Getting By with a Little Help from My Things
Here’s my review of the tools I’ve found to be invaluable six weeks into my green parent adventures.
By Shannon Gallagher
My friend Jessica got married this past weekend. I had been worried for months about how — as a bridesmaid — I would manage a newborn and my bridal party duties (and actually enjoy myself). But with some help from mom (who jokingly called herself my “au pair” for the day) and the happy baby gods, the day went off without a hitch despite the rain (and resultant mud). Coraline rode out the evening asleep, snug to my chest in the Storchenweige wrap — the ample fabric kept her warm and protected from the rain, and left me with two hands to enjoy a glass of champagne and some dancing with friends. I was so grateful for that wrap, which led me to think of the tools I’ve found to be invaluable six weeks into my green parent adventures. So here’s my review of many of those things I talked about… more theory versus practice, or, if you will, putting my money where my mouth is (or my mouth where my money went, however you want to look at it):
Slings, wraps, and packs, oh my! My Sakura Bloom ring sling was the go-to carrier of those first couple weeks. While it is easy to use and a lifesaver for breastfeeding in public, I’ve found that it can be a little rough on the back when worn for extended periods of time. The Beco seems to be Coraline’s favorite, and may be mine, too for several reasons: For one, it is extremely easy to use. Lay baby down, a few buckles, and voila — she’s usually asleep within minutes, which has made it my best friend in the middle of the night or whenever she’s super-fussy. Not only is it highly effective, it’s very comfortable, which is crucial for me these days as my posture has gone to the birds. Speaking of birds: The aforementioned Storchenwiege, a German wrap — made of specially woven fabric that has no give vertically or horizontally, but is slightly dynamic diagonally — is my favorite in theory, but has yet to win me over in practice. The long length of fabric can be used a number of different ways, eventually allowing you to wear the baby on the front, back, or side. I was taught only two styles to start, neither complicated, but have yet to master them. Adjusting it is slightly difficult, and Coraline only seems to like it for short periods of time. But given its adaptability, I’m sure we’ll get a lot of use out of it over the next couple years.
I believe I’ve mentioned my mother’s concern regarding how much I hold the baby. This concern is what inspired her to purchase the Baby Bjorn Babysitter Balance for me (and pretend it was from my brothers). This simple chair is pretty great as far as chairs go: It doesn’t vibrate, sing, or have lights, and it has three incline settings, making it appropriate for small babies and toddlers alike. And its design makes it motion sensitive, so as Coraline spastically moves around in her immature kinesthetic exploration, she bounces herself. She likes it as much as she likes anything that is not me, so it’s bought me five hands-off, fuss free minutes here and there.
My newest baby gear acquisition may be my favorite — I’m certainly far more excited about it than Coraline (but really, what gets her excited are bubbies, let’s be honest). The Kanoe motion-sensitive baby hammock is a marvelous contraption made from organic canvas and serves as an alternative to a bassinet, crib, or swing. Since Coraline has a crib in her nursery, but sleeps in bed with me, I’ve hung the Kanoe next to my bed in hopes that it will serve as a transition space when she’s older; in the meantime, I’ve been putting her in it when she’s napping, and she seems to like it (suggested by the fact that she doesn’t wake up immediately). The hammock’s motion sensitive design allows her weight and small movements to gently jiggle and rock her. I wish they made one in my size.
I’ve had to defend/explain my “car seats are for cars” position a number of times already, even to myself. My brothers had my Sunshine Kids Radian 65 convertible car seat installed at a fire station while I was still at the birth center. Despite the fact that it has rendered my passenger seat useless (to all those passengers taller than 5’) I’m quite pleased with it. Unfortunately, Coraline isn’t crazy about being in the car (it’s that whole not being held thing), but to my discerning safety-conscious mommy vision she seems as comfortable and secure in her seat as one could be. And though many an infant car seat user will protest that a convertible seat interrupts baby’s nap, I’ve found that when she’s asleep, getting in or out of the car seat does little to interrupt that.
Every man that has walked into my house since I had the baby has bee-lined directly to the UPPAbaby Vista stroller, grabbed its handle firmly with two hands, popped a wheelie, and made tire squealing noises (Coraline’s father included). There is something about its big wheels and practical appearance that appeals to the gear-headed male apparently. As far as strollers go, it is pretty awesome, but I haven’t gotten much use out of it in the past six weeks. It has been out on three walks, all in the first week, and all ending with a fussy newborn getting carried home. I don’t think it’s the stroller itself, rather Coraline would rather be worn than pushed, as being pushed means she’s not being held, and she really wants to be held… all the time.