As a mother who’s choosing a natural way to raise my two young children, I tend to get asked by moms-to-be, “What do I need for my new baby?” While some parents may register for a long list of baby items, I quickly learned that babies really don’t need much. Sure, it’s fun to get colorful outfits, stuffed animals, and cute pacifiers, but babies’ needs are pretty simple and easy to meet. Here is my personal list of the five things I think a new baby really needs.
1. Loving Arms
This may sound fairly obvious, but parents are naturally equipped with some of the most important tools they need for their babies. Babies love to be held and crave that skin-to-skin contact to feel safe and warm. Hold your baby as closely as you can as often as possible.
2. Good Nutrition
The most natural way to feed your baby is with breastmilk. The documented benefits of breastfeeding as identified by the American Academy of Pediatrics are extensive, from immunity-building to decreased cancer rates to proper growth and development. Breastfeeding creates a symbiotic relationship: the baby relies on the mother for comfort, trust, and nourishment, and the mother relies on the baby to release hormones into her body, to bond, and to avoid conditions such as mastitis. But, breastfeeding isn’t for everyone. If you are unable to breastfeed, there’s donor milk or non-GMO formula. And if you remember to hold the baby close to your body during feedings, you’ll be able to simulate some breastfeeding benefits.
3. A Baby Carrier
Baby wearing is a great way for parents to bond with their children. Baby carriers come in many types, including soft-structured carriers, slings, wraps, and mei tais. Choose a carrier that is right for your family. Most carriers have a wide range for weight, like 5 to 35 pounds, so you can carry your newborns, infants, and toddlers. I still wear my two-year-old and four-year-old to keep them safe and close to me.
We opted to use cloth diapers for multiple reasons. First off, they’re a great way to save money. I used the same cloth diapers for both children and bought most of them on sale. Secondly, if you use a high-efficiency washer and eco-friendly detergent and if you line dry your diapers, the ecological impact can be minimized when compared to disposables. Lastly, disposable diapers contain chemicals that come in direct contact with your baby’s skin.
5. A Safe Place to Sleep
How and where babies should sleep is a big, ongoing topic. Before I had my kids, I read a lot of research that put me at ease bed-sharing with both my children from infancy. While research like this identifies psychological and physiological benefits of bed-sharing for mother and baby, I understand that some people are hesitant to do so. A great option for newborns is a bedside bassinet. Several models are available, including co-sleeper bassinets that attach directly to your bed.