I started a short series on the La leche League this month, in honor of World Breast Cancer Awareness month. I looked at Se7en of the Best things about the La Leche League and Se7en of the Best La Leche League Books.
Anyway this week I thought I would focus more on babies… Just as in any sport where there are so many necessary pieces of equipment the baby world has been overburdened with marketing. It is just confusing – there are so many products that you have to have, or your child will never become a happy healthy productive adult.
Yikes, the burden of guilt – if your child doesn’t have the sparkly mobile it will never compete in the Olympic Games. Hello, most people never compete in the Olympic Games.
I was told there certain things that you absolutely have to have for a new baby – in retrospect it is laughable. My litmus test for getting an item was really minimalist, just the anti consumer rebel in me, if I lived in a remote tribe in the wild outdoors somewhere would I need it – mostly I didn’t!!! Lot’s of things are nice to have, but certainly not essential!
Here are se7en of the things I was told you definitely could not parent without.
A Cot: Wahahaha… our first parenting argument! The father person thought you had to have a cot to have a baby – it is kind of the male icon of nesting and I thought if we had one we would be tempted to drop our sweet creature in it – no we didn’t need it. I knew our baby would sleep with us in the bed – what on earth would a cot be for… and there were several shakes of the head from a previous generation: “Just wait till the baby is here, you won’t want it in your bed.” Well to appease these folks at the last minute we bought a camp cot… popped it up and stored soft toys in it and then after six months folded it away… after se7en years we sold it unused.
You need to know: Babies sleep better close to you, your skin next to theirs is perfect for all the right nurturing hormones to kick in… And believe it or not – getting back to my tribal litmus test, most people the world over co-sleep. The first La Leche League book I ever read was:
And we never looked back. And yes our older kids have moved on to their own beds in time, they don’t stay in your bed forever. The funniest comment I have ever had about co-sleeping, while standing in a store pregnant and six kids around me, was: “Wow, that must be a great contraceptive” – really… where do these little creatures come from anyway!
- What you do need: Is a big enough bed, these tiny beings take up an awful amount of space.
A Layette: A local clothing store has a list of all the apparel you require for a newborn baby to survive and prospective mum’s can enjoy a registrary there. Some poor shop assistant tried to encourage me to join this scheme when I was pregnant with hood #5. She did not see the experienced mother banner I was wearing (!) and I just about produced a baby in the store while I nearly died laughing:
- 9 onsies/babygrow’s
- 12 long sleeved vests
- 12 short sleeved vest
- 8 outfits
- 7 pajama’s
- 9 receiving blankets
- 5 hooded towels – how clean will this baby be?
- 24 bibs – what will this newborn be doing?
- 8 hats – I would be really worried if I had a child that needed 8 hats!
- The rest escapes me, blotted from my memory, but you get the picture.
Hello, I am not trying to clothe my remote tribe. Just an infant.
- What you do need: a couple of vests, I always found three or four to be enough. A couple of onsies. Two receiving blankets. A yummy clean towel – I don’t think junior really cares if it’s hooded. Think one on, one in the wash and a spare. You will most likely do laundry everyday… get over it and get on with it! Otherwise, big warning here: Don’t buy anything… people love babies and gifting, if they ask what do you need, then have a list and say what you would need… if you get eleven outfits the same don’t feel obliged to keep them – exchange them for something you need. Trust me on this you will be gifted.
Bottles and Formula:
So now that you know I am an anti-consumer rebel of all things baby-ploy, you may as well know I am quite stubborn. (You need to be to survive se7en kids!!!) I didn’t want to own anything that would give us an easy way out of a decision we had made. I didn’t want to stock up on formula and all the paraphernalia in case nursing didn’t work out – I figured if there was an easy way out I would take it! I really wanted to get nursing right, everyone knows Breast is Best, check out a lovely long list of advantages here. Needless to say we got off to a rocky nursing start and it was really tough, if I had had the option of quitting in the first month I would have taken it. I am so glad I didn’t! And what would I do out in the wilds if I couldn’t nurse – no I had to get it right.
- What you do need: Good support, from mothers who have been there and who are also nursing. Get hold of a friendly La Leche Leader, you know she has done it and survived and is unlikely to say “Don’t be mad, jut give your baby a bottle.” Really some people just breeze into it but most mom’s have some sort of battle initially – not just with nursing, parenting in general can be a bit of a shock to the system and you will enjoy have support from people who are in the trenches so to speak.
A Pacifier or Dummy: Really so many people told me you had to have these. Well anyone who knows anything about nursing knows that a pacifier can and often does compromise nursing. A newborn needs to suck, this helps to establish its milk supply from its mother person and to create a supply and demand relationship. If your baby is sucking on a pacifier half the day and night, then the pair of you cannot create your happy balance. Not to mention that a pacifier, no matter how marvelous, can confuse a new babies mouth. By the time you have got beyond that stage your baby will no longer need one – amazingly enough I have found mothers trying to get there 3 month old to take a dummy – why? why start a something you ultimately want to stop. Besides I don’t think they have these in my remote tribe – out it goes!
- What you do need: To learn how nursing actually works. I had never seen anyone nurse before Hood #1 was born, how on earth did I hope to succeed? Really find your local La Leche League, not only will you meet experienced moms who know that you really can’t nurse 10 minutes a side every four hours, and hope to succeed! But you will meet new mom’s figuring out the ropes as well. Not to mention that if a baby nurses for comfort it is ok, it isn’t manipulating you! and it won’t nurse forever – no matter what anyone says – trust me on this!!!
Baby Food: Even I thought I would need jars of this, forget my remote tribe when it comes to food you need jars of the stuff and lots of it – Nope!!! After eleven years of waiting till I need it to buy it, I still haven’t bought it. And somehow I don’t think my big kids would go for it now. Kind of missed that window, and I had so many useful ideas for those jars. Remember that for the first six months only milk is advised and after that they only needs tastes of food for the longest time… You don’t even need to buy a mincing machine and endless ice trays for freezing morsels – we missed out on that wonderful opportunity too.
- What you do need: A healthy varied diet of your own, so that when your baby is old enough to try foods you can offer a taste of fruit or whatever you decide from your plate (they only need a tiny bit!). Frankly if there is nothing on your plate that you would like your baby to eat then you need to change your diet.
A Stroller: We lived in Kalk Bay when Hood #1 was born it is a small village with a multitude of stairs. Also, I couldn’t figure out, if I was pushing a baby in a stroller, how I ever would be able to push a shopping cart of groceries as well… And in the remote fields of my tribal litmus test – I have never seen a stroller roaming around the African planes, not even a 4×4 one.
- What you do need: Loving arms when they are tiny. A sling is nice, but don’t kid yourself you cannot do a million things while holding a baby in a sling, walking – yes, talking – yes, rocking – yes. Making dinner – no, hanging laundry – no… chores do really wait! and when we are traveling or hiking and our babies are older we use backpacks, they can see the world and we know where they are. Win/Win.
Other Sundry Items: All those things that threaten that your child will become the young Leonardo Da Vinci, the next Rembrant, seriously if your child doesn’t have this electronically buzzing plastic mobile it will never amount to anything. Infant flashcards, psychedelic videos… they are marketing to you the parent. Your baby really doesn’t care. All these things are packaged perfectly for adults to buy. There are two streams of product: those that are educational (read stimulate) and those that soothe.
- What you do need: Babies love faces, especially yours. Babies love playing and interacting with people so let them. They are not going to learn life skills from a musical box, really they will learn them from you. Most babies are provided with two great play people: Fathers that stimulate and mothers that soothe.
What I love about parenting choices is that often the cheaper option is the better one – like nursing compared to formula – the cheaper choice is the better and more convenient choice.
And before you flame me, let me say: This is what worked for us. You and your baby are different and you may need and want and even like all the items we didn’t need. That’s fine. I just really wanted to say there is another way to consider that isn’t necessarily the marketers dream.
For more tips on absolutely anything pop over to Works For Me Wednesday.