May 31, 2011

The Non-Disposable, No-Waste Life and Baby

I often hear people say babies are very expensive. I have observed that babies can produce a lot of waste and accumulate a lot of stuff. Since we're all about less waste and less stuff, how will the baby fit in? How much will a baby cost if we apply our life governing principles to the process of adding the baby in? We are at the very beginning of the process but we're starting to develop a plan.

What (Our) Baby Needs:

Diapers. For us it's going to be cloth. There is hardly anything left in our house that is disposable plastic or paper so diapers will be no different. I'm making the diapers from old flannel sheets, old t-shirts, wool sweaters, old towels, and as a last resort if I run out of material before I'm finished, purchased fabric or thrift store flannel sheets. I plan to have a mix of prefolds and fitteds with wool diaper covers. We'll see what I and baby like best. I'm basing the number of diapers and covers on Babywork's suggestions for a diaper layette.

Wipes. Also cloth. Also old flannel sheets.
Diaper Pail. They've got to go somewhere before they get washed!
Diaper Bag. I might just use my backpack.
Wet Bag. Because dirty diapers can't just go directly in the backpack.
Clothes. I'm planning to make most of their clothes until the clothes get too complicated for me to make (I try but I'm not great at making my own clothes... too many curves to fit around. I am getting better though)
Bibs. I can totally make bibs but my aunts have said they're going on a bib-making spree.
Baby Monitor. Someone already gave us one :-) I'm not sure how much we'll use it though since baby won't be in another room most of the time.
Puddle Pad. In case baby leaks through those awesome diapers I'm making.
Blanket. I'd like to invest in a nice wool one like this.
Limited Toys. I really don't think babies and small kids need as many toys as they seem to have. I'm planning on some nice wooden or cloth teething toys and a rattle when they're babies, blocks, a few stuffed animals, crayons, books, puzzles and games as they get older... and perhaps not much else. What else do they really need? That old saw about the kiddo loving the box more than the toy is, from my observations so far, definitely true. When I was a kid, we played mostly with big boxes, sticks, pine cones, some blankets, art supplies, blocks and legos. With that assortment we had everything from a defensible fort complete with booby-traps and projectile weapons to an obstacle course for toy cars. We also played board games, put together puzzles, and read or were read to constantly.
Car seat.
Baby Wraps. I think we'll spend a lot of time with baby on our person.
Cups, Plates, etc. We don't do plastic so we'll go with stainless steel or wood.
Highchair. Already in the family.
Changing Pads. I'm going to make this one. (Made it! I'll post about it soon)
Burp Cloths. Easy to make.

What (Our) Baby Wants:

Hook On Chair. A friend uses one of these for her daughter and I think it's brilliant. 
Doorway Bouncer.
Stainless Steel Food Mill. For making baby food. Not necessary but might be nice.
Mobile. We have some ideas for a mobile we want to make.
Books. Our collection of kiddo books must be approaching 50 at this point. We love kid books. Some of our favorites include: Kitten's First Full Moon, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, Where's My Cow?, and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!.

Kitten's First Full Moon  Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale (Bccb Blue Ribbon Picture Book Awards (Awards))  Where's My Cow?  Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

What (This) Mama Needs:

Maternity clothes. In fact I can't find maternity clothes that fit so I'm modifying my own old clothes.
Breastfeeding Compatible Shirts and Bras.
Books About Kiddo. I've been reading the Sears series of baby books. I can recommend The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two, The Pregnancy Book: Month-by-Month, and The Attachment Parenting Book : A Commonsense Guide. My midwife recommended Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and I loved it!

The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two (Revised and Updated Edition)  The Pregnancy Book: Month-by-Month, Everything You Need to Know From America's Baby Experts  The Attachment Parenting Book : A Commonsense Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Baby  Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

What (Our) Baby Doesn't Need:

Crib. We're going to sleep with kiddo. We do have at least one in the family if we decide we need it.
Bottles, Breast Pump, etc. Unless there is some big problem I'm going to breast feed exclusively. I might get a hand pump if it looks like I'll be away from the kiddo for long periods of time, but I'm having a hard time figuring out where I'd be.
Update: A kind fellow blogger and a good friend have recently explained to me some very good reasons (illness, producing more milk than baby can drink) why a stay at home mom would need a breast pump. I definitely did not think this one through but I'm so glad there are other young mothers out there to point these things out :-) Thanks guys!
Baby food. Breast milk is going to be a big part of their diet for a long time but when they finally decide they want some solid food it's the easiest thing to make in the world. Steam, squish, feed.
Daycare. I won't be working outside the home.
Plastic Tableware. We don't do plastic.
Plastic Toys That Take Batteries. I might find something amazing that will cause me to make an exception, but most toys that I think rock do not involved batteries. If we get them, they're getting donated.
Baby Einstein and other things that are advertised to make baby smart. I don't buy it.

This list is for the moment theoretical. It remains to be seen what we and baby actually like and use. However, I think it's a pretty good plan. I'm sure there are some things I haven't thought of and some odds and ends I'll need along the way, but this should give me an idea of how much baby will cost and the bulk of what baby will need.

Some Online Sources of Inspiration:

Michele from Frugal Granola has a nice series of posts called "Baby Essentials (or not)" in which she discusses stuff she found useful (but perhaps not necessary) and how she made it, found it, or re-purposed another item. Worth checking out. It helped me think through some of the things we'll need (oh yeah, we'll have to put the baby's diapers and clothes somewhere!) and gave me ideas on how to make them happen (we have an Ikea sideboard which currently holds board games and will serve as our changing area with only minor modifications).

I got an estimate of what baby will need in the way of diapers and covers from Babyworks, an Oregon company specializing in all things diaper.

Patterns and supplies for diaper and accessories making I've found at Very Baby, Fern and Faerie, and Sew Mama Sew although there are many more out there I have yet to try.

What did you find indispensable for your baby? What did you think you needed but never used?


  1. I just stumbled across your blog....I realize this post is about a month old, but I thought I would give you one thought I have learned. I have a 4 mth old that I BF, but unfortunately, I have to work outside the home and pump while I am at work. There have been times too, when we might be somewhere and the baby is not ready to eat/hungry but my breast say otherwise and allowing them to be full is very uncomfortable to say the least. A hand pump may be ok, but I imagine it would feel the same as the electric pump I was using that was on it's last leg and wasn't pumping well - result = your breast barely being pumped. So, I was lucky enough to get a nice, higher end electric one from a friend and I can say, there is nothing (besides BABY!) quite like it. If you need a pump, invest the $ into a nice, eletric one.

  2. Thanks Allison! You are absolutely right. I did not think through all the possibilities. In fact, I'm going to update my post (and my baby registry :-) to reflect my new found wisdom. So glad there are other young mothers out there to help me figure this stuff out... moms and aunts have some good advice, but things have changed a lot since we were babies.

  3. Hi Annie - you have a nice list of things and thoughts and what will work for you. We have no children, so I really don't have advise in that arena. I was gong to mention the electric breast pump vs hand pump, but someone else got to it. I have a friend who started with hand pump and quickly went to the electric. I think it is great that you are making as many things as you can and I have some of the same thoughts as you do about really how many "things" a child (or adults for that matter) really needs. I recently found some great board games at our neighborhood garage sale all at super reasonable prices. Have fun with the things you are making. Emily

  4. Thanks for linking to my blog! :) I love Babyworks, too.


  5. I just came across your blog and wanted to tell you a few things... I actually like the hand pump from medela better than the lansinoh double electric pump. I think its appropriate to buy a used pump online, especially if it is lansinoh - there is absolutely no way it could poor hygiene. I think its fair also to purchase clothes and toys at yard sales. You are not contributing to wastes from shipping or packaging or advertising or whatever. You'll also want to consider what type of cloth diaper detergent to use, and they are all very eco friendly. Charlie's and Country Save have worked so well for us. YOu seem like the type to make her own deterg, but those just aren't recommended for cloth diapers.

    Congratulations on your pregnancy and child!

  6. @Bethany - Glad to hear about your experiences with breast pumps. You are the first vote for a hand pump. It's good to know that not everyone hates them in case we need to go that route. Used pumps seem like a good idea... I'm not too worried about sanitation since they're designed to be totally cleanable and we're talking about breast milk anyway, which is not a gross substance. I've also been looking into renting one.

    I think purchasing clothes and toys at yard sales is a great idea! We have a very jam packed baby resale shop here as well. Unfortunately most toys are plastic so it might be quite a hunt. Of course since we don't want to accumulate too much stuff maybe the fact that it's challenging to find used non-plastic toys is a great way to slow us down and prevent me from buying every cute thing I see! And between grandparents and aunts/uncles we may never have to buy a single toy anyway.

    I'm planning to use Bio-Kleen detergent (and Eucalan Wool Wash for the covers). I see it regularly recommended for diapers. We recently switched to it from 7th Generation because our clothes didn't seem like they were rinsing clean and it made a huge difference. I was just reading a blog post about how certain detergents can ruin the waterproofing on AIOs. Glad I'm using all cotton diapers and wool covers because what a mess that must be... investing all that money and then picking the wrong detergent. Way too complicated!

    Thanks for reading the blog! I haven't posted in a while because pregnancy has made me so sick but I hope to soon (or at least after the baby is born).