The Minimalist Parent

Welcome to the February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Essentials

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared the parenting essentials that they could not live without. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


When I was pregnant with our first child, my mother-in-law asked my husband when we would be moving. At the time, we lived in a two bedroom apartment. Our second bedroom was being used as our office. We were a bit confused by the question. Why would we move? Exasperated, she pointed out that babies have a lot of stuff and we would need a place to put all of it. After all, babies are expensive for a reason.

 That may be true for many families. Indeed, there are certainly enough products for babies and parents on the market, with more everyday. However, not only did we not have room for most of those products in our apartment, we didn’t want to make room for them in our lives. They didn’t fit in our vision of how we wanted to raise our children.

Because we cosleep, we didn’t have a need for a crib or the multitude of accessories that went with one. There weren’t crib sheets, bumpers, mobiles or anything else. Our child joined us in our bed an hour after he was born, close to me and my breasts. Because he wasn’t sequestered in another room from us, we didn’t need baby monitors. I would wake as he first began to rouse to nurse. Breastfeeding meant that we didn’t need bottles, bottle warmers, bottle holders or brushes. Diapers were changed on the bed rather than a table named for them, and we tossed anything we needed for going out in a backpack (I have since designed and made our own more compact bag), rather than a bag with cute little ducks.

I wore our son in a good sling. I’ll admit that our first sling, a homemade Rebozo, wasn’t liked by either my son nor I. I didn’t give up on babywearing, though. We tried a ring sling and it was love at second try (after that first attempt which had me throwing it on the floor in frustration). We didn’t need swings or bouncers because he was in the sling. We didn’t need special tummy time mats to occupy him; being worn in a sling or other carrier counts as tummy time. Toys were minimal. He was engaged in what was going on around us – with life. We didn’t need a stroller; he was content to be worn.

Over the years, we’ve added some slings and carriers – some so that my husband was more comfortable wearing the kids, some so that I could wear two children at once, others for various reasons. I’ve been wearing at least one child (and often two) for the last eight years. Even with four children, we still haven’t needed all of those other things. Besides a good carseat, all we have needed is a good sling.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Not Without Him — The love Starr at Taking Time shares with her husband is the foundation of her parenting.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without B(.)(.)bs — From an uneducated dreamer to a breastfeeding mother of a toddler, nursing has forever changed Kristy at Strings to Things’s relationship with her daughter and her outlook on life.
  • Raising a Child in the Internet Village — When Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction has a question or concern about parenting, she turns to the Internet. What did parents do before Google?
  • Partner in Crime and ParentingBethy at Bounce Me to the Moon can’t imagine parenting without her husband’s sense of humor – he brings her laughter and love every day.)
  • I Make MilkPatti at Jazzy Mama can’t imagine trying to mother her babies without her breasts, but she could do it if she had to.
  • New Perspectives Bring New BeginningsMJ at Wander Wonder Discover, who is a former authoritarian mamma, has gained perspective via parenting.
  • Time Out!Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog explores how time apart can increase your capacity to give unconditionally.
  • Unimaginable Without HimKristina at heyred designs is celebrating her amazing partner, without whom none of her parenting experience would be possible.
  • My Parenting NecessityClaire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl needs “me time” in order to be the Mama she wants to be.
  • Babywearing As a Way of LifeDarcel at The Mahogany Way talks about the benefits of babywearing in everyday life.
  • Parenting Partnership — Sometimes Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter doesn’t appreciate her husband enough, but she definitely couldn’t imagine parenting without his help.
  • Parenting EssentialsMomma Jorje loves her parenting products, but she needs you even more.
  • My Parenting Must-Have: SupportJoella at Fine and Fair wrote a letter to her daughter about the role that support from friends and family plays in her mothering.
  • It’s More Than Just Hair — Think doing hair is full of fluff? Too girly? Useless? Karli from Curly Hairdo Ideas used to think so too.
  • The Minimalist Parent — The parents at Living Peacefully with Children embrace a minimalist perspective when it comes to baby gear. A good sling is all they need.
  • Without My BreastsCharise at I Thought I Knew Mama can’t imagine parenting without her breasts; here’s why.
  • Loves Books, Loves PeopleSeonaid at the Practical Dilettante discovers that the library is a perfect fit for her family’s needs.
  • An Ode to the Maya WrapRevMama’s next child might be named Maya, because of her fondness for the sling.
  • Avoiding the Padded RoomPecky at Benny and Bex is here to testify that it takes a village to raise a child.
  • My parenting essentials, from Tivo to battery-operated monstrositiesLauren at Hobo Mama presents a list of parenting essentials you didn’t even know you needed (and probably don’t…).
  • Attachment Parenting Through Separation: It Makes It a Little BetterJessica at This Is Worthwhile talks about how she couldn’t survive her separation without attachment parenting and the bond it’s afforded her with her 3 year old son.
  • Parenting EssentialsDeb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the principles she used to parent her children from infants to adults.
  • My Parenting Essentials — The things that are truly essential to Kim at In Desperate Need of Entertainment aren’t things at all.
  • I’m No One Without My Sling — How baby carrying is essential to the parenting of Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without…Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about what she needs to raise her children.
  • February Carnival of Natural Parenting — Through her experiences over the last five and a half years, Casey at Love What Is has discovered her most important tool for parenting is using her instincts.
  • CNP: I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without __________.The Artsymama discloses the one thing that gave her back control of herself as a parent.
  • Laugh Until I Cry — Laughing with her sons keeps Acacia at Fingerpaint & Superheroes connected and grounded.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting WithoutLuschka at Diary of a First Child realizes what the one thing she can’t imagine parenting without is, and it turns out it’s not a thing after all.
  • It Takes Two — Here are a few of the reasons why Jenn at Adventures Down Under cannot imagine parenting without her fabulous husband.
  • Stopping to Listen — Though it wasn’t easy at first, Knocked Up – Knocked Over cannot imagine parenting her daughter without listening first to what she is telling her.
  • The Essence of Parenting — There are many wonderful resources that make life easier for Michelle at the Parent Vortex to parent, but the essence is the relationship between parent and child.
  • What I Cannot Live WithoutSybil at Musings of a Milk Maker considers her computer to be a parenting lifeline.
  • True Blessings: White Noise and GrandparentsKat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment can’t live without her white noise machine and the support of her parents.
  • The Necessities! — What “stuff” does a natural parent like Lily, aka Witch Mom really need? Not much, it turns out.
  • Mama Showed MeMama Mo at Attached at the Nip writes about how parenting wisdom is passed on by example.
  • Ode to the Loo — For Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch, the bathroom is her safe place, where she can take a minute to calm down if she is feeling touched out.
  • Go, Mama. Go!Andrea!!! at Ella-Bean & Co. has been able to integrate her many roles through her get-up-and-go parenting essential, exercise!
  • My Other HalfBecky at Old New Legacy realizes what a relief it is to have her husband parent alongside her.
  • Grace, Love, and CoffeeMrsH at Fleeting Moments realizes that lifelines can take the form of the profound, or the mundane. Both are ok.
  • Supportive Spouse, Check! — There are so many parenting tools and gadgets that are superfluous, but the one essential, for Danielle at, has been her supportive spouse.
  • Why I’m a BabywearerMeredith at Becoming Mamas reflects on the ways babywearing has enhanced her mama baby relationship…and made life easier to boot.
  • It’s Marvelous Out Here, Kiddo!Rachael at The Variegated Life can’t imagine parenting in the big city without the marvels of Prospect Park to share with her Critter.
  • Yes, Thank YouAmy at Anktangle offers tips on how to ask for and accept help, an essential for successful parenting.
  • Parenting Essentials Checklist: Mom’s Inner Rebel and Her Kids’ VoicesOlivia at Write About Birth reflects on raising global citizens and saying no to societal norms.
  • Eco-Mama Online! — An Eco-Mama living in the mountains of a nature island, Terri at Child of the Nature Isle finds it essential to connect to nature and to connect online.
  • Sorry, We Just Sold the Last OneNev at The Adventures of Lime confesses she missed out the day they handed out patience.
  • LaughTashmica at The Mother Flippin’ Blog reveals her super power, her talisman agains mean mommy.
  • My Priceless Parenting Resource — What do books, a magazine community, my mother and the local playgroup have in common? Lucy at Dreaming Aloud tells us…
  • The Gift of Shared TimeTree at Mom Grooves strives to experience the world from her daughter’s perspective.
  • Follow the GigglesDionna at Code Name: Mama can’t live without the sound of her child’s giggles – come watch her video and you’ll agree!
  • Can I Mommy Without Boob?Emily at Crunchy(ish) Mama shares her fears about weaning and losing part of that the mother/child bond.

42 thoughts on “The Minimalist Parent

Add yours

  1. That’s so lovely. I keep trying to explain this to people, but you’ve done it so well… maybe I’ll just point them at this.
    ( Because I can’t figure out how to make WordPress put that link in my title.)

  2. How I wish we’d have requested that people NOT buy us things before Kieran was born. We had so much stuff lying around unused and unwanted, it was silly. (by the way – I’d love to see a post from you on how being worn = tummy time!)

  3. How beautiful. I often feel we have too much “stuff,” much of it given to us from well-meaning individuals. I now have a running donation bag of children’s things and have given many of the other things (bouncer, swing) to friends that use them. It is true, though, that a good carrier is priceless in SO many ways – ease, comfort, closeness – I too would be at a loss without mine! You inspire me to continue to cut down, cut back, and use what we have at hand – thank you.

  4. Good for you! In a way, I don’t like all the baby stuff. An alternative is buying used items. For instance, I enjoy the changing table that my mom bought at a yard sale for $7. It’s best, in every way, to reduce what we buy and really think about what we use every day. Your minimalism is inspiring!!

  5. What a great post! I was just thinking about this today, that we have so much stuff that we never use for my 3-month-old son. People were so generous that I feel bad not using it! Some of it, like the dozens of stuffed animals, I am sure will get plenty of use in a couple of years at teddy bear tea parties and such, but what does one do with 3 big bottles of baby oil?!

  6. Great post! I totally agree 🙂

    Sometimes I felt like I “Cheated the system” with our daughter because it DIDN’T break the bank. They’re just babies, they don’t need allllll that stuff! Mostly they just want to be near their parents. That doesn’t have to cost a thing! Or require batteries :p lol

  7. this is so beautiful and perfect!!! I aimed for it, but didn’t manage nearly as well as you. I LOVE what you’re doing. I’m so glad I got to read this. Even just reading it soothes something deep within me.

  8. Love this! And love to hear more about minimalist parenting! It’s definitely an uphill battle for us (well-meaning relatives to whom pressies = love) and a value we try to pass on to our daughter by modelling it in our own life (time+attention+affection = love) 🙂

  9. So true! We have a small home and tried to minimize the amount of “stuff” we accumulated for our daughter, but weren’t nearly as successful as you were. Our experience with our daughter has taught us that we really don’t need extra “stuff” for our future child(ren). Your post is an inspiration!

  10. Love it! That moment with your mother in law definitely resonates with me. We are a family of five in a 2 bedroom home and have decided to stay in it. We’d rather we all learn how to get through the rough spots together rather than moving to a bigger space where we can evade the really hard relational work. Though I frequently have to remind myself of that! 🙂

  11. When I started out, I had far more “stuff” than I do now. I didn’t really want it, but I didn’t know, as a first time parent, what to get- what was really a necessity and what was hype. We need so much less than what I ever expected!

  12. Awesome! This is certainly what I planned and envisioned for myself before giving birth.

    Unfortunately I have found mothering to be a lot more challenging than I expected. Maybe it’s because my little angel is particularly high needs (hopefully not because I just suck at this), but I found a sling (and five other carriers) didn’t cut it and I needed a whole lot of other stuff to help me out.

    I just posted about my take on parenting essentials here: Baby Gear Guide

  13. I love this post! I got pregnant when we were living in a STUDIO apartment, and you’d better believe we got plenty of comments about when we would “have” to move. As it turned out, we did move before the baby was born — because our apartment flooded in a storm! But we moved to a 1-bedroom and were cozy there till we bought our condo last year. Now we have 2 bedrooms but have yet to use the second bedroom as a kids room. Only now with a second kid on the way have we resolved to get it set up for the kids’ use as well.

    The POINT is…ha ha…it’s meant we’ve had to be very intentional about what gear and toys and such we accept into our home, or choose to get rid of soon after receiving. 😉 But I’ve always been surprised that anyone thinks babies cost a lot of money. I think maybe teens do or something, but babies? With breasts and a good (but inexpensive) sling and cosleeping, you can really make do on very little added cost. Our first year I found out we saved more through our tax deduction than we’d spent on our baby! 🙂

  14. It’s amazing to see what we CAN live without. I’m pretty sure I have all that crap, aside from maybe the changing table. My house is tiny, and all along I’ve somehow found little places to stuff it. What was I THINKING!!

    I know what I was thinking. “I have no idea what I’m doing, I don’t know anything about babies, if they say I need it then I guess I need it”

    Things are so going to be different when baby number 2 comes along!

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