"You will be a better mom because you are a theologian, and a better theologian because you are a mom."

Is it true? In this blog, I explore the interplay and intersection of motherhood and theologianhood.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Theologian Mom's Top Baby Gear Picks

I realize my posts have been more on the motherhood side than on the theologian side lately- blame it on summer! But I'm going to take the liberty of posting my top baby gear picks, not just because baby Eva is on the way, but because I've given this information to various friends in various emails over the past couple of years. And it occurred to me that it would be easier to refer people to a blog post than to type up the same information each time. So, here you have it: THEOLOGIAN MOM'S TOP BABY GEAR PICKS! 1. The Maya Wrap Sling (or homemade/other versions thereof), $56. We used this every single day for the first two years of Maia's life. It was great for nursing (even nursing while walking!) and extremely versatile. Early on, Maia faced in. Then after just a few months she sat upright in it. Before long she sat primarily on my hip, and then soon I carried her on my back. It was also a lifesaver for Mass. I managed to kneel with Maia in the sling pretty easily. In terms of fabric, I recommend a pattern; patterns hide spills and the stripes make it easy to tell where to tighten the sling. The one warning I have about the Maya Wrap is that there is a definite learning curve. You have to be ready to stick it out. Within the first month, I was ready to give up and get a Baby Bjorn...but I was too cheap, and in the end, I'm glad I was too cheap. The Maya Wrap is awesome.
2. Cloth Diapers, prices vary widely. They're better for the environment, and, believe me, they are way cheaper. Simple old-fashioned diapers work fine. For more convenience, I recommend pocket diapers such as Happy Heinys. Fuzzi Bunz are similar in construction, but the HH seem to fit better and longer, and the velcro is easier than snaps. The only warning is that the HH are so easy to get off that our baby Houdini figured it out by her first birthday. If you end up getting pocket diapers, you probably want some kind of hemp doubler for extra absorbancy. The pocket diapers take very little detergent to wash and come out clean very easily. I've had great experience both with Wildflower Diapers and Cotton Babies (both also sell the Maya Wrap sling, too). I believe both companies are run by stay-at-home-moms. Btw, we used just a normal sort of diaper pail, and that worked fine with the cloth diapers. Also, I don't like carrying stuff (like a large diaper bag), so we had a very small bag and only brought one or two back-up cloth diapers. If we got beyond that while out for the day, we used disposables, which pack up much easier. But honestly, we rarely needed the disposables. One other addition here: reusable swim diapers are also great, especially since the disposable swim diapers are pricey.
3. Co-sleeping pillow, $140. This is one of the few baby products that we actually bought for ourselves, and believe me, it was worth it. Again, it is a very versatile product. We initially bought it for cosleeping purposes, when Maia had a few falling-out-of-bed incidents (don't worry, our bed was on the ground, so it was a short fall!). Since then we've used it on the foot of her bed (yes, she moves so much when she sleeps that she's come close to going off the end). Currently I'm using it as a pregnancy pillow. It's also great for traveling when you're unsure of sleeping arrangements.
4. Clip-on High Chair, $35. In a small apartment, the last thing we wanted was a lot of baby furniture and baby gear. This high chair was fantastic for a number of reasons. The plastic cover is easy to wipe off. The tray is removable. Its easy to collapse and hence awesome for traveling. The child actually sits at the table instead of away from the table. It takes up very little space. On the few occasions I had to take Maia to my doctoral seminars, I clipped her on to the tables in the classroom so she could have a good view of my classmates whom she was trying to pelt with Cheerios. Don't worry. The chair really is secure.

5. Tie bibs, cheap. But good luck finding them! Our baby Houdini was getting out of velcro and crew neck bibs long before she was really eating solid foods (Maia has never really been into that whole eating thing). Tie bibs are our favorite, but apparently they don't make other people's top pick list.
6. Cosleeper, $140. This cosleeper is great in terms of size; it doesn't take up too much space and is convenient for moving from room to room. In the end we only used it for naps, but it was great for that. It's designed to be attached to a bed for those who want their child nearby but don't feel comfortable sharing the same sleeping surface. The downside to this product is that its use is somewhat short-lived. A good alternative (if you've got the cash or the generous grandparents) for serious cosleeping is a king-sized bed, paired with the cosleeping pillow mentioned above.

7. Non-slip bath mat, $8. We got a fancy cushiony spa-type bath mat at Marshalls, and it just may be the best bathroom purchase we've ever made. It's great for Maia especially because she often prefers standing during baths and also likes taking showers.

8. Bottle brush, $3. We never used a bottle, but this past summer I finally discovered bottle brushes. They are amazing for cleaning sippy cups. We haven't had a dishwasher, and so it's been tough to maintain sippy cup cleanliness. Now, however, it's no problem. I guess for most people this is a no-brainer. But I'm still learning new things.

9. Door-frame bouncy chair, ?. One of our friends (thanks, Sharon!) picked up from a thrift store a bouncy chair that hangs on a door frame. We never had any other kind of little chair for Maia, and this has been a life-saver for shower time when the spouse is away from home. We just hang her up on the doorframe and it easily buys 5-10 mintues! And we've been able to use it now for well over a year. Currently Maia prefers to put her toys in it and swing them while Mom or Dad showers.

10. Robeez shoes (or generic version thereof), $25-40. We received a pair of handed-down Robeez, and Maia wore them literally every day from about six months to 18. They stay on well, they have practically no sole (which is a good thing), and they're cute. Maia took her first steps at 10 months, and the Robeez didn't interfere with her learning how to walk. I've actually seen boxed, unused Robeez at thrift stores before (it blows my mind!), so you might want to check there since the shoes are a little pricey. Or get a generic version; I assume they are pretty similar.

Alright, looking at that list, you can kind of figure out some of our parenting style. Things not on my list: pacifiers and bottles (both of those go against NFP's ecological breastfeeding rules), a crib, etc. In general, I'd like to say that less is more when it comes to baby gear. But let's be honest, Americans likely have way more baby stuff than anywhere else, and our family is no exception (despite our aspirations of simple living).

Here are some other things we appreciate: a nice jogging stroller that I've used constantly, as well as Maia's little bicycle seat; both of these have been great for combining exercise with motherhood. My rockaholic mom would be unhappy if I failed to mention the necessity of a glider rocking chair. She was so concerned about our lack of glider that she gave us her spare. As for toys, we really haven't bought any (ok, excepting the magnetic doodler, which we bought to occupy Maia during Mass). Friends and family seem to have supplied them all. Thanks to the generosity of family and friends, as well as several donations of used clothing from strangers, we also did not buy any clothes for Maia's first year of life. We also have been given most of our children's book collection. For purchasing, half-price books has great children's books at low prices. Also, I recommend Once Upon a Child as a great thrift store for baby/kid stuff (as well as maternity wear). And I think this concludes my recommendations.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the handy tips! I'm always on the hunt for great children's books and have recently discovered Bayard and their series of StoryBoxBooks, AdventureBoxBooks and DiscoveryBoxBooks (which is a special Olympic edition) They have work by acclaimed children's books illustrator Helen Oxenbury appearing in the Storybox series for September. In addition to this, they also have some great activities for rainy days: http://www.storyboxbooks.com/potatoprinting.php, http://www.adventureboxbooks.com/macaroni-picture-frames.php, http://www.discoveryboxbooks.com/skittles.php Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

If you want a bib that your houdini can't get out of, why not check out Baby Chaleco? Stylish, soakproof and yank-proof, just one lasts all day.
We make these high quality waterproof tops in the USA, and all products are completely free of lead, plastic, pthalates, PVC and vinyl. Available at www.babychaleco.com and in fine baby boutiques.
Baby Chaleco: Designed by a mom for maximum convenience, manufactured ethically for a better world, safe for baby for peace of mind.

Clara said...

I told Mathew how you use cloth diapers, and he informed me in no uncertain terms that this will not be the case with our children, unless I plan to change all the diapers myself. Ah, well!

Does Jeff ever use the Maya Sling? How does he prefer to carry the baby around?

Theologian Mom said...

Yes, Jeff did use the sling, especially early on (I should have included a picture, eh?). He never was quite as adept as I was. Nowadays, he mostly uses strollers or carries her in his arms. We also just have her walk a lot, although she doesn't always have forward movement. :)

As for the diapers, just make sure that Mathew knows disposables often cost about 35 cents each, close to $2000 a year! Maybe he can teach an extra course in the summer to pay for the diapers. Also tell him that the changing is not so bad with cloth; it's more the washing that gets annoying. And, kids who wear cloth usually potty train a year earlier than those in disposables. They say this is because the kids have better awareness of when they're going, but I think the parents just get sick of washing the diapers.

Dr. N said...

Hmmmm? Was the comment about tie bibs not being on someone's list aimed at anyone in particular?

We considered cloth diapers with X-factor, but we didn't have a washer/dryer in the apartment at the time. There was a cloth diaper cleaning service, but we found out that those are not environmentally friendly because of the chemicals they're required to use. With Z-man, we had just gotten used to the disposables, I think.

I want to check out the Robeez. Kinda expensive though, and Z-man is a master at losing shoes.

Theologian Mom said...

Well, Dr. N., seeing as how it is almost impossible to find tie bibs for sale, I'm sure they don't make other people's top picks either... but I'll count you as my inspiration for assuring I put it on the list.

The Robeez are kind of pricey, although, at $35 for 180 days (which is at least how many times Maia wore hers), it's only 19 cents per day. But you might want to just get generic (I think Target sells a version of Robeez), especially if Z-man will lose them in a couple of days.

Clara said...

Wow, $2000 is a lot! But, does the baby really need 15-plus diapers per day?

Anyway, the "washing is the hard part" argument probably won't win many points with Mathew. He's laundry man at our house. :)

Theologian Mom said...

Well, Clara, I might have overestimated on the math. Although it wouldn't surprise me if newborns do need close to 15 a day. Of course, the smaller sizes are generally cheaper than the larger. So maybe the estimate should be closer to $1300. In which case Mathew will only have to teach a class every other summer!

Jana Bennett said...

I totally agree about the pocket diapers. We like and use bumgenius one size pockets, ourselves - supposedly, they last the life of diapering, though we did have to use some fitteds and diaper covers for when she was a preemie (only special cloth diapers fit preemies ;-))

And now I'm going to look into that cosleeper pillow. I bought a bedrail for when the cosleeper no longer was safe for Lucia. Sigh. I don't think I like the bedrail either.