Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Baby un-necessities

As a couple preparing to welcome a little one, it seems as though we are expected to spend most of our time in a frenzy of baby-shopping. In fact, even when we disclose all the gifts and hand-me-downs we have been blessed by, people are amazed at how little we have spent on baby items so far. "What about X?" - they ask," - "Don't you need that? What about item Y? Are you planning to buy it? Do you realize how little time you have left?"

Maybe I'm inexperienced, but I honestly don't understand where this is coming from - buying not only what we know we'll need, but everything we might need, and even things we have only a remote possibility of ever using, and buying it all before the baby is even here. I mean, last time I checked, we live in a country overflowing with shopping centers. If it turns out we need something we don't have, anything from a milk pump to a changing table can be bought, brought home and put to use in only a couple of hours. And I certainly refuse to stock up on items we hope we won't need, such as formula and bottles!

I've already said a couple of times we believe a baby doesn't care if his or her furniture, clothes and toys are brand new. We also believe the fancy "baby university" mobiles aren't really necessary for a baby's development, and human contact - such as lots of cuddling, singing, hugging and playing - is much preferable. A huge industry has developed around babies - an industry which is trying to lure us not only to buy everything brand new (which is totally unnecessary in itself, as so many people are more than willing to pass on good-as-new cribs, strollers, and baby clothes), but to buy lots of things we don't really need.

What about those fancy baby shower gift packages, which cost more than twice the real worth of items they contain ("a rubber ducky, a bath puppet, a rubber ducky bath book and a baby bath spa CD with baby tunes...")? I say, save your money and wrap some useful gifts yourself - no reason to pay an exorbitant price for pretty ribbons someone has tied for you.

Why does the baby's room need to be decorated in "baby fashion"? I mean, if a mom likes to do some creative decoration, that's fine, and it's lovely for a baby to have a pretty room - but ultimately, safety, warmth and regular air circulation are all that matters... right? Why can't the baby's toys be put away in a normal, "adult" drawer - why should we pay a ridiculous price for a plastic "toy box"?

Do babies really need hooded towels in order to be bathed? What is a "nursing chair", and why a simple, comfortable armchair with a pillow for support won't do? Do we actually need a specialized cupboard for bottles and pacifiers (even if we end up using them)? Am I missing something if I store the baby's clothes and diapers in one of our closets, instead of a "baby drawer chest"?

The baby things we didn't buy yet aren't going to disappear tomorrow. Stores will remain full of items they are hoping to sell, and whatever we might need later, most likely it won't be a matter of life and death whether we have it here and now, or a day after. So until this little one arrives, we'll stick with our strategy: have all the basics (such as car seat, stroller, crib, clothes, diapers, bedding, blankets) ready. Anything else we might need later, we can get later. I'm sure that refraining from "just in case" spending will save us a lot of money.

Illustration photo: baby shower gifts


Shannon said...

Hi Anna,

I agree that many people tend to go hog wild, especially in preparing for their first child. Here in the US, there are baby registries where people can print off a list in the store and shop. Some of the lists are pretty unbelievable! A lot of folks don't implement thrift into preparing for a baby. My parents kind of went overboard with buying for their first (me), but after the fourth baby, all the hype of accessories, etc. was not a priority and as you said, a baby does not care about the trivial things such as mobiles, etc. It just needs love and security.

Anonymous said...

I've had 5 babies...and agree with every word. Although I did like to decorate baby's room, I NEVER used a hooded robe/a changing table/a swing/a nursing chair.....among others (and we had some of this stuff, it was just never useful). Baby was never crazy about all the 'university' toys which we bought in abundance....much preferring the allure of noisy pots and pans, or best of all, the packaging in which the toys were wrapped.

We never bought anything before the birth either. Common superstition around here; one doesn't bring baby stuff home before baby arrives.

Anyway, be'shaa tova as your time nears.

Mrs. Anna T said...


We actually were at our wits' end because some women in the family told us, "you aren't supposed to buy/get anything before baby arrives, it's bad luck, don't even store your gifts at home..." etc etc. So, I didn't really know what to do - it sounded as though we're supposed to bring a baby to a home without a car seat, stroller, crib, clothes, etc, and my husband would have to waste the precious time he's going to take off work getting baby stuff, instead of helping me out.

Furthermore, this belief was presented to us as though it has some scriptural/Talmudic source, which we obviously knew nothing of.

We ended up asking a rabbi, and were told that this is nothing more than a superstition, and there's no problem in making necessary preparations. I'm not saying anything about those who prefer to do nothing in preparation, but I'm glad we learned it's up to us and we're not violating any rule by doing so.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,

I so enjoy reading your blog with my morning coffee. I have found your writings to be very inspirational and thought provoking.

I agree with your post today and I'm sure you will get lots of "yes, but...."--so let me be the first
I would recommend that you have a breast pump (hand operated)purchased and assembled. I have found that with all three of my little ones when my milk came in, I was quite engorged and it was only after expressing a bit of milk that the baby could latch on. Of course you can hand express, but I felt tremendous 'peace of mind' storing the extra milk in the freezer--just in case of some emergency.

The breast pumps are something you might want to have almost right away and an item you may want to research and assemble a head of time as(there are many pieces you will want to wash/sanitize before using). Not something you'd want to fumble around with while the baby is anxious for your milk at 2 AM!

The other thing to look into is making/finding yourself a wrap to hold the baby in. This can easily be done--it is only a big piece of fabric-- but can be confusing to wrap the first couple of times. It's good to practice with a doll or stuffed bear. Just search Moby wrap for directions how to wrap it up. All of my babies loved to snuggle and this allows you a bit of mobility and hands free snuggling.

All the best!

Linda said...

That's what I had been trying to tell my family before our little one arrived.. to no avail, mind you.. ;)

If you got yourself some diapers of any kind, some clothes and a bed.. I'd say you're nearly there..

Now, that said, hooded towels are nice though, *lol*

Greetings from the netherlands!

Di said...

Hi Anna,

I just wanted to say that you might want to consider getting in a breast pump and bottles just in case. I say this because I just assumed that I would breastfeed and everything would be fine, but that is not the case. I have so much milk that my poor newborn was having to protect her airway on every feed which led to very painful feeding times for me and frustration for her. If I had known right at the beginning that you could have too much milk, I would have taken steps to mitigate the problem much sooner. At 4 weeks, I bought some nipple shields which helped so very much, it slows down the flow and thus my baby didn't have to work to protect her airway as well as eat, so feeding times are far more pleasurable. I also collect enough milk from the breast I am not feeding from to store in the fridge and then freeze. I found that a pump was invaluable in the early days to relieve the discomfort of engorgement, I was so full that anything touching me was so painful. I am now 9 and a half weeks into breastfeeding, and am glad I stuck with it.

I hope that you don't feel that I have been negative, that wasn't my intention, I just wanted to pass on what I had learnt!

Love Di x

Gothelittle Rose said...

Babies need hardly anything. A source of nourishment, enough wrappings to stay clean and warm, a safe place to sleep, and parents. My mother once listed the necessities of caring for a newborn.. for her.. as a few outfits, a stack of cloth diapers, a sling, and a properly inspected carseat. For myself, I'd like to add a bassinet and a stroller. I don't have my mother's physical endurance and sling-carrying a baby gets tiring!

I've changed babies on the floor (on a blanket) so many times I don't even favor the use of the changing table after the first couple weeks. And any drawer can hold baby stuff.

Let me add a caveat... you do want to be sure that you have a thermometer that can be used on an infant (it doesn't have to be a Special Baby Item if you're willing to turn yours into a rectal) and a pair of nail clippers small enough for baby's fingers are very useful! But you can make do if you need to!

As for decorating a room, babies just need something interesting to look at, and the most interesting thing to a baby is an adult's face. Inexpensive, easy, and convenient to carry!

Anyways... we're pretty nearly set for baby. We just have to move the five-year-old into his own space and set up the stuff. All of it is hand-me-down. Then I just need to find as many 0-3mo and 3-6mo outfits I can get hand-me-down and free.

And what you say about being able to buy what you need if you can't breastfeed is utterly and completely true. I went through that with my first. Never prepared, never saw the need, and it was easy to "fill in the blanks" once I found it wasn't working out.

Kacie said...

As usual, I agree. I've tried to keep our baby-related purchases to a minimum, and when buying furniture to store baby's things, I've purchased items that will last for years, no matter the baby's age.

Even though the weather is cold and gross out here, I'd rather go to the store (or send someone) to buy something I later need than to have it on hand "just in case."

I do have those hooded baby towels though :) I know I could have used adult towels, but I think they're just too big for a tiny one. Plus, they're the only "baby" ones I could find :)

Mau said...

I completely agree with this post! We have six beautiful children and know most of the baby garb is useless and frivolous. We do not own a crib, changing table, special nursing chair, swing, bouncy seat, etc.

A car seat, baby sling, a nursing stool and lots of love have been my only "must haves".

I've also read your posts on cloth diapers. I believe if you begin diapering in cloth you will find it quite adequate and not feel disposables are needed. It is much more difficult to go back to diapering with cloth once you've used disposables :-)

You are going to make wonderful parents.

Blessings for you and yours!

C.W. said...

Dear Anna,
You are right about not needing much for a baby. We found with our five little ones that the most necessary items were: clothes, simple bed and bedding, cloth diapers (made from flannel sheets and clothing), a car seat and a baby carrier. The baby carrier was the most important item because it kept my little ones close and happy throughout all sorts of activities from housework to concerts. There are many 'keep-your-baby-happy-for-hours' products on the market, but none of them can replace the interaction and loving attention of a parent. Blessings, C.W.

Warbler said...

I haven't ever heard it put quite this way, but I definitely think it is the right course for you to take.

I've been a silent follower for some time. I know this is kindof a contradiction...but as a daughter in a family of 11, and as a girl who has diapered and bathed many times in the 8 years since I was 10 and began 'second-mothering'.

I would like to note that hooded bath towels REALLY help you. ecially if you are bathing the baby in a waist high sink. (which is the time when the baby is little, and heat escaping from the head is not a good idea)
The baby is kindof fussy, because it is cold in the air (coming from the warm bath), and wet and slippery, and having the hood of the towel in arms length really saves a lot of trouble. Plop the hood on, wrap the towel around, and the baby is dried and has its head kept warm and you aren't soaking wet from it!
Not a big deal....but it is definitely one of those "little" things. (We got our bath towels we didn't pay for anything.)

In fact, I might share a bit with y'all. My mom left most of her baby stuff where we were missionaries, since her last baby (#8) was getting older, and there was no sign of a #9. A year later she had a miscarrage early, so no stocking up on baby clothes. two years later, with #8 at 4, she finds out *surprise* we are getting another #9.....she was hesitant to go out and buy much, being that one salary didn't exactly bend to get $250 USD baby car-seats, etc.
People began giving us thier old stuff, and 90% of all our baby needs we got without paying a cent. Through sales and stuff, my mom got a couple more things, but nothing over $20....and probbably not at a total cost of over$50
Thought I'd share!

Anonymous said...

Ha! Sounds like the Baby Industrial Complex is as bad as the Wedding Industrial Complex. You are very wise to just say no to all the non-sense.

-- Pendragon

Anonymous said...

While I pretty much agree with everything you've said here, babies don't need brand new this that and the other thing, do remember that they need SOME things which are stimulating. visual, auditory, tactile, etc. Everything a baby sees, hears, touches, or chews on is expanding his or her capacity to learn later in life by allowing his or her brain cells to branch out like crazy. So while all the "baby university" toys aren't going to make your baby a genius in and of themselves, a mobile isn't such a bad idea; It provides even the tiniest of babies with some stimulation even before they can physically manipulate objects. Neither are some kid books, pictures, soft toys, things with many shapes and colors and textures.

I agree that you don't need everything brand new, but your baby won't thrive if he or she is stuck in a plain room with no stimulation or new things to explore.

The Quiet Life said...

You are right, not much is needed. My husband and I didn't go overboard before our children's births or even now. Just bought the nessesities. Our children weren't harmed for lack of stuff.

Tracy said...

Amen, Anna. I think you're wise.

Erik said...

Here is what I learned as a single daddy...

baby baths are annoying and a waste. Its much easier to just hop in the tub with them (until they poop on you that is! Then you need some help!)

Baby towels aren't very good. Better to buy as nice soft adult towel and use that instead. Added bonus is you can wrap up your little one and keep him warm.

Can't have too many swaddling blankets. Thought I had too many, but I was wrong.

Diaper changing tables are unnecessary, unless health issues keep you from getting to the floor. Use a swaddling blanket to protect the bed or floor, and there is less chance of baby falling.

Thrift stores are GREAT for clothes and toys. Garage sales and flea markets too!

As a single daddy I needed to use bottles. If you find you do, I suggest getting the plastic bag ones. They are more sanitary and much easier to clean as the messiest part just gets tossed.

Buy clothes big and in advance. Babies grow so fast that buying a size up will really save you money. And dont waste too much money on 0-3 months clothes. By the time you are done swaddling your child might be too big for them anyways. Also, buying in advance lets you catch clearance sales for clothes he will need later.

Outlet covers. Get em now and get used to them. It won't be long before your little explorer is curious about outlets.

One final thing, the toy box. The special kid boxes have special lids because kids get injured and trapped by them. Make sure that what you have is safe for your child (Lid doesn't just drop and it opens easily from inside so toddlers don't get trapped if they climb inside.

Well, there's my book (o= Hope some of it is helpful

Sarah R said...

What an awesome post, Anna. I, too, fell for the "buy! buy! buy!" mentality for my first baby, a sweet girl born ~gasp!~ thirteen years ago. By the time my third child came, I was old hat. Friends and family kept asking me what I wanted, and I said, "Money and dinner." I seriously couldn't think of anything to ask for!

This is what I'd claim to be necessities:
a car seat
a few blankets
a good sturdy bag (diaper bag or just a tote bag is fine)
a hat
tons of love, kisses and breastmilk

This is what I'd say is nice to have, but not necessary:
a crib
a changing table
a swing

This is what I wouldn't take for free:
pacifiers (I call them mother substitutes)
baby videos
diaper wipe warmers

Maybe someone who lives in a really cold climate might need a diaper wipe warmer, but I live in Florida.

newlife3 said...

Hi Anna,
I have to agree with you 100%! I was a single mom when my daughter was born, and we had very little money. But, we made do with hand-me-downs, and a few items bought at thrift stores. She survived lol, and is quite well-adjusted. People were very generous with gifts when my daughter was born, but it's so funny - the fancier the item was, the less useful it was (if at all!)

We never had university mobiles hanging over her crib or super-sensory overload play gyms, and she's still a smart little cookie. Cuddling, singing, reading, talking, that's really all they need and want after of course warmth, shelter, diapers, etc.

I'm sad for my SIL (and many others) who feel the only way to love their kids is to buy everything imaginable at outrageous prices. And then they don't take the time to love their babies - just plop them in front of the latest video they bought.

But, I guess that is our culture (at least here in the US) - shop shop shop, even if it means sacrificing everything else that really is important.


Victoria Rebecca said...

Mrs Anna,
I believe that people think that they need all these things because that is what the stores tell us. We have to remember that they are just trying to make money not help us. My mother didn't use a lot of these fancy baby 'necessities'. As for toys my mom told me that for her she decided to let us make our own toys rather than buy us them. For example: she didn't buy us baby drums, she let us use her pots and pans. You get the same headache. :)
God bless you I love your blog.

Adelaide said...

It sounds like you have everything you need. I have a 2 month old, and I've enjoyed some items that you don't really need, such as a nursing chair, hooded towels, and a baby swing, but they're certainly not necessities and could be purchased later if you'd like them. However, I would say that it's a good idea to have the basics ahead of time so that you don't have to run out to the store too much. Babies take up a lot of time during the first few weeks. Babies do like looking at interesting things, but this doesn't mean they need to be specifically made for babies. Up to six weeks, they like simple black and white designs, which can be drawn or found online and printed. After six weeks, they like looking at pictures with bright colors and not too much detail. Again, this could be easily made for free. They also really like looking at lights, out windows, etc. I hung up some simple printed pictures by the baby's pac n play, where she naps and sometimes "plays" during the day.

Anonymous said...

Anna, wow. I've been reading your blog since before you married, and you're already so close to having a baby. Things happen so fast!

Anonymous said...

After three babies, I'll take this idea a step further and say that the abundance of "baby stuff" I had collected by the time my third was born was so overwhelming that I began to associate the BABY with the STUFF and think "How can we possibly have any more, I'm so overwhelmed as it is!?" I ended up giving away EVERYTHING, essentials included. I have since had a change of heart and am expecting #4 in a few weeks, and hope to have more after that. I've had to start over with gathering the essentials all over again.

The truth is, it doesn't have to be so complicated. You are really doing the right thing by waiting to see if you will really have the need for any of those "extras". Everyone really is different as to what they "can't live without". I have heard so many moms talk about their baby sling/carrier as an absolute necessity, but I have never found it so. I have found it quite possible to live closely with baby (attachment parenting) without a sling. On the other hand, one of the "extras" I'm very thankful for is a bassinet on wheels that can be placed next to my side of the bed at night. (I have found that co-sleeping and nursing lying down causes me a lot of shoulder pain.)

My point is just that it is too hard to predict what YOUR specific needs will be just yet, so waiting a bit is very wise. I think a lot of new parents go overboard early on because of two factors: #1 It is fun (as spending money usually is) and gives them something to do while waiting for baby's arrival and #2 They are afraid of doing something the "wrong" way and they trust the marketing experts to dictate all their "needs".


Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,
I think you're very level-headed and well-prepared on this issue. My first baby was delivered 8 weeks early due to unforeseen complications, and at that point we did have a car seat to bring him home in, and a secondhand bassinet for him to sleep in, and that was about all! During his time in the hospital, some kind relatives and friends brought a few preemie-sized outfits, and I received a box of preemie clothes that had been used by my sis-in-law's baby and previously used for her 4 baby cousins. (That makes those clothes about 5th or 6th hand, and they performed beautifully.)

I'm now expecting my 3rd baby any day now! I've enjoyed reading your blog as your prepare for your first, and I agree with your take on baby preparedness. Best of luck and best wishes to your family!
-A. C.

Mrs. Anna T said...

First, I would like to thank everyone for their input! I didn't expect to receive so many comments after only a few hours. :o)

About milk pumps: I was a preemie, and therefore, as my mother tells, had some problems with nursing. For the first month of my life, I didn't take the breast at all.

The formula available back then in the USSR was pitiful; mother's milk will ALWAYS be best for baby, but at least, the formula we know now should provide adequate nutrition if breastfeeding is impossible. And there were NO milk pumps!

So what did my mother do for a month? She hand-expressed her milk! Yes, it was extremely painful, especially as she had so much milk - enough to feed me and a baby boy whose mother couldn't breastfeed for medical reasons (by the way, if I have an excess of milk, I would love to "donate" it to women nearby). Yes, it was hard work. But she was able to hang in there for a month, until I started nursing on my own.

So, would I hand-express for a month in case I have an excess of milk, or in case my baby has difficulties in receiving her food in the "natural" way? No - milk pumps are handy, not THAT expensive, and can be easily found in any baby supplies store. If we need one, we'll buy one.

But in case, for example, of a "milk emergency" happening on Shabbat, I can do what my mother did - hand express some milk for my baby - and buy a milk pump the next day. I'm convinced no tragedy will occur if we don't have a milk pump in advance - even if we do end up needing it.

Betsy said...

You are so right about the multitude of baby things being totally unnecessary. When our first baby was shortly due I did stop in to a "baby store" just to check it out and had to restrain myself from running out screaming. It was terrifying the amount of stuff they sold for babies. The only thing I'd add to the necessary list of diapers, clothes, and a nice place to sleep would be burp cloths and a few bibs. You'll do a lot less laundry by changing spit up bibs rather than whole outfits. And burp cloths save your clothes and furniture. Of course, my favorite burp cloths were clean fabric diaper squares, so you may have that built in already!

Rest and don't worry about the peripherals is the best plan, good job to you!

Mrs. Anna T said...

Another important point I almost forgot to make: I never thought that my statement about "baby university" toys being unnecessary could be interpreted as thinking that babies are supposed to be stuck in a room with no visual stimulation, God forbid!

Of course, babies need lots of stimulation - visual, auditory, etc - in order to thrive and develop properly. But who said simple things in our everyday surroundings are less appealing, stimulation-wise, than a fancy mobile? A baby can, for example, be taken outside in a sling while Mom hangs out laundry in the back yard; that way, the baby can enjoy sunshine and fresh air, and watch two kitties playing together, or a tortoise crawling under a nearby rock. At the same time, the baby can hear Mom's heartbeat, her voice, birds chirping, etc. I see Ethiopian women around here carrying their babies on their back wherever they go, and these babies never seem cranky, fussy or bored. Babies have developed and thrived for many generations *without* specialized toys - they weren't under-stimulated, because they had been made part of the family life from the moment they were born. They accompanied their Mom whenever she went about her daily work, and were surrounded by many siblings, cousins, aunts, and other relatives.

Not that I have anything against toys or mobiles - they ARE cute, and like someone here pointed out, can be easily made at home - but it certainly isn't the only way to keep a baby entertained.

But of course, now that babies are dropped into daycare when they are only a few weeks old, and no one can give them the individual attention they need, a mobile is better than nothing...

Mrs. Anna T said...

Oh, and one more thing: as you can see if you read the comments, every Mommy (or Daddy, for that matter!) has a slightly different list of "musts", "useful items" and "useless stuff". Some find hooded towels helpful, some don't; some love their baby sling, some end up hardly using it. It all depends on the circumstances. Is it possible we'll eventually need, or at least enjoy, some of the things which are currently not on our "absolute must-haves" list? Yes, it's very likely. However, "might needs" are not "must needs" and therefore it isn't necessary to buy them before we know we need them.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Oh, and Erik: I had a really good laugh on what you said about bathing with babies being nice until they poop on you! :o))

Anonymous said...

Hey Anna,

I know you will probably dismiss my advice, but I can tell you from experience that using a pump and making sure your baby can take a bottle can be nice. I first gave my baby a bottle at about 3 weeks. It is nice for my husband to be able to feed the baby on occasion and sometimes I do like to get out without the baby!
And regarding your last comment, babies will get fussy even when carried around in a sling!! It is just natural!

Mrs. Anna T said...

I do believe our baby might need an occassional bottle - for example, if I have less milk than usual during Tisha B'Av or Yom Kippur fast - but again, we'll deal with it as it comes, and it won't happen until the baby is a few months old (nursing moms are "released" from other fasts).

We hope our baby won't even see a bottle before breastfeeding is well-established, though, as we've learned it isn't helpful.

Erik said...


Fortunately, at the time of that particular incident I was not yet a single dad so there was someone to hand Lil Bear off to.

Emily G. said...


It's so refreshing to see someone young be so wise and level-headed! My first baby is due in 6 weeks. The only thing I have purchased for it is cloth nappies. Everything else was hand-me-downs, gifts, or stuff my mum got me at garage sales, where she spent no more than 25 cents on an item. I would not have bought a changing table, but we salvaged a lovely wooden one from someone's garbage. With a new coat of paint, it's good as new, and the shelves on it do come in handy for storing blankets & nappies. I have all the 'necessities' as far as clothing goes, and more extras than I'd like that were gifts from people who just didn't see how I'd live without them. Such as a bouncy seat, $200 stroller, cradle, multitudes of quilts, baby seat, etc. Stores convince people that they need all that equipment and they need to buy the very latest new version of it, and that is why we see articles in family magazines on how to rearrange your finances to afford a child. I have more baby things than my mum had for her 7 children, and I know I'll be fine, even though I haven't a mobile or a diaper wipe warmer!


Mrs. Amy @ Clothesline Alley said...

You have the right mindset, Anna. When Peapod was five weeks early, we hadn't purchased everything we needed and poor Sean even had to go out and buy the Arm's Reach Co-sleeper the day we came home from the hospital, along with some other baby essentials we had been planning to pick up that weekend, as we still thought she'd be in utero. LOL. The next day we had to venture out to the hospital to rent the hospital grade breastpump as Peapod couldn't latch. Then we waited the few days for my parent's to arrive and they brought everything else we needed, including TONS of little girl clothes. My mom went out shopping right when we called to tell we had had a girl. :P

If our unplanned having a very very bare minimum of baby items went as smoothly as it did, yours will be fine as well I'm sure. There will surely be a few items you might find out you will need and you can just pick them up once you figure these out. Several items that quickly became my must-haves were ones I hadn't necessarily thought about, but items my Mom had just went ahead and picked up for me. Other items I thought I would absolutely need but hadn't managed to pick up yet were ones I never did wind up purchasing as they wouldn't have been good at all for our lifestyle. Funny how that works out! I was most thankful we hadn't purchased oodles of items before hand. ;o)

I must say that your mom is an amazing woman! Although you've shared that she had to express all of her milk for you I had no idea she HAND expressed. I am in awe! Exclusive *pumping* with the nice hospital grade pump was insane enough, but expressing without it?? True dedication! :D

Bethany Hudson said...

You're quite right, Anna. With Sophia, we really made a lot of things "do." She uses clothes, towels, and bedding that I used as a baby! Thank goodness my mother held onto such things. We got our crib for free from friends at church. We bought a used dresser and attached a changing pad; it serves for her clothes and cloth diapers, and is very useful, but certainly nothing new or fancy. We did spend good money on two things: a carseat, because no one had a recent one to offer us (we're talking 20-year-old carseats here) as we were one of the first among our friends to have a baby and others were still using their carseats for their toddlers, and a digital camera. The carseat has been great, and Sophia will be in it until she no longer requires a childseat (in our state, she will have to be at least 6 years old--ridiculous, but it's the law), and the camera has been invaluable! Rather than running off to the mall or photo studio like so many of our friends, we have been known to drape a length of fabric over a chair and take professional quality photos ourselves to give as gifts! Also, you mentioned the "nursing chair." We used an old upholstered armchair that once belonged to my parents, but (just a tip you might find helpful since I know you're short) we did purchase a small, low stool that is angled toward the chair. You could even make one yourself if you wanted. It really was good for my lower back when I started nursing, since I can't sit all the way back in the chair and still have my feet touch the floor! Oh, the joys of being small. Happy not-baby-shopping!

Walters Inc said...

Mrs Anna, I believe you have a very good head on those shoulders of yours. What you are planning to do will work well. You know so much better after the baby gets here what you need.
My husband and I kept a little stash of money saved for those things we might discover we needed. Need not want :).
My daughter is a happy, healthy 6 month old, and didn't have very many fancy toys. Just good old Mom and Dad.
Although, I wanted to recommend a book to you. It is called "My First 300 Babies" It has truly been a blessing in my home and perhaps it can be to you as well. It is just a recommendation and I know that all of us are different, so please take it as you will.
Enjoy the last month!

Mrs. Anna T said...


Am I short? :o) I'm not so sure; I'm 166 cm, which is... mmm... about 5 feet 5 inches I think. It isn't short for Israel, but it might be short for other countries, I don't know.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Amy - yes, it sure required a lot of dedication on Mom's part! However, you have to keep in mind that back then, in that place and time, *not* breastfeeding would mean your baby is getting really, REALLY crappy nutrition (inadequate formula or cow's milk), and therefore women were highly motivated to make breastfeeding work. Also, there were no commercial campaigns from formula companies, which make it so easy to fall into their trap at the first difficulty.

Anonymous said...

none of my four children ever had a nursery because they slept in our bed as infants and slept in their cribs in our room until about age 3. I didn't spend thousands of dollars on decor etc and they were just fine. I used to get a lot of name brand high end clothes for my babies but always bought them in second hand stores (or ebay for my younger kids) at a fraction of what someone spent on them new. I can't understand spending so much money on clothes for little ones when they outgrow them so quickly, I have always bought most of my children's clothing second hand. Baby's don't need piles of expensive clothes, every gadget under the sun etc all they need is jammies, blankies, diapers and mommy's milk and love

Anonymous said...

I totally agree, Anna. We have received so many lovely used items, and I know the few new things we will need (car seat for example) will likely come from a baby shower later on. I'll keep an eye out for free or very inexpensive stuff I expect to need, but honestly, there isn't much. Your time is the primary thing the baby needs. Thanks for this encouraging post - helping us all to not get sucked into spending unnecessarily!

A Marriage After His Heart said...


You are so wise to do what you are doing. I did this both times with my daughters. Of course at the time I was a single parent but with my oldest people gave me so much and with my youngest I just used the things her sister had.

The only thing I am really looking forward to stock up on are the little onesies that I find in consignment shops, resale shops and garage sales. One year I found them for like .25 each although they were gently worn they came in so handy for the baby to wear around the house. So if you find cheap onesies and baby t-shirts that are used, stock up on them even if they are too large. Trust me they come in so handy around the house throught that first year and the price of baby t-shirts and onesies are ridiculous.

On the breast pump subject I agree with you, i had a pump but found that hand expressing worked best for me. I wasn't maried with my oldest children so I didn't have that luxury of the father feeding time, but I tell you what expressing into a bottle made for some welcomed grandpa time. This time my husband does want me to express in bottles because he has already called dibs on the middle of night early am feeding times while he takes off to be with us. He is so looking forward to that, and I'm pretty sure I won't object because I know that once he goes back to work then I will have all the mornings in the world to get up and feed.

Ps: aren't you just in awe at how quickly this year our lives have changed! I am following you by about 6 weeks in the marriage and baby race but it's really amazing to have gone through this change of life with someone I have high regards for in blogland.

Erik said...

Oh, I do have to add one MUST HAVE, CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT item. Its not for a newborn, but a backpack like this By no means do I recommend buying new, unless you have money to burn. But I have managed to buy two for a grand total of maybe $35.

We have used the backpacks for some absolutely fantastic hiking trips (up to 4 hours long,) flea market outings and a friend of mine uses her's when they go grocery shopping. Its worth noting that my son will not sit in a stroller for longer than 30 seconds so this has been of great use to me. Your mileage will vary.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Anna! Again, another great and wise post.

This is slightly off-topic, but may I ask a question: how did you deal with first trimester nausea? Mine really intervenes with my appetite, and I truly,truly want to eat a good, balanced diet but with constant nausea all day it's been a struggle to just put some food in my mouth. Do you have any advice regarding this matter? I have been suggested peppermint tea and I've tried it, but it doesn't seem to help much.

Thank you so much in advance!


Bethany Hudson said...

Anna- How funny! I remember in one of your posts awhile back you mentioned you were short. Maybe you were speaking by Israeli standards, because 5'5'' is pretty normal in the US. I'm 5'2'' and I have the worst time finding chair that I can put my feet flat on the floor with! Nevermind, then. One more thing to cross off your list :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna--

Something else I haven't seen mentioned on your list (or in comments) are breast pads. I have always mad my own from old diapers. Especially at first when 'supply and demand' is working itself out, breastfeeding can be a leaky experience. It's nice to put on clean and dry breast pads frequently--esp. when you may not have the time/energy for a hot shower or bath quite as often as you might like!


Gombojav Tribe said...

Of course, I COMPLETELY agree with you, Anna!!

I blogged something similar a while back:

I tell my childbirth students and doula clients to relax. All they really need are breasts and arms. :-)

Anonymous said...


If you wait too long (past 6 weeks or so) many babies refuse to take a bottle! Just something to keep in mind, even if you only give it a couple times a week.

Ways of Zion said...

Another BRILLIANT post

Thanks a million!

Lady M said...

Hi Anna,
Yes, the "have to have's" will drive you nutty. I will say, though, that the hooded towel (aka the hat towel around here) is a nice thing. That said - one of our family friends made my older children a wonderful hooded towel (aka Hat towel, lol!). She took a regular bath towel and somehow, attached a washrag on the side (in the middle) and voila, a full side normal "hat towel". At the time, my children were 3 ys & 7 mos. The 7 mo. old got the above mentioned "hat towel". I asked her if she could possibly make one for my 3 yr old dd, but with a bigger "hat" - perhaps with a hand towel, rather than a washrag. She did and it worked beautifully! The older 2 are now 10 & 7 1/2 ys and still use them. My dd still uses her's. I asked my MIL to suggest to the family friend that she make the 7 yr old a new one with the bigger "hat" and we will pass his down to baby brother to use. Why the "hat"? When they are babies, it keeps the baby warmer by preventing heat loss out of the top of their little heads when they are wet. When they are bigger, it helps soak up the water from the wet hair while they are wrapped in their "hat towel" waiting for jammies. If I can find a picture/directions, I will because I just love them!

Lady M

Anonymous said...

I hesitated to post, but seeing what others have said I'll go ahead and add my two cents. For the most part I agree with everything you've said. My "yes but" is the breast pump. I didn't plan on using the one my sister gave me (a simple manual one), but was so thankful to have it when I woke up at 3 am one morning with an incredibly engorged and painful rock where my breast used to be. I knew the baby wouldn't wake up or want to nurse for at least three more hours, during which time more milk would build up and I would be awake and in tremendous pain and unable to do anything about it, and then I remembered the breast pump - hurrah sister!!! So I put it together (it took five minutes to assemble the first time), pumped the milk, and was back asleep in 15 minutes. In those early days sleep is at a premium, and I'm so glad I was able to alleviate the pain and go back to bed so quickly, rather than spend the night hand-expressing. Engorgement so painful it woke me up happened several times during the time I nursed my son, and each time I was so glad and thankful to be able to deal with it quickly and relatively painlessly and get on back to sleep. I don't think this happens to everyone, but if you notice that you're producing tons of milk, you might go ahead and get a pump "just in case." Or maybe you're just much tougher than I am ;-) I was sleepy and sore all over, and anything that let me stop hurting and go back to sleep was a tremendous benefit.
Best of luck to you!

Lady M said...

Okay, here is a link to show how to make those "hat towels" (as my children call them) and a picture.

One other helpful hint - after bathing baby, when wrapped in said "hat towel", try to get the diaper on ASAP after drying the baby. I had forgotten about the "pee" factor until we had our baby in Oct. He is very good about peeing after coming out of the shower/bath - while wrapped in the towel (and on you if you are holding him at that moment). And yes, I did say shower. We often take our babies in the shower with us - just takes a bit of prep to make it happen. Worried about baby being slippery? The soap is what makes them so slippery, but to make yourself feel safer, just hold them wrapped in a hand towel. The sound & feel of the shower is quite soothing to them.

Lady M

newlife3 said...

"Of course, babies need lots of stimulation - visual, auditory, etc - in order to thrive and develop properly. But who said simple things in our everyday surroundings are less appealing, stimulation-wise, than a fancy mobile?"

I laughed out loud when I read this - remembering how while I was cooking or something in the kitchen, my daughter would be in the room with me - I would just talk to her and sing to her - but she LOVED to stare at the kitchen cabinets - they were fascinating to her. Wonder if that's why now (at 11 yrs old) she's such a great cook. He he.

Anonymous said...

Am I missing something? Why is everyone changing babies on the floor? Isn't that what beds were made for? Just put a thick towel on the bed to catch any 'accidents'. Much more comfortable than getting down on your knees.
(Of course, I wouldn't do this at someone else's home. But in my own, I can decide whether or not the bed linens need changing, etc).

And personally....I think it's really important a baby gets used to a bottle too. I neglected to do so with my last one, and really regretted it. You need to start giving it by age 1 month or so, otherwise they often don't want anything to do with it.
Even mothers need some 'me time' and space sometimes, and it's good to be able to get out once in a while without worrying that baby will starve and scream during your entire absence.

Julie said...

Hi Anna,

YES YES YES, you're right, babies don't need or care about all the stuff. They don't care if it's new, or trendy, etc. We had tons of hand-me-downs (still do... my 7 year old calls them 'handy-downs', and they are really handy!) and thrift store finds. Friends from church passed around baby equipment like swings, high-chairs, cribs, etc.

Erik mentioned buying clothes big, which reminded me of something... wash and dry all your baby clothes ahead of time. Sometimes they shrink. You don't want to see your little sweetie FINALLY grow into that oh-so-precious outfit, wear it ONCE, and then have it shrink in the wash and be too small. Oops.

I know others have weighed in on the bottle and breast pump issue, and I'll throw in my two cents also.

I know your mother hand-expressed, and I know it is *possible*. But it's painful and inefficient. It's quite easy to cause bruising and swelling - not helpful! If you don't want to buy a breast pump, or can't find one used, maybe you could borrow one from a friend? "Just in case..."

With my first baby, my milk came in late in the day, and by night-time I was fully engorged and he couldn't latch on. Very painful for me, and very frustrating for a really hungry little guy! I couldn't hand-express enough to 'work' for either of us. In my PRIDE, ("I'll only breastfeed!") I did not have a pump, or any formula.

Thank the Lord I had a friend I could call in the middle of the night, who came over in her pajamas with a breast pump and a bottle with a couple ounces of formula!

While I relieved some pressure (!!!) she fed the baby a little formula. He calmed down enough to be willing to participate in trying to nurse, and I could breathe again!

Okay, I'm laughing a little as I remember this, but the situation was pretty unpleasant at the time.

Honestly, Anna, the whole "nipple confusion" issue is HUGELY over-rated.

I'll probably get some nasty comments because I said that, but it's true.

"Lactation consultants" (aka "boob nazis") would have you believe that if you ever give your baby a bottle, she'll refuse the breast. (Nonsense.) Or that, *gasp!*, God forbid that your baby's delicate system should ever be contaminated by man-made formula!

Okay, I'm getting just a wee bit sarcastic there. Sorry...

Yes, we all know that breast feeding is healthier, but there's quite an obsession (practically a cult) which has developed around childbirth and breastfeeding, that has a lot more to do with validating the mom's identity and ideals, than what is actually healthy and practical.

For instance, your baby can get all the benefits of breastfeeding, and still *occasionally* take a bottle of formula. And there may be benefits to this... Dad can sometimes feed the baby, and you could - once in a while - leave the baby for a few hours, or sleep through the night (once in awhile!) before the baby does :0)

But, if you do NOT expose your infant to the bottle (at least once in awhile) you may find that she refuses the bottle entirely. (I've seen that happen more than once, much to the mother's frustration, when the baby is a few months old and Mom wants to get away for an evening.)

Anna, you have a lot of wisdom, which I admire and respect. You are wise beyond your years and experience. You also have a lot of idealism, which I don't want to trample :0)

I guess I want to gently warn you, that, like most mothers, you will get parenting advice from all over the spectrum, and there is false pride to be found at both ends.

Being a mother is hard (and wonderful!) work! Relas, and don't let "minors" turn into "majors". If you end up needing medication during the birth, your baby will never know or remember. If you end up needing a surgical delivery for some reason, (a disappointment, I know), thank God that we have good medical care. If your baby ends up having a bottle of formula once in awhile, rejoice that quality formula can be had! If a pacifier 'buys' you a few minutes' peace, to get dinner prepared, again, rejoice with thankfulness :0)

Those are not the things that will ultimately matter, in the long run.

Wishing you and your family well,


Hilde said...

Lots of
the "Baby stuff" are of bad quality and just plain ugly! The photo you used as illustration is an excellent examole for this style. You are so right to concentrate on what is really necessary, and this is above all time and love!
Best wishes

Viv said...

I'm glad you have so much good information about breastfeeding. Especially after the horrible episode recently in China, and even some of the baby formulas we have here in NZ come from there.

I have a small hand pump here. No use to me anymore (I'm happy to say Cam weaned 2 months ago at 2y 2mths). I will pop it in with the nappies I'm sending you. Just in case. Have faith in yourself ! It goes a long way towards success.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Thanks again for the input, ladies!! I appreciate everyone's different experiences and opinions.

I usually see moms change babies on the bed, not the floor, too. My sister-in-law does it at her home, at her parents' home, and at our home. I would never expect her to change baby on the floor while visiting with us.

About bottle/breast: I don't think a baby will never take a breast if she gets a bottle once in a while. After all, I ate from a bottle for the entire first month of my life, and then my mother breastfed for another year without any problems. I think many mothers of preemies had similar experience. What I meant is that I want to avoid giving bottle *until I see for myself breastfeeding is already well established*. I know babies get bottles in hospital in their first few days of life, sometimes against their parents' explicit wishes.

If all goes well, breast is more convenient than bottle anyway. :o)

Anyway, it looks like I'm going to have a milk pump in any case, so thanks a lot Viv!! :o)

*Not buying* is not entirely an issue of money. There's stuff I can honestly say I wouldn't take for free (a collection of rubber ducks, anyone? :o)) because I *don't have the room to store it*. That's why, for example, we don't have a changing table - people are giving them away, but the baby's room is tiny, and I'm even more frugal with space than with money.

Lori said...

Julie - a woman after my own heart! Lactation consutlants can be NASTY. It is actually like a substitute religion for some of them. I'll spare you all my own experiences. But thank you for saying that (no offense to any nice, non-nasty lactation consultants who may be here. This dosen't apply to you) I don't think anyone mentioned this yet, but with a baby in the house, a nightlight or two will be pretty handy. They give you just enough light to do what you need to do without hurting the sleepy eyes or disturbing sleep. Best wishes!

Erik said...

Am I missing something? Why is everyone changing babies on the floor? Isn't that what beds were made for?

I used the bed until Lil Bear got too squirmy, so we switched to the floor, and once I could trust him to not roll himself off the bed we switched back to the bed. Its peace of mind and a stubborn insistence that I am NOT too old to get on the floor. (o=

Amy said...

Dear Anna,

The only things I'd add to your "must haves" are a boppy - it's one of those lap pillows for nursing moms that wraps around your waist - and some basic kid meds (simethicone for gas, tylenol) because these things always happen at 2am. Little diaper stations with wipes and whatnot where you're going to spend most of your nursing and snuggling time will be well used too.

Otherwise? My two kids survived the dreaded "being changed on the floor on a blanket" and never even looked at their cribs until they were 4 or 5 months old and we were no longer co-napping as well as co-sleeping.

You've a good head on your shoulders and will be a good mom. :)

Gombojav Tribe said...

It's true that a baby may not take to a bottle if not introduced early. But, not to sound sarcastic, "so what?" My kids (five so far and one on the way) have never had bottles. They weaned directly to sippy cups and regular cups. Even when they were very small they learned to drink from a cup if for some bizarre reason I had to be away from them. But that just didn't happen very often. I do own ONE bottle "just in case." It's been gathering dust in the upper regions of the kitchen cupboards for years now. :-)

I got a breast pump with my first baby. It broke after I used it one time. So, I learned from the Mongolian women in my church that hand expressing works just as good in a pinch and is actually safer for the breast and nipple. Of course it's not very efficiant if you need to express a lot and go back to work or something. But for the occaisional pumping, hand expressing works great once you get the knack of it. And hey, hands are cheaper too! :-)

Michele said...

I absolutely agree. And I found that the newer things I bought that weren't needed right then as infants, I bought with the future in mind - things that would be used for years to come. A set of good quality drawers that could stand up to toddler/elementary aged abuse for example. My thinking with both my boys has usually been "will they use it in the future" and "can it stand up to the abuse" and "will it make our life more peaceful to have it." Nearly everything is second hand - I mean, really. Small ones are going to end up with all kinds of bodily fluids on it, and older ones are going to abuse it in their play. No matter what the item is, let's face it... Kids are messy, and playful. I'd rather make my purchases based on that, rather than expensive NEW stuff that I have to be stressed about "ruining." I want to USE it.

Lady M said...

I have to defend the LC's. I am so very, very grateful to the LC at our hospital. We did not know that our newborn son had a "short palate" and was not latching properly until we saw her – when Baby G was 2 weeks old and losing weight. The Ped. wanted to put him on all formula (he did not catch the palate issue, of course) - after all, I won't be a "bad" mom if I cannot breastfeed - sigh. And yet, I had successfully breastfed my older 2 for well over a year each – and he knew that!

The LC was fabulous and helped me work out how to make certain we were able to give him breastmilk and keep him used to the breast while still giving him bottle (used the supplementer & shield together). LC's are not all bad, that is for certain. I am so annoyed with the Dr's immediate jump to formula, rather than wanting to find out the issue with the nursing. At 10 weeks, we are down to two 4-5 ounce bottles a day and the rest he gets straight from me. I will say, the Avent ISIS manual pump I bought 10 years ago to have on hand (hardly used it with the other 2) has held up like a trooper and deserves a nice rest soon, lol, and I was having to pump EVERY feeding for a month.

I think, too, the reason LC's are so adamant with trying to get nursing established is that it is SOooo easy to just say, "oh, this is too hard" and give up and buy formula, rather than give it a good go at the natural & best food choice. I mean, really, the formula companies have really worked hard to make everyone think that formula is just as good as breastmilk - and it is really a far distant second to the real deal. An interesting comment from the LC, she said that 20 years ago, they did not have as many "not wanting to nurse" issues as they have now. She said it is almost like the babies know there is something else out there to eat other than having to work a little harder to get it from Mom. I know formula got its start back a long, long time ago, but we know so much more now. And with the contamination issues (even here in the USA!), I cannot imagine what kind of worry must be going through the mom’s who use formula right now. I am so blessed that I have been able/willing to breastfeed.

Yes, the last 2 months have been exhausting & yes, at around 2-3 AM, that formula sample looks VERY tempting (as you are pumping the next feeding while hubby feeds the current one), but G-d got us through it and Baby G weighs over 12 lbs and has lovely baby fat rolls!

Mandi said...

Amen Julie, Amen! The boob nazis are everywhere.
My "lactation consultant" was very aggressive and forceful with me and with my tiny preemie boy. Very off-putting. And since I didn't successfully breastfeed either of my boys, I am, of course, the worst mother in the world.
Practically a cult indeed.
I don't know about Israel but here in the US women who don't breastfeed are one step above child-abusers.
Breastfeeding = ideal in most situations.
Formula-feeding = the best option in other situations.
I'm just really grateful that the science has progressed to the point that babies that might not have thrived due to breastfeeding difficulties now can do really well on a balanced formula.

Karen said...

You are absolutely right. So many people go waaay overboard buying stuff that will be used for a couple of months at best, gather dust on a shelf at worst. They are only little for such a short time!

I love a cute baby outfit, but I also realize it's more for my benefit than hers. She takes one look at it and couldn't care less. :)

Anonymous said...

I agree with what you have wrote. I jsut had my eighth a year ago and we bought a few replacement items for things that had worn out, but not much.

I have never had a nursery to decorate, changing table, or many of the other items so commonly listed as "necesities." )And i find those hooded towels annoying). I don't even have a crib anymore (wore two out). Little One slept with me for two months, in the cradle by my bed for another four and in a play pen now.

You are taking the wise course.

(by the way, the item voted "most useless" by some organization or other, the wipes warmer, is wonderful for keeping wet wah rage in and ready for use. This is helpful when you have a young child you can send for a rag when you need it! Just the right temprature:-)

Anonymous said...

I haven't read all the comments so forgive this if it is a repeat.

I think the reason there is so much trouble breastfeeding these days (when our ancestors obviously didn't have a problem) is that we don't know how to do it. I know that sounds weird, but we all know how to hold a baby while bottle feeding and what a proper latch on a bottle looks like because of the media. but how many have seen a baby actually nursing at the breast before they tried it themselves? You don't hold the baby the same way and they don't latch on the same. Our ancestors grew up watching babies eat at the breast and just knew how to do it. we don't have that advantage and it is making way more problems than our fore-mothers ever even dreamed of.

Warbler said...

My list of "must haves" besides the obvious diapers, clothes etc.

A sling or back carrier definitely, if you plan to go shopping at all
A big bag that can hold diapers, two changes of clothing, wipes, and can expand for other kids as well
a high chair that can slide up to the table/a high chair that goes on the table

I have found, after many years of fussy babies in the night that the rocking chair is a mother's best friend!

Anonymous said...

Without my mother, just my husband and myself--I didn't even think of all these lactation issues 20-30 yrs ago. I just knew that breastfeeding was better for babies' health and a chance to bond with one's own tyke. So, I breastfed when I could and used the bottle when I couldn't and my first child suckled until age 2 or 3 yrs and my second until 7 months when he decided 'no more', and sometimes, at work, when I heard a baby crying, there was was 'letdown', which was embarrassing until I thought of using something to sop up the milk. Nowadays, it is a little irritating that some new mothers at work all manner of half-hour and longer nursing breaks to go upstairs to a room set aside for milking. Breaks are fine and good, but some women 'milk' the system to get out of doing their fair share. It's their choice to work, so don't whine about it.

As for Erik's advice about the receiving blankets, never get enough of them, as they've many and voluminous uses, as changing surfaces, burp cloths, swaddling, and not the least is to protect the surface of where a bare-bottomed little one might soak up some Vitamin D.

I'd not recommend any specific thing to do, just reassure Mom-to-be that she's a level head on her shoulders, be sure to get some good sleep when she can, keep things clean and 'contaminants' out of the air and environment if possible (to decrease atopy in susceptible individuals) and try to out-think the exploratory nature of a child of G-d.

Miss Rose Virginia said...

I completely agree with you, Anna. My mom's response when I tell her these things is, "Don't you want the best for your children?" (F.Y.I. I'm not married, and I don't have children, but when I do, I want to live simply and frugally, so I discuss these things with my mom.) Anyway, of course I want the best for my prospective children! I want them to be warm, well fed, healthy, well-educated (by me), close to God, and happy! But I don't think they have to have a brand new crib, clothes, toys, truck-loads of disposable diapers, and all those other things to be so.