by Milton on Tue, Jun 15th, 2010

in Baby,Baby Gear,Challenges,Design,Home,Month 1,Parenthood

Baby on one knee... iPad on the other.

With the exception of our nursing and napping enabler, the marvelous iPad, we’re both super sensitive to baby gear.  Most of it is junk.  I see it in the store and immediately visualize it in a landfill.  It’s pretty much all badly made molded plastic crap, and much of it requires a batteries.  Gross.  I cringe at the use of even a disposable water bottle or plastic shopping, so you can imagine how all of this other stuff makes me feel.

I tried to get around the baby gear issue by only registering for very few things and buying vintage.  The furniture I bought to house Axelrod’s little onesies and pajamas is midcentury stuff that matches all the blonde wood we have in our space, refinished a little with some fabric that will eventually translate well into his own room (someday, someday!).  Our pram is a fantastic mid-70s vintage.  We co-sleep when he’s not in the pram, and hope to totally avoid ever owning a crib.  The little books and toys we’ve gotten for him are stashed in bins on the blonde wood shelves.

The big, amazing, SUV style BOB stroller is the big item in one of our only big closets.  The ugly Graco infant seat was my one plastic concession in our living room, along with a vibrating chair that is on loan from another family.  We found that we could strap him into the car seat and rock the seat with our foot, creating a swing effect, OR put him in the vibrating chair.  They both work, depending on his mood.  I thought it’d hold out through the infant swing phase nicely.

And then he started to get fussy in ways that only a good rock would suffice.

He’s generally not a fussy guy.  He doesn’t cry unless he has a really good reason.  He cries when he’s hungry.  He fusses when his diaper needs changing.  He cries when he has gas.  The thing is, that whole gas issue?  Yeah.  That happens a LOT.  He’s always working something out, be it a man sized burp or a series of charming farts.  He grunts and pushes and cries.  I can’t blame him.  Digestion issues are the devil.  We use a little Gripe water from time to time, but this stuff certainly doesn’t put him down for a nap, hands free.

The thing about infants is that they get all worked up.  They’re happy and gorgeous and smiling, and then something will happen to tip the scales and you could be looking down a rocky road for the next few hours of family peace.  It’s not that he screams, really.  We are very fortunate to not have a baby with colic.  He just fusses.  He grunts.  He squeaks.  He squirms.  If it goes on for two long, the scales get tipped and his head gets all messy and refuses to sleep.  You’ve got to reset that baby brain with some white noise and swinging to lull him off to sleepy time, thereby lulling yourself off to some precious sleepy time.

For us, the worse time is in the morning.  It starts to happen any time from 4am to 6am and can sometimes (luckily not often) last until 2pm.  He starts to get gassy and he starts with the grunting and the squeaking.  Sometimes, this makes for parental shambles for the whole rest of the day.  A baby who nurses at midnight, 2, and 4 and then decides to be mostly awake until late morning or early afternoon makes for a parent who is trying to survive the day on only 2 hours of sleep.  Exhaustion makes everything worse.  We will start to snip at each other and argue about areas where we generally feel peaceful.  That’s not a pretty way for new parents to go!

Enter… my bratty foot stomping insistence on buying a baby swing.  I was lucky to have the backup of my mother and sister-in-law on the swing front.  They were all visiting- Milton was uncertain of this ugly plastic monstrosity, but it’s rather hard to argue in the face of so many mothers.  Our family needed a swing- it was decided.  We headed to a local baby gear consignment shop and put our fussy baby into some of the ugliest swings I’ve ever seen to test them out.  In the end, Milton and I decided to come away with the cheapest one.  His sister used the same model for her little girl, and it worked for her, that was good enough reason for us!  We bought it and brought it home.  My mother sent me to bed for a much needed nap and commanded absolute silence from my very young sisters and step-father.  She scrubbed the swing while I slept.  It now looks practically new and now doesn’t have that sweetly rancid other-people’s-baby smell that I associate with day care centers and baby consignment shops.  Phew.

Today is the first day we’re getting to test the swing.  His little head flops around a little in it, so I’ve got him supported with an adorable purple elephant that a good friend of ours knit.  I put him in that swing when he was grunting, squeaking, and badly in need of a nap… and he went down for the count.  After 10 minutes, I moved him to his pram for a proper sleep and breathed a sigh of relief.

The swing will go right back to that consignment shop in a few months.  Our living room will look worse for the wear in the meantime, but we three will get some sleep in the meantime.  We’ve learned that a sleepy baby by day means a sleepy baby by night… so I don’t doubt he’ll be lulled to many naps in this thing.

Once he grows a little more and can focus on some different things, I’ll tell you all about the ugly playcenter hand-me-down that was dubbed by it’s previous owner as the “Neglector 1000.”  We’ll use that thing (currently stashed under the couch) and pass that right along to the next baby, too.

In baby world, the fussbucket motto must be, “By Any Means”. Even if those means are plastic.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 alyssa Tue, Jun 15th, 2010 at 11:59 am

I’ve been thinking a lot about swings lately! I never imagined that I would ever need one, but I have been reading lots of baby gear lists lately–you know, “Ten Things I Could Not Have Lived Without”, that kind of thing–and a swing is on nearly every list! What kind did you get end up getting?


2 Milton Tue, Jun 15th, 2010 at 12:39 pm

We got the cheapest used swing we could find. It’s a Graco.


3 amanda Tue, Jun 15th, 2010 at 8:33 pm

love your green conscience! reusing the plastic stuff and then passing it along to someone else helps mitigate the environmental impact (and saves $$) — if only more folks did the same. good job balancing the green thing with the practical thing:-)


4 Esther Sat, Jun 19th, 2010 at 4:37 pm

It’s actually a really hard balance to strike. We have been using disposables for the first part of his life, and plan on switiching to cloth soon. BUT, suddenly, our water bill is insane. And the dryer is on all the time. I’m wondering if I’m doing any good for the environment at all.


5 Mariah Wed, Jun 16th, 2010 at 7:13 am

We had one of those ugly $10 Graco swings. What I cannot believe is that they are ever bought NEW. Sadly, I dismantled it for storage in anticipation of Baby 2, but my husband thought that meant it was broken, and so threw it away. I was so mad, both that he threw it away (rather than handing it along) and that I would have to get ANOTHER fugly Graco swing.

This time, we got gifted a slightly less egregious but much more expensive papasan-style swing. It’s much cuter, but I still feel guilty about throwing away the old one. Plastic. my god.

On the plastics/enviro tip, I assume you guys will be cloth diapering… If so, I just started using Nellie’s Laundry Soda, which is the bomb. I cannot believe it took me this long to stop using the liquid stuff. Duh, no reason to move bottles of 50 percent water around the planet. Obvious, but it took me a long time. And the stuff works great on the stinkies.


6 Esther Sat, Jun 19th, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Oh man! Ours is a Graco, too. Totally fugly!

Those papasan swings are much better. Our guy is having a problem with our Graco model because he is still so little and there isn’t any support for his huge head. We surround his head with stuffed animals, which is kind of lame. He fusses. Might have been better for us to get the other ugly swing that he actually fit into. Oh well. We just figured out that he actually sleeps in his pram if we put him in there when he’s still in a good mood. Woah!

We are about to start cloth diapering. I was experimenting with some hand-me-down Bum Genius diapers this week and, woah, we were both sure covered in poop. I have also been experimenting with G Diapers and they don’t seem to keep in the pee as much as I’d like them too… plus, they are darn expensive.

What covers do you use? I am thinking that maybe I should get a pre-fold service for now since I am overwhelmed with laundry in our little place already. I will look into the laundry soda!


7 Mariah Sat, Jun 19th, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Nellie’s is super cheap. Cheaper than Tide if you have an HE washer, but still pretty cheap if you don’t. Amazon has free shipping of it.

I wasn’t down with the Bum Genius thing. I don’t like how enormous the OS ones are, and I don’t like the idea of AIO. AIOs are slightly more convenient (no stuffing), but they’re a pain to wash and dry, and you cannot do hardcore cleaning (like bleaching) without damaging the outer diaper … typically, inserts get stinkier than the diaper outer, so it’s nice to be able to clean the insert part separately, which you cannot do with an AIO.

For L, we use Fuzzi Bunz perfect fit. I decided on those for two reason… I call them TS (two size as opposed to OS-one size). That’s because, for most kids, getting a small and then medium will last from two months (depending) to potty training. OS are really really bulky in the early stage (to the point where I wouldn’t use it), and they almost never last through PT, especially for boys. L is now almost 30 pounds, 2+years and nowhere near the end of his medium FBs. BG OS tops out at like 25 or 30 pounds.

The choice to go pocket/AIO/OS at all was made because we had/have a nanny. If you intend to do daycare/nanny, you’ll most likely need something that approximates a disposable. The down side is that they are harder to keep clean, because of the microfiber (even the hemp ones are harder to keep clean, apparently, but I don’t knwo that from experience, just heresay). They are REALLY nice from a transferability POV though. New babysitters, MILs, church nursery staff, etc, usually are OK with them. Since we had our nanny in the first 1.5 years for 40 hours a week, we had to go full time pocket, but another option is to get whatever you would get and then have a couple of pockets on hand for others.

Oh, the other awesome thing about FBs is that they have one adjustment for the waist, another for the thigh. A lot of the problem with the convenience diapers is that they don’t have that adjustability, so you have to find the pocket or whatever that matches the cut of your kid. I think FBs fit a wider range.

We didn’t start CDing L until he was into the FB mediums so I don’t have as much experience in the early phase. for Baby 2, I just ordered two dozen GMD yellow prefolds, got a couple of used Bummis whisper wraps and Thirsties duo wraps. It’s kind of hard to tell what will work for any given kid, as what works for some will not work for others. I went this direction rather than flats or fitteds because of the the convenience (over flats) and because of cost (over fitteds). I decided not to do pockets for this period because it’s expensive and most of them don’t fit the early stages very well. Most people swear by prefolds + wraps for the early period. Even though it takes a little time to figure out.

GMDs are $2.00 a piece (so $24.00), and have a resale value of something like $1.75. So you end up spending $3.00, assuming you don’t thrash them. Even stained GMDs end up fetching over $1.00 a piece.

Thirsties duo wraps are similar to FBs in terms of size. I wanted something that would go from day 1 to well over 15 pounds, since the medium FBs are cut a little big. Duo wraps work up to 18 lbs. The whisper wraps are easy to get cheaply so I got a couple of those and a couple of pro-wraps used. All in all, I spent $24 on the DW, $8/whisper wrap, $5/pro wrap, for a grand total of $24 (prefolds) + $24 (DW) + $50 (4 whisper wraps and 4 pro-raps) = 10 wraps and 24 prefolds for under $100.

I also picked up 6 small FBs for $30, used, for our nanny.

So, total cost of cloth diapering (aside from cost to wash) is $130 for the first 6-8 months, and then all of my medium FBs were @$10 a piece or about $170.

travel wet bag = 7.00 on sale
diaper pail liner = 20.00
3 snappis = 8.00
Bacout = 20.00
annual cost of detergent = @16.00
cloth wipes = 24.00 for 2 dozen
wipe solution = 15.00 for tea tree oil +negligible amount for olive oil and baby shampoo.

I will say, we’ve always used disposables for overnight. I’ve considered switching to wool covers but for the time being I’m OK with using 7 diapers a week.

My suggestion? As always, craigslist. I just checked Seattle, and for $50 you can get a decent starter kit of prefolds and covers. if it doesn’t work, you can sell it for what you paid, no harm done.


8 Mariah Sat, Jun 19th, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Oh, and I’m a big fan of diaperswappers.com. if you cannot find something used locally, it can often be found on their FSOT. And it’s good for getting a sense of how much you should pay for something used, if you go the used route.


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