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I'm a minimalist planning to leave the US. This is how I decided what baby stuff we needed to buy and what we could live without.

Mother with baby at the airport
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  • My husband and I lived abroad from 2013 to 2020 and plan to leave the US in the near future. 
  • When I got pregnant, I was overwhelmed by how much baby items cost.
  • Here's how we chose what to buy and bring with us when we leave the US and what to skip.

From 2013 to 2020, my husband and I lived abroad. By default, we were accustomed to never buying or bringing anything that couldn't fit in a suitcase or that we didn't mind selling or leaving behind.

So when I got pregnant last year while living in New York City, we were instantly overwhelmed when it came to deciding what to buy for our baby. When I walked around my neighborhood, it seemed like every parent had the same high-end stroller that cost well over $1,000. Between that and the fact that we knew we'd move back abroad shortly after having her, I was at a complete loss.

I wondered how I could be strategic about buying what I needed for my newborn in the meantime, especially in my small, noncongruent apartment, without being wasteful — both financially and environmentally. I also wanted to maintain my stability as a first-time mom. I wondered whether I really needed, for instance, the smart baby monitors that detect the baby's breathing in an apartment the size of a shoebox, even if I could easily pack the device in my suitcase when we moved. 

As I felt the pressure to buy everything and nothing, with the desire to save money and spend more on items that would last, along with the need to be flexible because of our lifestyle, here's what I ended up with:

Things we need but are leaving behind

We have one closet in our apartment, so by buying a changing table with shelves and an attachment, we were able to not only save space but also be thoughtful about what we'd buy. If it didn't fit in the changing table, she didn't need it. Unfortunately, the table itself will stay behind, but it served its purpose.

When it came to sleep, we started with a crib, a mini, foldable one that fits great in our apartment and could be shipped if needed. But the baby didn't like it, so we ended up getting a bassinet. This is what we should have done initially, as our baby will likely grow out of it right by the time we move, and it cost much less than a crib.

We will definitely bring enough formula and diapers to get us settled the first few days, but we can always purchase this stuff abroad. And because of the formula shortage in the US, we're looking forward to having options once we move, as this has been really stressful.

Things we are absolutely bringing with us

We spent a lot of time searching for an exclusive car-seat-stroller combination, as this is what many people use in our neighborhood for convenience. But we either didn't like the stroller option or didn't love the car-seat option and didn't want to settle. So we got a car seat we liked, and we checked whether it could be adaptable to the stroller we chose and vice versa.

When it came to the stroller, we needed a sturdy one that did well in cities but that was easy to fold up and bring with us, since strollers are expensive.

We'll be taking items as if our baby could pack herself. Most of these will fit on her "carry-on," giving us an extra bag to check under her ticket.

Deciding what to get for a baby can be hard when you have a lot of real-life advertisements coming at you every time you walk outside. But at the end of the day, we had to do what was going to be best for our needs now, our lifestyle, and our budget. It's been working well for us to get the basics and buy things as needed, which Facebook marketplace, online groups, and "swap parties'" have been great for. Now that my baby is 3 months old, I'm happy to report that. 

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