you may be surprised to learn that some minimalists have *gasp!* children! Leo Babauta of Zen Habits has 6 children. Dave Bruno of The 100 Thing Challenge has three daughters (good luck, Dave!). And those children were, at one time, babies. Wiggly, giggly, squiggly, gorgeous little babies.
For something that, on average, only weighs 7.5 lbs at birth, babies come with a lot of stuff. Cribs, clothes, toys, bottles, bibs, playpens, strollers, pillows, diapers, soothers, and laundry laundry laundry!
But in truth, this need not be the case. When Naomi was born, we too had the copious amounts of stuff. But since then, I have realized how much we didn’t need, because of the method of parenting we are practicing.
Attachment parenting is a phrase coined by Dr. William Sears. It is described as “sensitive or responsive parenting that allows the child to build a strong, trusting bond with his caregiver and allow him to grow confident in his world and it’s surroundings.”
It involves a lot of techniques viewed rather taboo by mainstream culture, including, but not limited to, breastfeeding, babywearing, positive discipline, cosleeping, and gentle sleep habits. Most attachment parents participate in some, but not all, of these traits.
The truth is, however, mindful attachment parenting can actually help dwindle the material baby objects you have in your home.
Babywearing involves using a simple or structured carrier to keep your baby on you while you are walking/moving around. Examples of baby carriers include stretchy or woven wraps, ring slings, pouch slings, or structured carriers. These allow you to carry, comfort, soothe and care for your baby without leaving him in a stressful situation, such as in a car seat, all alone. Babies can sleep, look around and learning more at this higher vantage point.
What it Elimilates: Strollers, Possibly Car Seats, Play Pens.. If you have no car, you wouldn’t, in theory, need a car seat, but I would have one as it is illegal and extremely unsafe to drive without one with a baby in your car. However, with baby riding high and happy in a comfy carrier, you don’t really need a stroller or a playpen. We have a very expensive stroller we got as a gift that has hardly been used, since both Naomi and I love babywearing so much.
Breastfeeding is by far the best thing you can possibly do for your baby, after unconditional love. Human breastmilk is designed for baby’s delicate digestive system and provides your baby with any and all nutritional necessities. It’s free, always the right temperature, decreases gas bubbles, reduces the chance of allergies, earaches, colic, etc. The benefits of breastfeeding are numerous!
What This Eliminates: Baby bottles, nipples, covers, formulas, breast pumps, bottle warmers, bottle sterilizers, bottle brushes. I will go on record and declare to the world, that I hate pumping. If I were to die tomorrow, that can be my epitaph. While some women with an overabundance might need it, if your child is exclusively breastfed, as Naomi was, until she begins solids, you will not have need for any of these things. The breastmilk is always “on tap” so to speak.
Co-Sleeping involves many variations, but in essence, the baby and parent share some form of sleeping space, such as sharing a bed, sidecaring a crib to the adult bed (our arrangement), having baby sleep in a bassinet beside the bed, etc. Never more than an arm’s length away, the parents can both monitor baby’s breathing, can nurse baby when he wakes up, can change baby quickly, etc.
What This Eliminates: A separate room, baby decor, the majority of baby furniture, etc. So much space and money is saved via this route. My own personal preference, sidecarred crib, allows the best of both worlds. My daughter sleeps soundly, and I can nurse her back to sleep as soon as she wakes up, while she still has her own space, away from us, in her crib. All she needs for bedding is a crib sheet and a sleep sack and she is good for the night!
Other branches of attachment parenting, while not so material-based, can include but are not limited to: natural childbirth, home birth, stay-at-home parenting, homeschooling, unschooling, anti-circumcision, natural health, cooperative movements, naturism and support of organic and local foods. We ourselves practice many of these activities. However, as these are not our focus, this can be left for another discussion.
Minimalism is about removing distractions from your life in order to focus on what is truly important. Whether through birth, adoption or fostering, having a child in your life is one of those things that should make all your other distractions pale in comparison. With the help of attachment parenting, Michael and I have been able to commit so much love and time to our daughter, that we have a relationship with her that is hard to describe. We know her so well and are so deeply bonded to her, that we can tell just what she needs before she even realizes it. In truth, I am awake now because I woke up a few minutes before she did. I am so in tuned with her that I can wake up to care for her even before she makes a peep.
Your thoughts? Ideas? Have you experienced something similar? Different? I’d love a discussion!