Jul 29, 2016 · 4 minute read

By: Colleen Valles

Normally, when people are expecting a new addition to their families, they look to expand.

After all, having a baby means at least another room full of stuff, right? There’s the new crib, changing table, glider, stroller and chest of drawers to hold all the new clothes, toys, … and on and on.

And when people find out you’re going to have a baby, they want to throw you showers and buy you stuff. It’s really, really sweet — they’re excited and want to give gifts to show it — but it can pose a dilemma for someone who’s trying to downsize.

I’ve found myself in this situation lately. Around the time my baby is born, my new tiny house will be finished. So when my baby is a few weeks old, we’ll be moving — into 270 square feet from 975+ square feet. I’m looking to offload almost all my furniture, so a changing table? That’s not even on my radar.

However, an impending influx of stuff is, mostly because people keep asking me where we’re registered. With three showers being planned, I knew I needed to do something for people who want to help, but I wasn’t quite sure what. How do you reconcile people wanting to help you by buying you stuff when you’re trying to downsize?

Luckily, this isn’t my first child, and I’m able to draw on past experience while navigating the newness of minimizing our possessions. Here are a few of the steps I’m going through in preparing for the arrival of the baby and all the baby stuff:

First, be thankful

All these people wanting to buy you things? They’re excited for you and your family. Gift-giving is an ancient expression of appreciation, and it should be greeted with appreciation. People want to show you that they love you, they support you and they want to help. Let them, and be thankful you have people in your life who care so much.

That doesn’t mean you can’t give them a little guidance. In fact, because they love you, they don’t want to get you just any old thing that will sit unused in a corner. They want to get you something that will help you, so really, for minimalists, gift registries are a godsend.

Register for what you need

I know you’re a minimalist, and maybe in generations past people could have babies with the addition of only a few things, but today, whether you like it or not, you’re going to need some more stuff. A carseat, stroller and/or baby carrier, diapers … and more diapers. Did I mention diapers?

Yes, you’ll need stuff, but you won’t need everything. Know what you and your partner will need and what you’ll want. There are plenty of handy lists out there. Here’s one that focuses on the basics. I know from experience, for instance, that I will not need a wipes warmer. No one does. I also know that I’m a sucker for handmade items, which are just about the only thing I’ve hung onto from my daughter’s baby days. Handknit booties? Yes, please!

My partner and I also live in two different towns, so we’ll need stuff for his house and mine, meaning we’ll need duplicates of everything.

Give options

Those duplicates don’t have to be exactly the same, though, because the items that will meet my needs won’t necessarily meet his. For instance, with high chairs, I’ll need something smaller and more space-saving, while he can go for a standard-sized high chair. This means when registering, there will be a couple options for most items.

Not only are we giving ourselves options, we have options for those who want to give us gifts. I’ve registered us online, at an actual physical store and at Plumfund, a way for people to contribute to larger items, in our case a diaper service, without having to buy the whole item themselves. People can then give as much as they want, so hopefully they don’t feel burdened by gift-giving either.

Plan for end-of-life …

… the end of the life of the product, that is. At some point, the baby is going to outgrow clothes, diapers, bottles, even the carseat, and you won’t need these things anymore. So it’s good to make a plan to donate what can still be used or throw away what no longer functions. Donation is ideal, to help out those who need it and to cut down the amount of waste going to landfills, but babies aren’t generally concerned with keeping their layette items stain-free, so do what you can.


Having a baby may bring more stuff into your minimalist life, but it won’t be forever. Accept the gifts with grace and in the spirit they’re given, use them and remember those who love you. This time is fleeting.

How do you combine minimalism and a new baby?


Colleen Valles
I'm Colleen, a writer, mother, knitter, pet mama and tiny house enthusiast who truly believes that everybody should slow down and simplify to make room for the things that are most important in their lives. I'm on a journey to do just that, to be able to spend more time with family and friends, riding my bike and working in the garden. Sign up to get awesome content right in your inbox, or follow me on social media.