Friday, February 20, 2015

Judy - The Layette: What You'll Need, And What You Won't #4



If you read the women's and baby magazines and many blogs, you get entirely the wrong idea of what is necessary. Forget all that specialized equipment like changing tables, baby bathtubs, wipes warmers, cradles, etc. In my opinion, all you really need are a car seat, crib, chest of drawers, high chair (which you won't need for a few months), stroller, diaper bag and some kind of carrier like a MOBY (see below).


Babies create enough clutter with just their clothes, toys and diapers. Most of that other stuff is used for such a short period of time that unless you are planning to have lots of children, or maybe share it with friends and relatives, it's not worth the money and storage space. Of course if people give it to you, take it and enjoy it.


There is, however, one item that I used to think was a luxury that became a necessity--a baby swing. Sometimes, especially around dinner time, it was the only thing that soothed a fussy baby. Related to the swing is the bounce chair for the very young ones. Both of these things can make a difference during a busy time of day.




BEDS



You'll need a crib, of course, but I suggest you don't need it immediately. Newborns are used to being in a small, confined space and they often seem more comfortable wrapped up tight and placed in something smaller than a big crib. I understand that I, myself, slept in a dresser drawer for the first month. Today the car seat, for example, can provide an easy and portable bed at first. You place it beside your own bed and during the night you scoop up the baby to nurse almost without getting up, and neither one of you coming fully awake. This is nice while it lasts.


CHANGING STATIONS




As for a place to change the baby, you can do it right in the crib while the mattress is still high. If you put a quilt on a waist-high bureau and keep all the changing paraphernalia in one of the top drawers, you can keep one hand on the baby and still reach whatever you need. I found it was helpful to have two changing places--one in the bedroom and one in the living area, especially if they are on different floors. If your washer and dryer are nearby, they make a good spot if you put a quilt on top and keep a duplicate set of diapers,wipes, etc. in a plastic dishpan close at hand. Also, today there are all sorts of cool portable pads you can use wherever you are.


You'll probably find that being a mother brings out your most creative side. For instance, to change a very wriggly baby, even with all the changing tables I had, sometimes it was easier to lay her down on the floor and throw my leg over her stomach to hold her in place.



BATHING





I always used the kitchen sink until the baby was secure enough on his bottom to be in the big tub, then he took baths with all the other kids anyway. But for the small ones, the sink is attached to a counter which is waist-high and convenient. I realize that the idea of bathing the baby in the sink makes some people gag, so if it bothers you, use a large plastic dishpan. They function the same and are much cheaper than special bath tubs.



CONFINEMENT





There are times, especially during the crawling months, when you have to confine the curious little accident-waiting-to-happen. I’d suggest using gates and furniture rather than a porta crib or equivalent. Again, during dinner prep, a high chair is helpful for older babies.


We knew one mother of six who put a gate on a bedroom doorway and used the whole carpeted bedroom as a playpen. She made sure it was babyproof and she and the baby could see each other easily. When her children were a little older, toddlers and pre-schoolers, she put the gate across the family room and enclosed herself inside. She could watch what they were doing and they could see her close by. She was right there in case of a problem, but they weren’t crawling all over her while she tried to do something. Of course there are some kids who will always scream and try to crawl out of whatever place they’re put. In these cases, you’re on your own; here’s where your creativity will come in handy.



CARRIERS





Some kind of pack to carry the baby is invaluable, and not only when you’re away from home. At home I could carry the baby around the house while I worked; my hands were free and usually the baby was soothed from being held constantly. Along this line, have you noticed the “three foot rule?” Why do they always want to be held while you’re standing up and not while you’re sitting down? It’s one of life’s mysteries, but it is so.


There are several kinds of carriers, but I especially like the MOBY. They look a little complicated, but there are all sorts of videos on YouTube telling you how to wrap them. They are also kind of pricey so maybe you should ask for one as a gift.


I do want to warn you to start this pack-carrying immediately after birth, or at least the day you come home from the hospital. With our sixth child, MaryRuth, I made the mistake of waiting two or three weeks and she never liked it. You need to get used to it too and also you need to build up your muscles. You might have a child like one of ours that will remain nameless but whom we affectionately called,  “El Lunko,” and your back needs to be able to stand the strain.


Here’s an unrelated story about the baby carrier. With my first baby I walked everywhere in Brooklyn since we didn’t have a car. I had a useful but complicated harness thing that I carried her in. Once I was on my way to the bus stop when a car pulled up and the man said, “That’s really clever. I’ve never seen anything like that. How does it work?” I didn’t think anything about this because in those days very few people had one and I was always being asked about it. So I showed him how it all went together. Then he said, “How about if you get in the car and I’ll take you wherever you want to go?” I did think that was a little strange, but I politely said no, I was just heading to the bus stop. Then he said, “How old is your old man? Does he keep you satisfied?” I thought My “old man?” Does he mean my father? What’s he talking about? I started to walk on but he drove slowly alongside me, still insisting I get in the car and come with him. Fortunately as soon as I got to the bus stop, a bus came and I got on immediately. 

Later when I told Lloyd about this strange encounter, to my surprise he freaked out. “Why did you keep talking to him?” he demanded. “Couldn’t you tell he was some sort of pervert?” I hadn’t thought of that since I was from a small town in California and we didn't have any of those. "Besides," I said, "I didn’t want to be rude."



Next: Choosing a Name


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