When I lived in Japan, sometimes I would get baby-stuff envy. I would be looking online, or trying to create my Amazon Baby Registry, and feel kind of sad that I couldn’t give my baby all.the.stuff. From the fancy crib to the cute socks, from the expensive high-chair to the all natural organic baby shampoo; not only was most of it unavailable in my country and not a high enough priority to have someone bring over when they visited (not that anyone could have fit the fancy crib in their suitcase!), much of it was out of my budget, and even out of the budget of my friends and family. It could get a little bit depressing, but it shouldn’t have.
Truly, babies don’t need all that stuff! If you can afford it, or if someone who loves you and your newborn a lot can afford to gift it to you, great! Enjoy it and count your blessings. 🙂 But if you can’t, try not to feel bad. American consumerism is just trying to trick you and your emotional pregnant self into thinking that if you can’t provide all these things for your baby, you’re not a good mama.
But it’s a lie! You’re a great mama, and I’m willing to bet that most mamas (birth mamas and adoptive mamas) CAN provide their babies with the only 3 things he or she really needs:
You, your love, your comfort, your cuddles…you! Yes, you need support and help, especially right after birth…but ideally, your support and help is helping YOU, so that you can be with your baby and do all the bonding stuff that new mamas and their babies are supposed to be able to do.
Most birth moms are able to breastfeed if they have enough support, but if you can’t, choose not to, or are an adoptive mom…if you’re reading this, then most likely you have access to infant-formula. If you’re in the States and finances are a problem, WIC is great help! If not, check with local friends to see what they use, ask your child’s pediatrician, look online (iherb.com ships to many countries and has great options), etc. Your baby definitely needs milk, whether it is breast milk or formula.
Ok, this is kind of a broad category because I’m including a place to sleep, clothing and diapers (unless you’re super brave and choose to do Elimination Communication!). But even so, what you really require to meet this need is very little and most likely readily available wherever you are.
I’ll let you in on a secret: Your baby doesn’t need a crib.
In many cultures, bed-sharing is very common, and if you practice it safely, that might be a good option for your family. I could only bed-share very minimally for the first few months because I’m such a light sleeper…it just has never really been a sustainable option for me and my babies. But most of my 5 babies have spent the majority of their sleeping time not in a crib, but in a pack-n-play. It’s been a great option for our family, because we traveled quite a bit when we lived overseas, and this allowed us to take our baby’s bed with us! It was nice for the baby to have a familiar place to sleep.
Here’s another secret: Babies don’t need that many clothes.
A lot just depends on how much you do laundry, but babies outgrow their clothes so quickly, you really don’t need to worry about any of their clothing getting worn out, even if you wash every few days. I would venture to guess that most newborns in the US end up having newborn size clothes that they never even wear. If you anticipate anyone at all getting you gifts or are having any kind of baby shower, my advice is to never put any clothes on your registry. You will get clothes regardless, and if you don’t, the local stores, thrift shop, or wherever will have whatever you need.
And when it comes to diapers, again…if you’re reading this, you most likely have access to diapers of some kind. During the entire 6 years we lived in Japan I only met one Japanese lady who used cloth diapers. But in many cultures cloth diapers are the norm still, and even in the US they have become much more mainstream. But if cloth diapers aren’t your thing, find out where the locals buy their diapers, do your research, etc. Diapers are a non-negotiable for most mamas around the world, so except for the most remote locations, they should be readily available.
What has your experience been in finding these things easily wherever you are? What would you add to this list?