is after 3 babies, still going strong. ;) The outside pockets are perfect for holding water bottles.
We have one stroller (an older model of this one; I like it because I can go as fast as I want with it), which is definitely useful at times.
However, what I really use the most is my mei tai. (What is a mei tai? It's a baby carrier. You can see some pictures of me using it from a few years ago here.)
I take the mei tai everywhere and use it more than the stroller or anything else. It's comfy and can be worn by me or by Joshua.
One of the best things about a baby carrier like the mei tai is that it folds up small enough to easily fit in a diaper bag or drawer when not in use! And there's really not room in our car to take the stroller everywhere, anyway. :)
Every baby is different, and I think often it's ideal to try to borrow various things (such as a swing, bouncy seat, various carriers and slings, strollers, johnny jump-up, bassinet, etc...) if you feel you may need them.
We got a swing from a garage sale when Yehoshua was about 5 months old, and he LOVED it!! Eliyahu and Ruth only used it a couple times each. (I gave it away when we moved.)
I borrowed a bouncy seat when my oldest child was born, but he never cared much for it. I have used the infant car seat in the house to rock tired newborns at times though! For me, the car seat was versatile enough to not need a bouncy seat, bassinet, or (later) swing. Others will tell you that the bouncy seat saved their sanity!
So if you want to try out lots of "stuff" and you have friends with babies or toddlers, borrowing a few items for a few weeks or months (and later purchasing only what you will really use a lot!) could be much easier. :)
If you're short on space, it might not be worth the expense, headache and hassle to try to store numerous large baby items when they may or may not get used more than a handful of times. I've found that borrowed items can be returned at your convenience -- whether that's a few days or a few weeks (or a few months if your friend is in no hurry!).
A high chair isn't really a necessity in my opinion, and I have eaten many meals while feeding a toddler who was sitting on my lap. :) However, having a chair for toddlers is really really convenient!
We got this small older-style metal high chair (which someone had refinished!) for $5. I love that it doesn't take up nearly so much space as many of the newer plastic designs.
The children's room has a closet, where I store outgrown clothes and all their toys, games, school books, etc. We even recently moved their bookshelf from the living room into their closet!
We get out one kind of toy at a time. Ruth's infant car seat is stored in here too, along with winter coats, hats, gloves, and scarves. :)
The closet shelf has "big kid toys" like Legos, race cars, and puzzles. Many garage sale treasures and hand-me-downs up there! :) The boys each have a tricycle, and they share a large plastic Little Tikes car (these things completely fill up our small outdoor storage area!).
And I think that's it! (Am I forgetting anything?!) :)
So, to recap:
The baby stuff I feel is necessary:
A basic wardrobe (gender-neutral for newborns)
Car seat (if you have a car)
Diapers (I use cloth)
Diaper bag (or substitute)
The baby stuff we also have (luxuries!):
Dresser (for clothing and changing)
Baby wash, towels, and wash cloths (homemade "upcycled")
Toys and books!
Swing (used to have)
Baby/kid stuff we DON'T have:
Lots of clothes/shoes/etc. We have plenty! But when space is limited, you have to be practical too. :) And to save money, nearly everything is second hand. :)
Potty chair (use smaller toilet insert, or just help child)
Baby food supplies
Large toys or any toys that don't help children be creative and thoughtful in some way! :)
More worthwhile reading on the topic of what a baby really needs:
My friend Crystal had a great series of posts about Having a baby Without Breaking the Bank! :)
So, there is my long, graphic-oriented answer to a very simple question! ;) Now it's your turn! Do you have any great money-saving or space-saving tips for parents or soon-to-be-parents? :)
Visit Jessica's blog for more frugal posts! :)