Hello all! I’m a first-time poster, and an expectant mother!
I find that I’m overwhelmed trying to determine what our little one will truly “need”, versus what mainstream parenting says we need. My sister just had her first child in July, and she and my mother have offered a lot of advice to me (with the best of intentions). I’m just trying to get to the meat of it and figure out what we will really need (such as a crib) as opposed to what “makes life easier” (such as a bouncy seat).
Does anyone have any good resources for a RIE-centered checklist of sorts, telling my husband and I what we can’t live without? Or, parents out there, what did you find indispensable, and what did you buy or receive that you didn’t use or found counter to this philosophy?
Very exciting news!
What a great idea – a RIE- based new baby checklist. As far as I know, one doesn’t exist, so I’m jumping in first to give you my list, but I hope this doesn’t discourage other parents and educators from sharing theirs. I really want to hear from all of you!
This is a list for parents who want to enable their baby to develop gross motor skills naturally, encourage independent play, and make care-giving activities (diaper changes, feedings, etc.) enjoyable opportunities for relationship building.
1. Crib (or not, depending on your desired sleeping arrangement)
2. Bassinet – cozy for babies and convenient for parents in the first months for night feedings
3. Changing table – as large as possible (with rails for maximum safety) to allow an older infant/toddler to move and re-position
4. Playpen or gated play space – creating safe play spaces is a vital necessity for independent play
5. Car seat
6. Carrier or stroller
7. Sofa or chair for a comfortable feeding place
8. Comfy, easy to move in clothes
9. Blankets, diapers, washcloths, bottles (if you will use them)
1. Baby bathtub – I used the kitchen sink mostly, but some people prefer the small tub
2. Diaper bag – definitely nice and convenient, but any bag will do
3. Sleep sack – so your baby can be cozy without being confined
1. Bouncy seat – will not “make life easier” in the long run because it creates a dependency on being upright that makes it harder to establish the habit of independent play and interferes with natural gross motor development
2. Swings, walkers, jumpers, exersaucers – ditto, above. The motion of the swing puts babies in an unnatural, altered state (mine got a really scary, glassy-eyed, thousand-yard-stare on her face) before eventually sending them to sleep.
3. Busy, entertaining “play gyms” and toys – they won’t hurt if used occasionally, but keep in mind that babies can easily become used to us providing activity and entertainment. When we do less, our baby does more and learns more, we relax and enjoy most – yay!
5. New gizmos I haven’t even heard of yet – We’ve lived without them this long, so I highly doubt you’ll need any of them now (but I always get a kick and an eye-roll out of hearing about them, so please share)
6. High chair – although many RIE enthusiasts use them and they are convenient for family gatherings, they aren’t necessary. Magda Gerber recommended lap feeding (see Mindful Mouthfuls) and then transitioning to a small table and chair or stool when the baby can sit independently.
7. Nursing pillow – great for nursing, but not recommended for propping babies (for the reasons stated above regarding “bouncy seats”).
8. Mobile over the crib – if you do get a mobile that you like, place it in the corner of the room so that the baby can choose to look at it rather than being stuck with it in front of his or her face
9. Pacifiers – I know it might be scary to go pacifier-free (and many RIE parents I know resort to using them) but pacifiers create an unnecessary dependency. If I did without them with 3 children, you can. You really can.
10. Shoes – babies feel and grip with their feet, use them to develop gross motor skills, explore, hold, even suck their toes, and otherwise enjoy them. They don’t need shoes until they are well-established walkers and outside. At RIE we even recommend removing a baby’s socks or booties any time it’s warm enough (even if the socks have grips on the bottom), so they can have full use of their feet. Barefoot is safer for walkers and climbers, too.
11. Rocking chair – contrary to popular opinion, babies don’t need to rock, but sometimes tired parents do…so, might be nice.
1. Extra playpen for outdoors and umbrellas for shade if needed
2. More gates to make a play space (or two) for a mobile baby – establishing gates before a baby becomes mobile is best because he accepts them as part of his safe environment, rather than feeling suddenly “blocked” when he begins to crawl.
3. Indoor/outdoor play space – could never swing this, but if you have a safe room that leads to an enclosed, safe-proofed deck, patio, yard or balcony and can secure doors safely open…fantastic!
4. Outdoor crib for naps on nice days
5. Cozy chair outdoors for feedings
6. Pram – the old-fashioned kind in which babies can lie flat when they are tiny, and later roll and move freely in, sit up in themselves, etc. This was a fantasy of mine, but not affordable for the amount I would have used it. I don’t think they can fold up easily and fit into the car, so they might only be practical for talking walks from home.
7. Jogging stroller – great, especially if it’s the only way you can get out and exercise, but I rarely used mine. I realized that I like to feel free and alone when I run.
8. Changing table in a bathroom – I only had this set up with my third child, but it was luxurious to have a sink with running water handy for messes and hand washing
9. Wipe warmers – a minor indulgence that cheered me up on a cold night or morning, but certainly unnecessary
Oh, and don’t forget to read at least one of Magda Gerber’s wonderful books (Your Self–Confident Baby and Dear Parent: Caring for Infants With Respect) to learn everything you’ll need to know about the RIE philosophy and recommended practices:
Okay, now I’m sure I’m forgetting some things, so I’m counting on readers to chime in here…
(Photo by Bonbon on Flickr)