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how to be a minimalist parent

10 tips from Design Milk editor Vy Tran Yang


If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that we really don’t need as much as we thought we did...for ourselves and our kids. If that Instagram trend of minimalist parenting started looking really appealing, you’re not alone; a pandemic purge (or two!) was basically a right of passage this past year. 

Like many of our new post-covid habits, minimalist parenting is one that’s worth keeping -- it’s better on the environment and can help make parenting feel less chaotic. 

Think you’re not cut out to be a minimalist parent? We’ve brought in our favorite minimalism expert, Vy Tran Yang, to help. A mother of two (ages 2-years and 4-months!), and an editor at Design Milk, Vy has a strong and beautiful sense of style, incorporating bloom favorites like the new alma grow crib, fresco high chair and coco-go 3-in-1 bouncer into her Scandi-design home. 

Vy joined us to share her expert tips on streamlining your parenting style, from home decor and baby stuff, to your lifestyle and your to-do lists.

white alma mini+ crib nursery

On decluttering your home to make room for baby

  • Try to find furniture + accessories that can pull double duty. Instead of a changing table, get a dresser and place a changing pad on top to maximize functional space. Instead of a regular basket to store diapers, get a caddy that can easily be moved from one room to the next and can be repurposed later on as, say an arts + craft caddy. Less is more here.
  • On that note: baskets, baskets, baskets. You cannot get enough, trust me. My favorites are felt baskets because they have a very Nordic aesthetic to them. I have these ones from Muuto and these budget-friendly ones from Target
  • It's so true that physical clutter means mental clutter, and when the newborn months seem like a blur, a clean space goes a long way in feeling energized to take on the day. If you can find space to store all the baby things (diapers, changing mats, toys, lotions + potions, clothes) away in designated spaces (like cabinets, dressers, sideboards, anywhere!) versus have them sitting out in sight, the clean visual look of your home will feel like a breath of fresh air. Just be sure both you and your partner know where things are!

white fresco highchair

On streamlining your registry and overall purchases for baby

  • These days, there is so much noise around what you “need” for your newborn. Although everyone – your friends, family, coworkers, that person at the grocery store – has good intentions, you have to keep in mind that what works for one baby doesn’t work for another! So here’s my biggest tip when it comes to your registry: buy what you need when you need it. This helps keep the clutter minimal and helps you figure out what you really need vs what you *think* you may need. Newborns truly don’t need much except milk, clothes and alllllll the cuddles.
  • There are some things you should get ahead of time and the crib is most essential, in my opinion. I like that bloom’s alma grow crib is small enough to fit almost all kinds of spaces, especially when parents want to room share during the first few months. Also, unless you plan to tag-team on holding the baby during meals, your future self will thank you for putting together the high chair ahead of time so that you can sit and enjoy your meals together, instead of scarfing down your food so your partner can eat. I love that the fresco has a cradle position integrated, perfect for newborn babies who can't sit upright yet.
  • It’s easy to go overboard with the baby clothes – why is everything just so much cuter when they’re miniature size?? My tip in this department is to make sure you buy clothes that make sense for the season + the future age of the baby. For example, don’t buy that really cute fisherman sweater in size 3-6mo, when in 3 months, it’s going to be a hot + humid summer. It’s a no brainer but one that first time parents (or over-enthusiastic grandparents) don’t always think about.

alma mini+ crib nursery baby playmat

On minimalist nursery design

  • I like to think a bit outside the box when it comes to nursery design. I opt to get things that aren’t specifically designed for kids, like a Stendig calendar as wall art instead of the typical themes like dinosaurs or rainbows. I also like to use a neutral palette of black, white, and warm wood and then add in pops of colors through toys and decor.
  • I really love discovering brands from abroad when it comes to finding fun things for the nursery. Some of my favorite brands include Ferm Living Kids and Rafa Kids for bigger kid furniture, Design Letters for accessories, and Raduga Grez for wooden toys.
  • Don’t feel like you need to only shop in the nursery section in stores or on websites. Instead, shop your favorite non-kid brands and look for items that are neutral + minimal in design. Instead of a cutesy nursery lamp that might feel too saccharine when my little ones get older, I use this Uma Lantern by Pablo Designs that has a streamlined design, a dimmer for middle of the night diaper changes and bedtime reading and even bluetooth connection for impromptu dance parties.

bloom coco go bouncer cappuccino

On minimizing your post partum to-do list

  • Meals that freeze well like chunky soups, bolognese sauce and seasoned meats are a godsend because you’re just one or two steps away from a healthy meal – just defrost and add cooked pasta or rice! When you’re half asleep, the baby is crying and time is running out before you have to worry about nap/bedtime, an easy meal is *everything.*
  • This is an obvious one but assemble everything before the baby comes. That includes crib, baby monitor, rocker, swings – basically anything that comes with assembly directions. I love that the coco go 3-in-1 bouncer can be pre-assembled with the cushion, then stored away in its bag until the baby comes. Once they’re here, assembly is so easy with just a few super quick snaps!
  • Last tip is one I’ve heard many new parents mess up on, myself included, and that’s to understand how your baby’s car seat works. It’s not enough to just install it. You should familiarize yourself on how to adjust the straps + the little foam pads, buckle in the baby and take the car seat in and out of the car (if applicable). Don’t get stuck with a crying baby in the hospital parking lot in the middle of winter as you try to adjust out these big unwieldy straps around a fragile body… been there, done that, sadly...

shop Vy's minimalist nursery 

Hanna Nakano is a Washington, D.C. based writer and photographer, and mother of two.

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