Flashback: What I put in my Montessori friendly DIY baby box

So, I ook a long hiatus with the blog. Having a newborn and a toddler is a lot to adjust to and I wanted to be present with them as much as I could. Now my youngest little one is 10 months  old (oh my that has flown!) I’m hoping to write more frequently. I’m going to aim for once per week but I can’t promise.

This is the post I’d planned to write before my son decided to make his way into the world almost two weeks early, which was a funny story in itself:

I was laying next to my eldest as he was tired and wanted to nap. He fell asleep so I rolled over intending to take the opportunity to get some rest too. All of a sudden felt something wet in my knickers. I groaned as I thought perhaps I had wet myself (oh the joys of pregnancy!), so got up and changed. I did the exact same thing 3 times over before I was finally convinced that it was my waters and not pee! I called my hubby, hopped in the shower whilst our son was napping and hubby got back, we made our way to the birth clinic. 

Anyway, back to the post: This post was about the newborn box I made myself. It was a DIY baby box as I wanted to fill it with things I already had as well as some new bits and pieces. This is what I put in it: 



I’d like to add that these photos contain some non vegan friendly products that include wool. We purchased these before transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. 

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What does our minimalist, Montessori-friendly, family wardrobe look like?

We have a walk in closet in our family bedroom (I will be doing a post on our sleeping arrangements in the near future). We like to have our closet space uncluttered, easy to access and contain a minimal amount of belongings. As you can see, we only have out seasonal clothing that needs to be hung up. These are actually all my husbands belongings. We do have a seperate (much smaller) closet in the study that contains our coats, jackets and suits, my two cardigans and my husbands off season shirts. 

My husband and I have two drawers each. I have shared with you the pictures below of my drawers. Right now my eldest son has his closet that is easily accessible. Please see my previous post here for more details on my son’s closet. 


As you can see here, everything is arranged in my drawer KonMari style. I really recommend her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. This is all that I own for myself. They are arranged so that I can see everything and I dont have to pick anything up to reach something else.

Here you can see what is inside the box, also folded KonMari style. Those are all the newborn clothes my youngest son owns. Once he has grown out of them I will be saving a very small amount for future grandchildren (they will be put in storage). The rest will be donated or sold to make room for new clothes. We will mostly be buying new clothes as my eldest needs them and then my youngest will also get to wear those clothes when he gets to that size. Each season I might buy my youngest one or two outfits of his own. 

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How does the Japanese newborn clothing system work?

When I was pregnant with my son, I was very confused about newborn clothing here in Japan. It wasn’t anything like what we have in the UK. Since becoming pregnant with our second child, I started to look through my son’s old clothing and thought I’d try explain how the system works here.

First of all, the system works on the principle of layering. There are many combinations of layers that can use the same products to make it suitable for summer, winter or the seasons in between. 

The design has been well thought through and there is no need to put anything over the baby’s head when getting them dressed. All of the Japanese clothing items for newborns, you just lay the baby in them and fasten them up. You can also set it up so that you can put all clothing on at once, then fasten them all one after each other negating having to pick baby up several times. 

Typically for Spring and Autumn you would pair the short underwear with the combination underwear to make an outfit. If it’s a bit chilly you could pair either the short underwear or the combination underwear with the coverall. 

For Summer, here in Japan it gets much much hotter than what I was used to in the UK. All is needed is one layer. If we were staying at home it would be the short underwear and if we went out, it was the combination underwear. 

For Winter depending on the temperature if is recommended to pair the short or combination underwear with a thick coverall. The coveralls often come in different weights suitable for warmer or cooler weather. If it’s very cold outside you can layer all three of the above for extra warmth. 

My son was born in Summer and this baby will be a Winter baby however I can use the exact same clothing, just in a different way. This has saved me buying more clothes. 

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What’s on my newborn baby essentials list?

In this post I’d like to talk about the very basic needs of the baby and what I’ll need postpartum. Here is a list of what I feel are baby/post partum essentials. I’ll go into further details about what else we have purchased (new and second hand), been given or already had in a separate post.

  1. Cloth nappies.  We didn’t use cloth nappies with our son for very long. I was a first time mum and for some reason they caused me anxiety. I decided at the time to focus on breastfeeding as I was a little bit anxious about that too if I’m honest. We’ve chosen close pop in for the newborn stage and bought second hand flip system for afterwards. We also have cloth wipes.
  2. Organic baby clothing
  3. Nursing bra x 2
  4. Baby carrier. Oscha organic cotton ring sling is pictured.
  5. Reusable postpartum pads
  6. Reusable breast pads
  7. Topponcino
  8. Sleep sac from Ergopouch (not a swaddle)
  9. Floor bed (Japanese futon and sunoko) + organic cotton sheets. We chosen to also use a baby box for the first few weeks/months. More on that later.
  10. Baby soap

Most of the list is self explanatory but I wanted to go into a little more detail about the Topponcino. This is a Montessori material. I don’t believe she designed it herself, but rather observed mothers using similar flat cushions with a round edge at the top during her time in India. The purpose of the Topponcino is to provide a familiar, comfortable space for the newborn. It is usually used until 8 weeks (but can be longer depending on the baby!). The baby will spend most of his or her time on top of the Topponcino. Whilst breastfeeding, being held by family members, in their movement area and when being or down to sleep.

I bought our Topponcino from an individual in Japan. It’s made from organic cotton (the batting as well as the covers) grown, processed and woven here in Japan. This ticks a lot of boxes with regards to being ethical and eco friendly. This was bought for my son and we’ll be using it again this time for our new arrival.

If you’d like to learn a little more about Topponcino’s I’d recommend these blog articles:

  1. http://www.howwemontessori.com/how-we-montessori/2017/06/where-can-i-find-a-montessori-topponcino.html
  2. http://www.thekavanaughreport.com/2016/12/montessori-baby-week-1.html?m=1

As you can see, I haven’t included a crib, a stroller, a bouncer or any other large purchases. For us, these things aren’t necessary, especially at the newborn stage. We do have a stroller now for our son since he is too heavy to carry regularly, but sometimes needs to take a nap whilst we are outside. He’s also unable to walk for very long distances without getting tired. I would say we probably didn’t need one up until about a year old.

In the future I’m also going to be writing about the Montessori environment we are creating for our baby and a little more about why we like to “Montessori from the start”.

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How we organise our toddler’s clothes so they are accessible

Since we follow Montessori in our home, we like to allow or son to do as many things as he is willing and able to do independently. This includes having a choice in what he wears and getting dressed himself. Before we moved, his closet set up looked like the picture below.

Since moving, not much has changed, however we have changed the basket on the third shelf and no longer have  the hairbrush and tissue on the top shelf. Those have been moved into the bathroom alongside everyone else’s care of self items.

In one of the baskets, neatly folded Kon Mari style, are my son’s 3 pairs of trousers and his two sets of pyjamas. This allows him to see all the choices available and pick out what he wants to wear without having to move any of the other items.

The other basket contains socks, vests and underwear, all folded in a similar manner.

Hung up are the t-shirts (usually one is in the wash and two are available to choose from), cardigans and coat.

We have a small basket on the top shelf now containing his winter items (scarf, mittens and hat). Our son likes to practice putting these on even if we aren’t going outside. Having them accessible allows him to repeat this dressing process over and over.

When I chose my son’s clothes I purposefully made sure everything was suitable for the weather and that everything matched. This means he can chose whatever he likes every single day and it will always be appropriate.

As for shoes, they are all stored in a closet in what we call the “genkan”. That’s the Japanese word for entrance hall. We also have a small chair in the hall for our son to sit on whilst putting on his shoes.

His shoes are located on the bottom shelf of the closet so he can reach them easily.

How do you organise your toddlers clothes? Do you have a capsule wardrobe?

If you need some more detailed information and inspiration, I’d recommend reading the following:

  1. http://www.thekavanaughreport.com/2014/03/montessori-toddler-closet.html?m=1
  2. http://www.thekavanaughreport.com/2017/04/4-tips-to-encourage-independent-dressing.html
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What does our toddler’s Montessori capsule wardrobe look like?

Since I like to keep my son’s wardrobe to a minimum size, we tend to do seasonal capsule wardrobes. Of course for now this is mainly due to the fact that he outgrows his clothes within one season. I tend to split the year into two and order spring/summer and then autumn/winter clothes.

My current preferences for toddler clothes;

  1. Simple in construction and easy to take on and off.
  2. Comfortable to wear.
  3. Good quality (washes well and doesn’t pill or seams split).
  4. Natural fibres, organic if possible.
  5. Ethically made.
  6. Scandinavian design.
  7. Gender neutral colors and design.
  8. Regarding footwear, barefoot compatible shoes.

Most of my preferences come from a Montessori or environmental perspective. For example, special care should be given to choosing clothes for a toddler in order to maximize independence and learning. There is nothing better than seeing my toddler grinning with joy when he is able to successfully take off, and put back on, his own underwear after a trip to the toilet. Regarding environmental considerations, organic cotton is my preference due to the reasons listed in this Organic Trade Associate (OTA) post HERE. Natural fibers are preferred over synthetic due to the recent studies showing microfibers found to be ingested by deep sea organisms in the ocean. You can read more about that HERE.

Of course, my preferences are just that, preferences. It isn’t always possible every season to buy articles of clothing that adhere to all of the above.

Okay so let’s take a look at what my son will be wearing over autumn and winter.

  • 3 Long sleeved t-shirts. Two from Smafolk and one is from Duns Sweden.

  • 3 pairs of trousers all from Uniqlo. These are elasticated-waist, legging type trousers. I chose these since my son is 30 months old and is now pretty much potty trained but still struggles a little with getting undressed. These are to make it easier for him to remove independently.
  • 1 cardigan and 2 sweaters. One of the cardigans is from Uniqlo and the other two are from Joha (ecolabel merino wool).

  • 2 sets of pyajamas from Uniqlo.

  • 4-8 pairs of underpants. Organic cotton. A combination of Muji, Hanna Andersson organic cotton trainers and two pairs from Maxomorra.

  • 4 vests. Organic cotton. From Muji.
  • 4 pairs of socks. 2 pairs are fine merino wool and 2 pairs are organic cotton. All from Grödo.

  • 1 coat from Disana. 100% boiled merino wool. We had the same brand coat last year and it was brilliant quality. I’d really recommend them. The buttons are large and I feel it will help him practice fastening them himself.

  • 1 hat from Pickapooh. Merino wool fleece with a brushed organic cotton jersey lining.
  • 1 scarf from Disana. Bought last year. 100% merino wool.
  • 1 pair of mittens from Disana. 100% merino wool.

  • 1 pair of barefoot friendly shoes from Bobux
  • 1 pair of barefoot friendly wellingtons from Melton.

In the next post I’d like to show you how we store and organize our clothes in order to make them accessible to our son.



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Welcome to Help Me to Help Myself

Welcome to Help Me to Help Myself!

My name is Nicole, I am almost 30 years old, and from the UK. For the past three and a half years I’ve been living in Japan with my husband and we have a 2 year old son together named Hugo.

We are currently living in Sendai, a 6 hour drive north of Tokyo. We decided to make the move from Tokyo at the beginning of November because I am currently pregnant with our second son and we wanted to be closer to family before the new arrival.

As a family, we are interested in, and try to apply: a minimalist, zero waste lifestyle and I am personally trying to move to a more plant based diet. We also adhere to the Montessori philosophy at home with our son. I’d like to blog a little about how we do this and how these lifestyle choices complement each other. I also want to do this from the perspective of living here in Japan.

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