Saturday, March 27, 2010

If I could do it all over again Part 2: Life With a Baby

In Part 1, I went over all the books I wish I had read when I was preparing for childbirth, yet childbirth is not the only area of mothering that I wish I had known some of the things that I know now. During my pregnancy, I had gotten a sense of the parenting philosophy I was going to subscribe to. Unmedicated childbirth, breastfeeding, babywearing and cosleeping came naturally to me. My background in early childhood education and knowledge of brain development in infants and young children supported those practices. I was able to see through some of the dominant cultural practices of caring for babies while others I was not aware.

Having Faith: An Ecologist's Journey to Motherhood by Sandra Steingraber
As I've developed a mother, my children's environment has become an important consideration for me. Steingraber gave me my education in bioaccumulating toxic chemicals and the importance of keeping our food supply, drinking water, and household items free from toxins. In large part, this is the book that convinced me on organic foods, gardening, environmental activism and limiting the amount of plastics in my home. This books also makes a strong case for breastfeeding. If only I had know about this information before I ever got pregnant, or if only my parents and grandparents had known about it...

Baby Matters: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Caring for Your Baby by Linda Palmer
This book emphasizes the primary importance of attachment parenting (specifically babywearing, breastfeeding and co-sleeping) and bolsters a parents' confidence in these parenting practices. Palmer addresses the opposition to these practices with convincing evidence to their benefits. She also provides compelling information on the common cultural practices to avoid like crying it out, formula, antibiotics, etc. Since I already had naturally gravitated to attachment parenting, this book gave me some evidence to cite in support of my intuitive beliefs. Its making this list because I wish I had known how to articulate the findings of this book at a time when I could only express an affinity towards the mindset.

Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child by Janet Zand, Robert Rountree, and Rachel Walton
I found this early in Willem's life so it doesn't exactly fall into the category of what I wish I had known, although I wish I had a greater working knowledge of homeopathy and herbalism in my younger years so it wasn't new to me when I became a mother. It has been a very valuable resource in helping to care for him when he's ill. It offers explanations of childhood illnesses and provides sections on conventional medicine, homeopathic medicine, herbal medicine, accupressure and comfort measures/ prevention tips for each illness. I refer it to first when either children are ill and I've really enjoyed learning about alternative medicine and what I can do at home to help my children feel better when they are sick. Evidently Willem has learned from me because he has told me that he really believes in the body's ability to heal itself because he often refuses medicine and instead like to take the wait and see approach.
Then comes the area of motherhood that doesn't involve knowledge, but requires stuff, or better known these days as baby gear. I have a list of "If I could do it all over again" with the baby stuff too.

Cloth diapers
Economical in the long run, worth the upfront cost, especially with the One Size options and bulk packages discounts available, better for babies skin, respiratory systems and the environment. In home washer and dryer recommended, however. I started out knowing I wanted to cloth diaper and bought a cloth diapering system. If only Fuzzi Bunz had been making the adjustable One Size diapers when I first became a mother. I could have saved possibly $800.
T-shirts instead of onesies (long and short sleeved)
I found I really don't like onesies for diaper changes, even though they are good for covering the low back when picking up babies. Especially with Elimination Communication, I find that a shirt that isn't held together at the crotch is quicker and easier for potty times (and diaper changes for that matter.) My babies just do not lie still long enough to snap a onesie bottom. Not only do I wish that non-onesie t-shirts were more commonly made for young babies, I wish I had known to stock up on them when I found them from the beginning.
Pants with feet
I wish I had another 4 or 5 pairs of pants with feet. I only have one pair, it was a gift and I've never seen another pair. They are great, because they keep the bottom half of the baby warm and I don't have to wrestle socks on baby's feet, or keep pulling socks up as they slip off, or keep having to replace socks after they've fallen off and gotten lost.

A hooded bunting
For newborn babies and until crawling, a hooded bunting is a cuddly, cute and easy way to keep a baby warm in cold weather. The hood is easier for me to deal with than a hat because if it falls off, its not going anywhere. I don't even know how many hats we've lost.
Moby Wrap for small babies until toddler
I found that the Moby is most supportive and versatile babywearing device for newborns. The baby can be worn cradled or upright. While many people really like ring slings, I find that the weight on one shoulder is not as comfortable over hours of babywearing as having the baby's weight equally distributed across my back, shoulders and hips. Its also very good for older babies, provides a fun way for them to face out for short periods and can be used through toddlerhood. I did discover this early on but for the sake of having a complete list of baby items, I'm adding this too.

Ergo for babies beyond newborn and for backcarrying
I mainly use this for backcarrying or when my older infant/quasi-toddler is sleeping. Its still great to wear my three year old on my back. Paired with the Moby on the front, double babywearing is possible and very comfortable.

A manual breast pump for engorgement and occasional times when separated from baby
If mom is going to be staying home to care for baby, its still useful to have a manual breast pump to express milk. Having a stockpile of milk in the freezer is comforting, and can be shared or donated to babies who are not exclusively breastfed. If mom is going to be in school, or working part-time/full-time, an electric pump is recommended. I had use of an electric pump when Willem was a baby because I was in school 40 hours a week when classes were going on with my graduate program, yet with Belle, I've only used a manual pump a handful of times. I was given a manual pump as a baby shower gift and it was a good one.

A side car crib
A side car crib is more worthwhile, in my experience, than a co-sleeper, bassinet, cradle, etc. Not only does it ensure a "cage-free baby," it can be set up when the baby is small and used until the child moves out of the family bedroom. I could have saved some money if we had put the side-car crib up instead of buying the co-sleeper.

A boppy (when learning to breastfeed)
Boppies aren't just for helping hold the baby when figuring out a proper latch for breastfeeding, they are great backrests in pregnancy, sitting supports for babies learning to sit up, nap nests for little babies, especially when they are congested. And just a fun toy for older children too. This is something I did have from the beginning and it was really worth it, especially since I got it off craigslist for cheap.

Swaddling blankets
I've learned that receiving blankets do not equal swaddling blankets and that not all babies, at all stages in their infancy like being swaddled. For both of my children, between 6-10 months, swaddling became a very important and useful of helping them get to sleep. I'm glad I figured swaddling out, but I wish I had had some good-sized and light-weight swaddling blankets from the beginning.

Car Seat
For the sake of a complete list of what is needed for a baby, a car seat needs to be on the list; however, this is one area that I haven't explored to a great extent so if I could do it all over again, I'd know more about it already and not be showing off my ignorance here. There's a chance with the next baby, I'll look into a rear-facing convertible car seat from the beginning, just for the convenience and money saving. Most importantly is knowing how to properly install the seat and position the car seat straps. Thanks to my friend Jennifer who taught me the trick of sitting on your knees in the seat to adjust the tightness against the backseat of the car.


Jennifer said...

I agree with most of your list of baby items. I haven't ever tried buntings with hoods, or t-shirts instead of onsies. I did buy a few side snap newborn t-shirts this time because I remember the onsie being a big hassle with Owen before his cord stump fell off. I did use a lot of gowns with Owen around the house instead of onsies. I thought they made diaper changes really easy and they were really cozy for him. This time I'll have a July baby though, so the gowns might be too hot. I used hotslings with Owen, but I am afraid I had him positioned really badly in them because I didn't realized the sling was too large for me. No wonder he never liked to be worn. I am going to go with the Moby Wrap this time. I've heard great things about it. We also have an ergo and love it! I didn't cloth diaper with Owen and I am still overwhelmed at the prospect. We have to pay for laundry in our apartment and I'm not crazy about putting huge one-size diapers on a newborn in the heat of the summer, but don't want to waste money buying different sizes. So, at this point I am really not sure what to do about that.

And, I highly recommend the safety forum on MDC to learn about car seat safety and options. There are some car seat techs who post there who really know their stuff. I think rear-facing is a big hassle, but from what I've learned is worth it. I wish I had known that with Owen. I sort of did know it, but we turned him sooner because my back was really bad and I couldn't lift him in anymore. There are some affordable seats available that you could use for Belle to keep her rear-facing longer and then you can turn them and use them forward facing too, so instead of buying two more seats you would just buy one. Or, just keep her rear-facing in the seat you have up to the height and weight limit instead of turning her at the minimum weight and age she can be turned.

Jenne said...

Jennifer, you reminded me of one of my favorite baby items. The baby gowns are great, especially for ECing. I have been looking for them in a size larger than 0-3 months but I've never seen them beyond that. I guess it doesn't matter too much because Belle is 10 months now and she still wears the 0-3 month gowns and they fit just fine.

I know what you mean about One Size diapers being really bulky, most of them are. But I've been really impressed by the design of the Fuzzi Bunz because the adjustable elastics (like in waistbands of pants) do not make the diaper bulky in comparison to the sized diapers.

I don't know what I would do regarding cloth diapers if I didn't have a washer and dryer available to me. The cost of paying to launder each load seems so cost prohibitive. I do know that one of my online friends, TopHat ( uses a laundromat for cloth diapering. You might want to ask her about cost/savings for her Inquisition Mondays.

I'm having to move Belle to a new carseat already since she is over 22 pounds. I got one that will be fine rearfacing until she's 40 pounds, and hopefully by that point, she'll move into the one that Willem is in, and he'll be in a booster. So we'll have to buy two but technically its only one for each child.

Jennifer said...

So you would recommend the FB one-size even for the newborn stage?

We will be getting a house in a year from now, and the baby will be 8 months old, so I was thinking of maybe starting CD'ing at that point, but I will check out that blog and start asking around and see what others do who have to pay for laundry. Thanks for the link.

The car seat situation for Belle sounds great! Owen isn't even 40 pounds yet and he is almost 5, so that could get a long way RFing. Just keep in mind that car seats expire usually after 6 years (the plastic breaks down and is no longer safe to use) - so sometimes using them for subsequent kids doesn't work out. But Willem and Belle might be close enough in age that it will work. Owen is too old for that plan to work out for us. I do think we will be able to get a year out of his bucket seat. I just want it to get us past winter and then we will get the Radian, but if it's already expired we will just go right to the Radian.

Jenne said...

With Belle, I figured out a trick that can make the small size Fuzzib Bunz work for a newborn and though I haven't tried it with the One Size at the smallest setting, I can't see why it wouldn't work. The newborn period is such a short time that it passes so quick that a little jeri-rigging on the diaper doesn't matter so much. If I can I'll post a picture tutorial at some point, but I'll summarize here.

Take a flat birdseye diaper and wrap it onto the baby like you would a regular flat diaper. You don't need to pin it, just roll it up against the baby's thighs so its fitted and then put the Fuzzi Bunz over it, tuck in what is peeking out of the flat diaper and you've created enough bulk on the baby for the diaper to fit. It also helps when they are little to hold in the really runny new breastmilk poop.

Have you thought about using a diaper service for the first few months for the new baby?

Jennifer said...

I've looked into diaper services in the area, but they seem to be twice as much as disposables. I just can't really justify that financially. I'm not sure how many extra loads of laundry I would have to do if we CD'ed though, maybe it wouldn't be so bad cost wise. Do you remember how many loads you did when you were not EC'ing?