7 Ways to Prepare for a New Baby Without Shopping

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by Rachel Jonat. She blogs at The Minimalist Mom and has recently released a new ebook: The Minimalist Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Year

“A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.” – Anonymous

Sleep deprived new parents are an easy target for marketers. I know: I was recently a new parent myself. In the early months I bought into the idea that a musical sea horse could soothe my son to sleep better than I could. They were empty promises and, before finding minimalism, my home was filled to the brim with baby items (most of them unused).

What I’ve learned since then is that the best thing you can do for yourself, and your new baby, is to slow down. The best way to prepare for a new baby is not with an afternoon of shopping or obsessing over paint samples for the nursery. The best way to prepare for a new baby is to build a community, unburden your schedule and most of all, relax.

Here are seven ways to prepare for a new baby. No shopping required.

1. Slow down – Soon enough your days and nights will be turned upside down. The weeks and months leading up to the arrival of a new baby shouldn’t be filled with long to-do lists. This is not a time to start a home renovation, move houses or overburden your schedule. It’s a time for long walks, sleeping in and spending time with loved ones.

2. Build a community, not a registry list – Your neighbor with four grown children or your new friend from a childbirth class will be more help to you when your baby arrives than any battery operated baby soothing device. Fill your life with friendships and forget about filling closets and rooms with baby paraphernalia.

3. Relax – Let go of the need for perfection. The nursery details, the accent pillows and wall murals, won’t be noticed as you rock your baby to sleep in the dark. The little life that is joining your family won’t care if her socks don’t match her outfit, but she will care that your arms are steady and your voice is soothing.

4. Spend more time selecting your healthcare providers than shopping for a stroller – This goes for your Obstetrician, Midwife, Pediatrician and anyone else involved in your care. Rather than asking your friends what’s in their diaper bag, ask them about their experience as a patient. Ask them about their child’s doctor, their time at a hospital or birthing center and if they recommend their Obstetrician or Midwife.

5. Sleep – Yes, you’ll get a lot of advice from other parents to sleep now because you’re about to lose anything close to a normal sleep pattern. And while it’s great advice, you should think of prioritizing sleep as not just about ‘stocking up’ but about creating a new habit. If you’re expecting a new baby you should get into the habit of catching sleep when you can. Work on your napping skills and make sleep in a priority.

6. Borrow, don’t buy – The first year of a child’s life is filled with rapid growth and changes. What amused and delighted your three month old may be of no use just a few weeks later. Whenever possible borrow any needed items from family and friends. Most people are only too happy to find a home for their unused bassinets, play mats and booster seats.

7. Give – A strong element of building a community, and a supportive circle of friends and family, is giving. Give your time, give your attention and give whatever goods and financial contributions you can. Lend your ear to a friend in need, bring a meal to a family when their new baby arrives and give what you can. Give without expectation. Give because it feels good. Give because you can.


Rachel’s new book, The Minimalist Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Year, is well-written and highly-practical. I have read it, enjoyed it, and used it in research for speaking engagements. If you are a new or expecting parent hoping to find more peace and simplicity in your life, this book can help you. Additionally, if you desire to inspire others to live with less, the book will help you provide clear answers for new parents.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    My friends and I on Facebook were just talking about this today! :) The more I’m around babies, having had three myself, the more convinced I am that they mostly need boobs, loving arms and clean diapers.

  2. says

    Rachel’s book is great! I wish someone had shared these kind of ideas with me when I first had kids!

    I don’t think it’s a big jump for parents to realize the toy situation can easily get out of control. But like Rachel explains you don’t need tons of sippy cups, clothes, and baby supplies to be well prepared. I especially love her tips on how to simplify your days with a new baby.

    • says

      Thanks so much, Faith. And yes, the toy situation can quickly get out of control. We’re just getting into more ‘advanced’ toys and giving away some of our older baby toys. I got a good tip from a reader of my blog to try to stick to 1-3 different sets ie. LEGO, Playmobil, Transformers. Makes it easier to keep things together and organized. So we’re a DUPLO house now :)

  3. says

    Yep! I couldn’t agree more! My only addition would be spend more time preparing for the birthing experience than creating a nursery. I often feel that if more women were truly prepared for the birth experience, so many less would feel the need for drugs (better for baby and better for the checkbook).

    And Tasi, you are spot on!

    • says

      Hey Megyn – Yes! The time I spent reading about birth, researching care providers, selecting a doula and staying in shape while pregnant all contributed to a wonderful birth experience (at home with a midwife). Great advice :)

  4. says

    My youngest is now 18. A little over a year ago, I went with my son and his wife to Babies R Us. Talk about overload! It had been so long since I had shopped for baby stuff, I could not believe all that they were encouraging shoppers to buy!
    I also attended a mom and baby expo last summer and was overwhelmed by all the things new moms are pressured into, like belly molds and cord banking and organic frozen baby food!
    Such a great post Rachel!
    Imperfect and proud of it!

  5. Sarah says

    A few years ago a friend of mine found himself a surprised father-to-be, not yet married, not even living with the mother at the time. He was asked if he planned to buy any baby books and his response was, “Nah, don’t need to. It’s just a baby. They used to have ’em in caves.”

    I was initially horrified by his answer but now it makes more sense. Babies survived for thousands of years before we had book stores and Babies R Us.

  6. C McFadden says

    Oh if I only knew then what I know now! Seven babies later I Like #2 #3 and especially #6 the best! Each and every time you find youself reaching for that new “cute” toy or outfit think college and buy a savings bond! All kids like the box the toy came in best anyway! Buy a few yes but be very selective and be sure they encourage imagination aka no batteries needed! Outside play requires no “toys” and is good for the health :) And don’t forget to READ!

    • Nick says

      “Seven babies later I Like #2 #3 and especially #6 the best!” – I had to read that sentence a few times before I realized you were referring to the article :)

  7. says

    So true. Our best ‘toy’ at the moment is the beach. We take our son over for walks and exploring most afternoons. Sometimes we bring a bucket and shovel but often he just wants to spend time moving rocks and dragging seaweed around.

  8. says

    I love this list because I am 7 months pregnant, I live in Costa Rica, and I don’t really even have access to all the shopping possibilities that I would if I were in the states. Sometimes I’ve struggled with this – not having a nursery to prepare, not having stuff to organize – but at the same time I’m so thankful to bring our baby into a simplistic home with what he truly needs: love and time from his parents. Another way I prepare is by knitting a special blanket for him. It gives me something to actively work on before his arrival and I will love snuggling him in it when he is here. :-)

  9. cdb says

    reading these blogs for myself and for those close to me…..you make what feels and seems at times an impossible not only possible but pleasant and fulfilling.

  10. says

    I really liked your article. It almost has a zen way of helping people be in control over things that easily get out of hand when discovering a new baby is on the way. I wish my wife and I had thought of tip 6 – borrow rather than buy things for the first while. It would have saved us money in the end with our two daughters.
    I also know one of the things that has helped us is building a list of things we ‘need’ to do vs ‘want’ to do before baby arrived. It helped us stay organized. We also struggled with baby names. We started a website to help other people learn how to come up with unique and special names for their children uniquenamesforgirls.com. You and your readers should check it out as one of their list items to do before baby comes knocking at the nursery door.

  11. says

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  12. says

    Thanks for this list. Even with my first baby, I did not do any shopping for baby stuff until my baby turned almost 1 year old. I just borrow baby stuff from my older sister. Some friends also donated used strollers, so yeah I’m pretty lucky and saved a lot. :)

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