Rewilding baby care

Having a baby can cost a lot of money, but does it have to? I wanted to go over some of the things the baby industrial complex assures us are absolutely necessary and see just how necessary they are.

  • diapers - Probably the number one expense for new parents, especially if you’re using disposables. You may be surprised to learn that diapers of any kind are not actually necessary. If you learn your baby’s cues, you can simply hold your baby over the toilet when they need to go. Of course, the downside is that you’ll have to clean up a lot of messes during the learning phase. Fortunately, if your baby is breastfed there is one advantage to dealing with a baby over a puppy: The poop of a breastfed baby doesn’t have that horrible shit smell and is pretty easy to clean up. Google elimination communication for more information.
  • bottles/formula/breast-pump - Necessary if the mother cannot breastfeed or must spend many hours away from the child, otherwise nursing is free and much less of a hassle. Also, see above about the poop.
  • stroller/bouncy chair/swing - There are so many products on the market for the set-it-and-forget-it style of parenting that I can’t list them all here. That being said, most of us don’t live in an ideal society where each household or group has many adults who can take turns holding the baby. The situation for most newborn babies in North America is that one parent, usually the mother, is home alone with him or her for at least the first 6 weeks to 3 months (longer in Canada and/or if one parent quits their job). There will be times when you have to put the baby down. In Peter’s book “Rewild or Die”, he says that money is a replacement for friends. The same is true of these baby holding devices.
  • breastfeeding pillow - These come in handy for newborns because they don’t have any head control. I would recommend this item to anyone. If you are giving gifts for a baby shower, you could even sew one yourself for extra love and meaning. Just make sure the stuffing you use is firm enough that the baby will not sink in.
  • crib - We already had a thread about co-sleeping, so I won’t re-hash it here.
  • sling / baby backpack - Another item I would recommend to anyone. Keep in mind, however that although a sling does make life easier, it is not optimal for every situation. You can’t just put the baby in the sling and go on with your life as before. The baby will get bored and fussy if you are sitting or standing for long periods and not paying attention to him or her, for example if you must work at the computer or do the dishes. Also, babies get heavy after a while. No matter how much baby equipment you have, you cannot get around the fact that caring for a baby is a full time job.
  • educational toys - The most educational thing you can give your baby is absolutely free: human contact. The coolest talking, musical toy with all the blinking lights cannot compare with a game of peekaboo, airplane, or blowing raspberries. That’s not to say that the baby should not have any toys. Starting around the age of 3 months, most babies have gained enough coordination to grab objects and put them into their mouths. Make sure you have some objects that are small enough for the baby’s little hands, but too large for them to choke on.
  • special soaps / laundry detergents - Ugh! I cannot stand the smell of these baby specific products. It’s true that babies have sensitive skin, but a normal hypoallergenic or free and clear product works just as well.
  • baby bathtub - unless you live in an apartment with no bathtub, this is the most unnecessary product on the list. Just get into the bathtub with your baby. Now you’re both clean! If you co-sleep or have a sidecar sleeping arrangement, you’re both clean and well rested!
  • high chair - I consider these optional. A great way to amuse a baby 6 months or older is to strap them in and put some food on the high chair tray for them to fling, squish, rub all over things, and occasionally eat. However it isn’t absolutely necessary. A baby can eat just as well sitting on the floor or in someone’s lap.
  • jarred baby food / special equipment for making baby food - There are those out there who believe that anyone who doesn’t use jarred baby food must spend hours slaving over their baby bullets trying to make everyone else look bad. Not true! Here is my super secret method for making baby food 1. Get some food 2. Make it soft enough for a toothless person to eat. That’s it, you’re done. The only “special equipment” I ever used was a fork for mashing soft fruits and cooked vegetables.

Great list. After five kids, I can vouch for the fact that all these “necessities” are actually optional. Except for the diapers, I never tried ECing, although I’ve heard it really works.