Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Baby Bare Basics- Needs vs Wants

Welcome to Needs vs Wants Wednesday, also known as "That's not really a need, you silly." I started this series to debunk myths, to show that what most of society perceives as a need can be eliminated, should the need arise, without greatly reducing one's quality of life.
Truth be told, there are so few things a person truly needs in life; anyone who has more than these bare minimums should look at all the extras he has and feel blessed, instead of comparing himself to everyone else around who is leading luxurious lives.
Constantly looking over your should are what everyone else has is a sure way to make yourself feel miserable. Only by keeping our focus on our lives only (hard as that may be) and taking note of all the extras with which we've been blessed, are we able to fully appreciate the goodness which life has bestowed upon us.
Helping people realize all the little luxuries they have in life was the point of this series.

That said, here are some things that even I, Penny the Penny Pincher, believe to be real needs. These things don't need to cost a lot of money. By keeping this list in mind, I was able to have and raise my babies at very little cost, allowing me to put the money to more important uses.

What Babies Truly Need

I can still clearly remember my first grade teacher, Mrs. Price, teaching us about human's basic needs. Written on the board in large neat letters were the words "Food, Shelter, and Clothing". We discussed this subject in detail until it remained etched in our memory.
Parenting books and websites try to help out the new mum and dad by providing them with a list of newborn necessities. These lists are so over the top and filled with nonsense that even parents with limited money spend frivolously on their new babe, convinced that they're only buying what the baby really needs.
Fortunately, some people have a good head on their shoulders and realize that much of these items are unnecessary and have made lists that are much more basic, like Stacey Bradford's list of 5 baby essentials.

My list is different than hers, a little more extreme, and a bit more all encompassing.

Basic Baby Essentials

Mom. Mom loves the baby, feeds the baby, calms the baby. Mom is the baby's whole world. Dad can be a descent replacement in almost all ways, but a baby with a mom has almost everything he needs.
Food. So long as mom has fully functioning breasts capable of nursing a baby and the baby has no medical issues preventing nursing, nothing extra is needed in terms of food for the first six months of life (or more). Extra money may need to be spent on a lactation consultant, tongue tie snipping, a pump, bottles, and nursing bras. If mom can't nurse for whatever reason, there are milk banks. There is always formula for those with no other options.
Shelter. Whether a mansion, room in a homeless shelter, or parent's 575 square foot apartment, so long as your baby has a roof over his head with walls to protect him from extreme dangerous temperatures, your baby will do fine.
Safe Sleeping Surface. Doesn't need to be a crib. This could be a folded blanket on the floor, a stroller, or a co-sleeping bed.
Weather Appropriate Clothing. No need to go overboard with this. A few basics are fine. Try getting hand me downs or shop at second hand stores and garage sales to save money.
Love. Without love, your child will be sorely lacking and likely to develop emotional deprivation disorder as well as a host of other problem. Love makes life worth living and is one of the basic human needs.
Touch. Scientific studies both on monkeys and humans show that touch is an imperative part of human development. Touch also has been proven to help premature infants have a better prognosis.  Without touch, you're robbing your baby of a normal childhood and adulthood, affecting their health long term, and stopping them from growing optimally physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Diapering Needs. Ideally use cloth diapers for the biggest savings. Buy second hand diapers (thrift stores and online sites sell these), buy new, or sew your own.  I suggest washable wipes moistened by water instead of disposable wipes and pocket diapers for the novice cloth diaperer.. Homemade baby powder. Alternatively, you can skip diapers completely by going the elimination communication method, but I've only ended up with body fluids everywhere when I tried that out.
Transportation Aids. If you're limited in money, pick which method of transportation you'll be using most and buy what will help. If you drive, get a decent car seat and snap-n-go frame. If you have no car, a decent stroller.  A baby carrier (made from scratch, of course) can replace a stroller if there isn't enough money to go around.
First Aid. Tylenol or cloths to fever reduce. Rubbing alcohol and antibacterial cream. A supply of over the counter drugs or home remedies.

All the rest? Either you have it at home already or you don't need it.
Changing pads? Use a towel on the floor or a bed.
Baby bath? The sink works fine. Baby towel? Adult towels will do the job. Baby soap, shampoo, and detergent? Liquid castille soap will work for all of them at very little cost. Baby blankets? Warm pajamas and or adult blankets eliminate the need for those. Swaddling blanket? I  use an old sheet cut to size. Pacifier? Mom, a finger, a bottle nipple, or do without (my kids never wanted one anyhow). Diaper pail? A bucket will do. Spit up cloths? Clean rags, towels, or cheesecloths are a good replacement.

All the rest of the "baby essentials"? Completely extraneous.

What do you think are baby bare basics? What do you think I left off my list?

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