Being a minimalist, having a curated home, living simply or living slowly …or whatever you want to call it is totally possible once you bring a tiny human into your life. It’s also not impossible to find plastic-free, eco-friendly baby items.
This post is for the real life modern family, not a fantasy list for Instagram-perfect parents. This is for the family aspiring to minimalism and zero waste, not aspiring to perfection.
I provide examples of what you can do and reveal exactly what we did. In the face of budget and other parameters, we made compromises. The truth is, though, we are so happy with the lifestyle we are able to lead with our children. We continue to be incredibly mindful of each and every item that comes into our children’s lives and since it’s now a habit to think critically about whether the item is eco-friendly and fits with our minimalist goals and aesthetic, it’s not overwhelming.
I’ve had this post in drafts for approximately 4,000 years. Now that I just welcomed my second child, I thought it was time to finally share my advice. If you’re preparing for a new baby, the lists out there of what you “need” for a baby can be overwhelming. Not to mention what items your mom/aunt/sister/co-worker/friends tell you are must haves.
You’ll notice I mark some items on this list “OPTIONAL” but the truth is, with the exception of a car seat and diapers (and maybe a few other things), anything can be optional.
There is not a single material thing that your baby or child needs from you besides love, food and shelter. There are a lot of things that make life a little easier and perhaps more fun, but essentially, if you focus on showing your family (and yourself!) love …and giving nourishment and providing safety and comfort, you’re all set.
I will admit that – perhaps due to clever marketing, perhaps due to hormones and emotions that flooded my body during and after pregnancy – there were times the thought entered my mind that I needed certain STUFF in order to be a good mom.
I am a good mom because I’m a good mom, not because of the brand/style/cost of _____ (<—whatever) product for baby.
Here I’m sharing what we did and what worked for us, not necessarily what is perfect f0r everyone. In fact, I’m sure we’d make tweaks to lots of our decisions if we could “go back” and “do things again.” Hindsight is 20/20 and I just have to let some things go. This list might not be minimal enough for some people and too minimal for others.
I provide shopping links throughout the post in order to help those curious with the products we actually used and liked. Are they always the best option for your family? Maybe or maybe not, but I hope it helps some of you get an idea of what a real-life family with a real-life budget and other parameters used.
This is a gigantic post with lots of links and I go into detail about why each item is on the list. Grab some tea and settle in. Or bookmark or pin for later.
The truth is I sometimes aired on the side of minimalism too much and got caught unprepared or with too few things on occasion. A couple slightly frantic in person and online shopping trips helped me fill in the gaps. Knowing what I know now, would I possibly have had those things to begin with? Not necessarily. There are some needs that pop up because of your particular unique situation and baby and cannot be anticipated. I know, you might not want to hear that. You might want to be 100% prepared in advance for any situation. Babies are all different. You might have a baby that drools a lot, or not. You might end up bottle feeding more than you thought you would… or not as much.
Minimalism and being environmentally conscious are inextricably linked in my mind. The more conscious and mindful you are about each item and the less you bring into your home (and subsequently toss out), the better it is for our planet. The two most important things I kept in mind when building my baby registry and list of needs for our baby were 1) materials used and 2) the environmental and personal impact of the item. Natural materials like wood, glass, wool and natural rubber are less toxic during production, better for the workers, better for the health of your home environment and less of a burden on the planet at the end of their useful life.
Avoid plastic and go for natural materials as much as your budget allows. Buy secondhand or accept hand-me-downs whenever possible.
I sometimes drove myself nuts trying to find the most eco-friendly and non-toxic options only to be upset that exactly what I wanted didn’t exist, or didn’t exist anywhere near my price range.
There are two big things to keep in mind when building a minimalist, eco-friendly baby registry.
ONE: Ask your close family and friends if they have any of these items to hand down to you. With a little bit of elbow grease and a non-toxic cleaner, pretty much anything can be spiffed up to like-new condition. Babies use a lot of things for only a short time, so you’ll likely find a lot of hand-me-down items are in like-new condition without any need for elbow-grease at all. For things like mattresses, mattress pads, etc. I prefer to know the person and household I’m getting the item from, but you can also find pretty much anything for baby in great condition at local consignment stores, from local swap sites or Facebook groups, or even via eBay. If you are looking for a very specific model/color of an item, hand-me-downs may not be a good choice, but ask around anyway. You might be surprised that a friend sees the specific thing you want pop up on a local buying/selling group. It’s usually worth it to try to find something used for the cost savings alone, but it also has a great impact on the environment. The less we buy new, the better for our planet.
TWO: Create a baby registry with items that will help you care for your beautiful new baby for the first year and beyond. Focus on multi-purpose items and things that can grow with your baby. When family and friends want to give you something for the baby, direct them to your registry. It might feel a bit awkward at first but most people want to celebrate and prepare for your baby in a way that is most helpful. A registry aids immensely in stemming the tide of baby items that you might not want or need from entering your home. For a registry website, we liked BabyList because you can add items from any store/website and you can add a description, which is helpful if friends and family aren’t familiar with a specific thing you are asking for. You can also add comments and items from anywhere if you Create an Amazon Baby Registry. Also in the note for a particular item you can again express that you’d be happy to get this item secondhand. While some family and friends will not feel comfortable with that, others will welcome the chance.
Now for the nuts and bolts registry checklist! I also made the list into a Google doc without all of my notes if you’d like to print it out or save it that way.
- Car seat
You must have a car seat, even if you don’t have a car. A baby needs to be in a car seat to safely ride in a cab or bus, too. This is one hunk of plastic that’s pretty unavoidable, unfortunately. It is also difficult to avoid flame retardants. There are some less toxic, more eco-friendly seats out there, but their improvements on the standard seats are minimal. While the safety of car seats has improved in terms of design and materials in recent years, as far as I am aware, there are no car seats currently available that are 100% free of flame retardants and other potential toxins in the foam, etc. Two models that are considered much less toxic according to the 2016 Ecology Center Report are: Britax USA Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat and the Maxi Cosi Pria 70 Convertible Car Seat.TIPS:
1) Try out a few models in your car if you can. Our car limited our options, unfortunately.
2) If you do get a car seat as a hand-me-down from a family member or friend, make sure it isn’t expiring soon.
- Baby carrier or babywearing wrap (or both!)This is not optional in my mind. You can wear your baby inside, outside, while traveling, while cooking. It’s a versatile, affordable, lovely way to both bond with your baby and it helps immeasurably with getting through daily life tasks. I try not to leave my baby in the car seat while outside the car (see above re: hard to find an actual non-toxic seat option) so I “wear” her when out and about.There’s lots of great and slightly overwhelming advice out there about babywearing. I have a soft stretchy wrap for the newborn to ~5/6 month phase and a soft structured carrier by Beco that can be worn on the front or back, which is great for older babies. Beco baby carriers are made with 100% organic cotton, and they use 100% recycled packaging printed with soy-based inks. You don’t have to spend a lot or get something “complicated” though – my husband really loves this “mei tai” style carrier because it’s basically a cross between a wrap and a carrier. It’s inexpensive but has held up really well for us.If you can borrow or try on – or at least touch and feel – some carriers before you bring one into your home, that’s ideal. Check out local store offerings and see if there’s a babywearing meetup or Babywearing International chapter in your area. Thanks to friends in the babywearing community, I’m thinking of getting a ring sling like this to replace my soft stretchy wrap once my youngest grows out of it. Many carriers are made from eco-friendly, non-toxic materials like organic linen. In my experience, structured carriers with straps all have plastic components, so if you’re trying to go entirely plastic-free, opt for an organic woven wrap or a ring sling.
- OPTIONAL: Stroller
Yes, I believe that a stroller is optional, especially if you plan to wear your baby. If you do feel you need one right away to best fit your lifestyle, a stroller is an excellent item to buy used. Top-quality eco-friendly brands can be pricey and a secondhand model will still have a lot of life left. The exception in my mind to the “optional” and “buy used” tags is if you know you will want to jog with the baby in a stroller or you want a double stroller for two kids.Like car seats, it can be difficult to find totally non-toxic strollers as most companies use flame retardents and plastics/foams that are potentially toxic. In terms of eco-friendly, non-toxic options, the Bumbleride Indie is highly rated. You can read more about their fabrics here. We have a stroller that was generously gifted to us by a family member, but we didn’t start to use it until our daughter was close to a year old. At that point it was really useful – she even went through a stage where she would only nap in the stroller. Yikes! Not ideal, but, it worked. We do like the stroller we have – mostly because I found out after testing it out at a store that it’s really ridiculously easy to fold flat. You pull a strap with minimal effort and voila, small enough to fit anywhere.
Good news for those of us who didn’t get a very eco-friendly stroller: According to this post from TotScoop, if you already own a stroller with flame retardants, you can reduce them by leaving it outside in the sun for a few days and/or by washing the cover with soap (not laundry detergent).
Good quality, like-new baby clothing is very (very!) easy to find secondhand so there’s really no reason to buy new. I promise you and family/friends will still have many “omgthisissocute I HAVE to have it!” moments even at a consignment store. It saves money and dramatically reduces your environmental impact. Plan to buy items yourself or ask close family and friends for hand me down or secondhand clothing. If you do want to include some new items on your registry, I recommend adding high-quality, organic clothing or other types of clothing that might be more difficult to track down at consignment stores or online (ex: thredUp).
We only registered for a few clothing-related items. We asked for a Patagonia snow suit that was recommended by the Car Seat Lady to be safe in a carseat, organic merino wool clothing items (one of our favorite brands: Nui Organics) and a merino wool sleepsack good up to 2 years old. They’re a great way to keep baby warm and comfortable without needing to put a blanket on them which can be a safety concern and they can kick it off. We ended up buying the organic wool sleep sack ourselves via ebay.
Parents sometimes develop preferences for how to dress their baby. Some people always put on a short-sleeve onesie or shirt as the base layer. Others love “play suits” aka footed pajamas only. These come with zippers, snaps, buttons. Then there’s the pajama “gown” style for really easy overnight diaper changes … but they won’t work that well in a car seat. Some prefer separates like tiny jeans or pants and shirts. Try to think about how you’ll be spending those first days and do your best to plan. But really, you’ll develop preferences once the baby arrives so in my opinion, don’t stress if you’re only stocked on smaller sizes (newborn, 0- months and 3-6 month) at first. If bigger sizes are gifted or handed down, though, that’s great!
Here’s a basic “baby capsule wardrobe” that will work for most climates – a onesie/body suit can be layered under pajamas or be an outfit on their own on warm days.
- 4-5 sets (pairs?) of footed pajamas – sometimes called “playsuits”
- 3-5 onesies/body suits – short sleeve
- 3 onesies/body suits – long sleeve
- 3-5 pairs pants (with or without the built-in feet. We found that our kids grew out of the footed options more quickly, though.)
- 1-2 sleep “gowns” like this
- 5-7 pairs of baby socks
This brand is my favorite, the only ones that don’t fall off as easily in my (and many other parents) experience. It’s a bit of a bummer that they make them so gender-ized but there are some more subtle options including plain white.
- OR just get a pair or two of Zutano booties
These are our favorite boots/socks because they are great inside and out and they DO NOT FALL OFF. Ever. They are pricey new but relatively easy to find secondhand (<—like on ebay) and in B/S/T Facebook groups. We survived easily with only one pair per size. They are available in fleece and lighter-weight fabric.
- Seasonal items
Snowsuit (<— ebay is a great option for this!)
A note for winter babies (both of mine were): Instead of bundling up your baby in a huge amount of snow gear, get some lightweight layers (merino wool is great, but your kiddo will be fine in fleece or cotton layers, t00) on them and then add a blanket in the car seat or stroller. We would layer a muslin swaddle blanket and a thicker knit or fleece blanket on top. If you’re wearing your baby in a carrier or wrap, your body heat and theirs should be more than enough to keep you warm on a walk. If after the baby is born you decide to go on more hikes or are out for longer stretches, you can invest in a babywearing coat or coat extender. Look for these secondhand, again as many parents only use these for a short time and are ready to pass them along.
Check out this post on my family’s cloth diapering set up for all the details about the brands and products we use, how we store our diapers, etc. Lots of good questions in the comments, too so check those out.
- Cloth diaper sets*
The word “SET” is important here. Family members unfamiliar with modern cloth diapers will be more likely to buy a set of 3 or 6 (or 12) diapers than be willing to add a whole bunch of individual diapers to their cart. The Green Nursery was where we registered for sets of 6 and 12, but there are other cloth diaper websites out there that offer similar bundles. Sometimes the sets are even a better deal – buy 5 get 1 free, etc.
- Individual cloth diapers*
We registered for a few more specialty diapers individually. You can again use the description box on your registry to explain why these items are listed by themselves. Nighttime fitteds, wool covers, etc.
- Natural material inserts/absorbers*
Natural materials like hemp, bamboo, cotton are much more functional in a diaper than microfiber or other manufactured materials. Our favorites still after diapering two kids are Thirsties Duo Hemp Prefolds (consistently less expensive on Sweetbottoms Baby and other smaller shops than on Amazon, btw) and Geffen Baby Super Absorbers Plus and/or Jersey Prefolds.
- Wet bags*
One larger pail liner/hanging bag, one large zippered bag (this is the one we have and love) and one or two smaller zippered wet bags are the minimum you’ll need for at home and on the go. Eventually we expanded our collection to have two pail liners for each of the pails in our home – the nursery and the bathroom. That way we have a liner ready to use when one’s in the wash. We also have 4-5 smaller bags for the diaper bag. If you will have more diaper pails or are out/on the go a lot, get more bags of various sizes. I hesitate to to ever say “you can never have too many” but in this one case, it might be true. Wet/dry bags can be used for the child’s entire life to corral wet clothes or other items – at school, at the beach, etc.
- Cloth wipes + spray bottle
If you’re already washing cloth diapers, using cloth wipes instead of disposable wipes is a no-brainer. Plus you’ll find that they come in handy for lots of other non-diapering uses.
- Changing pad
Not necessary but nice to have. Like mattresses, the organic and non-toxic changing pad options can be pricey. For a while we changed our baby on the bed (sit on the bed to avoid back strain) but we inherited a pad from a family member and plopped it on top of a dresser. Again, like anything of this nature, one that’s been used for a while and has off-gassed is okay in my mind. If you do decide to use a contoured pad, make sure you have 2-3 covers on hand for inevitable explosions of bodily fluids. Gross but true. We really liked the plush “velour” covers.
- Diaper bag
There are lots of great options out there, but it’s also easy to get overwhelmed. We like the bag we have by SoYoung because it’s well made with non-toxic materials, but we also just use a regular adult-y backpack (this is the one we love!) that we load up with kid stuff. You can find lots of really cool bags out there using eco-friendly materials but in my opinion, it makes the most sense for the planet and your streamlined home to use a bag/backpack you already own! TIP: Add some small bags to aid in organization when using a backpack or tote that you already own to avoid “black hole” syndrome.
- Diaper cream
It’s really not necessary to use a diaper cream at every change. If your wash routine is good and you are changing your baby regularly, wiping them up thoroughly and letting them air dry, their bum should be all set. However, if you want a little something to soothe or you want a bit of a barrier between your baby’s skin and the diaper and urine, etc. due to sensitivity (our oldest was urine sensitive for a spell), check out my recipe for an easy eco-friendly and cloth-safe cream. Also pure organic shea butter (this is the one we use – but note it comes in a plastic tub) is great for babies.
High quality cribs are easy to find secondhand. If the aesthetic doesn’t meet what you’re looking for, update the color with non-toxic, baby-safe milk paints.
Organic, non-toxic crib mattresses are widely available. This is one of the most popular. They can be pricey but they can often be used for a few years especially if your crib converts to a toddler bed. A secondhand (from a family member/friend) mattress is a good option, because even if it’s not organic it will have off-gassed a lot already.
- 3 crib sheets
Accidents happen, sometimes twice in a row. Having 3 sheets on hand is helpful and useful, even for a minimalist.
- Video or sound monitor
A video monitor may sound like it’s unnecessary but it is a huge favorite of mine and my husbands. We have the camera by Nest (formerly Dropcam) because it can be used anywhere, isn’t specifically designed for babies and was really simple to set up securely, but there are lots of other great options out there. I might sound like a broken record at this point, but this is another item that can be acquired secondhand. Ask around your networks first and then search local sales and eBay, etc.
- Someplace for your newborn baby to sleep
There are lots of safe options for where baby can sleep as long as they sleep on their back on a firm mattress without any loose fabrics or cushions (including crib bumpers.) Disclosure: I am not an infant expert – please discuss safe sleep with your pediatrician.We have a decidedly not very eco-friendly Pack N Play that has a bassinet attachment (basically something to raise the mattress up so it’s better for a newborn). I snuggle it right next to my side of the bed, almost like a co-sleeper. It’s a bit harder to find a non-toxic option for this category, but the Guava Lotus is a good one. Maybe you’re planning on co-sleeping or have other sleeping ideas in mind, but you’ll still likely use a play yard down the road for traveling with an infant and toddler, so for us it was a no-brainer to acquire. Also it stores relatively compact so it shouldn’t be too much of a burden, even in a small space, when it’s not in use.Using a mini crib, moses basket or wooden co-sleeper that you attach to the bed (here are some other cute ones via Etsy) are other options a lot of minimalist, eco-conscious parents recommend.
- OPTIONAL: Someplace to put your baby
It’s nice to have someplace to put your baby down. Like while you pee or take a shower, which will have to happen at some point! The most eco-friendly and minimalist place is … the floor! Reason #1: No baby has ever fallen off the floor. Reason #2: The floor is everywhere, and all you have to add is a couple blankets or padded mat/rug. This company also makes some really cool-looking and versatile baby/kid mats but I haven’t yet purchased one and tried it in my home so I can’t give a review.If at all possible, borrow a swing/chair/seat/bouncer from a friend or neighbor to see if your kid actually likes the thing before you go out and buy one. I realize that is not always possible, but it’s something to consider if you’d prefer to keep the (likely plastic) baby furniture to a minimum.We have the not-so-eco-friendly Rock and Play (the “SnuggaPuppy” model that we have is on sale as of publishing) and the truth is that both of our daughters like it.Since we now live in a two-story house, we wanted two “places to put the baby” besides the floor. Because dogs. And toddlers. So, we got the Baby Bjorn baby bouncer secondhand via Craigslist. We like that it is battery free. And it uses materials approved by Oeko-Tex Standard 100 so it’s a good non-toxic option if you want/need to buy it new, too.Another eco-friendly, minimalist bouncer is the Nuna Leaf (and it’s cousin the Leaf curv). Both are made with non-toxic, organic fabrics and insert materials.
- 4+ Muslin swaddle blankets and swaddlers
You see muslin swaddle blankets everywhere for good reason. You can use them to swaddle your baby for good sleep in the early days, to cover your baby from sun, to sop up baby spit-up, to use on grass as a picnic blanket, or for tummy time, and the list goes on. Get at least 4 and up to 8 of the basic blankets as you’ll definitely use them (and abuse them!) frequently. There are varying opinions out there on which brands and styles are best for swaddlers, which basically serve the same purpose as a muslin blanket but come with a way to secure the baby inside without needing to know origami. These swaddlers with built-in straps/secures are very popular: Miracle Blanket, SwaddleMe (organic!) and we used this one. Don’t stress. They are all pretty similar. Get them secondhand or as a hand-me-down if possible. The only thing I’ll say is to avoid any made from thicker materials or fleece. Lightweight layers is best for baby in my experience. You can always tuck a thicker blanket lower around their waist and add layers of clothing underneath the swaddle blanket if more warmth is needed. In my experience in cold Vermont with two babies born during the season, you don’t need a “warm” swaddler. Just layer up!
- OPTIONAL: Pacifier
You may not want to use a pacifier with your baby but if you do, look for natural rubber first – EcoPiggy and Natursutten are the main makers of these. But, if you’re set on giving your kid a pacifier, you might have to try different ones to find a model your baby will like. The “Soothie” by Philips Avent and the “Gumdrop” by The First Years are the conventional pacifiers that were recommended to us by a lactation consultant and nurse. No judgement – our first daughter was not interested in a pacifier to help her self-sooth but our second sometimes chooses it over the breast (because she’s not looking for milk, she’s tired and wants to sleep). Before I had kids I thought I’d never offer them pacifiers but I changed my mind after talking to a lactation consultant about them. Do what you feel comfortable with for you and your family. 🙂
- OPTIONAL: Nursing pillow
The best in terms of functionality in my opinion is the My Brest Friend, but please note it’s not the most non-toxic option even if you get their organic cover. There are a few organic, non-toxic options available, like this one that is shaped like a “Boppy.” Many minimalists swear by not needing a specific breastfeeding pillow at all. If you want to go that route and just side-lie or use your bed pillows, go for it. For me, it helped my technique and confidence tremendously to use the My Brest Friend. Do what’s best for your family and your comfort as a mom!
- High chair
If you don’t want to hold your baby on your lap forever, get a place for them to safely eat after they’re around 6 months old. There are lots of beautiful wooden high chair options out there. High-quality wooden high chairs tend to hold up well even through multiple children and are therefore very easy to find secondhand. Check craigslist, local Facebook kids buy/sell groups and ask family and friends. We got a nice locally-made wooden highchair from a swap group for $20. It was unfinished wood and we had big plans to paint it, but have so far kept it natural. If you don’t want to take up floor space with a traditional high chair, get a clip-on/travel one. Just make sure it will work with your dining table (we learned this the hard way.) There aren’t many great non-toxic options in this category that I’ve been able to confirm. We have this one by Inglesina and like it a lot and it’s certainly not made with the most eco-friendly materials.
- OPTIONAL: Burp cloths and bibs
You don’t have to get anything special here. Some people swear by using a dish towel tied behind their baby’s neck. Voila! Eco friendly and definitely minimalist. If you do want something that’s more bib-like but still versatile, we liked these burpy bibs because they are absorbent and their shape makes them easy to sling over your shoulder plus they have a little snap to make it into a bib later. A couple of organic prefold diapers also works incredibly well to catch spit up! For solid food, it’s nice to have a couple of bibs with the pocket at the end, but again, not 100% necessary. We like this brand, made of recycled materials.
Not necessary – babies use their hands to eat for a long time. But if you want to add them to your registry in case a family member or friend wants to gift them to you, look for bamboo and stainless steel. My favorite utensils for early eating and toddlers are by Kiddobloom because they work well (unlike many kid utensils the fork actually spears stuff), feel really nice in your hand and have a good “mouth feel.” Plus literally nothing happens to them while bamboo will end up wearing down a bit with regular use. Read my full review of Kiddobloom here if you want more info.
Our daughter didn’t use bowls or plates for a long time. We just put food right on the table or on a mat for her. A mat like this will protect surfaces in your home and on the go, or grab one with segments for food like the ones by ezpz. A segmented plate made from bamboo or stainless steel are eco-friendly, and beloved by older kids to make mealtime fun. No specialty equipment required, however. We’ve used everything from an old heavy-duty ramekin to an old yogurt jar to serve food to our daughter.
Consult with your doctor/midwife/doula/IBCLC regarding nipple flow and other considerations. We have and like the Dr. Brown’s glass bottles on the recommendation of our lactation consultant, but there are plastic components. It seems the manufacturer isn’t making them any more but you can still get them on Amazon. Pura Stainless makes entirely plastic-free infant bottles. I wish we’d had these when my first was born. The nipple is a medium flow, however, and may not be suitable for newborns. I have an email out to Pura to see if other brands of lower-flow nipples are compatible with their bottles. The absolutely awesome thing about the Pura bottles is that with one quick change you can use them with a sippy top or straw top for the toddler years and a flip top for elementary aged and beyond. These bottles can easily last your kids whole life. Can’t get much more minimalist or eco-friendly than that.
- Baby bath tub
This is not really a necessity since many people swear by a towel in the sink and/or just getting in the big tub with the baby, but it is nice to have a tub for the first few months. However, it might actually *be* a necessity if you only have a stand-up shower. This is an item that should be really easy to get handed down from a family member or friend. In terms of finding something non-toxic, the hard plastic blue tub is actually pretty good according to reports I’ve read. Just avoid anything inflatable because it’s likely made with toxic plastics. Read more about baby tubs in this post by The Soft Landing.
- Something to wash your baby with
Get “baby wash cloths” if you want, but in my opinion just get some flannel cloth wipes. They will be soft on newborns and useful down the road for diapering and cleaning up a myriad of other messes, not to mention runny noses. A natural sponge is also a great way to go – it’s super soft for baby and, once it starts to break down, you can compost it.
- Something to clean your baby with
There’s really no need for lots of different baby toiletries. I thought I needed one of those sets so I registered for one. Sure, we used it, but it took me practically forcing myself to use up each item. The absolute most versatile baby soap is Dr. Bronner’s Baby Unscented Castile Soap. Register for or buy a big bottle and you’ll use it for years. Dilute it in water in a spray bottle for clean-ups on the go, put it in a pump bottle for baths, and use it to safely clean surfaces and toys/other baby items.
- OPTIONAL: Baby lotion
First: Do not worry about baby’s dry skin for a while. A baby’s skin needs time to figure out how to produce enough oil, etc. But if after a few months you still notice dry areas and want to moisturize, go for an all-natural, versatile oil. My favorites are Sweet Almond Oil and Argan Oil (yes I typically buy mine on Amazon – lots of high quality options, most in glass bottles.) With both of these oils, a little goes a long way. Great for your hands, face and hair, too! Application is a lovely way to give baby a massage. Again, newborns will have dry skin and it should be left alone. It’s tempting to slather your baby up with moisturizer the moment you get home from the hospital, but resist. I’m not a medical professional, though, so please ask your healthcare team to confirm.
We swear by wrapping our babies and kids in big turkish towels (also called “peshtemal”). They are thin yet absorbent. There are likely lots of brick-and-mortar stores near you that sell them, and there are high-quality options available on Amazon, too. Plus you can use this towel for years for baths, showers, picnics, beach time, etc. They’ll probably bring it to college. Joking! Kind of. You might be gifted a hooded baby towel whether you ask for it or not, and they can be great too. But highly unnecessary.
Toys and Books:
I don’t think you need to register for toys and books – people will give you them anyway. However, I recommend registering for a few strategic things that are representative of the kind of things you like. Register for wooden toys, toys that encourage open-ended play, toys that don’t make noise or require batteries. Ask a crafty friend to help you with a wooden baby gym DIY or get a non-toxic one from a trusted company like Plan Toys or HABA. Mention in your reasons for registering for these items in the comments “We love that this set of blocks is made from wood and sealed with beeswax. We know they will be used for years to come!”
Ask for other special gifts that can’t be purchased at a baby store. In some ways asking for gifts at all is a weird practice but the truth is that family and friends want to be a part of your baby’s life and help you welcome them! Asking for babysitting, home-cooked (or take-out/delivery) meals or other things that will help your life with a newborn such as walking your dog or aiding with some other task is a great way to invite loved ones to be a part of this special time without accumulating things you don’t need. If someone really wants to buy something, what about baby yoga classes or a baby music class? Perhaps a pass to a local museum or play space? Those things may not be used right away but are thoughtful and inspiring.
Or what about something for you during those many (many!) hours spent feeding the baby? Maybe Join Amazon Kindle (sign up here for an Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial) and pass the time catching up on all those page-turners you’ve heard about.
Most of the brands and products I recommend are in the links above, but if you want information about what specific brands or models we have or tried for anything listed, feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll give you all the gory details.
Other resources you may want to check out:
The Mindful Home Guide to Non-Toxic Baby Gear
EcoCenter.org Car Seat Study (2016)
Gimme The Good Stuff
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10 thoughts on “How to Build a Minimalist, Eco-Friendly Baby Registry”
I think the Uppababy MESA car seat in Henry is without the chemicals. It’s made of wool which is a natural alternative for flame retardant treated materials. It’s around $350 on amazon.
Great to know – thanks for commenting, Jane.
Sure thing! It’s new! We did opt for one that goes infant to child car seat because budget and minimalist won. 🙂
Thank you so much for your opening statement.
Great list! For the items listed in the clothing section, would you recommend getting that set of items for each size (0-3, 3-6, 6-9, and 9-12)? Sorry – confused and overwhelmed almost-mama trying to make a minimalist registry!
Hey Tina! If you can wait on sizes larger than newborn, 0/3 and 3/6, I say do it. You’ll find out what you and your baby like and you can shop for the future accordingly. But if you want to stock up a bit, or if you have family or friends who want to give gifts, I understand! Maybe go with only 1-2 items from each category in the larger sizes. Hope this helps and feel free to reach out anytime! No question is too big or small 😊
This is such a GREAT list! Thank you! Question about your experience using the Nest cam as a baby monitor…I see a lot of reviews saying the one drawback is that the app doesn’t stay ‘open’ and you can’t hear when your baby is crying like a traditional baby monitor. What was your experience? Did you have a work around for that?
Hi! Yes it is not “always on” like other baby monitors. We set it up so we’d get a movement and sound alert. So we’d get a notification (similar to a text message) and we’d be alerted to open the app. We had one occasion where we were traveling and our rooms weren’t close so we did end up keeping the app open on our phone (with it plugged in!) overnight. I have heard good things about the “lollipop” baby monitor and others. Choose what feels right for you!
As a new mom-to-be, I have been scouring the internet for a resource like this: one that not only goes into detail about eco-friendly items and keeping it minimalist, but also *explains* what all this stuff is for! I keep finding that most websites assume moms already know what all this baby stuff is and what it’s for, but we’re all new to it at some point. Thank you so much!
Thank you for the comment, Chelsea! I’m so glad it’s helpful. Please feel free to come back if you have any other questions!