Sunday, July 25, 2010

Stuff for Baby

I had written before about how I think babies these days have entirely too much "stuff" in their lives. As we are getting closer to having a baby, I decided we need to figure out what we actually do need, and where we are going to get it.

I kind of had a list in my mind: crib, clothes, diapers, wipes, car seat, blankets, breast pump, diaper pail. But I really hadn't thought too much about what those items would actually be or look like. So John and I packed up the girls and headed over to Babies R Us. Since we don't know when exactly this baby might join us, I figured it would be a good idea to have some of the essentials on-hand.

I literally was having palpitations by the time we left.

Our primary objective was to look at car seats and breast pumps. I knew our local resale shop had some crib bedding that I liked as well as the whole sleepers/clothes/blankets thing. Diapers were coming via the diaper service, and we have a stock of wipes left over from Anna. But the car seat and breast pump are things that I am probably going to have to buy new.

Since they were closest to the door, we stopped to look at the pumps first. (Abigail was fascinated, and later told my mom "we looked at the pumps so we can get the milk out for the baby!" Anna was much more interested in all of the pictures of the babies and kept saying "dat our baby?") The thing about buying a breast pump is this: you need to know how you plan to use the pump (I mean, other than the obvious) in order to decide which pump is right for you. So here we were sitting in the aisle at Babies R Us trying to figure out how often I would need to pump... basically trying to figure out how much I would be working once the baby came. Our philosophy up til then had been more of a "let's see how it goes," with a plan that after 10-12 weeks I would resume working on a very part-time basis (maybe 8-12 hours/week.) We want to avoid having the baby in day care (the cost is phenomenal!) but figured a day a week would  not be too bad. Plus, for Anna's sake, she needs to be interacting with other children and we were planning to have her in preschool 2 days a week once the baby came. So, we are thinking that I could work 1-2 days a week, with the baby in day care one day and a half-day where John or his mom would watch the baby. This discussion took quite a while, and didn't even take into account the fact that I would be working some weekend days at my other job (yes, I am working 2 jobs.) BUT, and here's the best part, the plan for when I work at my other job is that John's mom will watch the kids and just bring the baby over whenever I need to feed him/her, so I won't really "need" the pump very much then. Who knew that looking at a breast pump would bring up such discussions?

I think we finally settled on the Evenflo Comfort Select Performance Dual Auto-Cycling Breast Pump. But now I am reading the reviews on Amazon and I'm not so sure. Maybe The First Years miPump Double Electric Breast Pump might be better? Their customer service is usually very good, which is reassuring if I were to have any problems... Anyone have any ideas? And why do I feel like this is such a monumental decision? I was satisfied with my breast pump when I had Abigail, and there was no research that went into that purchase whatsoever.

Anyway, the second item we were looking for was a car seat. Because we will have all three kids in the back seat of my car, and because our poor baby doesn't deserve to be put into a cold car seat in the middle of a Pennsylvania blizzard, we were looking for an infant car seat rather than a all-in-one car seat. We also wanted the ease of having multiple bases for John's car, my car, his mom's car, etc. After considering our options, and keeping in mind that Abigail outgrew her infant car seat in HEIGHT well before she would have outgrown the weight, we decided on the Graco SnugRide 32. Love the options like the quick snap-off padding (so nice when baby pukes everywhere!) and it will accommodate baby up to 32 pounds and 32 inches. Score!

Now, as for the other 15 billion items in Babies R Us... well, we aren't buying. I mean, I don't think we need a pack-n-play, a swing, a "travel system", bouncer, crib bedding, and high chair in a matching print, or a crib, changing table, armoire, and dresser that all match. In fact, I am not sure our little Nugget "needs" any of those things. We did debate on the stroller issue, and ultimately decided that if we discover a need for a stroller, we might pick one up (or get one at a resale shop), but with a carrier that works for us (which we got at a resale shop for a fraction of the new cost), and not a lot of plans to be out in the cold, snowy weather, and a perfectly functional umbrella stroller that can be used after age 6 months, it just doesn't make any sense to buy a stroller, at least not right now. (Although we did scope out the options if John's mom wants to get a stroller that works with the car seat for when she is watching the kids.)

I just can't buy into the idea that babies "need" all this stuff. I mean, it is such a consumerist mindset, and it feeds off the insecurities of parents who think that having nice "stuff" for their kids is just as good as being good parents. Or those who think that having 700 items that are the same brand and have the same print will somehow make their baby sleep through the night sooner. Or those who simply think that since this is what they see in commercials, this is what they- and their baby- need. I think a lot of first-time parents who have not had a lot of experience with children truly believe these things are necessary for their infant.

In fact, I actually overheard a couple discussing this. They were registering, and this was their first baby. They were discussing the things they "needed" and how it would be better to have all the same brand and "line." They did the whole thing where they registered for a swing, bouncy seat, bedding, pack-n-play, play gym, travel system and a few other things within the same line. They kept using the word "need" in their discussion... they needed the swing to help the baby fall asleep, and they needed the bouncer to have a place to put the baby to play and have awake time. They needed the pack-n-play with the bassinet feature to have a place to change the baby and lay the baby down in the living room, but they needed the full set of furniture to have a place to lay the baby down and change diapers in his room. They registered for the play gym because the baby needed something to play with and they registered for the exersaucer-thing because the baby would need that to learn how to walk. And they needed 2 diaper genies because God-forbid their home ever have an odor!

I wanted to stand up ad ask these people "however did women and babies manage before they had all of this stuff?" What did women do when all they had was a crib and their own two hands to care for their baby? How on earth did babies learn to play or sit up or walk without all these toys and devices? (And I kind of want to say the same thing to women who think they "need" an epidural to give birth.)

The truth is, I think babies need very little. Food, diapers, and a car seat to get home from the hospital. All the other things out there are the things our culture tells us we need; this is probably an equal result of consumerism as well as living in a more "complicated" society where there is rarely one clear primary caregiver. And to be in the Mecca of consumerism- a mindset we have even about our babies- was just overwhelming. I literally was having palpitations and was so very ready to leave.

But, despite my un-ease over all the craziness around me, I did enjoy trying out the various rocking chairs:)


Faith said...

Just testing if I can comment from my iPhone before I write out a long comment.

Faith said...

I agree with you that babies do not need all of that stuff. I'm a clothes and diapers and baby carrier type of girl myself BUT
1. They are very fun and
2. I have a serious need for things to match. It's almost like a sickness that I have. If something has a match, even if I don't need it...I need it. I just found out today that mom is the same way. We were buying bins to store the kids toys and we bought an extra one in a different size because it matches and "I'm sure we can find something to put in it."

Mom wanted to buy a baby swing at a garage sale because she thought that we really needed it for when you guys are here for Christmas. I talked her out of it because it's only one baby and there will be 5 adults and 2 big sisters. Surely there will be someone that wants to hold the baby. I can't imagine it ever being put down.

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