Baby Gear for TEOTWAWKI, part 3 (“Shelter”)

October 18, 2011

Children, Recommended Purchases

Post TEOTWAWKI shelter for babies

You are probably wondering what I am planning to discuss under this category.  “Shelter” is pretty obvious- keep the baby in a safe, climate-controlled place.  But I want to expand a little bit to include the items you may need inside that shelter.

Where will baby sleep?

This may not be as obvious as it first seems.  There are lots of possible answers to this actually.

Unless you intended to have a baby, you will likely not have a crib.  They take up a noticeable amount of floor space and have no other real function.  You need to consider where an unplanned baby will sleep.


  1. with mom and dad (sometimes called “co-sleeping)-  this is popular with some people.  It allows mom to nurse around the clock, losing the least amount of sleep.  It can be very dangerou,s though.  Many people have accidentally smothered the baby while sleeping.
  2. in a cradle or bassinette – these are smaller and easier to store.  In a pinch, you may be able to find a doll cradle that will work for a while.  Our daughters were given a very nice handmade one.
  3. the old fashioned “bureau drawer” – many a baby of poor parents have spent their early days in a dresser.

Another thing to keep in mind- anything you put baby in must have rails or sides with no spaces large enough for baby to get stuck in.  Most old cribs (and even more recent drop-rail cribs) have been recalled or prohibited for sale due to the danger of strangulation.

How will you carry baby?

If it’s by car, you know you will need some kind of carseat.  I’ll let you determine the likelihood of needing that and what kind you would want.

Beyond that, to get from place to place on foot or even around the house with hands full, how will you transport baby?  I’d suggest looking into the various kinds of slings and wraps.  Essentially, they allow you to carry baby in a snuggly way, hands-free.  Some are more versatile than others, so look around and read reviews.

MobiwrapI have a Moby wrap, but I will confess to never fully mastering it.  It seemed if I wrapped it so that baby and I were comfortable, within 30 minutes, it had stretched down to my knees and he risked tumbling out with my every movement.  If I swaddled him any tighter, I worried he couldn’t breathe well and I felt like I was cutting off my digestive capabilities.  I’m also an extremely active person- I ran the risk of whacking his head on things while I worked.

There are lots of choices out there, including some really great backpacks that will allow you to carry baby comfortably on foot without back strain, but some have steep price tags.  One of the benefits of these snuggly forms of travel is that baby feels swaddled and close to Mom, so he often sleeps a lot and cries less.

The other thing to consider is a stroller of some kind.  They are all over the board in price too.  I would not recommend the cheap Chinese fold-up ones sold at StuffMart- they will fail when you need them most.  But the boutique European ones are probably a big waste of money too.  The “jogging” style with bicycle type tires roll quite easily over all terrain.

Consider how and where you may need to use one.  Remember that if you have a backpack or wrap you could carry baby in, you may be able to bring along a lot more gear pushing the stuff in a stroller than you could otherwise.

Where will baby eat?

Most of us were fed our table food in a high chair.  They are very handy, but again, space hogs.  How about one of the collapsible types?  We had one that attached to the table itself (needed a sturdy table without much lip on it), but it was great and portable.

Where will you set baby?

Here is where you can get into bunches of options and gobs of money.  Obviously, you can’t hold the baby constantly and it probably wouldn’t be a good idea if you did.   But where will you set him down?

In the beginning, it will probably just be in whatever he uses as a crib.  Newborns sleep a lot.

bouncy seatBefore long, he will want to be propped up and watch what is going on.  Swings are nice (expensive and big usually), but they often soothe colicky babies.  Personally, I’d say borrow one when the time comes if you can.  Otherwise, you’ll get along without one.

If I could have only 1 piece of baby “seating”, it would be the bouncy seat.”  These are fabric chairs on metal frames that will bob up and down with baby’s movements (or weary parents’ foot-jiggling).  The motion often lulls babies into naps everyone desperately needs them to take.

They come with all kinds of features like vibrations, ocean sounds, toy bars with flashing lights, etc. so you can spend as much or as little as you want.  They typically store flat when disassembled.

Beyond the Bouncy Seat

johnny jumperBaby is trying out those legs and wants to entertain himself.  There are all kinds of “gyms” and “exersaucers” and so on.  They are nice for short periods of time, but I find they are not worth the expense of storage space.  I’d opt for a “johnny jumper.”

Essentially it is a bungee cord seat for babies that is suspended from a doorway.  All but one of our children have thought this was the best thing ever.  We hung it in a central doorway of the house (usually going into the kitchen) and the children could play moonwalking astronaut and watch everything else that went on in the family.

These jumpers don’t take much space to store either.  Our babies have enjoyed them from about 5 – 18 months, so we have gotten a lot of use out of them.  Beyond that point, it’s more of an issue of keeping baby out of places he shouldn’t go than something to put them in.  Baby gates would be helpful to keep baby back from the fireplace, etc.  We have improvised with chairs across doorways when necessary, though we have semi-permanent gates at the top and bottom of stairways.


Don’t let all this overwhelm you if you are new to baby gear.  Parents did get along without most of this for ages, but if I had the option, a lot of it makes babyhood easier.  

It doesn’t have to require a loan to stock.  You can pick up many of  these items for just a few dollars at yard sales or keep an eye out for children’s consignment sales.  I hardly ever buy anything new, but “gently used” and hand-me-down has been a great help.

Anything you think I should include in the list?

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