Attempting minimalism with a toddler

the majority of our toys and books

the majority of our toys and books

My husband and I try to be minimalistic with our possessions, but it’s been a challenge to keep that up once we had a baby! Now that Jack is 16 months old and a toddler, I wanted to update how we’re doing. You can see a post about minimalism with a baby here or about our minimalist baby registry here.

Diapers: we are still cloth diapering which saves tons of money and decreases our daily trash by a huge amount! We love it, and while we had ammonia issues now that Jack is peeing more, the poop is also SUPER easy to clean now that it’s solid- you just plop it into the toilet (or since we do EC Jack poops in the potty most of the time which is even easier).

Food: we do baby led weaning which minimizes the need to buy special baby purees or machines to make purees (although we already had an immersion blender). Jack eats what we eat, or we buy snacks from the dried foods or cereal section of Whole foods (like unsweetened organic corn puffs). We did buy a few stainless steel espresso spoons for Jack and these thick glass shot glasses he can drink from that are hard to break. We’re skipping sippy cups since dentists don’t recommend them, and just use a water bottle on the road.

Clothes: I try to buy as much gender neutral organic clothing as I can so we can hopefully use it for another child down the line. We do laundry about every 5 days, so we try to buy only the amount of clothes we need to last us that long. Jack has a few gender neutral shoes as well.

Toys: I have a secret: Jack prefers to play with things that aren’t even children’s toys ūüėČ We have a few nice wooden toys for him, and my dad has a bunch at his house which they bought. Jack spends a lot of time playing with our pots and pans, kitchen paraphernalia, ¬†putting things inside bowls or ceramic vases, pushing our ottoman around, or playing with our dog’s (nontoxic) balls. I think we have never bought him a toy ourselves, but it’s harder to get relatives not to buy him toys and instead give him clothes or donate to his college fund. We go to the park or library playroom at least once a day, so Jack gets to play with different things there too.

Books: We have a handful of board books, most that were from my childhood and are in different languages so they can’t be found at the library. Once he gets a little older we plan to get most books from the library instead of buying them. (For my husband and I, we almost always buy ebooks now).

Sleeping: We still have our crib sidecared, and in the future may buy some kind of natural full size mattress for a floor bed. We use my old cell phone as a while noise player.

Transportation: We have a convertible car seat in each of our cars, and my dad has one also. I’m storing our Orbit nontoxic infant seat to hopefully use with another baby. We still use the City Mini stroller sometimes, but only maybe once a week. ¬†I use baby carriers multiple times a day though! I love my Toddler Tula and Bamberoo, and also use my ring sling for quick trips to the library (love the pocket which works as a purse). I put Jack high on my back in a woven wrap while I vacuum so he can see what’s going on.

Bath: Jack has showered with me since day one, or sometimes if he just has food on him I’ll do a rinse in the sink. We rarely use soap on him, and put coconut oil to prevent diaper rash and dry skin. He uses our organic towels, we don’t have any special baby bath things. For bath toys we have some bowls and a ball or two that rotate as bath toys.

Babyproofing: we bought some cheap light switch covers and a few string things to keep drawers closed, but other than that we don’t babyprrof most things and instead watch Jack and teach him to “be gentle” with the low-hanging art, or “let’s not touch the toilet water, it’s wet” etc. It’s been working well so far, but we’ll see if we need to change the plan as he ages.

Things we skipped buying: baby gates, baby monitors (we cosleep), a play yard, baby bath tub and bath products, and baby swing.

DIY baby discovery toy

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I’m always looking for creative ways to keep Jack busy, and this little project worked pretty well. He’s 14 months old and loves putting things inside things, so I got an orange juice carton (you could use a milk carton or anything cardboard probably) and cut two “windows” in it with scissors. I washed it out, and he had fun putting some cylindrical blocks through the top hole and getting them out from the sides. ¬†You could find things around the house that happen to fit as well. I used the blocks from¬†this¬†plan toys set which was pretty inexpensive ($20 for 50 blocks) and very non-toxic. We use them for all sorts of other things too like putting them in and out of a bag, or I build towers and Jack knocks them down.

Jack’s attention span is only a few minutes, so it’s great to be able to make activities for him for free since he gets bored so quickly!

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Sample day with a 6 month old

I remember when I was pregnant I wondered what to expect my days to be like once I had a baby, so I thought I would write out approximately what out typical day is like. It really varies a lot though depending on what we are doing. I’m not working much at all these days, so I spend most of the day taking care of Jack. He generally eats about every 3 hours, and takes either 2 or 3 naps per day (the 3rd one will often only be 20 minutes).

7:00am  Jack wakes up and poops on the potty

7:00-7:30 breastfeed

7:30-8 express breastmilk for later in the week, play with baby in bed

8-8:30 baby plays in bed while I get my clothes on and put the harness on the dog

8:30-9 walk with the baby and dog

9-9:30 baby has tummy time while I play fetch with the dog in the living room

9:30-10 I get my food ready and feed the dog while baby sits in highchair

10-10:30 wear baby in the carrier and sing since he’s tired and fussy

10:30-11 baby breastfeeds to sleep

11-1 nap time, I eat my food and check email, look online (naps vary from 20 min to 1.5 hours, average 40 min)

1-1:30 I do some kind of errand like calling health insurance company and staying on hold for a long time

1:30-2 play with baby doing a new activity every 10 minutes or so (reading, music, standing, tummy time, sitting with toys)

2-3:30 have a dog playdate or meet at the park for a baby playdate for an hour

3:30-4:30 walk around and nurse the baby until he falls asleep

4:30-5:30 nap

5:30-6 make dinner while Jack is in his high chair watching or in the wrap

6-7 eat dinner, feed Jack with us at the table (then give him a quick bath)

7-7:30 walk with the dog and Jack

7:30-8 wear the baby while picking things up around the house to clean up etc (he’s usually fussy in the evening)

8-8″30 nurse until Jack falls asleep (bedtime varies a lot- it’s between 7 and 9 usually, with different amounts of walking around needed depending on how fussy he is)

8:30-10:30 relax and look online, occasionally exercise, sometimes watch an arrested development episode with my husband while wearing headphones so we don’t wake the baby. Jack often wakes up every 30 minutes for a few hours and wants to eat for a while, then falls back asleep so I try to stay close by.

I try to sleep around 10:30, but sometimes it gets later. Jack wakes up and I nurse him and change his diaper every 2-3 hours recently. I nurse and change him right before I go to sleep too. He used to have a 5 hour stretch at the beginning of the night, but at around 4 months that went away. At least he eats and then goes right back to bed though, so it’s not that disruptive.

Organic minimalistic baby registry

My husband and I decided to register on amazon because they had so many organic options, and you could link to items from other web pages as well.

Here are the things we found most helpful:

loveybums organic wool cloth diaper

  • Organic¬†wool¬†diaper covers- this company is one of the only ones I found that has organic wool in cute colors. They are adorable and worked well with organic cotton prefolds from our diaper service. We had mostly velcro ones because they are easier to remove for EC. We have 3 in each size which is usually fine, and two backup Imse Vimse organic cotton ones (that have PUL on the inside)
  • Once Jack got older and we stopped the diaper service we started using Bumgenius pocket diapers which are really easy to put on. They are not organic, but are made in the USA and keep the baby feeling dry like a disposable diaper. We found that snaps worked better once Jack was older because he couldn’t pull them off
  • Baby carriers! At 6 months I still use my organic¬†moby wrap¬†for hours every day, and it’s so comfortable. We also like the organic Beco¬†(my husband and parents find it easier to wear). Carriers were the only way to keep Jack happy and let me get things done (or even eat) so they are one of the most useful items I got!

organic beco baby carrier

  • A few bottles if you’re pumping. We liked the Lifefactory glass ones

life factory nontoxic baby bottle glass

  • We have 8 organic cotton bibs which seems like a lot, but helps up be able to have fewer clothes because they get less dirty with drool or spit up. Some days Jack drools so much now that we go through multiple bibs! I liked snaps because the velcro irritated his skin. Non white colors also are better because they look less dirty.
  • Since we are doing elimination communication, we prefer separate tops and bottoms to make using the toilet easier. ¬†Burt’s bees has cute (slightly small sized) things, as does Under the Nile¬†and baby soy on amazon.
  • We had about 5¬†swaddle blankets. My favorite because they were a little bigger and cheap (and organic) was the Hudson brand. We had one with the velcro which was easier for a few weeks, but then can’t be used after your baby grows.
  • I love this¬†organic nursing/sports bra. I got some organic clothes for myself because Jack got some red spots on his face after sleeping on me while I had synthetic fabrics on. This bra is really comfortable and easy. I used organic cloth wipes as absorbent pads inside.
  • I got the Lansinoh manual pump because I’ve only ever been away from the baby for a few hours at a time. It was ok, but I found that hand expressing is actually easier, just as fast, and doesn’t involve any clean-up.
  • I used threads for thoughts¬†tank tops¬†because they are organic and cheap. Jack stretched a lot of them out now, but that’s ok as I’m usually wearing them under something else or under the Moby.

Since we co-slept, we didn’t really need a crib although we did get one and use it more like a play yard. I think the list above is really all our essential items!