Monday, December 30, 2013

The New Baby list

Well its that time... another friend is really close to having her baby. With recent announcements our baby total for friends and family this year is at 9. And everyone asks - what did you REALLY NEED?( Orig Post Oct 2010)

So I decided to write it all down in one place and just send everyone here.

My list for a New Greenish Urban Baby (in New England Winter!) with working parents

The obvious:

Someplace to sleep
a Stroller

We were huge fans of the Graco Snug Ride (and its still one of the best infant seats). Being able to take a sleeping baby in and out of the car was essential to our adult ability to get anything done!
We got a refurbished Uppa Baby vista (a luxury SUV of strollers, one hand steering, awesome shocks etc) direct from the factory just outside of Boston and saved a lot of money there so we got the matching bassinet attachment and graco adaptor. This took care of place to sleep as well. Baby could sleep in the carseat on the stroller with the adaptor or in the bassinet on the stroller and we could wheel it from room to room of our tiny two room apt. Better than getting a wheeled crib like the gorgeous but expensive stokke.
We also got a packnplay with a changer. Great gift. Baby spent 1/3 sleeping time and 2/3 changing times in/on it.
Also, though I swore I wouldn't, we loved having the baby sleep with us. It was always (and still is sometimes when he has a rough night) a good way for us all to be safe, warm and sleepy together.
Its not for everyone but it certainly worked for us.

Essentials: Clothes/Diapers/Bed Clothes

Diapers (gdiapers! and 7th gen disposables for travel and non-flexible care givers)
"crappy" washclothes (cut in half)
disposable (hopefully biodegradable!!) diaper wipes.
Diaper accoutrements (California baby soothing cream, California Baby non-talc powder, California Baby soothing diaper wash)
Diaper Bag/Skip Hop Changing Pad Wallet
diaper bucket w/lid (for all pooped and super pee'd on clothing) (THIS IS NOT A DIAPER PAIL, no one needs a diaper pail. Use the trash - like a simple human one. And empty it regularly)
Charlie's soap
Sleep sacks(Infant gowns) - as many as you can stand! (at least 5)
Onesies for going out (one pkg white organic, one pkg cute patterns)
Cutie baby knit caps/hats
One "NICE" outfit for brunch or birthdays etc
Mattress protector (FOR YOUR BED!)
Organic waterproof pads for baby's main sleep area (2)
fitted sheets for packnplay/crib (2)
Swaddling blankets

So diapering is a huge issue and it is also a cost issue. Hybrid diapers like gdiapers really do less damage than either disposables or full cloth. When you have a little kid/new baby/sloppy eating husband you are going to be doing laundry once or twice a day anyway. Doing two loads each day - 1 cold water regular clothes, and one hot/warm water w/poop, puke and serious pee isn't that much worse. Gdiapers also have a special newborn size now which should take care of any of the problems you might see on online boards (though we only had the problem of poop getting on the cloth part and so if he pooped we had to wash the whole diaper. This isn't actually a problem as we had no blow outs or the like, but my husband thought it was stupid to have to wash the diaper for every poop - since the goal, as they get older, is that you only have to thrown out/flush the disposable biodegradable insert and wash the non-pvc liner so you can still use the cloth part with the other liner.).
Is it cheaper for your family to use disposables YES. Is it cheaper for us all in the long run - NO. And your kids will be paying the taxes for figuring out how to reclaim landfill acreage, and fixing the pollution caused by all the bleach, plastic and non processed human waste they unleash.
*steps down from soap box*

In the same vein just use cheap wash clothes with a little warm water to wipe the poop bum. They do a better job than the wipes (which often take 3-5 wipes to get all the sticky goodness taken care of) and are easy to rinse off and then wash with the other things in the poop pail. Mine were 1.50 for 10 (cut in half makes 20!) at Target.

If you decide to go with wipes full time or just for outings please consider spending a couple of cents more on ones that are actually biodegradable - most aren't. Gidapers now have wipes too!

I love California Baby - all the stuff they use is food grade. Make sure whatever you decide on is free of a lot of dyes/perfumes (only use the sensitive unscented CB products in the beginning) and is phtalate and paraben free.
You don't really need any of these things (cream, powder, wash) unless your child has a specific skin situation. We tended to have all three on hand but only use them on occasion. Powder for heavy disposable days to keep down chaffing, cream when ring of fire occurred... etc. Diaper wash when a bath wasn't possible and the poo had been epic...

Get a diaper bag you love. Lots of compartments, changing pad. Like buying a car, getting perfect shoes for the prom or deciding your husband was the one - you will know your diaper bag. For daddy, and mommy as baby becomes a toddler, LOVE the skip hop pronto. Its great for short jaunts when you don't need everything you just need a diaper in case (also fits tissues, sunscreen and hand sanitizer!)

Your diaper bucket could be anything but I suggest checking out restaurant or farming supply. Little bit of water and baking soda or some charlies soap help soak and keep stains fresh and less smelly until you run the load.

We love Charlie's! We've never used anything else but my kid broke out in a rash every time he visited his nana until he was a little over 1 year old b/c just being held next to her clothes was no good for him (she used like regular tide or cheer or something). Plus which the Charlie's is totally biodegradable and doesn't add horrible things to the water table! Also get rid of dryer sheets they are also horrible for the environment and useless. The reusable dryer balls are great.

Clothes are a matter of preference but I'm lazy. The Sleep sack style clothes were the most amazing thing ever and until the little man started really crawling there was no reason to put him in anything else unless it was a special occasion. Long sleeve, easy to swaddle. No need for extra blankets in the crib (choking/suffocation hazard!) Super easy diaper changes. Awesome.

White onesies are SO useful and they look fantastic. They are my go to shower gift with some CB products.

Socks are a choice. My kid hated, and still hates, them. Another reason we loved the sleep sacks, kept his toesies warm.
Hats are a must, they radiate a lot of heat out of the top of their heads and having a winter baby was especially tough for that. They are super cute! A Nice outfit shows you do care what your kid looks like and you can look polished when/if you do get motivated to drag everyone out on the town.

You need a mattress protector for your bed both BEFORE and after the baby comes. If your water breaks in your bed - your mattress is done forever - to a landfill it goes! For after, even if you don't sleep or nap with the baby, you will likely play with the baby on the bed and you never know when there is going to be one of the three p's.

For baby get an organic low or non VOC emitting waterproof pad. You wouldn't stick your kids face in a can of paint and say take a deep breath right? Well a lot of the chemicals bedding gets treated with are pretty extreme and emit all sorts of chemicals for quite a while. If it smells plasticky or chemical to you, its b/c its giving off chemicals! Don't make your baby breathe that all night. (We aired out our packnplay and our stoller and our car seat for a month before baby to try and get the worst of the chemicals out).

Fitted sheets are cheap and great and are the ONLY thing you need for a crib. All the other stuff is to make money off you.
Read up on swaddling and the right type of things to buy to do it. My husband was the expert.

Burping Cloths
Boppy (2 covers at least)
Nursing Bra
Breast Pump and storage bags

Breast is awesome for you and baby. I'm sure you've heard it all and read a bunch. Do your best! Its only tough for a little bit and then is maybe one of the most rewarding things you will ever do in your life.
if you can't, or if you are going to go back to work
Don't paint yourself in a corner of the baby only accepting the breast. Pump (or use small amounts of formula to supplement) and get baby used to a bottle.
*TIP* MOMMY should NEVER give baby a bottle. Mommy only feeds with breast and others - daddy, gma, nana, aunties etc - feed baby bottle far away from Mommy (like 6-8 feet. In our small apt, I always went in the other room or went to take a shower). Babies are really keyed in to smells and they are super smart. When they smell mommy they should think breastfeeding! When they don't smell mommy and they are offered a bottle they will learn that this is a different way to eat and use the appropriate sucking for a bottle (which is very different than latching on mommy). Automatic breaks for mommy and nipple confusion avoided!
By the time little man had too many early teeth and breast feeding ended for us rather abruptly with none of us prepared for it - it was a godsend that he was used to a bottle and it only took him a week to allow Mommy to give him a bottle.

Boppy, Brest Friend, whatever. Have something to help you hold the baby so you don't get carpel tunnel! Boppys are also great for learning to sit up, tummy time, and mommy's ouchy bottom (I may have bruised my tailbone/sacrum during delivery). Get two covers so you can wash them when the 3p's strike.

My mom made our burp cloths and they were awesome and amazing (organic flannel! With cammo and skulls!). We also used gerber store bough cloth premium diapers. Always use them, because even if you had a kid that almost never throws up like ours, invariably the puking during burping will occur in the middle of the night or when you are already all dressed to go to work.

Lansinoh - buy it early and spend a month getting your nipples "roughed up" with it twice or three times a day. It'll help the transition to your nipples being something you enjoyed on occasion to something working about 8 hours a day. To put it another way, you wouldn't run a marathon with new shoes out of the box, right?

Got a hospital grade medela unopened off of craigslist for about half price. Considering I pumped the whole time as I was going to work and then pumped exclusively for nearly two months so we could go as long as possible on breastmilk when breastfeeding ended abruptly it was worth every dime. And now my cousin is using it with new tubes etc and it looks like it will come back and I'll be able to use it again on the mythical future baby.

Cloth bibs for droolers (teethers) are great and you can just keep replacing them out for others. Once solid foods come in to play get the more non-pvc plastic kinds. Easier clean up and better clothes coverage.

Essentials: MISC
Moby Wrap
Baby Bjorn
Happiest Baby on the Block book by Dr Harvy Karp

Try out all the stuff on the market at a swank baby store and see what you like best. My Husband spent hours playing video games standing and swaying helping the baby to sleep at night or for naps after feedings and I got quality rest. I used the Moby as he got older to keep him close as I did chores around the house like dishes, laundry and some basic yoga.

Everyone remarked how we seemed to be really together for first time parents, or that our kid seemed to happy and/or behaved. I fully attribute 70% of that to this book.

California Baby all in one wash sensitive
wash cloths
Robe or hoodie towel
California Baby sensitive lotion
California baby unscented massage oil
Infant Massage Book

um. wash the baby. I beg you don't use that Johnson and Johnson poison. ;)

NON Essentials that we found really helpful but that I would have scoffed at before I became attached to them:
Microwave bottle sanitizer
Shopping cart cover (my mom made!)
Baby bath tub with sling
JJ Cole Bundle Me
A really nice camera, with lenses!

ENTERTAINMENT for the new wee one:
Board Books w/high contrast
Mobile (battery operated)
Sleep sheep or noise maker
Stroller/Car seat toys
fill and spill toy set
sophie la giraffe
Bouncy seat or swing
baby gym
random stuffed things (transitional items)

Instill a love of reading and start rituals by having some newborn baby books. We read fox in sox to the belly and its still one of his favorites. A reading ritual after bath/massage helped baby get a sense of the order of the day and get ready to sleep. He was turning pages at 2.5 months! High contrast boob shapes are best for active time reading like the Look! Look! book.

Things that jingle and crinkle are awesome. When they are part of a fill and spill set they will entertain baby to nearly toddler age. Car seat/stroller ones will attach velcro to handles etc. Sophie is a fantastic first toy and amazing teether, you can read all about her online.

A bouncy seat or swing is kind of a must for most people. We had to go bouncy seat b/c the footprint of the swing was just too huge. We'd either have to lose the couch or the crib to get one! I liked the bouncy seat b/c I could take it into the bathroom and little man could nap or play with crinkle toys while I showered and kept an eye on him.

There are lots of baby gyms. You can also make your own with a boppy, toys and a wall mirror. Look around and find one your think will work for you. But make sure your baby is doing tummy time at least twice a day to work all those muscles and build all those brain connections! (Massage is also good for this. Contact between you and baby will help him build strong neural networks about his body and his body in space!)

Stuffed things that might become transitional objects. People are going to get you baby crap. Some of it will be beautiful (we have a stuffed animal I think cost more than our car seat) and some of it will be meaningful (my mom hand-made a teddy bear out of an old cashmere sweater) and some of it will be crap (um, spongebob.). But either way you go, something will be the thing your child decides is his safety object. As much as I wanted it to be Mr. Tiger (great modern handkerchief doll of a tiger) or the home-made teddy, Simon, it was instead a thing my mom picked up at a craft fair - a home-made version of a taggie with a monkey face and tons of ribbon loops like labels around all four corners. He has to have Monkey blanket to fall asleep. so be prepared that anything that comes into your house could become your child's favorite thing in the world besides you... and weed out the crap accordingly.

To Grow on 3-12 months
Happy Bellies, Earths Best - check out all their baby and toddler food. If you can't make your own... don't buy crap. Food is the building blocks of your baby's body and mind. There are lots of good choices now. I can't wait to experiment with my next!

Avocado, Sweet Potato, Banana, Apple (crushed), Naked Juice (esp the green) etc - do your food research and expose your kid to as many fresh good quality fruits, veggies, meats etc as you can.

A full-sized car seat - we love our Britax Advocate CS. Radians are also good.

active play bouncy chair w/ bells and whistles - only used for 6=7 months but was SO worth it. He was physical and engaged mentally, worked on lots of gross and fine motor skills and mommy got work done!

Happiest Toddler on the Block book by Harvy Karp... ditto earlier comment on baby book.

When all these babies are toddlers I'll let you know about all the toddler crap. ;)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Artichoke Brussel Sprout Salad

Are you ready for cookout season? You can be the star of the table with this simple, fast, and deliciously healthy one-dish meal that is good hot or cold for any potluck. This recipe was the centerpiece of our recent block party table. A block party I forgot I had to bring food to until about forty minutes before it started! I had time to dash this together, get dressed, help the band run extension cords to our garage, and put on enough make up so that everyone thought I'd showered that day...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Quick Fix: Replacing Your Toilet Seat

One of the secrets of home improvement is knowing that a project doesn't have to be huge (or expensive!) to have a big impact... as in the rest of life, sometimes "it's the little things".

With this in mind, our series of "Quick Fix" posts deal with small projects that don't require a lot of time or expertise, but hopefully have the potential to make your daily life a little brighter. Today's topic: how to get rid of that old, disgusting toilet seat in your bathroom.

Monday, May 20, 2013

5 Board Book Shower Gifts for Friends with "Taste"

We all have them. We might secretly want to be them. The friends who have impeccable taste. From iPhone cases, Saturday casual clothes or the workout towel they soak in sweat - everything is on trend. For those delightfully urbane childless friends with their perfectly curated modern homes who now find themselves imminently with child (facing the abyss of laundry and lego land-mines scattered about their pristine sustainably harvested wood floors) Milk Crate Castle would like to suggest 5 board books.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Stand Strong with Boston: Our Favorite Charity Swag

Image of Letterpressed Print
our heart, like's, is downtown
Whether you are Boston local or flung far afield and have a special connection to Boston or Watertown you probably feel motivated to do something after the Boston Marathon bombing and the manhunt that followed.  If you’d like to show your support for our victims and appreciation for our first responders and law enforcement I’d suggest two things you can do to honor them from anywhere: give blood to your local blood bank or take a CPR/First Aid course. If you’d prefer to donate cash instead two great places to start are One Fund Boston  and the Watertown Police Department.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

5 Reasons You Should Be Using a Jogging Stroller

Any parent with young children knows that when you're struggling just to maintain your own standards of basic hygiene, personal fitness can start to seem as unrealistic a goal as that novel you're totally going to write someday. The best strategy I've found for avoiding this pitfall is to annihilate any expectation of exercise as some sort of private, personal endeavor, and instead seek out opportunities to make exercise a family activity. One great way to do that is by pushing your kids around in a jogging stroller.