Monday, May 24, 2010

Useless Baby Gear

One thing I tried really hard to do while pregnant was block out all the useless baby items.  I knew we didn't need a wipes warmer for our baby to be happy and healthy.  But there are soo many items we either purchased or were given that turned out to be a waste of money.  We didn't buy a swing and by the time I decided I needed a bouncy seat, I found one for less than half of retail (in good shape, too!) at a consignment store.  My son barely used it, preferring to be held.  But while we didn't bring home every kind of plastic entertainment center or soothing rocker or whatever from the baby store, we did bring home a few duds.

1) Disposable nursing pads.  I went through a dozen boxes of these at least and with that money, I could have bought a dozen pairs of nice cloth ones and been done with it.  I never had to run out for diapers, but I did have to run out for more of these when I ran low and it irritated me to be doing that.  But I never knew when I would stop needing them.  Boogie was about 5-6 months old when the leaking slowed down to a mere trickle and I switched to a set of 6 cloth nursing pads.  Almost immediately after making the investment, I stopped needing them altogether.  But next time, I'll know.  And I'll be investing in cloth from the start (with maybe a box of disposables just in case).

2) Sleep Positioner.  I thought this was vital.  I mean VITAL.  Turns out that babies who can flip themselves over well enough to do so in their sleep don't need to stay on their backs all night to stay safe.  However, babies who can't...well, they won't!  There's no need to use these positioners and frankly, ours was a pain in the butt to clean.  If you feel you must have one, find one that does not have a back piece that goes under baby's head or you will be washing spit up off of it frequently.  And ours couldn't go in the dryer so that was fun, too.  I gave up on it fairly quickly.

3) A second car seat base.  My son has never once ridden in my husband's car.  The base didn't fit well and we never needed it, really.  Eventually, it went in my mother's car, but because I had a two door car, we were using her car 95% of the time anyway and could have easily only used hers, or (with more difficulty) only used mine.  Thankfully, I now have a 4 door car and we've more or less ditched the infant seat anyway!

4) Car seat toys.  Those adorable little toys that hang from the car seat handle for baby to play with?  Boogie never cared for them at all.  Besides, the handle should be back when the carseat is in the car, so when is he supposed to play with them?  I never liked for him to spend a lot of time in his seat when it wasn't in the car, so he got zero use from the toys. We recieved a ton of them and bought some ourselves and Boogie just never cared for them.  Now they collect dust at the bottom of his toy bins.

5) 9 Months size clothes.  Boogie was in and out of this size in maybe a month, and yet he had an entire complete wardrobe in that size.  Next time, we'll skip right to 12 months.

6) The breathable bumper.  Boogie didn't sleep in a crib until 7 months (we didn't even buy one until then!) but I put the bumper on it and found that within a month, he was pulling himself up to stand on it  and it really wasn't serving any purpose.  So down it came.  I'm pleased that we never bought a crib bedding set for $150 or more, since they seem to be almost entirely useless.  He sleeps on plain blue fitted sheets that were about $10 for 2 at IKEA.

Fess up!  What did you bring home for baby that was completely useless??

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

First Birthday

Today is Boogie's first birthday.  While he is climbing around the living room (walking! already!), pulling things off the shelves and unfolding laundry for me, I can't help but be mystified as to how we got here.  A year?  Really?  It just doesn't seem that long ago that he was this little bitty bundle of a thing.

I was a mean mama and scheduled his 12 month check up for his actual birthday.  This morning we went and crawled around the exam room for a while.
That was great fun.  Then the nurse came and took a finger prick blood sample and that was actually kind of interesting.  He was more fascinated than anything else.  The stethoscope was also a hit.  For the record, a BumGenius is pretty easy to use at the pediatrician, where the diaper goes off and on and off and on.  One piece is handy :)

Then came the big V.  Vaccination time!  He didn't like that at all.  For a toddler, he sure took it like a baby.  But he's still my little baby so it's okay.  I was an extra mean mama and took a picture of him crying afterwards.  Then we had some mama milk and it was all better.

He has always been a happy baby.  I don't know if he is naturally happier than average or if we are just fantastic parents who meet all of his needs.  I suspect its at least party a natural disposition but I like to believe it is at least partly my doing.

A year ago, I was terrified that he would never learn to latch.  The first week of his life was arduous, as I suspect it is for all new parents.  My husband and I were completely overtaken by a 7lb 9oz creature that seemed to be under the mistaken belief that we knew what to do with him.  I clearly remember the sloppy lists and lists of notes on feeding times and duration, diaper changes, etc.  I also remember throwing it in the trash and deciding that I would be a lot happier if I didn't have to look at a list of the times he failed to latch.  I also remember throwing a nipple shield at the night table and deciding firmly that he would latch when he got hungry enough.  And he did.  Pretty quickly, in fact.

As it turned out, we did know what to do.  We just had to put the books down and listen to our intuition.  I know it took longer for my husband to hear his than it did for me to hear mine.  But that's fairly normal, I suspect.  After all, I was home with him and learned his cries sooner.

So here's a few things I wish I had known before I became a mama.

1) Don't let anyone convince you to send your newborn to the nursery for the night.  You won't sleep better.  You just had a baby!  Is he okay?  Is he hungry? Is he crying?  What if they give him formula, even though you ask them not to?  What if he gets a paci, even though you ask them not to?  My son had a lovely sign on his bassinet asking that he not be given formula, pacis, or anything else without our permission.  He came back from the nursery twice with a paci shoved in his mouth.  No wonder he wouldn't latch!  I wish I felt 100% sure they didn't give him any formula.  I do feel 100% sure that his needs were not adequately met there, as they would have been with me in our room.  If they didn't bother to read and obey our sign, why would they respect anything it said?  I probably wouldn't have laid there wondering if he was okay if he had been 2 feet away, either.  Oh, and then the bill came.  Turns out the nursery isn't a free service provided out of love.

2) Babies don't come with schedules and they don't really care about the one you thought up for them, either.  The fact is that you just cannot schedule a newborn.  I would venture to say that you cannot really schedule a baby at all for several months at least.  Boogie took to a sleep schedule at about 7 months and I don't think he would have gone for it even a few days earlier.  He's never been one to nurse on a schedule and he only just now wants his solid food meals on one.  The best thing I could do for Boogie was to meet his needs when he needed them.  And I look back now and feel confident that I have not taught him to eat when he isn't hungry or to eat more than he wants, nor have I made him wait to eat because it wasn't "time".  And this is a good thing!

3) You just do not know your capacity for love until you have a baby.  You can love your spouse, your parents, even your adorable puppy.  But you really just can't fathom how overwhelming the love you will have for your child is until you meet him (or her) and feel it for yourself.  Which bring me to...

4) There is nothing cooler than when your baby says "mama" and means you.  I remember when he started saying "baba" and my dad said he thought he was talking about me.  I remember realizing that baba meant, actually, my boobs (or maybe the milk in them? Still not sure but he still says baba when he wants milk)  Then one day he started saying "ma ma ma" and it seemed random.  Until he pulled himself up to standing at the baby gate and called a string of "ma ma ma ma" and reached for me.  My heart almost exploded.  He loves me!  He really loves me!

5)  It really truly does not matter if his outfit matches.  What matters is that after he nurses in our bed in the morning on Saturday, Daddy takes him downstairs and I sleep for a while longer.  So what if I come down at a cool 8:45a and he's wearing the shirt from one outfit with the pants from another?  Or still in his pajama shirt and pants that don't match?  Or no socks?  Or nothing at all?  He's happier naked anyway.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'm nothing if not frugal

I love frugality.  I was a hard-core drugstore game playa for a solid year and a half before I had Boogie, and then I sort of started to leave that behind in favor for more natural products over the ones I was getting free or cheap playing with CVS freebies.

However, natural products are very rarely had for the kind of deals I was getting on, for example, shampoo or shaving cream.  These were free, in fact.

So, I take what I can get.  I recently posted about how I buy Boogie's yogurt in the larger container and portion it out, freezing some, instead of buying the individual packs.  In general, I prefer to buy the plain whole milk organic yogurt over the packs because they have added sugar and I prefer to give it plain or add my own fresh fruit with no added sugar.

However, a week or so I came across a deal that was too good to pass up.  Whole Foods was running a coupon in their Whole Deal Newsletter for $1/1 4-pack of YoBaby 3-in-1 Meals.  I had snagged a few $1/1 Manufacturer's coupons from a blinky at another grocery store, and our Whole Foods allows you to use both a store and a manufacturer's coupon.  Since the packs were on sale for $2.69, I picked up 4 packs of 4 for $0.69 each, or about $0.17 per cup.

He loved them and enjoyed them until we ran out yesterday and had to buy a new tub-o-yogurt.  But that's a good savings over regular price on the larger tubs as well, which puts more money in our grocery budget for fresh foods.

So a little added sugar isn't going to kill him, really.  Especially since he has hadly had any kind of added sugar in anything.  The exception is Annies organic bunny grahams.  Love those.  I mean, Boogie loves those.  Okay, I eat most of them.

This is just one example of how you can make organic work for your budget.  I firmly believe that it doesn't have to be all or nothing.  Do what you can and be an informed consumer, especially when it comes to the products you put on or in your body.  Once we run out of the stocked up items I have from Drugstore game days, we will switch to more natural products, including and especially those we use for Boogie.  I recently picked up some California Baby products on clearance at Target for about what the conventional Johnson's stuff costs so I'm looking forward to emptying the current bottle of baby wash to make the switch.  We have already dropped the baby lotion in favor of Coconut Oil and it works better!  But I can't bring myself to throw away what we have in favor of spending more on something else, so we're making gradual switches.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Flip Diapers Review

We recently purchased a couple of Flip diapers from BumGenius.  I was looking for a better cover to go over our Mother-Ease diapers and inadvertantly fell in love with an entirely new diapering system!  Flip diapers are everything I have been looking for and more. 

The covers have snap closure, which is ideal because velcro covers were coming undone with all the vigourous crawling Boogie has been doing - and now, as of Saturday, he is walking, too!

I love that these diapers have a stay-dry liner that wicks the moisture away from Boogie's little bum.  Since he has been having some problems with yeast rashes, I have been looking for a way to keep these at bay and these liners seem to do the trick.  We have been using them for about a week now - with a mixture of Flip liners and prefolds - and they are working great for us.

Another bonus?  The liners take up less space in the diaper bag, so I can carry more with me for longer trips without having to over-stuff an already packed-to-the-brim bag.

Right now, Boogie is in the middle size of these adjustable diapers.  Since I am planning to start potty training in the fall/winter, we should find that these diapers are the last covers we will need to buy.

Plus, they are super trim and haven't leaked at all.  Here's an action shot -

Couldn't get him to hold still long enough to get a clear shot!

Because a day pack (2 covers, 6 inserts) can be had for $50, any parent can afford to use these diapers.  I would think for a newborn, you might need two day packs per day, but if I were buying these from the start with no other diapers in my stash, I would buy 4 day packs for $200 and plan on washing every other day at least until Boogie was 6 months or so.  After that, you would have plenty of wiggle room for washing - no time every other day? No problem!  We currently have 4 covers, 8 stay dry liners, a handful of prefolds, and the liners from our Mother-Ease dipes, which I have found work well for at home if we stack two liners in the covers.  I haven't really tried these liners out and about because I haven't needed to, but I'm confident they would work just fine.  I'm going to hold out and see if they have more new colors for covers before I buy any more, but I can certainly work with what we have without buying anything else until we are done with potty training.

And as for the math?  We are still far beyond the point where we broke even on diaper costs against what disposables would cost, even though we are back to disposables at night most of the time.  We are at least 4 months ahead!

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

My First Mama's Day Card

There is a part of me that wants to keep this all to myself, because it makes me so incredibly happy.  But as I was writing my last post just moments ago, I decided that I just had to tell the world (or the maybe 6 people who "follow" me at this point haha) how thoughtful and loving my husband is.

Today I recieved my first Mama's Day card and this is what Boogie "wrote" inside:

Dear Mama,
Thank you for my swimmin pool and my superman shirt, and my squishy frog, and for snacks and panacakes, and for not letting me eat Whimbly's food.  But most of all, thank you for showing me that, even though we're both new to the whole thing, Mama loves me, and I can rely on that for the rest of my life.
I love you,
P.S. Red boat get sinked.

Whimbly, by the way, is our cocker spaniel.  The boat thing is a bathtime reference.  I wouldn't have included it except that if I ever lose the card, I like to think I could look back here and see it.

My husband rocks.

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A look back for my first Mother's Day

Today was "Mama's Day" since Boogie calls me "mama".  Interestingly, he calls me "baba" when he wants milk for hunger or comfort, which has led me to wonder if babies who are bottle-fed are really calling their bottle a "baba" because it's the same consonant sound, or because many babies learn to say that sound first...but that's besides the point.

Just over a year ago I became a mother and I was thrown into a world that I could not have prepared for in any real way.

We bought a super fancy infant seat (okay, its a graco so its only so fancy but it was the fanciest graco infant seat) and by the time Boogie was 6 months old he hated it as much as we did.  Not only that, but I learned rather quickly that Boogie didn't want to spend his time in his infant seat.  I had seen babies toted in infant seats everywhere for years and just sort of assumed it was what babies liked.  Nooo...not Boogie.  He wanted to be held always, and while at first this seemed like a bit of a burden, I now thank my lucky stars because all that closeness has made him happier, healthier, and more secure.  And I feel like a better mom for holding my baby close to me as much as possible.

I read books about breastfeeding because I was so incredibly terrified that Boogie and I wouldn't be able to make it work.  The first week was rough, full of tears and frustration.  My poor husband, bless him, was terribly confused when I cried profusely because Boogie wouldn't latch without a nipple shield.  Now, nearly a year later, Boogie is still nursing at least 5 times a day and recently he has started giggling and smiling and shrieking in delight when I ask him if he wants milk.  It is The. Most. Adorable. Thing. Ever.  I love that he now crawls to me, climbs on my lap, and tries to latch on through my shirt.  Okay, so that is sometimes not so adorable but I do love that he is so excited to drink my milk!

I think my favourite part about being a mom is when Boogie calls me Mama.  He started out calling me Baba and still calls me that when he is unhappy or wants milk.  I think it may be my breasts he is referring to and not really me as a whole, but soon enough he started calling me Mama.  Then he started calling his daddy Dada.  We've since taught him "Nana" and are working on "Papa" (for his grandpa).  But once he learned Dada, he chatters that syllable over and over all day whenever he is happily playing.  It seemed he only said Mama or Baba when he was upset.  But last weekend while my mother and I were in NJ for a bridal shower, Boogie stayed with her while I attended shower preparations with the rest of the bridal party.  Apparently, he said Mama over and over the whole time he was with her!  So it isn't that he likes Dada better - he just misses Dada during the day.  Which is fine with me!  I know that my husband wants to have a close relationship with Boogie, and I want that for them, too.  But it's nice to know that we're both equally loved.

I'm pretty sure that his relationship with me will be based on comfort and having basic needs met, while Dada will be the "fun" parent most of the time.  I just don't "get" GI Joe and dump trucks so Dada will be a lot more fun for that.  However, I look forward to nurturing his creativity and imagination whenever I can with art projects, lots of reading and writing together, and cooking together.

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