What can’t you live without?

Little Champ’s sitter recently posted a question to mommies of infants. What 2 or 3 items could you not live without, for the different stages (e.g. newborn, 3m+, etc.)

I began to answer her, and then realized that maybe some of my dear readers would be able to give in their two cents, too! So here are mine. Add yours in the comments :D

Newborn

Prefold diapers.

Little Champ used these for diapers after his first week (didn’t want to stain them with the meconium…) until he fit into our One-Size cloth diapers. These are much cheaper and much thicker than burp cloths. We went through about a dozen each day when he was a spit up machine. We still use them now, as dish towels, a bib in a pinch (clip with a clothespin in the back), and a replacement for paper towels in the kitchen.

I will probably buy another dozen of these soon, since I am trying to go paper-towel free eventually. Continue reading

Dolls for the Everybaby

I’ve been shopping for Little Champ’s birthday (he turns one next month!), and today started looking at baby dolls.

A doll? For a boy? What on earth could I be thinking?

Okay, I understand. Gender roles. Tradition. That sort of thing.

I am pretty traditional. I dress my son in boy clothes and will probably never buy him something that is pink. I’m a stay at home mom who works occasionally from home. My husband is the sole bread winner. I might even HOMESCHOOL OUR CHILDREN.

There, I can be labeled “traditional.” Now we can move on.

But first: FLASHBACK

I grew up as a tomboy. My best friend at 3 years old became my frenemy when he said that I couldn’t play with his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or G.I. Joe figures. I wanted to wield Raphael’s wickedly awesome sai.

But no. I had to be April.

Hooray. I can hold a camcorder until the bad guys drag me, the victim, off until I am rescued by a turtle that can’t even be my boyfriend.

(You  bet I smacked the Foot clan with that suitcase a few times, though.)

(Also, ironically, my hair looks a lot like that now, and yellow is my favorite color. Coincidence? I sure hope so.)

Another FLASHBACK:

I also got really upset when my cousin got a train one year for Christmas. He didn’t even want one. I had been asking for a train set for YEARS.

Enough with the FLASHBACKS.

Anyway, the point is that I grew up as a girl who liked playing with toys that were usually labelled “masculine.” Now, in today’s society, it’s perfectly acceptable to be considered a Tomboy.

But being a momma’s boy is something entirely different.

Now, I’m all for men and boys being masculine. I think every teenage boy should read Wild at Heart. And no, I don’t want my son wearing dresses, unless we are going to a Scottish wedding or reenacting Braveheart in our backyard. (Either is possible in our family). And that’s not a dress, it’s a kilt.

We are going to buy Little Champ a set of play tools and maybe a mini workbench. But what if we decide to give him a play kitchen? LT loves to cook, and he’s 100% manufactured masculine.

Here’s the bottom line about giving my son a doll. In two parts.

1—I can’t think of a better way to involve our son in our next pregnancy (when it happens) and the infancy of our next child than by giving him his own baby to take care of.

2—There is a serious shortage of fathers in this society. We encourage girls to practice being moms; I think now more than ever we need to encourage boys to play the role of father so that they don’t bail out after insemination.

But that isn’t all. I didn’t want to just find Little Champ a doll. I wanted to find him a BOY doll that wasn’t WHITE. Because I happen to think that children should grow up with the belief that all shades of skin, hair, and eyes are equally beautiful and good.

You can imagine how impossible that endeavor was. But imagine no more! I will show you!

See, I have an investigative mind. When I notice that most of the dolls being sold are white, girl babies with blonde hair and blue eyes, I don’t just put a pin in that and move on. I get slightly obsessed. I ask questions, like:

Why are dolls overwhelmingly female?

And overwhelmingly pink?

And overwhelmingly white?

And overwhelmingly blonde?

Am I the only person this bothers? We wonder why girls have so many self-image issues, even at young ages. But this goes beyond Barbie. Even as toddlers, our children are taught that the best and most desirable features are white skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes.

That doesn’t sound familiar at all.

How many girls think that they have to have blonde hair or blue eyes to be pretty? How many women dye their hair blonde for this very reason?

But more importantly, how many children think that white skin is better than any other color of skin?

There was a study done in the 1950s which illustrated black children’s preference for white over black, using dolls as an example. The study was a part of Brown v. Board, the court case which led to the desegregation of schools.

But we’ve come a long way in sixty years. Or have we?

Take two minutes to watch this video, made by a student a couple of years ago.

Perhaps the worst thing is that marketers not only profit over racial preference in dolls, but they also perpetuate them.

Let me show you what I found when looking for baby dolls on Amazon.com.

Here’s an illustration of hair and eye color for the first 40 results:

Eye color was either blue or brown, or black (as in, two dots for eyes). The ones without hair either had hats on, or the hair was painted blonde on the top of the head. The “Asian” baby had squinted eyes.

Granted, most babies are born with blue or brown eyes. If they are blue at birth, they often change color around the 6-month mark to their adult color. But most of the “baby dolls” that popped up in the search would be at least 6 months to 2 years, and the ones with blonde hair had long, flowing golden locks that no earthly baby would be able to produce without extensions.

And here’s an illustration of the first 100 results.

Result #38 was a “tan” boy. Results #41 and #62 were Asian girls; #60 and #96 were Hispanic girls; and #66, #82, #88, and #93 were African-American girls.

I conducted this search on August 9th, 2011. I hope that if/when you go shopping for dolls, the results will be different.

But either way, there is hope!

One of my Facebook friends, upon reading my frustration regarding the doll search, suggested looking on Etsy. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of that in the first place, since Etsy is MY FAVORITE WEBSITE OF ALL TIME.

And? I struck a goldmine.

Her name is Rachelle, and she is very sweet. Her shop: Sunclover’s Creations.

She makes THE CUTEST DOLLS EVER. Best part? You can buy a pre-made doll or customize your own for the same price. Seriously, check these out:

I mean, come on. How can I NOT order one of these for Little Champ? Every single doll is unique, and soft, and cuddly. I want one of every skin color and one of each hair color. And I want a boy and a girl of each, too! Okay, maybe that’s a little overkill, but I am pretty sure I will have to at least get each one of our children his or her own baby doll from her.

I’m not ordering one yet. Little Champ’s birthday is coming up in a few weeks, so I got distracted while looking for birthday presents on Amazon. But you can bet it will be our first purchase (not counting the pregnancy test) we make when we find out that baby #2 is on his or her way. Don’t hold your breath, it will be a while yet, but I think it’s safe to say there is a twinkle in our eyes :)

-Bewildered Mother

P.S. Want to know what other dolls I was considering or thought were cute? Here are my favorites of Amazon’s Dolls, organized by gender and represented age.

Click on the image to see price (if still available)

 

Crafty? Here are some doll patterns for you DIYers.

Dinky Doll Patterns for Sale

Waldorf Style Dolls from Natural Family Crafts

Baby Carrier Review: wrap, front/backpack, sling

Considering I bought my third baby carrier today (and many moms don’t even have one), I figure I could do a review on the different types. Now, I won’t wear my baby 24/7, but there are great benefits to “wearing” your baby (especially skin-to-skin contact, known as kangaroo care). For example, wearing Champ lets me hold him, which reduces crying and helps him sleep, but also lets me be hands free, so I can actually get things done.

Anyway, I have three carriers: a wrap (Moby), a front/backpack carrier (Infantino EcoSash), and a homemade ring sling. There are other brands of wraps, front/backpacks, and ring slings. We didn’t get a Baby Bjorn, one of the highest rated and most common baby carriers, because it was too metro and European for my husband. But if you are looking for a common, solid carrier (or just one with straps and buckles), a Bjorn is highly recommended. By people who have actually used them.

Wrap Style (Moby Wrap)

Price:  Moby Wrap: $40-70. Other Wrap Carriers: $5 (make your own)–$200

Ease of use:  The wrap takes a few minutes to figure out, and there are different ways to wrap it. But once you get the hang of it (which doesn’t take long, esp. if you are watching how-to vids on YouTube), it is fairly easy.

Comfort:  This is a very comfortable carrier. The weight of the baby is spread out evenly. I felt no back or shoulder pain wearing Champ. It was basically like I was pregnant again when I was holding him in the front, in his first few weeks.

Fool-proof:  Once you figure out how to put it on, the wrap is pretty easy to get right. The biggest problem comes from twisted fabric. There are really helpful instructions that come with the Moby Wrap. If you make your own wrap, there are plenty of instructions online.

Design:  The Moby Wrap has the biggest variety in design that I have seen. A large variety of different colors and designs, including seasonal choices.

Will Dad wear it? Mine? Never. But some men will wear them.

Time it takes to put on:  The wrap definitely takes the longest, but even that isn’t much time…about 45 seconds to put on and 30-45 seconds to get the baby in.

Versatility:  The Moby Wrap is for babies and toddlers 8-35 lbs. These positions are the ones listed in the expanded Moby Instruction Booklet (here’s the PDF). I’ll bet there are even more to be found online.

Positions:

0-3 months (newborn–3 mo)—Newborn hug hold, Kangaroo hold, Cradle/ Nursing hold, twin hug hold, twin cradle hold

3-6 months(3–6 mo infants)—Hug hold, Kangaroo hold, Cradle/ Nursing hold, Lotus hold, Joey Hold, twin hug hold, twin cradle hold

6+ mo(6+ mo infants)— Kangaroo hold, Cradle/ Nursing hold, Lotus Hold, Joey Hold, hip hold, hike (back) hold

toddler (Toddlers)—Joey Hold, Hip Hold, Hike (back) hold

Front/Backpack Style (Infantino Ecosash)

Price:  Infantino Ecosash: $60. Infantino Flip: $30. Other Similar Carriers: $15–$230

Ease of use:  Not only are the instructions very easy to understand and carry out, but the instructions are also printed on the carrier, stitched onto the straps.

Comfort:  Again, a very comfortable carrier. Champ loves being vertical, too. Sometimes his legs get a bit awkward in the carrier, however, but he usually doesn’t mind, and he is easy to adjust.

Fool-proof: It’s pretty hard to mess this up. Just make sure you tie the waist band around your natural waist. Too low, and it will be uncomfortable (same goes for any carrier).

Design:  I really like the design. I like the cute pattern on the front and the black color. The fact that it ties makes it extremely easy to adjust (much more than something with buckles or straps you have to loosen and tighten), especially if more than one person will be using the carrier. The front design pattern is also reversible, to a solid black.

Will Dad wear it? Out of our carriers, LT is most likely to wear this one. But the design will be switched to all black. For a more “masculine” option, go for something with straps rather than ties. I recommend the Infantino Flip Carrier, which we were planning on getting, but was out of stock.

Time it takes to put on:  I’ll time how long it takes to get on and how long it takes to get the baby in. Because this ties, it is faster to get fitted than a buckle / adjustable strap carrier.

Versatility:  The Infantino Ecosash is for babies and toddlers 8-35 lbs. It “only” offers three positions—front facing in, front facing out, and backpack—not particularly comparable to a wrap or sling. But, considering many baby carriers only offer one or two positions, this is still an improvement.

Positions:

0-3 months (newborn–3 mo)—front facing in

3-6 months(3–6 mo infants)—front facing in, front facing out

6+ mo(6+ mo infants)— front facing in, front facing out, backpack(?)

toddler (Toddlers)— front facing in, front facing out, backpack

Sling Style (homemade)

Price:  My handmade (albeit purchased) carrier: $6 Other Similar Slings: $12–$300 (yeah. Some are made from silk. But I wouldn’t pay $300 for a sling even if it were made by silkworms who could speak Latin and dance the Sardana.)

Ease of use:  EXTREMELY straightforward when it comes to putting it on. If you have ever worn a belt with D-rings, you can wear a sling. Positioning the baby correctly was something I am still getting used to, though. Perhaps because he is so squirmy, or because I had it on wrong…

Comfort:  If you wear this too low or don’t put it on your shoulder (wearing it on your neck), it is very uncomfortable. These are pretty easy fixes, but even wearing it correctly can give you some back and shoulder strain, since it is an asymmetrical carrier. Be sure to switch sides often.

Fool-proof: It’s very easy to put on, but you will likely need instructions to figure out how to put the baby in the different holds.

Design:  This looks more fashionable than the other carriers, because you have an endless choice of fabrics, and some of them look more like a baby-carrying accessory than an uber-obvious baby carrier.

Will Dad wear it? Doubtful, unless he doesn’t mind also wearing purses, decorative scarves, or ascots.

Time it takes to put on:  To put on the sling, you just throw it over your head. Maybe 2-5 seconds to get that sucker on. Getting the baby in might take 10-30 seconds, depending on position.

Versatility:  A popular ring sling brand is the Maya Sling. They are recommended for 8-35 lbs. Slings have more versatility than fitted, formed carriers. However, they don’t have quite as much versatility as a wrap carrier, the main difference being the front-facing and twin holds (you need two ring slings for twins).

Positions:

0-3 months (newborn–3 mo)—tummy to tummy, cradle

3-6 months(3–6 mo infants)—tummy to tummy, cradle

6+ mo(6+ mo infants)— tummy to tummy, cradle, hip carry, back carry

toddler (Toddlers)— hip carry, back carry

For more information on baby carriers, checkout the Sling Station

Well, that wraps it up (bahaha. Sorry. Ahem.) I will post some photos of myself carrying my little Champ in our 3 carriers once I wash the spit up off of them…