When you become a parent it’s amazing, it’s hard and it’s really easy to become inundated with stuff, stuff and more stuff. Gear, clothes, bottles, gadgets, toys and more toys. Thankfully, being a minimalist mom or dad is a thing, and with a little effort and a few tricks, you can strike out against consumerism and keep Baby’s new abode calm and clutter-free. Whether you live in a small space or just despise clutter, here’s how you can tackle new parenthood successfully without so much stuff.

Photo: Valentina Yachichurova via Flickr

Ditch the Non-Essential Gear
Want to know what three things babies need? Love, nourishment and rest. Everything else is icing on the cake for your wee one. Easy to say, but sometimes hard to remember when you’re scrolling through the local mom’s classified page or being inundated with all the cool, smartly-marketed baby gear during a late-night online shopping session. Before you make a purchase, ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that will happen if I don’t click ‘add to cart?’”  Chances are you’ll realize you don’t really need a wrap, ring sling and buckle carrier. And, you definitely don’t need that wipes warmer or bathtub faucet cover.

Photo: Harris Walker via Flickr

Be a Toy Snob
Ditch plastic, battery-operated toys and opt for timeless toys that promote dexterity, imagination and creative play. Some baby-approved favorites include wooden blocks, puzzles and shape sorters. And don’t underestimate the appeal of household objects – kitchen pots and pan, Tupperware and cardboard boxes can lead to hours of fun.

Photo: terren in Virginia via Flickr

Handle Holiday Gifts (and Generous Relatives)
The holidays are supposed to be a time of perpetual good cheer, but it can feel more like they’re a time of perpetually-piling-up-presents (a.k.a. burdensome stuff.) If you have a family who loves to shower your baby with gifts, it might be time to make your minimalist wishes known. Throw out a gentle reminder that you don’t want your little one to live a life surrounded by material goods, and Baby’s well-meaning Grandma will hopefully tone it down a shade. You can also try asking for non-toy gifts such as memberships to local children’s museums or educational magazine subscriptions. If family and friends continues to gift-away? Don’t feel guilty about heading straight for the return line or Goodwill post-holidays.

Photo: Shannon McGee via Flickr

Show Invitation Smarts
Closely related to the holiday-gift-giving-a-thon that is Christmas are the birthdays that can easily turn into exorbitant present fests. Yet, balloons, cake and a visit from grandparents is more than enough to make your 1-year-old feel special. When you send out the invites for Baby’s first birthday bash, help squash the buildup by noting on the card: “Your presence at baby’s party is present enough.” Or, consider requesting a book instead of traditional toys by including verbiage along these lines: “In lieu of a toy, please bring your favorite children’s book—well-loved or brand new, the choice is up to you.”

Photo: Shannon McGee via Flickr

Remember: Elements are Elementary
Letting baby explore the world—and all of the new sights, sounds and textures in it—is a sure-fire way to keep your mini-me entertained and stick to your minimalist goals. Allow baby to experience the elements in a safe way. For water exploration, fill a bowl with water and let baby dip her fingers in it. Or add a few inches to a baby pool and watch her splash away. Help her experience “earth,” by filling a sensory bin with sand and a few basics, such as shovels or spoons and cups. Lastly, for “air,” blow up a few balloons and bat them back and forth, a game sure to elicit happy squeals and promote hand-eye coordination. Also, don’t forget that the whole world is a sensory experience for babies – the feel of grass between their toes and blowing at their first dandelion.

Photo: Cesar Rincon via Flickr

Go Out on the Town
If you’re sitting around your house with Baby for days-on-end, you’ll start to feel a little stir crazy and begin to talk yourself into why you need more things to entertain baby. Instead, get outside your four walls frequently. Stroll around your neighborhood or — better yet — stake out places in your ‘hood where baby can toddle and explore safely or just take in the sights from her stroller (or if you’re so minimalist that you don’t have one of those – her baby carrier).

Photo: Mayfield Garden Kids Playdate via Flickr

Build a Network of Baby Mamas 
When you’re out and about visiting with other moms with babies or children, you’ll both feel stimulated and fulfilled. Even if baby is too small to play with her “friends,” babies are usually fascinated with other babies and enjoy watching older children play and move. But besides being proven to boost your happiness, mom friends can have an additional benefit for minimalist moms: You may feel less need to buy things to keep your little one busy knowing that the best entertainment is an outing with friends.

What are your favorite minimalist parenting tricks? Tell us in a comment.

– Suzanna Logan