Monday, January 26, 2009

Baby Anthropology

One of the best books we read while pregnant was Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent by Meredith Small. It's a great book that really helps put some perspective on all the things that we think are "normal." You realize that "normal" is very specific to our Western, modern culture. With greater context, you can make informed decisions, rather than unconscious non-choices. It's a good, fairly quick read. But definitely read it before the baby comes. One of the author's other books, Kids: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Raise Young Children, is still on my shelf.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jet Lag Has Nothing on Baby Lag

There are many ways in which becoming a parent changes you. You learn new things. You gain new skills. Some are obvious (diaper changing... patience...) and some are not. Take for instance, what I like to call "baby lag."

As a new parent, you learn to live with major sleep deprivation. All the time. You think it's bad when you're still at home on maternity leave. I mean, new babies wake up like every 90 minutes and want something. Like milk. Or a clean diaper. Sheesh. But then you go back to work. You still have to get up in the middle of the night. Every night. Sometimes multiple times. AND you also have to smack that snooze button a couple times before dragging your butt out of bed because there's some sort of crazy expectation that you actually show up at work. So you wander about in a sleep deprived haze hoping people at work won't notice your serious lack of concentration and short-term memory.

But all this has an upside. You have now conquered what I call "baby lag." And if you have successfully and fully obtained this skill, you are now immune to the more commonly known affliction of jet lag. I have traveled all the way around the world since my child was born. And you know what? International business travel jet lag has got NOTHING on baby lag. You get to sleep when you want. It's quiet. You have no chores to keep you up. People EXPECT you to be unfocused and drifty. Come on. Piece of cake. You have mad baby lag skills now.

A brief word of warning, though... international family travel is another story entirely... But that's a post for another day.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Get a Comfy Rocking Chair

There is this rocking chair. It was in my room before I can even remember. A fixture of my childhood. It is wooden. It creaks. It has been painted many colors. My dad was rocked in it. I was rocked in it. My little sister was rocked in it. Of course I had to have it for my little man's room.

I was fortunate because my mother was willing to part with it. She even gave it a fresh coat of paint. And now my son has been rocked in it, too. I've nursed him many nights in it, I've read him countless bedtime stories in it. I've kept him company while he fell asleep in his crib. But here's the kicker. I've slept in it. Too many times to name. And I think it has caused serious neck damage. OK, well not serious. But anyway, my point is that when you choose a rocking chair for your baby's room, the number one factor influencing your choice should be heirloom status. But the number two factor: sleepability. Because you will sleep in it. A new parent cannot get up night after night, achieve serious levels of sleep deprivation, and NOT fall asleep in a rocking chair from time to time.

So when you're picking a chair for baby's room, ask yourself "am I OK with sleeping in this chair on a regular basis?" A few other nice features are arms for supporting your elbows while you hold your baby, a footstool (or other device to raise your knees while nursing, I typically used an old cardboard box), and gliding or rocking capability.

And for the record, I plan to use my special old rocking chair in my next baby's room too. Sore neck or no.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Car Seats

A pregnant friend recently asked me about the baby stuff you really need. She was feeling a little overwhelmed by Pee Pee Tee Pees and the like. Anyway, the first thing that came to mind as an absolute necessity was a car seat. Here's what I think about car seats.

  1. Buy new. This is your baby's #1 safety item. Do you really want something that has been cooking in someone else's car, possibly traveled through airport security, and had who knows what leaked onto it? No. And you want the latest and greatest. So buy new.
  2. Infant seats sure are convenient. Those click-in, click-out kind. You can buckle baby up in the comfort of your house, and then just snap in the seat and you're on your way. More importantly, the sleeping-baby-in-the-back-seat can become the sleeping-baby-in-the-living-room or -in-the-restaurant without becoming the screaming-unhappy-woken-up-baby.
  3. The Britax Roundabout (and others, I'm sure) does work from tiny infant to big toddler. If you chose to ignore #2 above, you can save money by buying a single car seat that can face backward when they're little, and forward when they're bigger.
  4. Consider getting two car seats. One for each car, or one for you and one for your caregiver. It is also extremely helpful to have two when traveling.
  5. Get the installation inspected!!! I'm an engineer, as is my husband. We read the car seat instructions. We read the owner's manual instructions. We installed the car seat. We took it to get inspected (see We had not done a good job. At all. There were several major things we missed such as not using latch in the middle seat. Who knew? Get it inspected. Or AT LEAST have an experienced parent look at it.