Tuesday, January 20, 2009

In Response to a Query

I received an email from a pregnant friend with some excellent questions to be asking while pregnant and I thought I'd share my answers here.

I'm hoping to solicit some advice from you, as I am starting to get pressure from my family to hurry up and register for baby gifts. Cheryl, I bought that Baby Bargains book, which has be FANTASTIC helping me sort out things like cribs, car seats and strollers (though if you have words of wisdom on those topics, I'll still take them!)

Baby Bargains was excellent.

From Mikaela: There is a page in there with what you need for the first three months. It is a calm port in the storm of consumerism and worry. You don't even need a crib for the first three months, for example.

After a lot of hemming and hawing, we went with the Ikea Gulliver crib. Cheap, sturdy, up to European toxics standards and allowed the use of a standard mattress. of course we then had to get fancy and get an organic cotton futon made, and have been fighting with Matsu Futon (they suck but are nice bout it) since.

We went with a newcar set, the Graco snugride and bought bases for every car off Craigslist. I am pretty lackadaisical about giving advice on the baby stuff except for two topics: home births and used car seats. I am super pro-home birth as starting point and I vehemently oppose used car seats and used motorcycle helmets for the same reason. It is the EPS foam which protects the kid and the brain pan in a crash, and they are fragile materials, especially if they are abused. Or dropped. Or used to store bowling balls. None of which you know if it is used. Everything else… whatever! Have fun. Buy stuff with whatever option comes in fuzzy. That is my advice.

I'm still at a complete loss for other necessities. For example, how many bottles do I need if I plan on mostly breastfeeding for the first 6 months, but may pump so that someone else can feed the baby on occasion?

That sounds like us and we bought to bottles: an adiri bottle and a glass bottle with the neoprene cover. We like them both. The real trip is the amount of bottles you need for the pumping. Mikaela can give you a sense of numbers but it feels to me like a corner of the kitchen is given over to them.

Do I need warmers and sterilizers?

Need a warmer? No. You can warm milk after you take it out of the fridge, and leave it out for several hours. We warmed a bottle once by putting it on the dashboard and turning up the defrost. Not a great success but Asher drink it. When I give him a bottle (admittedly not too frequently these days) I just put it in a bowl of hot water. I think Mikaela sterilizes everything by boiling it in a pot of water. Save the counter space for a cappuccino maker. That will definitely come in handy.

Are there big differences between the different popular bottle brands? Glass vs. BPA free plastic?

Just be prepared that whatever you buy, you’re kid will like the other thing. For a week. And then they won't anymore. Sigh. So don't get attached. I think the adiri and the glass are best options.

From Mikaela: As long as it is the "good" plastic, don't worry too much.

How about those nipple pads? What kinds do people like and how many do you use in a day?

Pass. I don't know from nipple pad.

From Mikaela: The ones called soothies are like cooling and make you feel better. For the anti-leaking pads, I bought organic hemp ones. Don't use the disposables. Just make sure they're soft and machine washable. I think 6 to 8 pairs will cover you.

Boppy breastfeeding pillow versus that firmer one that goes around your whole body?

I know Mikaela prefers the one that is c-shaped, the Boppy, and doesn’t like the one that goes all the way around her back. It is called the My Breast Friend and really should be avoided for that reason alone.

Really key though: a glider. Hunt around for a used one though. They’re hella ugly but you’ll be spending time –a lot of time- sitting in it and not too much time staring at it in aesthetic judgment. It is a tool. A blue gingham covered tool.

From Mikaela: We didn't pay more for the reclining one (we got it for $50) but there are those who love them. Our friend Ailish spent the last month of pregnancy in hers.

And what other accessories have been really helpful to you? Like those little swingy chairs for newborns?

What I love the most is the pilates ball. You will do a lot of baby bouncing. And either it will be your arms or your legs doing the bouncing
or it will be the ball. Let it be the ball.

From Mikaela: And this is nearly unanimous from parents we know, where everything else Ben is about to mention depends on what flavor of baby you get.

Key purchase: the vibrating bouncy chair. Hugely important for some babies, like my niece Olive. Asher wasn’t made a catatonic champion sleeper in the bouncy chair the way some kids are. But nothing does that for him really and the bouncy chair is reliable.

The bumbo’s are adorable when they get a little bigger.

The swing is worthy c-list purchase. I recommend getting the ones that swing side-to- side and then allow you to change the carrier’s direction so it swings front-to-back. Get the least offensively colored one you can find. NOTE: all baby stuff like this come with Fun Enforcers, garishly colored Chinese plastic protuberances festooned with just insane looking happy puppies, ducks and monkeys that blink, rattle, vibrate and bobble. I think they are horrible (except when I love them) and nearly all of them can be easily disconnected (and quickly re-connected when necessary)

White noise machines, do they work? (we actually don't have a radio anymore thanks to iPod so we can't make our own)

Wrong there! We use our iPod as a white noise machine and I have collected or created a panoply of horrendously unnatural and grating noises that somehow make newborns stop mid-screaming fit and then fall asleep. I’ll burn you a few cds…

Anything unexpected you'd recommend?

Miracle blankets and a five foot length of stretchy organic bamboo fabric to bind your kid like a burrito. It could. Very well. Save. Your. Life.

The digital baby monitors are pretty much the only way to go if you live with any babies within 6 miles. Otherwise they pick up every other screaming crying baby whose parents also bought the monitor on sale at Citikids Baby News (the awesomest name for a kid’s store in the world) I would recommend the painfully expensive Phillips DECT monitor but the talk-back button just broke. Not cool.

Also, what turned out to be a waste of money?

All the pacifiers he spit out immediately. G-Diapers. Do not buy any copies of Goodnight Moon. You will get four. Same with Curious George and Babar.

I know you all are busy, and there's no huge rush, but if you have a moment and some good advice, I would be VERY grateful. I feel like I've entered a whole new realm of baby product hyper-consumption about which I know nothing! :)

Happily, this doesn’t have to be true. You can become an open maw for every plastic piece of crap Babies R’Us can fit on their sales floor. We have actually bought very little and think of ourselves more as a section of pipe than a dumpster. We get stuff from other people and send it on to other people when we’re done. The really special favorite onesie might get pulled out for my brother (Nothing to declare, no news here, but someday, you know, who knows?) or us (see previous parenthetical) Everything else, from the swing to the bumbo to the glider is fully here today and gone gone gone the next. Stay out of Babies R’Us and never ever read parenting magazines, look at what your least consumingist friends have in their houses and wait to inherit it.

And sleep now. Man, should you ever sleep now!

And here is a picture of Asher:

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