If you’re a minimalist without kids and you’re thinking about having kids, there’s something you should know. It’s hard to remain a minimalist with children in the mix. Kids take space. Kids have needs. Kids see what all their friends have. I can guarantee you that they’ll want more, more, more. But start out with a minimalist baby and you’ll set the stage.
I’m a single dad to a ten-year-old girl, Annie. I’ll admit. She has too much stuff. Her room is the most cluttered in the house. It happens. Our culture promotes it. Before your child is born, kind-hearted people give you loads of stuff. Each birthday is a toyfest. The stuff builds up.
Through it all, I learned something about keeping things simple with infants and toddlers. It’s easy. Because at that point, you still have full control. Infants and toddlers don’t need a lot. Let’s see how we can keep their basic needs simple:
The Minimalist Baby
- Bedding: A crib is important. It teaches your child to sleep independently. It keeps them safe while they sleep. I found a used crib on Craigslist for about $50. I set it up in my own room for the first year. This makes midnight feeding and changing easier. It also cancelled the need for baby monitors. You might want two sets of bedding to make sure baby always has a warm, clean place to sleep.
- High chair: When Annie was first born, she was given a fancy high chair. After a few road trips, I bought one of these from Ikea. This chair is simple, efficient and portable. Why would you want anything more?
- Stroller: Annie was also given a fancy stroller. It was huge. It barely fit in the trunk. Umbrella strollers are less expensive and more convenient. I think I paid less than $30 for Annie’s. We went from Seattle to Houston and back by car. Compact high chairs and strollers were a godsend.
- Storage: I used a cool, black, backpack diaper bag I found at Toys r Us. (I don’t think the one in the link is the same bag.) This was one of my favorite pieces of baby equipment. It came with a small changing pad. There’s no need for a changing table. A simple pad works anywhere. The bag had compartments for changing supplies, bottles, and cold storage for food. It was lightweight and worked well for a traveling man with a baby. For the home, a simple set of plastic storage drawers worked for all of Annie’s clothes and diapers.
- Toys: Babies and toddlers don’t require many toys. My mom tells me stories about how we were so poor when my younger brother and sister were babies, that she let them play with plastic kitchen utensils and bowls. They loved it. The point isn’t that we shouldn’t get our children toys. The point is that kids have too many toys. Keep toys minimal. Once they outgrow them, they become excess. Go through your child’s room regularly to thin out the unused toys. They’ll never know anything is missing.
- Clothes: Like toys, your baby doesn’t need loads of clothes. They will grow so quickly you’ll be scrambling to give old clothes away. Any more than 5-7 sets of clothes is unnecessary. You’ll discover that the excess clothes rarely get used.
- Food: I never had more than two bottles, two sippy cups, and two sets of baby or toddler dishes. I saw little point in having any more. Just keep things clean regularly. As for the food itself, I cooked as many foods as possible that could be shared with Annie rather than buying separate baby foods. This saved money and was more healthy for baby.
Here’s Looking At You, Baby
If you’re a minimalist and you’re thinking about having kids, keep these things in mind. Go minimalist baby! As your children grow, there are different sets of challenges. I still struggle to teach Annie to appreciate less rather than to want more. I hope she will understand in time.
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