Having a baby these days has become more challenging as more people make the switch to becoming eco-friendly or zero-waste or minimalist or supportive of organic and fair-trade products.
The list of baby essentials is as long as ever and the difficulty of figuring out which are actual necessities and which are just nice-to-haves is only complicated by our environmental concerns juggled with budget and time constraints.
I had a baby ten years ago and back then, life was different. I was most concerned about price more than quality. I was bent on getting the cheapest baby products I could without thinking of anything else. As a young mom in her twenties, I struggled to make ends meet and I couldn’t be bothered with what was organic or even environment-friendly. We bought the cheapest diapers which turned out to be all-plastic and were extremely warm and uncomfortable for the baby. We bought the cheapest baby bottles and clothes. We got hand-me-downs, and that was, and still is, okay.
Now that I am in my late-thirties, a different time, and at a different place, my approach to all things baby is also very different. Now we don’t compromise quality over price and we get a chance to be as environmentally-friendly as possible.
My list of essentials is only based on my experience as a mom to a now 6-month old son. We have different babies with different needs and as moms, we are unique in our parenting styles. I hope you find my list of essentials useful in some way. If you would like to make suggestions or if you want to share your own experiences, hacks, or style; or if you have the products that you found very useful or life-changing even, please share it in the comments section. I would be very happy to learn.
This post has been taking me forever to make and I will try to update it as much as I can in the coming months, but for now, this is what I have:
These are small squares of cloth that are versatile in their purpose. I have a dozen that I store in a basket in the bathroom that I use for drying the baby’s bum after washing him in the bidet, for wiping his face and body in the morning as part of our daily morning routine, wiping him down on the nights I don’t give him a full bath as part of our daily evening routine, washing and wiping him after messy meals; and I also use this for myself, for wiping my face after washing it in the morning and evening instead of a towel so I am always sure that the cloth I use on my face is clean.
These cloths can also be used to wipe dribble when he doesn’t have a bib. These cloth squares I can keep using through the years and I am glad I bought them. I thought I was overbuying when I bought a dozen but little did I know that this is going to be one of those baby things I will keep using even when the baby is grown. I also have half a dozen of these cotton squares washcloths I bought in Manila when I was there.
I got hooked on Aden+Anais because they have the best muslin cloth and in various sizes as well as pretty designs. I also bought what we Filipinos call gauze-type and hook-eye cloth and they have become my most versatile cloth.
MUSLIN CLOTH BLANKETS
I bought a dozen thinking I would use them often, and I do, but I’ve used them extensively in the first 4 months for swaddling and as a shade on the stroller from the sun all summer but now we are using only one a day.
My six-month-old has moved away from swaddling though I always keep one on the bed with us for wiping sweat when he gets too warm and as a comfort blanket, as it seems that he sleeps better when his skin is contact with a muslin cloth.
In the future, I see myself cutting them into smaller squares and using them as washcloths or hand towels instead to keep in the bathroom.
I bought a few sets of muslin cloth blankets from different brands and found that the Philippine brand Enfant is not too far behind in terms of the quality of its blankets. We have half a dozen of them and they’re durable, only a little bit rougher than the Aden+Anais ones, and have nice enough designs.
I love Andy Pandy for its fit and its wetness indicator but found that my baby, even without sensitive skin, develops small rashes on his belly. Perhaps its something from the material of the waistband. Bambo Nature leaks sometimes and gave me many unexpected washing in the mornings. I have now decided to stick with Eco by Naty as their diapers are thin, fit well, do not leak, and do not cause any rashes. Eco by Naty’s diapers are plastic-free, chlorine-free, fragrance-free, and made from renewable materials.
CLOTH WASHABLE DIAPERS
As much as I am a fan of cloth diapers, I cannot sacrifice my baby’s sleep, its duration, and its quality. I then just use cloth diapers when my baby is awake and playing. During the night and daytime naps, I put on disposable biodegradable diapers so he sleeps well. With that, I use about one to three disposable diapers per day and I am happy.
A friend of mine in the Philippines gifted me about a dozen cloth diapers from Next9 and we haven’t bought more. I do have to do laundry every two or three days. I recommend getting more if you don’t have enough time to do laundry.
In my quest for the most natural and organic skincare products for my baby, I have tried Burt’s Bees, an American brand, and Pure Beginnings, a South African brand. I find the Baobab scent in Pure Beginnings too strong and found out that Burt’s Bees is one of the sneaky brands out there so I have made the switch to using the Babo Botanicals and Earth Mama brands for our body wash, shampoo, lotion, and diaper cream. I have been able to buy them through iHerb. (If you decide to purchase from them, please use my code AUD2495 for a 10% discount for new customers and 5% credit from returning customers!) This website has been very helpful to me for deciding which are the best and safest organic products out there.
I try to adhere to mindful living and realized that sometimes price equates to quality and have found some brands that are not only organic but also cruelty-free and fair-trade. I love that we can buy comfortable, beautiful and organic clothing for our children but they are often expensive so I try to buy only a few curated pieces to use as much as we can and wait for end-of-season sales. It has helped in my adherence to minimalism too. After all, my goal is to not be on trend or in fashion, but merely to be earth-friendly. I found out that H&M has the Conscious line so I buy those sometimes. My favorite organic brands for clothes and toys are Mori, Pebble Child, and Little Green Radicals. I am always on the lookout for others and open to suggestions.
WOODEN BRUSH SET
As someone who tries to avoid plastic products as much as possible, I love this wooden brush set from Chibello for the various stages of my baby’s life. My baby loves it too. We use them every day and it has helped cue to my baby the end of each morning or evening routine. When he has outgrown the soft bristles brush, we will be using the comb, and maybe when he has outgrown that too, we will use the other brush. In any case, I see us using this brush set for years to come.
NASAL SPRAY AND NOSE BULB SUCTION
I used the nose bulb suction every day for cleaning the baby’s nose when he was younger. Now that my baby is six-months-old, I sometimes use a cotton bud. My son is a little piggy and I can hear him snorting sometimes so I use the nasal spray too and it helps him breathe better. We are going into winter soon and I am prepared to use this nasal spray and suction more often.
I love that I can always check the room temperature and adjust clothing and bedding for the baby accordingly. In the summer it was red throughout and had a sad face. This time it has no face and is colored orange. I am looking forward to seeing the smiley face and it being yellow-colored this coming winter. My baby co-sleeps with us on our bed so he is almost always too warm but I still refer to this room thermometer a lot in terms of dressing him up.
I purchased an Ergobaby breastfeeding pillow along with an Ergobaby carrier and even if I am still breastfeeding at six months, the breastfeeding pillow has outlived its purpose. I, therefore, conclude that I should have just bought a pregnancy pillow that doubled as a breastfeeding pillow instead of buying two separate ones. As for the Ergobaby carrier, we bought the most expensive one available, and thankfully, we have been using it very often!
My baby never liked the crib mobile and only has a short tolerance for time spent in the crib. We co-sleep and that has made a lot of difference in terms of feeding time and sleep quality. I do understand the difficulties and challenges involved in co-sleeping and attachment parenting and I have nothing against those who choose to have their babies sleep alone in their cribs. I always say we parent according to how we feel and I hold no judgment.
I hoarded baby wipes from Eco By Naty thinking I would be using a lot but with the use of cloth wipes, I barely use them. I now have a box of wet wipes that would probably last well into my baby’s toddler years. I only use them when we are out and about, keeping a pack of it in the baby bag.
I am an essentials-kind of girl and found that I can pack all the things I would need for going out in a small bag and stash it inside my regular shoulder bag. We rarely use our baby bag.
The only person who uses the hand sanitizer extensively is my husband. Our baby sitters don’t even use them, much to my dismay, even if I remind them to do so. We have a big bottle with a pump in the living room, two small bottles for taking away and right by the bedside and near the changing table, and a big bottle of the refill. I would not be buying any more.
LAUNDRY DETERGENT AND DISHWASHING LIQUID
I bought the entire line of Babyganics and the big bottles of laundry soap and baby bottle soap are still halfway finished even after six months. My son, fortunately, does not have sensitive skin and I can use any laundry soap for his laundry. I have shifted to using a magnesium ball and everything has been good so far. As for the bottle soap, I purchased a big bottle of Dr Bronner’s 18-in-1 Liquid Castile soap and this I use for making our hand soap and dishwashing soap
These came with the set of Tommee Tippee I bought but I have never used them. In theory, they should be useful for traveling or going out but from my experience with my now-ten-year-old daughter, it is best not to let the baby get used to drinking warm milk. It adds to mom’s work and room temperature milk is also as good as warm milk.
BREAST PUMP AND BREASTMILK STORAGE BAGS
I am always hesitant about buying an expensive breast pump because I never know if I will be able to make the most out of it. Also in the past, my sister gave me a manual breast pump that worked quite well and I was partial to that. This time I bought a not-so-expensive double electric breast pump that had the most and highest reviews on Amazon. It worked out quite well at the beginning and I was happy. I thought about building a stash of frozen breast milk in the freezer too but I never find the time. I bought the storage bags that I have barely used. I am still hoping that I would get to the point that I will give pumped breast milk to my son, maybe when he has teeth, but up to now, I am still not using any of the breast pumps I bought (three in fact) and the storage bags are, well, in storage.
As each baby and family is different, my list of essentials and non-essentials will not be the same as others. I am sharing mine in the hope that other moms can gain inspiration from them or at least help decide what products to buy or not to buy based on my own experience as a mom of two. Mothercare has an extensive list that I printed out and was a lot of help in my purchases before giving birth. If you are an expecting mom, you can check out and download the list here.
I will keep on updating this list as I go along. My son is only six-months-old and I have a long way to go. I have much to learn and much to experience. If you have any comments and suggestions and your own hacks with regards to motherhood and products, please don’t hesitate to share it with us in the comments below.
And as always, please enjoy the journey of motherhood. A child is a gift to a mom as much as a mom is a gift to a child.