Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Nothing to do with Religion

Normally I write about videogame development, but since these last few weeks I've been on paternity leave for my new daughter, my thoughts haven't really been there. But I do feel like writing still. So here it is, a blog that will no doubt have a much smaller readership, possibly limited to my wife and family. Or maybe even smaller.

The obvious blognames are already taken: dadblog, dad, father, blah, blah, blah. After many seconds of thought, I chose fatherjamie, although that does have some unfortunate religious connotations.

I'll start things off with a bang, by writing down an actual useful thought, that I wish somebody had told me before I became a new father, and that actual useful thought is: you don't need to buy all of these baby products!

Something I realized at Babies'R'Us was that they had us over a barrel: we had no idea which items we needed and which we didn't, and out of fear we went crazy and bought everything. (Or registered for everything for shower gifts, anyhow.) One example: they sell cloth in about a hundred different shapes and sizes, and each different cloth has its own name (washcloth, burp rag, lap pad, something-or-other cover, blah blah blah) - "Honey, do we need a something-or-other cover?" "I'm not sure, better get one just in case."

One of our good friends was no help either, as she gave us a huge list of all this useful stuff we could get. Did we need most of it? No. What we needed was a filter, someone to say to us, "You don't really need that. You don't really need that."

So, now that the baby is born, our house is full of crap we don't need.

In fact, I think the only thing we absolutely *did* need before the baby was born was the infant car seat. We needed diapers, sure, but the hospital gave us a bunch to start out with. They gave us plenty of blankets, and even some clothes.

For example, we didn't need a crib: we co-slept (Co-sleeping means to sleep with the baby in your bed. Very popular in some cultures and circles. Although there was apparently a report in 1999 that 64 infants in the United States that year died from co-sleeping related issues, I'd have to know how that number compares to infant-death-from-car-accident, infant-death-from-sids, etcetera, before I lost any sleep over it.) up until last night. (Sofia was born on the 27th of November, and it's now December 21.) *Now* we need a crib, it's true, so it didn't hurt that we bought one already, but there are some things we don't need that we wish we hadn't gotten.

For example, the glider chair: this is a sort of rocking chair that supposedly allows you to soothe yourself and your infant while breastfeeding. It turns out that breastfeeding is really hard to do. The last thing we needed was to try it in an unstable chair. Our ideal setup turned out to be a dining chair with a footrest in front of it and a carefully placed array of pillows. Not to mention the particular glider we bought squeaks, so the other parent can't sleep.

Speaking of soothing chairs, the "bouncer" is a chair that vibrates and is also supposed to soothe baby. Allow me to paraphrase Dr. Karp, author of *Happiest Baby on the Block* - these chairs are not for soothing but for maintenance. Once you've gotten your baby to stop crying you can, in theory, put them in the chair, and the chair will keep them calm. Dr. Karp recommends playing loud white noise while they're in the chair, as well. Well, our baby will stop crying if we crank up loud white noise - we just have to turn the radio to a staticy FM station and blast it. Pantera, Metallica, and Powerman 5000, all seem to work as well. So what do we need the chair for?

Not to mention, we have a crib mobile that also generates white noise. It is *way too quiet* - and possibly overstimulating. I'm not sure if I'm reading Sofia correctly, but she almost seems fearful of the thing.

And speaking of breastfeeding, the "Boppy" is a horseshoe shaped pillow you can rest the baby on while breastfeeding. It didn't work for us. At all. But the "Kidcozy" did, a different brand of horseshoe shaped pillow, did. We had one sent to us priority mail and threw the boppy out.

All in all, if I had it to do over again, before Sofia came I would have purchased only the products I was *sure* we were going to need: crib, infant seat, diapers, wipes, clothes-for-newborn. And registered for the products that I was *almost sure* we'd need: bottles, nipples, diaper champ. Everything else, like breastfeeding accessories (who knew we'd have to take so many unnatural measures to perform this supposedly natural act?) we'd get on an as-needed basis.

Not the end of the world to have more stuff than we need of course. Better safe than sorry and all that. It just irritates me that we're taken advantage of by the baby product industry. (And it irritates me that our tiny apartment is now dominated by baby paraphenalia.)


Jamie said...


Anonymous said...

Mindless blather:

Boppy--was useful at first for Jude as, surprise, a seat cushion while her episiotomy stitches were healing; consigned now to some dark corner of the closet. Becca prefers to be bounced while being fed actually; sort of the complete opposite of your stable place comment.

Glider--the big problem with this was the angle of the seat itself, it was a real pain for Jude to stand up with the kid in her arms, so it's permanently adorned with a pillow to make getting up easier.

Breastfeeding accessories--we don't use any of this anymore. While Jude doesn't have any problems with feeding per se, things like pumping, or rememebring to use pads, never worked for her. The breastmilk receptacle things are used to mix formula up for Becca's cereal now, or as toys, and the anti-bacterial wipes are used in repurposing old cell phones, remotes, etc.

Bouncer--Becca really loved this just because it let her sit up and had lights. The vibrating thing didn't work for us, it gave Becca an instant look of terror.

Other things: we're on our third bathing accessory (she turns six months in three days). Becca hated the first one, which had a thin foam-cell padding over hard plastic that maybe wasn't thick enough in hindsight. The second one worked pretty well, it was a sort of mesh chair that she has only recently outgrown because of her increased mobility and general lunging. She now has a sit-up one that will probably last a couple months.

We got hammered constantly about needing receiving blankets but we really stopped using them when she was flailing about so much at night--somewhere around the third month. You basically need a nice blanket for them to play on, a smaller portable version of that for the diaper bag, and burp cloths. Lots of burp cloths. Those are still incredibly useful.

Also, you can never have enough socks. You will lose them constantly, in public places especially.



Anonymous said...

Cool site ;) We've had quite good luck with the boppy pillow and the bouncer is awesome. But then again, our little tyke is a bit over 2 months old. The pillow has been great for both breastfeeding and bottle feeding in our household.

To assist us with the shopping experience, we picked up the Consumer Reports Best Baby Book or something like that. It was really helpful in determining what was needed and what was not. Good luck ;)

wuji -