Se7en Things You Absolutely Don’t Need When Having a Baby…

I started a short series on the La leche League this month, in honor of World Breast Cancer Awareness month. I looked at Se7en of the Best things about the La Leche League and Se7en of the Best La Leche League Books.

Anyway this week I thought I would focus more on babies… Just as in any sport where there are so many necessary pieces of equipment the baby world has been overburdened with marketing. It is just confusing – there are so many products that you have to have, or your child will never become a happy healthy productive adult.

Yikes, the burden of guilt – if your child doesn’t have the sparkly mobile it will never compete in the Olympic Games. Hello, most people never compete in the Olympic Games.

I was told there certain things that you absolutely have to have for a new baby – in retrospect it is laughable. My litmus test for getting an item was really minimalist, just the anti consumer rebel in me, if I lived in a remote tribe in the wild outdoors somewhere would I need it – mostly I didn’t!!! Lot’s of things are nice to have, but certainly not essential!

Here are se7en of the things I was told you definitely could not parent without.

A Cot: Wahahaha… our first parenting argument! The father person thought you had to have a cot to have a baby – it is kind of the male icon of nesting and I thought if we had one we would be tempted to drop our sweet creature in it – no we didn’t need it. I knew our baby would sleep with us in the bed – what on earth would a cot be for… and there were several shakes of the head from a previous generation: “Just wait till the baby is here, you won’t want it in your bed.” Well to appease these folks at the last minute we bought a camp cot… popped it up and stored soft toys in it and then after six months folded it away… after se7en years we sold it unused.

You need to know: Babies sleep better close to you, your skin next to theirs is perfect for all the right nurturing hormones to kick in… And believe it or not – getting back to my tribal litmus test, most people the world over co-sleep. The first La Leche League book I ever read was:



And we never looked back. And yes our older kids have moved on to their own beds in time, they don’t stay in your bed forever. The funniest comment I have ever had about co-sleeping, while standing in a store pregnant and six kids around me, was: “Wow, that must be a great contraceptive” – really… where do these little creatures come from anyway!

    What you do need: Is a big enough bed, these tiny beings take up an awful amount of space.

A Layette: A local clothing store has a list of all the apparel you require for a newborn baby to survive and prospective mum’s can enjoy a registrary there. Some poor shop assistant tried to encourage me to join this scheme when I was pregnant with hood #5. She did not see the experienced mother banner I was wearing (!) and I just about produced a baby in the store while I nearly died laughing:

  • 9 onsies/babygrow’s
  • 12 long sleeved vests
  • 12 short sleeved vest
  • 8 outfits
  • 7 pajama’s
  • 9 receiving blankets
  • 5 hooded towels – how clean will this baby be?
  • 24 bibs – what will this newborn be doing?
  • 8 hats – I would be really worried if I had a child that needed 8 hats!
  • The rest escapes me, blotted from my memory, but you get the picture.

Hello, I am not trying to clothe my remote tribe. Just an infant.

    What you do need: a couple of vests, I always found three or four to be enough. A couple of onsies. Two receiving blankets. A yummy clean towel – I don’t think junior really cares if it’s hooded. Think one on, one in the wash and a spare. You will most likely do laundry everyday… get over it and get on with it! Otherwise, big warning here: Don’t buy anything… people love babies and gifting, if they ask what do you need, then have a list and say what you would need… if you get eleven outfits the same don’t feel obliged to keep them – exchange them for something you need. Trust me on this you will be gifted.

Bottles and Formula:

So now that you know I am an anti-consumer rebel of all things baby-ploy, you may as well know I am quite stubborn. (You need to be to survive se7en kids!!!) I didn’t want to own anything that would give us an easy way out of a decision we had made. I didn’t want to stock up on formula and all the paraphernalia in case nursing didn’t work out – I figured if there was an easy way out I would take it! I really wanted to get nursing right, everyone knows Breast is Best, check out a lovely long list of advantages here. Needless to say we got off to a rocky nursing start and it was really tough, if I had had the option of quitting in the first month I would have taken it. I am so glad I didn’t! And what would I do out in the wilds if I couldn’t nurse – no I had to get it right.

    What you do need: Good support, from mothers who have been there and who are also nursing. Get hold of a friendly La Leche Leader, you know she has done it and survived and is unlikely to say “Don’t be mad, jut give your baby a bottle.” Really some people just breeze into it but most mom’s have some sort of battle initially – not just with nursing, parenting in general can be a bit of a shock to the system and you will enjoy have support from people who are in the trenches so to speak.

A Pacifier or Dummy: Really so many people told me you had to have these. Well anyone who knows anything about nursing knows that a pacifier can and often does compromise nursing. A newborn needs to suck, this helps to establish its milk supply from its mother person and to create a supply and demand relationship. If your baby is sucking on a pacifier half the day and night, then the pair of you cannot create your happy balance. Not to mention that a pacifier, no matter how marvelous, can confuse a new babies mouth. By the time you have got beyond that stage your baby will no longer need one – amazingly enough I have found mothers trying to get there 3 month old to take a dummy – why? why start a something you ultimately want to stop. Besides I don’t think they have these in my remote tribe – out it goes!

    What you do need: To learn how nursing actually works. I had never seen anyone nurse before Hood #1 was born, how on earth did I hope to succeed? Really find your local La Leche League, not only will you meet experienced moms who know that you really can’t nurse 10 minutes a side every four hours, and hope to succeed! But you will meet new mom’s figuring out the ropes as well. Not to mention that if a baby nurses for comfort it is ok, it isn’t manipulating you! and it won’t nurse forever – no matter what anyone says – trust me on this!!!

Baby Food: Even I thought I would need jars of this, forget my remote tribe when it comes to food you need jars of the stuff and lots of it – Nope!!! After eleven years of waiting till I need it to buy it, I still haven’t bought it. And somehow I don’t think my big kids would go for it now. Kind of missed that window, and I had so many useful ideas for those jars. Remember that for the first six months only milk is advised and after that they only needs tastes of food for the longest time… You don’t even need to buy a mincing machine and endless ice trays for freezing morsels – we missed out on that wonderful opportunity too.

    What you do need: A healthy varied diet of your own, so that when your baby is old enough to try foods you can offer a taste of fruit or whatever you decide from your plate (they only need a tiny bit!). Frankly if there is nothing on your plate that you would like your baby to eat then you need to change your diet.

A Stroller: We lived in Kalk Bay when Hood #1 was born it is a small village with a multitude of stairs. Also, I couldn’t figure out, if I was pushing a baby in a stroller, how I ever would be able to push a shopping cart of groceries as well… And in the remote fields of my tribal litmus test – I have never seen a stroller roaming around the African planes, not even a 4×4 one.

    What you do need: Loving arms when they are tiny. A sling is nice, but don’t kid yourself you cannot do a million things while holding a baby in a sling, walking – yes, talking – yes, rocking – yes. Making dinner – no, hanging laundry – no… chores do really wait! and when we are traveling or hiking and our babies are older we use backpacks, they can see the world and we know where they are. Win/Win.

Other Sundry Items: All those things that threaten that your child will become the young Leonardo Da Vinci, the next Rembrant, seriously if your child doesn’t have this electronically buzzing plastic mobile it will never amount to anything. Infant flashcards, psychedelic videos… they are marketing to you the parent. Your baby really doesn’t care. All these things are packaged perfectly for adults to buy. There are two streams of product: those that are educational (read stimulate) and those that soothe.

    What you do need: Babies love faces, especially yours. Babies love playing and interacting with people so let them. They are not going to learn life skills from a musical box, really they will learn them from you. Most babies are provided with two great play people: Fathers that stimulate and mothers that soothe.

What I love about parenting choices is that often the cheaper option is the better one – like nursing compared to formula – the cheaper choice is the better and more convenient choice.

And before you flame me, let me say: This is what worked for us. You and your baby are different and you may need and want and even like all the items we didn’t need. That’s fine. I just really wanted to say there is another way to consider that isn’t necessarily the marketers dream.

For more tips on absolutely anything pop over to Works For Me Wednesday.

21 Replies to “Se7en Things You Absolutely Don’t Need When Having a Baby…”

  1. So all these thoughts could add up to ‘People are more important than things’, even if the ‘people’ are tiny mites in arms. What better value to communicate to them?

  2. thank you for this post. i don’t have kids (yet??) but I do have a nephew and from being around him i’m getting several ideas of my owns do/don’ts.
    my sister decided long ago that there would be NO breast feeding. And almost as soon as the baby was brought home, a pacifier was stuck in his mouth.
    2 things that I plan to do VERY differently if/when i have kids
    but to each their own

  3. Nice to hear from you. The one thing about babies is that absolutely everyone has an opinion about how to have them, where to have them and so on… the best thing to do is do your own research and make your own decisions and opinions. And looks like you are already doing that! Whatever decisions you make about babies, I wish you all the best!

  4. Absolutely brilliant post! I totally agree with EVERY SINGLE WORD. Love it and will definitely be linking to this post in my blog. There are a lot people that I really think would enjoy reading this.

    I have 4 children and every one of them has spent 98% of the time in our bed. Hey we didn’t even buy anything when we had our twins who are now 22 months old.

    Thanks for the great read.

  5. Hay N, So glad you liked it I popped over to your site to have a look at your cute children! I have couple of follow up posts I am thinking about. Have a great weekend.

  6. Actually, if you HAVE to make it work, you can do just about anything–from hanging clothes on the line to tending bar in a tavern (we owned the tavern, lived upstairs, small town, no employees but us), with a little baby in a sling. That said, after about 6 months, I do like to have a stroller. I tend to have both stroller & sling, so that the baby (& I!) have a choice. Right now, I have a nearly-2 year old and a 6 month-old–and my usual set-up is a double jog stroller, with the sling for the baby, & a toddler harness for the toddler. That way, everyone has an alternate if needed, and the stroller has a big enough basket underneath to function as my shopping cart just about everywhere but Costco–and Costco carts hold 2 kids! And the jog stroller is easy to deal with most everywhere–it’s even decent on the beach. Works for us.

  7. Hi H, you are so right eventually you find your own rhythm and can figure out what works for you!!! Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment!!!

  8. I love your list. People look at me like I’m crazy when I say and do these things too. I love being a rebel, though it’s not always intentional.

    I actually find that all the extra stuff (bottles, cots, prams, etc.) only take up much needed space. I’m actually using the cot for all the clean, unironed clothes at the mo’.

    I had to get over the guilt trip thing with the breastfeeding. It’s like people imply that it’s laziness. *internal ‘what… ever’*

  9. Hi there, O! Glad you liked the list! Isn’t it funny how some folk think you are being “difficult” when actually you are just simplifying your life!!! You have a Great Weekend!!!

  10. Hi Tip – Imagine if we had bought all the kit eight times over!!! We would seriously need another mortgage!!! Have a good day!

  11. Can I do a few minutes of gleeful boasting here?!… Managed (even though I only have one – pregnant with second one, though) to cook/fold laundry/jog (!) and essentially do all chores while wearing baby in a sling. We had a super colicky one who would ONLY be held (we joke that he was so super intelligent he could tell when we were trying to fob him off with the swing, or what have you) so I just held him in the wrap for the first four months of his life, and did all chores while wearing him.

    And now that we’re looking forward to number 2, I’m really glad to know that I *can* do so much while wearing the baby – cos I’ll bloomin’ well have to when I have two to look after!!

  12. Hi Mother in the Making, Well done you!!! Isn’t it amazing what you can do when you have to!!! All the best with number two. Have a good day!!!

  13. I am currently expecting, and have absolutely no experience with babies! (I AM the baby in my family!) I’ve found your posts to be very helpful and humourous; helping to alleviate some of my panic! It is nice to have addressed that everyone has an opinion of what is ‘right’ and ‘essential’- I have every intention of learning as I go, a skill which has got me this far anyway. My question, is how to you field all the advice? What sort of response do you give that essentially hints at “I hear you, but I’m going to do this my own way”. At 27, I’m already tired of hearing “you’ll see it my way once it’s too late” from every person older than me- adding a baby is only going to make it that much more frustrating. Any tips on diverting the hopeful helpers?

  14. Hay D, All the best with your little one!!! I was just like you about thirteen years ago!!! I knew what I needed to do and I knew how we would parent… and your gut feeling is almost always what works for you. People never stop offering advice and their is no good response… even when you have eight kids folk will still tell you how to get things done!!! Amazing I know, but you learn to smile nicely and say “hmmm” and then go off and do your own thing!!! Trust me you wont change the world – no matter how strongly you know you are right, but you can stay chilled and get on with whatever you need to be doing!!! Stay true to yourself and you will be fine!!! My family and friends had very different parenting ideas to mine!!!But given time they have seen that my way works and my kids are better than fine!!! As soon as people say: “You should…” or “You have to…” you know that actually you don’t have to and you just go ahead and do it your way!!! Hope this helps! Have a good day!!!

  15. You’re so right. We didn’t make all of the same choices as you did, but I totally agree that some marketing people are taking advantage of parents-to-be. Why do you need nine receiving blankets and five hooded towels for one baby?

  16. Reading this in 2013 and I had a big chuckle about the layette items, because it is still the kind of list that every new mother is expected to use! And I hear you about the dummy/ pacifier I absolutely hate them and don’t know what benefit a hold gets from the mindless sucking. Plus the hassle of now getting the kids to quit when the parent thinks it’s time!!!!!

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