Keep it Simple
Here’s the thing: you can spend thousands of dollars getting all of the latest greatest for your new arrival but realize that you are doing this for yourself, not your baby. The best thing you can give your new baby is not for sale. I know this sounds like a cliché but it’s the plain old truth. Babies need love and they need you to be relaxed. They don’t care if they’re sleeping in a fancy bed or a plain one nor do they care if the cover on their stroller has been designed by someone famous.
To make a nine month long story short and to get to the point of this article, I have to tell you that I wasn’t so keen on tearing down our study to make a baby room for someone I’d never even met. Though I was happy to be having a baby, it caught me a little off-guard. This meant that we bought what we thought were the basics that we could make do with for our newborn. We figured that once he arrived, we could always pick up the missing things but that never happened. The basics were enough! In
fact, they were enough for all four of our kids.
I’m a big fan of second hand furniture* and other items. I like the idea that things get passed on and that money gets saved. Most of my kids’ clothes come from friends, which I then pass on. And all of our baby furniture has found a home with another friend expecting a newborn. I see it as part of the circle of life: it makes me happy to know someone else is using our stuff.
The basics on a budget:
Our most useful piece furniture was our ultimate roll-around-change-tabledresser- diaper-holder that we bought, built, painted and loved for eight years.
1. Change table/Clothing drawer: We bought a deep dresser from IKEA for next to nothing, painted it and added wheels. We used the top part as a change table by adding a changing cushion. The wheels let us move it around easily and gave it a bit of extra height so that my husband didn’t have to bend down as much to change diapers. We also added shelves to the side for extra storage.
2. A crib: You can buy a small cradle and then a crib but we found that one size did the job until it was time for our kids to move into real beds. We bought a second hand wooden frame that was adjustable in heights (for the mattress) and a new good mattress.
3. No Stroller: Living on the fourth floor, with no elevator and steep stairs, made us think twice about buying a stroller. Instead, we used a baby wrap, which not only made us incredibly mobile, especially for city living, but also kept our baby safely tucked in while walking up and down the stairs. He generally fell asleep in there too, so I sometimes “wore” him in the house… It took a couple of practice sessions to get the hang of it, but once I got it, I never lost it. I used this for all of my kids until they could walk and my sister now uses it in Vancouver.
Obviously not everyone is able to carry a baby in a wrap. If you do want to get a stroller, think about how much space you have to store it and what you will use it for (running, shopping in city, long walks in countryside). Try some out in a big store, ask your friends and then look online for something second hand. This can save loads of money and still get you a very good stroller. In the end we did buy a second-hand buggy but not until our son was 14 months and his sister was on the way.
4. Bathtub: We bought a little blue plastic bathtub and a stand for the tub, which were perfect. The stand allowed us not to have to bend over while bathing our baby. We filled the tub using the shower nozzle. Once our baby was big enough to sit, we put the same little tub into our big empty bathtub and used it until he outgrew it.
For the first months you can even avoid having a bathtub – while visiting my parents for a month, we used a clean kitchen sink! There are also different types of baths out there that are specifically made for newborns but I think that if there is one size that fits all, why not get that one?
5. Playpen: I like the idea of the crib being for sleeping. I feel that it sends a message to your baby that when in this space, it’s time to sleep. We had a playpen in our living room area, a simple wooden frame (second hand and adjustable). We were also given a number of mobiles that entertained all of our kids for many hours.
6. Baby chair: We started with a small chair that we could place anywhere (including on the table). They have different names like: portable rocker/baby chair/bouncer/lounger. Basically this is a chair that enabled him to have a look around and be fed once he was older. We could also have him with us at the table while eating meals.
7. Diaper Pail: We splurged on this special “stink-free” container for dirty diapers. We first made sure that we could use normal, every day garbage bags and not have to fork out extra dough buying expensive special ones. You can do without a diaper pail for sure but if your budget allows… very worthwhile!
That’s it. That’s what we started with. I don’t think we spent more than $500. I realize that for many it’s a dream to decorate a baby’s room, buy the best of the best, and get all of the gadgets but for us, keeping it simple was perfect and we had everything we needed.
*Please note: Always check to make sure that any second hand furniture is up to spec with all safety regulations. You can find these at the Health Canada website: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cpsspc/child-enfant/equip/index-eng.php
Lianne is a Canadian mother of four, entrepreneur and author of Lianne’s Quick Guide – for the busy woman. Her first title is called Babies 0-6 months and can be purchased directly from her website: www.liannesquickguide.com. She lives & works just outside of Amsterdam and can usually be found biking around on her bicycle built for six. You can follow her on facebook and on twitter.