Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Rampant Consumerism.

So, I've decided to post some stuff about baby paraphernalia we use and like, for those of you who might be curious. And because I had a good experience with one company and want to post about it and pass on the word of mouth.

First off, absolutely we can't live without the baby papasan.

A lot of books and websites recommend getting a swing and/or vibrating chair. We went with the chair, and it's great. From the first day we brought her home, Charlotte could sit in it - at just about 6 1/2 pounds, she wasn't too small. It's pretty adjustable. And it holds her at a great angle. Not so sharply upright that her head goes funny, and not so far reclined that she can't see what's going on around her. This is a good option for if you need to put the baby down, but need him/her be able to see what's going on. When you need a potty break, but the baby cries when you put her in the crib, this is a do-able option. It vibrates, plays music, and vibrates AND plays music at the same time. It's a crappy midi lullaby sampler, but it could be much, much worse. Though just typing about the music has called the baby playlist into my head, and I can hear it playing now...

Item #2, the Jeep front pack.

Now, I am a big ol' hippie, as you all know, and so I go in for attachment parenting. For those of you who don't know (or don't care) what that is, the quick and dirty version is thus - hold your child whenever possible, it's good emotionally, physically, and developmentally. Follow the baby's cues, don't try to force your agenda on him/her. One of the major tenets of attachment parenting is babywearing. Which is exactly what it sounds like. Wear your baby in some sort of carrier as much as you possibly can. Not to mention the fact that it is just dang convenient. And it's a lot easier to maneuver around stores in Northampton with a front pack than with a stroller. Northampton just isn't very stroller friendly. (Or baby friendly, to be honest. But that's another post entirely.) That being said about baby wearing, we wanted to start w/ two baby carriers. A ring sling for me, and the front pack for Matt, since he had very little interest at first in the less conventional baby carriers. So we registered for the Jeep carrier at BabiesRUs, and Dave got me the sling as a baby shower gift. We ended up getting two Jeep carriers, and I wish now that we had kept the extra one instead of exchanging it. We really probably could have used them both. Anyway, the sling is great but tricky to use, but the Jeep carrier is fool proof. I'm not thrilled that it is so obviously, blatantly and thoroughly be-logoed, but it is incredibly easy to use, and Charlotte likes it. When it's fussy-o'clock we can pop her in it and walk around. The sling requires much adjustment, and sometimes that's just pushing your luck a little too far if she's already screaming. So, in conclusion - can't have too many baby carriers, and the Jeep front pack is a pretty good option to add to your baby carrying stable. Next up in my babycarrier fantasy league - a Moby wrap and some sort of mei tai.

Ihird item I couldn't live without - the co-sleeper.

Another tenet of attachment parenting is co-sleeping. I'm a firm believer in the benefits of co-sleeping (just ask me for some research papers, I probably still have them), but we have too many pillows and too soft a mattress to really have her in the bed safely 100% of the time. So we got the Arm's Reach co-sleeper as a really great alternative to a bassinet. Unlike the traditional bassinet, this has one side that's lower than the other three, so it can sidecar alongside your bed. The baby has a safe space without extra bedding, but is in extremely close proximity to the parents. You can just reach in and get the baby in the middle of the night to nurse him/her. Or even just so you can see each other. This works out great, because paranoid first-time parents can look over and make sure the baby is breathing without having to get out of bed. And trust me, you will check and make sure your baby is breathing. You can't help it. Also, if Charlotte starts fussing in the middle of the night, I can reach out my hand and rub her belly or hold her hand, and that calms us both down.

Baby trend play yard - aka pack n play aka playpen. (Pack N Play is the Graco version of the same thing, but it's kind of like Kleenes or Xerox, I think. Everyone just calls it a pack n play, no matter what brand it is!)

This is one of those things that I registered for the first gender neutral one I could find. Then I began comparing features and we decided on this play pen. It can be used as a traditional playpen, to put the baby in while you are making dinner or whatever, but while the baby is still small it can be used as bassinet because there is an insert to bring the bottom up to about 12" below the top railing. It also has a little waterproof changing area that can swing over, so it can be used as a changing table. In the luxury category, it has a little sound player that plays nature sounds and little midi classical music songs. It also has a vibrate function, a night light, and a jack to plug in your iPod. If you have an iPod. What this means is that this thing is PERFECT for traveling. You can put the baby to sleep in the bassinet thingy and set it to vibrate and play some sounds for white noise and calm the baby down in unfamiliar settings. It has the changing area so that you can change the baby up higher with a safety belt instead of wrangling the baby on a floor. And here is where my customer service story comes in - it is also supposed to come with a little caddy that you can put diapers in and a sort of hood/shade thingy, but ours didn't. We thought that maybe we misunderstood and that it came separate, so we went back to BabiesRUs to buy the diaper caddy. Matt and I spoke with a rep who said no, it isn't sold separately, and she gave us the Baby Trends phone number. I called them, explained the situation, and they sent out replacement parts and apologized. The parts came today, so it was about 2 weeks. Not too bad. Just in time for Christmas at the in-laws. So I was very pleased, they didn't require a receipt or a photo or anything - we just gave them the serial number requested from the bottom, and that was that.

Medela microwave cleaning bags - These are awesome.

The way it works is you put the breastpump parts in the bag with 2 oz of water and microwave them for 3 minutes. Voila! The parts are sterilized. If the bottles you are using, either for breastmilk or for formula are microwave safe, you can put them in there, too. Or at least the nipples or any other silicone or rubber washers. Pacifiers, too. Basically, if you could boil it or microwave it to sterilize it, then you can use it in this bag. This bag really makes the whole pump/bottle/bink upkeep manageable. For a couple months we just put things out on paper towels to air dry, but a few weeks ago we got a bottle rack for $3 at BabiesRUs, and that made a world of difference. On the bag it says you can re-use each one 20 times, but when I worked for Motherwear, I met a Medela rep at a meeting, and he said they can be used pretty much until they rip. I've had mine since Charlotte was 2 weeks old, and we're only on bag #3. So it's a pretty good deal, you get a box of 5 for $5.

Oh, and of course, a good nursing bra. And a Boppy. But that's a whole 'nother post.

One last piece of advice - BabiesRUs and Walmart house brand diapers are better than Target's. I know, depressing. I like to think Target is the best at everything, but not this.

Oh, and here's a little PSA. For anyone who gets baby stuff with a registration card or something, it is important to register your baby equipment with the manufacturer, in case of recalls. I signed up for a lot of e-newsletters when I was pregnant, and let me tell you, it's worth the spam just for the recall notifications.

ETA: On the baby papasan, there is a little stuffed bunny with a bell in it that dangles from a mirror that hangs over the baby so they have something to look at. In our house, because we are total dorks, we have named him Mr. Bun and he is Charlotte's boyfriend. He is probably the first thing that she ever smiled at. Anyway, Charlotte *hearts* Mr. Bun, and so does Virgil. They have a verry Bizarre Love Triangle going on. Matt really wanted me to mention Mr. Bun, so there you go.

cross-posted to my LiveJournal

Monday, December 10, 2007

too busy to post...

But I want to mention that I've noticed Charlotte trying to hold her bink in her mouth, try to touch things on purpose, and trying to grab things. She also is almost giggling, usually at her own reflection or the Pooh mobile above her crib. She can almost roll over - if you put her down on her tummy with her arm under her body, she can roll herself onto her back. She met my paternal grandparents this weekend, and sat on Santa's lap. Charlotte is not happy that I'm working from home - I'm home, but we're not playing. She gets to sit with me whenever she wants and I sing to her, but she'd rather we were both playing.