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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Rational Baby Registry - Part 3 - Care Items

Here is what Baby's-R-Us calls the "must haves" of baby care items.

BABY NAIL CLIPPERS

This is a personal preference item.

What I did: I have Dr. Mom's nail clippers and they work fine.

BABY BRUSH & COMB

Philosophical issue: Your baby should be encouraged to do what he can for himself as soon as he can. Owning a child sized brush he can wield himself is instrumental.

What I did: I bought a wooden handled and natural bristle brush that served as a toy long before it became useful.

DIGITAL THERMOMETER / EAR THERMOMETER

I chose the ear thermometer. I have not needed to use it yet.

FIRST AID KIT

Philosophical issue: It is not wise to medicate your baby, even for teething pain. Read my posts on heroic health, the books I have recommended on health and Dr. Mendelsohn's book, How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor.

Unnecessary! There was nothing in this kit (aside from drugs) that wasn't already in my home medicine cabinet.

HUMIDIFIER / VAPORIZER

Unnecessary! There are some circumstances where a humidifier can be helpful--though again, not actually necessary. The rest of the time these machines are not fun to use, refill or clean.

GAS RELIEF DROPS & PAIN RELIEF PRODUCTS

Toxic! There are no pain relief medications out there that are not bad for your baby's health in some way. If it would make you feel better to give your baby something, look into homeopathic remedies and natural cures and your own psychology because--

Philosophical issue 1: Many parts of life are uncomfortable and downright painful. This isn't bad. Pain is just... uncomfortable for a little while. Better to get to know your body and learn to deal with physical discomfort than pop a pill for every ache.

Philosophical issue 2: Instead of masking the problem with gas relief drops, find out what you are eating that is giving your baby gas. Work to cure causes, not effects.

BABY BATH TUB

Not fun! Bathing newborns sucks. They hate it and often shiver and for the parent it's just one more chore. I wanted to make bathing more fun for both of us so I skipped the baby bath tub and made a nice bath for me and my newborn once a week or so. In the tub with me, my newborn was a very happy and at peace little guy. Because he was in a real bathtub he could be immersed in the water and was never cold. He learned how to float on his back quickly and I would just hold his head and let him float. Being fully immersed in water and able to stretch out made him so happy I took him to baby swim classes! (And there I realized that the bathtub is warm whereas a pool is cold, the bathtub with mom is peaceful whereas pools are loud and chaotic and the bathtub at home has a chlorine filter whereas pools have extra chlorine. Plus--for a small baby, the bathtub is the size of a pool! There is no need for anything bigger.)

Health issue: It is not healthy for your baby to be "propped" into positions into which he cannot get himself. Many baby bathtubs force your baby to sit in a position similar to his car seat. This depresses the lungs and encourages muscles to form that will make your child slouch. Better to have newborns lay flat.

BATH ROBE

Philosophical issue: Yes it's cute to see your baby in a miniature version of something you find convenient to wear, but babies need clothes designed for them, clothing that is comfortable, easy to take on and off and does not restrict their movement.

Not fun! A robe is just one more thing to take on and off your baby. One more "thing to do" instead of spending quality moments just being with your baby.

BABY BATH SPONGE

Philosophical issue 1: They come in bright colors. Why do we think babies need things like this? Maria Montessori says it well: "The most marvellous aspect of the child is that he is quite an acute observer who sees things that we cannot imagine he can have seen. how peculiar, then, that we believe we must use bright colours, exaggerated gestures and loud voices to attract his attention."

Philosophical issue 2: They come shaped like little animals instead of like a sponge an adult would use. Again, Maria Montessori says it well: "Although the children in our first school could play with some really splendid toys, none cared to do so. This surprised me so much that I decided to help them play with their toys, showing them how to handle the tiny dishes, lighting the fire in the doll's kitchen, and placing near it a pretty doll. The children were momentarily intersted but then went off on their own. Since they never freely chose these toys, I realized that in the life of a child, play is perhaps something of little importance which he undertakes for the lack of something better to do. A child feels that he has something of greater importance to do than to be engaged in such trivial occupations." For children under age of six, Dr. Montessori came to believe fantasy had no place. She believed that pretend is "not proof of imagination, rather it is proof of unsatisfied desire." Pretending was thus assimilation of the ego, rather than adaptation to reality. The child's task is to adapt to reality, so for adults to encourage fantasy was to encourage the child toward something that deviates from the developmental path he or she is on. "When children play house, they are expressing a desire to really keep house." Give them real chores! Teach them about real life! Not only will the child be happier and feel more competent and confident, but if he does want to engage in some sort of fantasy play it will be his fantasies rather than yours.

HOODED BATH TOWELS

Unnecessary! Why do we think we need special towels? Regular ones work just fine.

My personal experience: I received a set of newborn towels that my baby outgrew when he was two months old. Then I received an older baby towel that he outgrew when he was five months old. Most of the time, having those extra towels was just one more thing to remember. It was easier to just wrap him in one of my towels--and he looked just as cute.

Philosophical issue: Again on the dumbing down and cutsey things people think their children need. Children don't want to be cute or little or treated like cute little things. They want to be like you. A real towel in a regular color without ears on it is superior.

WASH CLOTHS

Practical issue: Do you use a washcloth in the bath? If not, your child will most likely not use one either. They are not necessary to get clean. If you do use one, your child should have one sized for his use.

BATH TOYS

Possibly toxic! Almost all toys made for the water are plastic. Plastic, even BPA free plastic, is toxic and does not belong soaking in hot water with your baby or in your baby's mouth.

Philosophical issue: Read my post on appropriate toys--i.e. items from real life,

My experience: I follow the 80/20 rule when it comes to toxicity--I do my best to keep major toxins out of my life and my baby's life and the rest of the time I try not to drive myself crazy. Same with toys--I do my best to keep my son's toys philosophically sound but when someone gives him a gift and he enjoys playing with it, I don't worry about it. In the bath tub my baby loves playing with bars of soap, my pumice stone, an old toothbrush, the body of my razor and his wash cloth. Most of the time however, he is too busy obsessing over the water spout, drain and doors to worry about toys.

STORAGE BASKETS & BINS

Possibly toxic! Untreated wooden or metal bins are my preferred bins, but again, I follow the 80/20 rule.

Philosophical issue: Your baby does not need very much stuff and that stuff that he has should be stored in an organized, peaceful and beautiful fashion. There are a few things like socks or a large collection of a particular type of toy, that merit attractive storage baskets, but otherwise, one small book shelf where each of the toys have a place and are all visible should suffice. For more on this, read Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui.

BODY WASH / SHAMPOO & HAND SOAP

Possibly toxic! Read ingredients carefully before you buy. Never buy anything antibacterial. Only buy soaps and shampoos sold at health food stores.

Unnecessary! The purpose of soap is to remove oils from your skin and hair. We do that and then pay more money to put oils back in in the form of conditioner and lotion. I seriously question the necessity of soap and shampoo and would like to see some experiments done in this area in the how our skin would benefit from not removing the oils and drying it out. Remember that everything about our natural body evolved that way for a reason or was a successful adaption. This includes our natural oils. I don't want to smell bad any more than the next person but rinsing off is enough for me to not smell. There is no need for soap and shampoo. My naturally wavy hair actually looks better without conditioners that make it silky-smoothe. Unfortunately, I have not been able to break this normalization of wanting my hair to feel this way so I continue to wash and condition. I have been able to break the daily habit though and am down to every other day. That being said, I don't wish to inflict this habit on my son. I have a friend who has done anything but rinse off daily for about a year. He looks and smells fine--though his hair is not silky to touch. It feels like animal hair.

LOTION & BABY OIL

Possinly toxic! Read ingredients.

What I do: My husband, my baby and I use organic 100% pure sweet almond oil for moisturizer. No need to have lotion too.

ALCOHOL SWABS & COTTON BALLS

Health issue! These are "may irritate body tissue but will have no significant effect on germs. The body has its own system to fight infection, and they work quite effectively if you give them the chance," says Dr. Mendelsohn. 

PETROLEUM JELLY

Toxic! Not sure what this would be used for, but I recommend using 100% pure lanolin instead. Almost identical products but lanolin is not toxic.

HAND SANITIZER 

Toxic! Never use antibacterical anything. This is one of the biggest mistakes people make. 

DISH SOAP

Possibly toxic! Buy the gentlest, unscented, hypoallergenic dish soap you can find. Or just skip it. Dish soap isn't truly necessary. You learn this when you go backpacking and you learn to wash your dishes with dirt. Yes, you rub dirt all over your plate until it is dry and then you wipe it off or rinse it. Most soap is far more toxic than any food bacteria (despite what you have been led to believe).

LAUNDRY DETERGENT / STAIN REMOVER

Possibly toxic! Buy the gentlest, unscented, hypoallergenic laundry soap you can find. You can also save quite a bit of money by making your own.

DRYER SHEETS

Toxic! And irritating. That shit stinks.

ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER

Possibly toxic! It is fascinating to me that many people with pets only use white vinegar to clean their homes because they don't want their pets to get sick when the lick the floor... but people with babies buy the harshest chemicals around and think they are at war with bacteria. If you think bacteria is bad, you need some reeducation on that subject. There are many great Ted Talks for listen to.

What I do: I use white vinegar.


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