Unhappy Hipsters. A funny commentary on ‘modern’ design

I recall reading a few blogs recently wondering who was buying the many, many designer baby items that pop up on a regular basis and fill shop after shop in any major city. Who are these people? What do they look like, what do they do, where do they live?

I have to admit that I found myself in one of those shops this weekend and parted with cash in exchange for something justifiable more for the design and visual appeal than for its functionality. I’m a sucker. I admit it. I will work to prevent it from happening again.

Now, back to the questions in the first paragraph. I stumbled across a site today that I think does a pretty good job of answering them: Unhappy Hipsters :)

If you only read one post… make it this one: It was difficult to get through dinner with kids on their laps, but neither was willing to sully the Stokke high chair.

Does Gripe Water Actually Work?

Does gripe water actually work, and if so what brand of gripe water do you recommend?

I tend to be skeptical of many, MANY products related to babies and their development. People’s desperation to give their child every possible advantage, not to mention their desperation to be seen by others as having everything under control combined with sleep deprivation etc etc etc make it easy to be convinced to part with money in exchange for promises, real or otherwise.

For the past couple weeks our little one has been crying and straining often after feedings. All indications point to gas, or attempts to have a bowel movement with discomfort either driving these or caused by them. Generally the cries subside after a reasonably short time, but obviously I’d love to help him a long so that he doesn’t have to go through it each time. I’ve found that sometimes holding him upright and walking around seems to help. The only reason I can think of is that the change in position helps the gas (or whatever) move past any possible obstruction and the changing scenery distracts him while whatever happens happens. Other times he’ll just drop a fart the likes of which can’t be described in text. Once the bomb drops the cries generally subside.

So, this brings me to gripe water. Being someone who until his own child arrived had little to no interest in babies, I consequently had no knowledge of gripe water. Following my description of his troubles a couple people have suggested that I give it a try, and I’ve seen it mentioned in more than a couple forums, I just don’t want to be a sucker and buy it if it’s a parental placebo. Has anyone out there tried gripe water in circumstances like the one described above… and if so did it work… and if so do you know by what mechanism?

That last bit is just personal curiosity. I see it has ginger and I’ve heard that ginger settles the stomach in adults (same for fennel and chamomile… man, the ingredients almost have me buying some for personal consumption), but I’d like to know how much is actual active ingredient vs snake oil.

Baby Star Trek Onesies are going to happen… mark my words. Let the infant geekery begin.

So just the other day I was questioning the wisdom of some of the baby clothing we’ve received recently. Granted, Jr is only 7 weeks old and hasn’t formed strong opinions regarding wardrobe selection or style in general, but still… I’ll never be able to buy him a pony, so the pony branded gear needs to go.

Now, I may not be able to afford a star ship either, but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t have at least one of these Star Trek uniform onesies by the time Halloween comes around. Clicking the Star Trek onesie graphic below will take you to ThinkGeek where these can be purchased.

Star Trek Uniform Onesies

What I find particularly hilarious about these (excepting the gray one, I’m not interested in that one) is that they include a red shirt onesie. Moreover, if you click the shirt graphic above through to ThinkGeek you’ll see that (at least right now) they have stock for everything except red shirt size 18 month and red shirt size 12 months. For those of you not familiar with Star Trek, or who promptly leave the room when your significant other turns on TOS (the original series) the red shirt is some unknown officer (wearing a red shirt) unfortunate enough to be on the bridge when the captain decides to beam an away team down to an unknown planet. Rather than faking sickness he promptly beams down with them and is killed, never to be seen again.

Again… the only items sold out at present are red shirt onesies… which someone has purchased for a child somewhere. I’m going to assume that these purchases weren’t made by parents, but rather by apartment dwellers who share walls with newborns and want to make a statement without risking legal repercussions.

Time for a baby gear garage sale… and he’s only 7 weeks old

The rate of baby ‘stuff’ accumulation has been remarkable over the past couple of months. We made a conscious decision not to make major baby-related purchases prior to the birth. Call us superstitious… but with the exception of a crib and a car seat we didn’t buy much in advance. It’s a good thing we didn’t. Since Jr’s arrival we’ve accumulated a shocking number of things. Clothes, toys, burp cloths a bassinet, play mats, our beloved Cooshee and on and on it goes. Looking back we’re getting use of a remarkable number of these items, though there’s an almost equal number of items that are taking up space. Some of you may find the following helpful:

Stuffed Animals
Don’t buy these. Other people will at a rate that you’ll find quite shocking. There is one exception to this recommendation. Many of the stuffed toys you’ll receive will be… well… your typical stuffed animal while there are actually some pretty fun and interesting plush toy options available these days. As such I’m actually planning to purchase one (1) plush toy for Jr despite the herd already taking up space in our bedroom. Despite my well known penchant for UglyDolls I have my eye on a little beast from Monster Factory.

Clothes, in particular onesies
Again, you’ll get a ton of these from folks after the birth, and during the various baby showers that are bound to be scheduled. The number isn’t the issue, in fact you’ll want as many of these as you can get your hands on since your baby will be burping, peeing and pooing all over them with abandon. The issue is that they appear to size these things very optimistically. I suppose it could lead to more sales, but man… at 7 weeks Jr fits comfortably in 3 to 6 month onesies and can’t extend his legs when squeezed into 0 to 3 month outfits. Don’t believe the tags, ask people to buy reasonably rather than for cuteness and unless your kid’s a preemie make a point of returning your 0 to 3 in exchange for something that will fit.

Burp cloths and swaddling blankets
We got a lot of these. We need a lot of these. You will need a lot of these too. If someone offers, take them cause you’ll need them.

Diapers and wipes
If they’re not on the boob taking milk in, they’re preparing to expel it from all orifices in quantities that will blow your mind. Again… you’ll never have enough. Stash piles of them everywhere… in your diaper bag, the stroller, your car, every room in the house. One of the best tips I got shortly after Jr arrived was that when preparing to change, lay him on the new diaper before you take the old one off. Further, when you undo the first diaper, use the front of the diaper itself to perform the initial poo wipe to trap the bulk of the solid matter in the old diaper. Then use wipes to get the rest while cautiously guarding against pee in the face. Once wiped, roll up the wipes and the old diaper and throw them in the garbage (one can in every major change room) then quickly do up the new diaper which is already positioned under his butt, which by this time is probably read to fill it. Placement of diaper #2 and use of #1 for wiping are both key. Thank me later.

Anyway, a few tips to guide accumulation where it will be needed and avoid it where it won’t. Good luck!

Those dodgy warranties are your friend when you have a baby in the house

I’ve always made a point of NOT purchasing those extended warranties offered at electronics and furniture stores over the hears. I figured that a) I’m not a huge klutz, making it unlikely that I’ll fall on the couch while carrying fists full of freshly sharpened knives, lit matches and lantern oil. To date that practice has borne fruit as I have yet to break or greatly damage any of my purchases until much later in their lives when replacement is more desirable than repair.

When Jr was just around the corner my wife and I decided that we needed to replace the small condo-sized couch in the living room as well as the queen sized bed in the extra bedroom since we’d have more use for that room as a place to hang out with the baby vs. keeping it cramped with the bed waiting for the rare overnight visitor. For some reason when we purchased the couch(es) and they asked me whether we wanted the extended warranty I paused, as did my wife and we said yes for the first time. The entire drive home I felt like a sucker.

Fast forward to yesterday when Jr shot a remarkably strong and well directed stream of urine over the half removed diaper, over my outstretched arm and ALL OVER the new couch. Apparently I can see the future… and I’ve never been so happy to get suckered into a purchase. My recommendation to anyone planning a large furniture purchase as well as the introduction of a new family member is to assume that anything and everything that will be leaving your little one’s body will at some point find its way onto the furniture despite your best efforts. Further, there is a reasonably good chance that between their flailing and your panic and stumbling, said bodily products will to some extent get ground into the fabric beyond your abilities to remove them.

White noise and your sanity. Why I would recommend a Squeezebox to anyone with a baby

In case you’re not interested in the Squeezebox review and just want to know what calming music works for us with our baby I’ll outline it first and save you some time. That said, I can’t say enough how great its been having boundless music options throughout our house immediately at our fingertips without having to keep our computers running.

Our calming sound preferences and one very specific CD:
Calming Wave Sounds
Sounds of Chirping Crickets
Steady Rainstorm Sounds
Peaceful Babbling Brook Sounds
Deep Forest Comparsa – A personal favorite

Now, on to my review of our use of the Squeezebox Duet to maintain sanity as new parents
Consider this product review number two, though I didn’t actually buy this in response to having our son. We’ve had our Logitech Squeezebox Duet for almost two years now and we’ve loved it with a few exceptions (poor firmware upgrades) but man, I really appreciate it now. Why? The selection it brings, and the fact that most of it is available at any time.

Logitech Squeezebox Duet is good white noise and nature sounds solution to calm your babyRadio’s good, but you’re restricted to the few channels it picks up and what is playing at the time you want to listen. Internet radio’s great, but having to fire up the laptop to manage music is also a pain. The squeezebox is great because a) it is aware of all the digital music we have b) it has access to thousands of Internet radio stations across the world and across all conceivable genres and c) there are whole sets of channels dedicated to calming noises perfect for bedtime.

I’m not sure what products they’ve introduced in the past couple years, so I can’t comment on what the best buy is out there but we remain happy with our duet. We purchased a second receiver for another room in the house as well. One recommendation that I do have if you can find a location selling lone receivers (Amazon offers them here) is not to buy the full receiver and remote combination if you’re an iphone or android smartphone user. Both of these devices offer pretty solid Squeezebox remote apps for a fraction of the price of the full remote hardware. If you don’t have one of these phones then by all means get the remote.

Anyway, as I said… if the day calls for NPR we can listen to NPR. If it calls for a certain podcast we can access that podcast at our leisure… and if the evening is fully of baby cries we can pull up the white noise channels and choose from crickets, bubbling brooks, thunder and many other calming, repeating tracks to soothe junior to sleep. Sure they cost a couple bucks, but man… my sleep is worth it.

There’s a pretty good review of the Squeezebox Duet here.

Babies aren’t quiet even when they’re quiet.

Here’s something else I didn’t know. I assumed that when babies weren’t screaming they generally sat pretty quietly or made quiet coo-ing noises, like on TV. That’s not how it works. In an attempt to save ourselves having to get out of bed to soothe our little one in the middle of the night we’ve set up a co-sleeping arrangement using the Cooshee Changer (see my previous take on that magical device) to keep him in place, and to keep us from rolling on top of him.

Here’s what I expected. When he woke up and was hungry or otherwise upset he’d scream bloody murder and one of us would soothe him with a finger or a pacifier, or if it was feeding time my wife would nurse until he’d had enough and would fall back to sleep. Wrong. Here’s the deal. Babies are crazy noisy whether they’re awake or asleep and ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT. Our little guy can sit in his bouncy chair asleep for hours in the afternoon and not make a sound. At night it’s all snorts, whistles and what sounds like congestion. The doctor says that everything’s fine and it’s normal, and from what I can tell that’s true as he doesn’t wake up at any point during these symphonies, but man, good luck sleeping through it if you’re the parent.

So, Dad’s out there who haven’t gone through this before, be warned. Sleep doesn’t mean silence, and you’ll hear some of the craziest noises you can imagine while trying to rest. My best piece of advice is to arrange alternate sleeping arrangements somewhere else in the house so you can manage a couple hours of rest and still function at the office. At first I was hesitant to do so, but soon kicked that concern to the curb.

Good luck :)

Kids are big business and I’m on the wrong end.

No surprises there right? Given the accumulation of ‘stuff’ since your baby’s arrival, some clearly beneficial and some of very questionable value, you know someone’s making money. Think about how many baby stores there are in your neighbourhood and the wisdom of jumping in starts to get cloudy.

In our neighbourhood… actually on a single street in our neighbourhood there are no fewer than six baby-focused shops all competing for my misspent earnings.

So maybe its not the commodity baby shops if you’re jumping