The baby industrial complex and the pink bathtub

Pink baby bathtub
Who needs a pink baby bathtub?!
Since we live in a very small urban home, we've had to be super selective with baby crap. Most of our baby supplies have been hand-me-downs, but I'm even picky about those: if it can't collapse and slide under a couch, tuck into the closet, or fit on a shelf in Tavi's mini-nursery, we probably don't need it. Vibrating baby recliner? Don't need it! Motorized swing? Don't need it! Baby stimulation station with dangling toys, which we call The Neglector 1000? Ok, but only because it folds up for easy storage.

Other than one horrific trip to Babies R Us to get a breast pump and a couple sleep sacks, our very few baby supplies have all been hand-me-downs, gifts, or Craigslisted. As we ran screaming from Babies R Us, filled with pink and blue plastic crap we didn't need, Dre said to me, "I never want to go there ever again."

I nodded. All that molded plastic made me feel panicky, and most of it you don't even need! The baby industrial complex tries to convince you to buy everything, but really all you need is blankets and burp rags.

One of the things I decided early on that we absolutely did NOT need was a baby bathtub. When Dre brought up the idea before Tavi was born, I poo-pooed him…

"We have sinks!" I said. "We don't need some special molded plastic baby bucket to wash him in. If the sinks don't work, we'll just use that old dishtub with a towel on the side. We totally do NOT need a baby bathtub."

We gave Tavi little washcloth baths for the first week of his life, since we'd been advised not to give him full baths until after his umbilical stump fell off.

His first real bath came at about 10 days old. Deciding the bathroom sink would feel too crowded, we opted for the kitchen sink with its spray faucet. It's a deep stainless steel thing surrounded by granite counter tops, and it was immediately clear that the situation sucked.

Tavi screamed and screamed as we shuffled him around, Dre supporting his slippery body in the suddenly ENORMOUS sink while I juggled the faucet and the soap and the little tiny hand-me-down baby washcloth. Dre fretted about how insecure his grasp was on the baby ("He's all soapy! I'm worried he's going to slip out of my hands!") as I tried to navigate Tavi's flailing arms and beet-red screaming bobble-head.

"Next time we use the bathroom sink," I said, as we dried Tavi off with a hand-me-down hooded baby towel.

Two days later, we repeated the trauma in the bathroom. Tavi fit a bit better in the sink, but the faucet didn't detach and Tavi screamed and screamed as we used a little cup to pour warm water over his tiny angry fists and tried to clean out his milk-soaked double chin creases.

"Someday this will be really fun," I tried to reassure the baby, chatting amiably with him as he screamed until he ran out of breath. "Bath time is going to be fun with rubber duckies and bubbles and toys!"

The baby was unconvinced. Dre looked like he needed PTSD therapy afterwards, moaning, "I'm sorry, Mr. Beebs" over and over again as he toweled off a still-miserable Tavi.

We spend Christmas in Portland with Dre's family, including his brother and his wife who had a baby girl six weeks before Tavi was born. (Yes, there are going to be some crazy cousin times in the future!) My sister-in-law Sacha casually mentioned how much her daughter loves bath time, and I asked her about how they did it.

"Oh, we got this baby bathtub," she said, taking me into the bathroom and showing me a molded plastic baby tub, complete with a little suspended baby hammock.

"Daniella loooves it," she told me. "She dangles her little feet over the edge of the sling into the water and just smiles and smiles. Seriously, I think it's the best part of her day."

I thought of Tavi and his screaming and Dre's white-knuckled hands trying to support him as he slipped around in the sink. Bathing was not the best part of Tavi's day. Or our day. It was awful, and the plastic baby bathtub would make it not awful.

And so when we got home, I got on Craigslist and looked up baby bathtubs. There were a million of them, because of course the upside of the baby industrial complex is that everyone's constantly shedding their crap. The most recent listing was a $10 tub just like the one my sister-in-law had. I sent and email and made arrangements to go pick it up.

The seller, a young Russian mom with a toddler, came to the door of her home with the tub.

"How old is your baby?" she asked me, making small talk as I dug into my wallet for cash.

"Oh, he's just about a month old," I said.

She looked at me with horror, and held up the tub. "But this tub — IT IS PINK!"

I waved my hand in the air. "Oh, HE doesn't care," I said. She still looked aghast, holding the pink tub limply like she expected me not to take it.

"Plus," I reassured her, "pink matches my hair."

She seemed unconvinced, but sold me the tub for 10 bucks.

The first bath with the ridiculously pink molded plastic bathtub was that night. We filled it up with water, stripped Tavi down, and prepared for the worst.

Reclined on the baby hammock dangling in the warm water, he looked up at us with a surprised face … and then kicked his legs and made his happy snuffle. As we cleaned out the crease under his third chin, he waved his Michelin Man arms at us and cooed.

In other words, Tavi loves his bright pink bathtub.

And I had to admit that sometimes, JUST SOMETIMES, every once in a great while … certain molded plastic baby industrial complex supplies are actually useful. I reassure myself that I bought it used and that it thankfully hangs out of the way in a hidden corner of the bathroom.

So now I must know: what ONE stupid piece of kid crap has actually turned out to be mission critical for you?

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  1. Well, Lyra also loathed the bath in the sink so I bathed with her in the tub ( you may have seen pictures) until she was old enough for this and I bought a blue one, and she freaking loves it. One of the only pieces of baby gear we actually bought brand spankin new, it has been well worth it.

    1 agrees
  2. The motorized baby swing was my savior. I could take a shower, do makeup, cook etc while my girls swang away happily next to me. I opted for the smallest foldable one so that I could move it from room to room with me and pack it for vacatiods etc

    1 agrees
  3. LOL, sounds like my baby's first baths too. I'm glad to hear the molded tub w/hammock worked for you – for our little guy it was a torture device. We ended up switching to showers after just a few times, which he still hated but at least were short. He eventually got used to them, and we got rid of the "Fun Time Froggy" bathtub on craigslist.

    The vibrating baby hammock was a real good thing for us, but nothing beat the big yoga ball. I must have spent about three months holding him and bouncing on that, non-stop.

  4. The bumbo was really useful for us, although now I'm hearing rumors that its bad for baby's back? Anyway, it was a play station and feeding seat for us, it could be taken outside, it could be puked on etc and always wiped clean after.

    We went OVERBOARD registering for our first, mostly at the prodding of my 4 sisters, all moms who had their lists of things we "needed". I was a really nervous first-time mom so I felt like I needed every possible piece of gear that would supposedly make my life easier and my baby happier. I wish someone had told me that babies need: food, clothes and blankets, somewhere to sleep and somewhere to poop.

  5. Baby tubs never made sense to me (of course, this is coming from a not-yet-mom, so we'll see!) – I come from a big extended family and watched literally thousands of baths take place in the kitchen sink. However, until the baby was big enough to hold its head up, the bath-giver would put this huge-ass sponge thing in the bottom of the sink, it's a good 4-5 inches thick, with a baby-size depression in it. No slipping onto hard metal/granite/floor since the baby's laying on a nice, soft surface. I don't recall if they normally filled the sink up with water to body-level, or just let it drain during the bath. I also don't know if bacteria get trapped and it gets stinky. And maybe it was just a 90's fad and you can't find them nowadays. But, it might be an option for some people if their kid hates bares sinks and baby bathtubs.

    1 agrees
    • As a 90's baby, I had one of those! It was my "bear bath." My family has a lot of pictures of me and my baby sister taking bear baths, and they seemed to work just fine…. although I think they ripped rather easily.

      • These sponge things totally still exist, you can get them at Target. They also have this little blue tab on them that turns white if the water's too hot for babies. They're not quite as thick as you describe, but they are soft and baby-shaped.

        1 agrees
    • I remember the sponge from when my little brother was a baby in the early 80s. I sure hope they weren't a fad – that's what we've been planning to use for our baby (due in May). i better get looking!

  6. I was totally against pack n plays. I thought what happened to mats and baby gates, this is just another dumb thing to take up space in my small home. Well I finally gave in and put it together before for the gift giver of the p-n-p came over. Boy was I wrong. It had a high bed that hooked on. It was this giant space at waist level where I could change and care for her. It was very helpful and it's where she liked sleeping the most. Since we didn't have a crib until she over one it became her crib and a really good gift.

  7. Fun post! We have a baby bathtub ready to go (given to us from a family who had outgrown theirs). Our little one isn't here yet, so I don't know what will be mission critical yet, but I do applaud your willingness to revise your stance on the baby industrial complex.

    Every once in a great while, someone comes up with a good idea and then companies make money off it.

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  8. All I have to say is…. I love this post! I know you're very selective about what personal experiences you share here, but whenever we get one, it's SO GOOD.

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  9. My son has ALWAYS hated baths, then one day he liked them, then hated them again, currently he likes them, He is also 18 months old. When he was a newborn, the best thing that i got was my swing and a radio, he like to sit in the swing when it was in motion and listen to music wiht me, there are other things that helped make things easier with him but at this time i cant remeber . .

  10. The more I read about people practicing minimal-stuff baby-raising, the more I realize that almost everyone – even those who are very successful at keeping the OMGStuff problem at bay! – has one or two things that are Just Worth It. Those things vary from person to person as near as I can tell, but everyone's got something that makes their lives so much easier. As someone who really really really wants to avoid the consumerist orgy that often comes with new parenthood (impending for us in June), I'm growing to accept that there will certainly be a few items that we can feel okay about buying and using without guilt!

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  11. The $7 baby hammock from Babies R Us that fits in the sink has been a pretty good buy. Ben loves baths and the hammock makes him stay put while I bathe him. Bath time from the start has been great. It's the getting dressed part afterwards that makes him cry like crazy!

    I bought a lot of 0-6 month toys and so far Ben has enjoyed looking at the stuff on the walls more than paying attention to the toys.

    I think my favorite piece of baby gear has been my Diaper Dude diaper bag. It holds everything I need and I no longer bother with a purse, so my wallet fits perfectly.

    I have some hand me down things as well and a few of Ben's towels are flowery and pink, but he doesn't care either.

  12. The swing saved us. We got the bare minimum of baby stuff before he was born; clothes, someone gave us a bumbo, and diapers. The rest of it I thought, "We don't need." Or if it turns out we do need it, we'll get it once he comes.

    And when he got here, we needed to put him down. Somewhere where the 65# canine family member wouldn't step on him. So off to Babies R Us we went. After being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the "baby industrial complex" we settled on a swing that might not take up too much room in our tiny house, and ran for our lives. The swing takes up too much room, but he likes it so, eh.

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  13. I loved this post (although why your 1 month old son having a pink bath hammock that he will never remember concerned that lady is beyond me lol)! It is amazing how before you have kids you look at stuff and think, "Never!", for me it was the vibrating baby recliner. It was the only time the one would be quiet during her colicky times.

  14. My in-laws bought us a stroller/carrier/carseat. While I really liked the stroller, I wasn't sold on the carrier carseat because I was adamant to get a fully convertible carseat that would last until Roland was old enough to not need a car seat.
    Turns out, that carrier was awesome. Once you strapped him in, which he didn't like, he was ready for the car, the stroller, it fit nicely in most shopping carts, you could rock it and put him to sleep while out and about, you could sit it on a chair at restaurants, etc. It was great for the first few months! (he's grown out of it now, but he also doesn't need it anymore)

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  15. I used a sponge mat in the tub for my daughter when she was too young to sit up, but once she could, she had free range of the tub. The best baby product we had though was her mobile. My mother-in-law bought it for us, even though I told her we did not need one. Cate would stare at it for hours on end if we let her, singing to it the whole time. It gave me time to shower and do dishes and everything else new mother's complain that they don't have the time to do.

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  16. With my six month old daughter, the fisher price "newborn to toddler rocker" vibrating seat was a life saver. Somehow she inherited the "I like my own space" jean from her father and I and actually doesn't like to be held too much. With this chair, she had somewhere to sit while I ate etc when she was really little. Now that she is eating solids, she sits in the chair for that, when she had a cold, we reclined it so she could sleep with her head elevated slightly. I was given a bumbo seat as well, and found it to be totally useless. Although I agree with trying to keep things to a minimum, and do so with everything in my life, with baby stuff, sometimes these great sanity savers are exactly that, allow yourself a little guilt free splurge – you can always use it next time around, or donate it after.

    2 agree
  17. A bassinet stroller. I said "I want a frog" my husband said "me two! That empty tank upstairs is the perfect size for poison dart frogs." I spent three months trolling ebay for a used bugabo that didn't get insanely expensive at the last minute…I had to go to work 30 minutes before it ended and so my beautiful husband worked his ebay magic and won it for me. For less than 20% of what it costs new.
    The low profile bassinet stroller has been the perfect thing in our small one level house. The wild man cosleeps at night and spends most of his day in the sling but some tasks aren't slingable. Shower? wheel him into the bathroom and point him at a bright towel. Sauteing, washing dishes? Wheel him into the kitchen. Digging clothes out of the washer? Wheel him into the laundry room. He can watch me and chatter away without lugging some large piece of pre-molded plastic around the house. Anyway it works for me πŸ™‚
    And for bath time, Tummy Tub all the way! He love love loves it πŸ™‚

    2 agree
  18. After our baby's horrible first bath experience–in a hand-me-down plastic baby tub set up on the dining room table–I just started taking baths with her, with my husband on-hand to help out until she started sitting on her own. The Bumbo was fantastic for us, the motorized gigantor swing has been hit-or-miss, but it was the big stroller that went with our infant car seat that's been the biggest waste of money. I wear or carry her in my arms almost everywhere we go, and she's almost walking. I wish I'd just waited and bought an umbrella stroller!

  19. I always thought the grocery cart covers were hideous and overkill. Until my son was old enough to sit up in the grocery cart and we discovered his favorite pastime was gnawing on the cart handle. Gross. So, we borrowed a cover from a neighbor, test-drove it, and fell in love. It was soft, my son couldn't gnaw on the handle anymore, and it turned out you can find some non-hideous versions out there. I was especially thankful for it just last week when my exhausted son laid his head down on the soft cushion and fell asleep WHILE I was shopping. There's a first!

    3 agree
  20. the Bumbo seat. It was all the rage when my daughter was born and I just didn't see a need for another place to put her, since she hardly used the swing or the bouncer we bought her. I had all the time in the world when she was born, but with Lyrik, I was in school again…I had FOUR kids now… and I barely had any time at all! So I broke down and bought a Bumbo off Craigslist and tried it immediately! He was only 3 1/2 weeks old and there he sat, like a little man, while I did my English and Algebra homework. I <3 it and buy it for all my new moms now!!!

  21. oh and I totally STILL use a ton of pink stuff for Lyrik that we have left over from Leya. I had Leya 5 years after Ry, so I thought we were done and when Lyrik surprised us, I just wasn't going to go buy the same crap we already had, just cuz he was a boy! LOL! Mark thinks we're going to confuse him, I think he'll be just fine!

  22. With my son it was the motorized swing, I picked it up at a yard sale for $3 when he was a month old and oh the naps he took in it! It only lasted a few months but he loved it!

  23. I guess my savior could be considered "baby crap" but "mommy crap" might be a better term. To help us both out with breastfeeding we used a nipple shield. It's plastic and around ten bucks. It helped us have a happy time when breastfeeding. I have to admit that we got ours new… not sure if this would be a great used item on craigslist!

    2 agree
    • I just gave mine to a bloggy friend. I had 5 since I HATED washing them over and over and over again. they're expensive when you add it up. I felt bad tossing them out, then when one of my friends posted about buying a few because she wanted to be prepared (she had nursing issues with her first, and is almost ready to pop with her second). I offered, and she accepted πŸ™‚ They're nonporous silicon and easy to sterilize…so while I can see being weirded out about buying them from a total stranger…it seemed ok to send them to a friend πŸ™‚

  24. Ditto to Adelina! The nipple shield is the best thing ever (& under $8 at Target) for us, since Amber was drawing blood from me before we started using it!

  25. We've had all those things, and the vibrating bouncer and the swing were are miracle workers when he was itty-bitty; he might scream and scream if we were holding and rocking him, but put him in his swing or bouncer and turn on Dr. Horrible, and he was calm as could be. It was good for all our nerves. He grew out of them both by the time he was five or six months, but until then it was amazing. Thankfully they were gifted to us — one was a hand-me-down, and the other came from a cousin — because if not for it, we wouldn't have bought either. Not out of not wanting as much as not being able to afford.

    The dangly thing wasn't as entertaining to him as a cell phone is, though. And I've discovered that high chairs are highly overrated, though.

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  26. I am totally LMFAO at this story and love that you got Tavi a pink tub tee hee πŸ™‚ Happy bathtime isn't stressful anymore for you all haha… my first daughter hated her swing so it is def not something I have on the list for this next bundle…but I do have a coworker that is giving me a used one which I will gladly try πŸ˜‰ craigslist rocks and I have gotten our bumbo aka baby display stand, cloth diapers, a way cool dresser we re-painted, etc…off of there!

  27. I bathed with my daughter in the bathtub until she was a year old. We tried to use the baby bathtub (just like the one you pictured, but blue) one time and she HATED it, totally freaked out. So we gave it away and never looked back. Bathtime was the one time of day that my daughter wasn't screaming ("colic" for 6 months+) so I enjoyed bathing with her and being in that calmness for a little while. But I was glad when she was old enough to be in the tub alone–with me sitting in the bathroom there while she plays.
    Our best babyjunk investment was our myriad of slings and carriers, especially the Moby wrap and the Pikkolo. Oh, and as someone else mentioned, the big yoga ball, which we bounced her on for over 6 months…

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    • Seconding the yoga ball. We bought ours for birthing (long story, didn't end up using it)…but my god, it was the ONLY thing that would knock my daughter out when she was in the midst of "the witching hour"!

  28. Gotta tell you: the vibrating bouncey chair and the exersaucer have been great! We had to retire the chair a few months ago and it was sooo sad. We had attached a plastic-molded baby industrial complex (BIC) kick toy to it and she would spend so much time kicking at it and having a great time. She's almost outgrown the exersaucer, and I'm sad about that, too. It gave me the freedom to actually do dishes or sweep the floor — or check out my favourite blogs… She's moved on to some great toys now that are entirely from the BIC, and boy, does she love them! Sounds! lights! Music! The fair trade, pesticide-free wooden toys just don't cut it, sadly.

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  29. This was the BEST investment and I must say the CHEAPEST! even new it was only like $18.00. Super cheap. And my daughter now 9 months LOVES it!

  30. Ugh, the worst thing that I ever bought for my daughter was this cheap $10 baby doll stroller at Wal Mart when she was 13ish months old. She was trying to learn how to walk, she just needed something to hang on to and this was the ONLY thing I could find that fit the bill. After I got her the stroller, she started walking within 2 days by herself! She still plays with the stroller and she takes her babies for walks in it….best purchase I ever made.

  31. With both my kids I took them in the shower with me to clean them then handed them off to dad to dry. I loved it, they loved it…to this day they both prefer showers. I never had any problems with squirming because I think I started when they were so small – my preemie daughter weighed 4 pounds when she had her first shower with mom!

    Item the drove me nuts but couldn't live without – the excersaucer. Huge, bulky, garish item from hell. Blessed soother of the savage beast, "oh my gosh I can actually get 10 minutes of peace", item we couldn't have survived without.

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  32. Bruin had a pink craigslist bumbo he hated and I kind of suspected he was rebelling against the color. The vibrating baby chair was our savior though… It was the first place I could put him down without him screaming and have TWO HANDS FREE!! I used it for months – he'd sit in it when he was really way too big for it, strapped in on the bathroom floor while I had a shower. Then, when he eventually flipped the entire thing over on himself I had to admit that it was time to move on. Sigh.

  33. Every parent / baby is different and what works for some one baby may not for others or may be necessary for sanity for the parents (colic)!

    Certain things we thought we'd need but ended up not needing or needing only for a short time…like our Euro bath tub. It was a gift which we loved but we only a few weeks and then just used the big bath tub. Also got a $5 garage sale breast pump…so glad I did not fork over the cash for a fancy one as I barely used it (twice I think). We purchased one of those portacrib/bassinet things for bebe to sleep in next to our bed but when we realized it wasn't really that portable (we have two floors so having newborn bebe all the way upstairs sleeping by herself seemed odd), we ended up using a big basket that I actually had for years to keep old books and magazines in. It was perfect! We could move the basket around the house with sleeping baby and move it into bed with us. She outgrew it at 4 months and we moved her into our bed for a while and finally into a proper crib.

    The one thing that was great and we purchased though was a aquatic/neptune themed playmat. We debated about getting one at all (pricey!) but after having my daughter try it out at her cousin's who was two weeks older, you'd think she was underwater scuba diving…she looooooved it. So we got one and it lasted for months and made some of my mornings bearable in catching 20 minutes more sleep as she played right on the bed on the playmate next to sleeping me.

    1 agrees
    • my FH is obsessed with all things "under the sea" and he saw that playmat in the store recently…he said he wanted to have kids just so he had an excuse to buy it. Frankly, I'm surprised he didn't buy it for our future kids then and there!

      3 agree
  34. For our son, someone gave us an exersaucer. At five months we put him in it, and he used it for about a month before he started crawling. After that he lost all interest in being in it, and preferred to crawl under it. I'm happy we didn't buy a lot of baby stuff. We just didn't have the space and our son was happy to be on the floor.

  35. I need to show my mom the first half of this article whenever we have a kid. She thinks she's smarter than marketing, but (as I saw with my wedding) she embraces the _IC like crazy. It doesn't help that I'm an only child and therefore her only chance at grandkids. We're already fearful of all the crap we'll end up with.

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  36. My favorite item was (and still is) my ring sling. But, Great Grandma made that, so I can't count that as a plastic crap purchase. We also had mostly hand me downs (for both our kids). But, last year we bought a Baby Trend Sit and Stand stroller. At the time, our son was 5 1/2 and our daughter was a year. Since I have small children, my son fit perfectly in the back seat and loved being able to get in and out alone.

    Now, a year later we still use that thing all the time, as I do my slings. That was the perfect investment for us.

  37. Oh I can so relate to the strong "I don't need all this crap" feeling. We got most of our few supplies (carriage, tub) from a neighbor who was a bit concerned 'cause they're blue and we have a girl. My mother-in-law seemed to think I was an awful person who didn't want to provide any stimulation to our daughter when I refused endless play gyms and plastic toys. But a neighbor gave us a chair with hanging toys which I had been avoiding. I eventually took of the toys so our daughter could see, and, I must admit, she loves the chair. I feel strongly that the world is plenty stimulating enough for someone who's only been in it for a few months! And one or two toys (it's not like she remembers them from one time to the next). Such an exercise in when to compromise and when to stand one's ground, motherhood has been.

    1 agrees
    • I totally agree!! I am still waitingfor baby, due in the fall, and when I made my plans known that I didn't plan to have "all that stuff" my sister had a fit that I wasnt going to stimulate the child. Just because I don't want plastic electronic light up musical toys doesn't mean I am going to ignore my baby… in fact I just may be paying more attention… grrr I can see I will have to hold my ground on some things and relax on others, but at least I know I am not alone!

      1 agrees
  38. I did a lot of shopping on craigslist as well, with a minimum of baby crap hanging around the house; the one "baby crap" thing we picked up was a play gym. Our guy loves it, and it's great to see his motor skills progress weekly as he first hits, jabs, then fully grabs on to the items hanging down. $60 seemed like a lot at the time, but it's one of his favorite things. Babies do seem to need some 'alone time' play and in the morning he gets a little bit of time hanging out there while I load the wash and fix my crack (i.e., strong PG Tipps tea) so mama can get a head start to the day. he loves it!

    Re: Pink for boys- we use Thirsties absorbent diaper covers over his gdiapers to prevent leaks on his clothes, and the cheapest ones I found were hot pink. With us down to one income (heck, NO income with the hubby recently laid off), I figured it doesn't matter what color, as long as they work!

    1 agrees
    • Don't you love the gdiapers? I plan on using them when we have a child, I learned about them in September when a friend came to visit with her 8 month old. I watched in facsination as she flushed down that poopy diaper!

  39. My LO hasnt had a bath in 2 weeks…I haven't had the heart to do it since he screamed the place down in the bath with me – the midwives said the skin to skin would keep him calm! LOL.

  40. I might not survive without the Moby wrap. Miles doesn't like to be put down. Ever. So I just wear him almost all day, and can still do most things with both hands, and he gets to be part of whatever I'm doing.

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  41. the back pack toddler "leash". i got alot of hassle about having one but when my daughter was around 13-14 months i got one for her. i know most people believe that having a child "on a leash" is just horrible but in with situations like street fairs and trick or treating my daughter hated being confined to the stroller and forcing her to hold my hand when she wanted to run free and was torture on us both and there was no way she was gonna have me carry her when she had just learned to walk. the backpack "leash" allowed her a little freedom to explore but kept her from running off and getting lost, snatched up, or hurt. i only used the thing twice (once at a street fair and once trickortreating). afterwards it just served as a backpack she like to carry around and eventually went to good will. i have no regrets

    4 agree
  42. While I'm not a mom (yet), I work with infants, and with lots of babies (9) and only 3 teachers, sometimes we need all the help we can get. The BEST thing we have in the infant room are boppies. They are great for helping support a baby just learning to sit on his or her own-that way if we need to get up, we can slip one behind them and if they go plop, they don't get hurt (or angry at us for lying them down). And I have no shame in admitting that I've used the purple floral or candy pink ones for the boys as well as the girls.

  43. I am babyless (for now) but am an offbeat bride growing up so I check out offbeat mama on occaision. I just wanted to pass on this… from a daddy blog I regularly read. I only pass it along because the seat Hunnydu references in the first comment reminds me of this scary seat. I am certainly not a fearmonger, but thought I'd put it out there if folks are shopping for a similar seat.

  44. Oh, the baby crap. With our first, we really wanted to keep the stuff to a minimum, but ended up with a lot of gifts, including the baby tub. The tub was a major fail for us – the kiddo just never liked it. He was way better with showers with us.

    We did end up with a massive swing, which was a huge "worth it" item for us – it calmed the baby, and he slept in there a lot of nights. We finally retired it when the weight of our (large) baby maxed out the swing – it creaked and groaned under the strain. Sad day.

    We also had an exersaucer, which was a wonderful relief for my arms, which were so tired from holding and bouncing my (large, did I say large yet?) baby all. the. time. It was ugly, made a huge amount of noise, and took up a ridiculous amount of space.

    What helped the most was storing or getting rid of itmes once we had outgrown them. We have more space than you, and planned on antoher, so we stored them. But if we'd been done with one, I'd have passed them on or sold them as soon as we finished. One big piece of junk at a time seems not too unreasonable.

  45. It's funny– we got a baby bathtub as a gift and I ended up giving it away on Freecycle. It took up too space! For Alice's baths in the kitchen sink, we just lined the sink with a towel to prevent slippage, then when she was sitting up on her own, baths moved to the tubs.

    Our godsend was the Boppy Swing. We went out to BRU right before closing time to get one when she was about a month old because we were so desperate for something that would soothe Alice besides the sling and our arms. Best thing we ever bought!

  46. This is hilarious! Gosh why on earth would he care what colour it is (as if he could somehow tell…) Glad you have made bathtime a better experience for everyone involved πŸ™‚

  47. I was against the idea of any type of infant seat/swing, etc. I, like you, thought they were just ways to neglect an infant. However, I have been THRILLED with my son's vibrating seat because it keeps him from screaming while I make my lunch and use the bathroom. He just sits there smiling at me and playing with the little toys that dangle from it. Yup, I leave the little dangly toys… but if I walk away, his fun doesn't last. So, it turns out that it is the parent that makes these things neglectful, not the things πŸ™‚

    • Mine never lasted in any of the baby "holders" either. I can (or could before separation anxiety set in) sit her in her bouncer or swing or whatever for a few minutes. But she basically tops out at 10 minutes of "independent play". Sometimes I'm so jealous of people with babies that just love hanging out in their play things, but then EVERYONE comments on how calm and happy she is (like it's abnormal…hmmm), and I have to believe that my almost constant attention has to be partly to blame for her sunny disposition πŸ˜› One can hope right?

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  48. YES! I hate the BIC! I failed at the "baby registry" because after the hand-me-downs I really couldn't think of what to add on a registry….

    Didn't want to buy? A swing. Bought one second hand and IT SAVED MY SANITY. When our little girl hit 6 weeks she started going on a 3 hour scream-a-thon every night from 7pm-10pm. Swinging her in our arms seemed to really calm her. But after a couple weeks we were soooo tired of the swinging. I *knew* there was product that did it for us…but…I still was hesitant. By the third week though of swinging her in the bassinet, the moses basket, and anything to get her to calm down …. I caved and bought a swing. IT WAS AWESOME. And, I could even park it in the bathroom and let her swing and look up the little lights and music while I took a shower. I was very sad when she finally outgrew it.

    Best hand-me-down? THE BUMBO SEAT!!! We took it with us everywhere, it was so great before she could sit on her own. I think the "back problem" thing is so that people don't just sit their kid in for hours on end. In fact, I think most baby products are only unsafe developmentally if you use them as a babysitter instead of a 15-minutes or less item. Anyways, at 11 months she still sits in the Bumbo and we use it as an ad-hoc toilet training tool. (Mostly because if she sits in for more than 5 minutes she poops, ergo…I sit her in when I want her to poop! (in a DIAPER, not in the seat of course)). Anyway, it's awesome and it was free. πŸ™‚

    Most of her toys are also hand-me-downs — sometimes I pay $5-6 for a yard sale toy. I'm hosting my mommy-group for the first time at my house next week and after seeing the other babies' brand-new toy paradises … I am a wee-bit ashamed of my "old" toys… but god, whatever. They want to judge me, they can go right ahead – my kid doesn't know the damn difference between a new toy or an old toy. And the fact that most of the sound features are broken is a GOOD thing in my book!! πŸ˜› hehe

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  49. My son HATED being given a bath in the sink also. He screamed & flipped out of my arms so I got on craigslist & got him the rainforest tub with baby hammock for 10.00 & not he just lays there & dips his feet in the water & laughs at me.

  50. Does no one else just hop into the tub with their babies? My husband and I have done this with both of ours, they really like ma or dad there for reassurance and entertainment. Best of all, there's no back breaking, kneel-at-tubside chub-scrubbing.
    And I have to say, the first kid I was a die-hard baby wearer, but five years and a few extra pounds and I am SOLD on strollers post-20lbs. I used to cuss those things as useless and a nuisance, but man alive do I love them now!

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  51. Oh man…for us it's the baby bath bucket. I gleefully told my husband we were going to get the bucket just because I wanted a baby in a bucket. I imagined the cute pictures of naked baby in the transparent bucket and insisted. We did the sink thing until his head was a little stable and since the, the bucket. The baby LOVES it. He would wiggle around and sway and looked like he was dancing, and now that he is bigger (almost 6 months) he loves to sit in it and pull his feet up so he can play with his toes in the bath. I think they need to make a bigger bucket though, he is soon going to out grow it and there will be sadness all around.

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  52. my must have was a baby backpack carrier when Mimi got too big for the front sling, but wasn't walking yet! now she's walking we don't use it (plus she's too heavy for my back now!) but it was great for camping all last summer πŸ™‚ My other must (current and continuing!) is my toddler seat on my bike, we cycle nearly everywhere outside Mimi's walking distance now πŸ™‚

  53. we needed the baby swing for the first few months, but it was a pain always having to have D cells on hand. We ended up buying rechargables that we won't use again till we have another munchkin. Swaddle blankets were pretty needful, too, the ones with velcro tabs were so much easier. But what we still use and wouldn't give up for ANYTHING is our tummy tub. Check it out at

  54. I know you said that you hate the vibrating bouncy chairs, but in all honesty, I think it saved my life! When my son was born, I couldn't wait to spend all day holding and loving him. Unfortunatly, he had other plans. From the instant he came home from the hospital, he hated being held more than 5 mintues (I cried and cried for about 2 weeks over this). He didn't like to be swaddled like they showed me how to do. At first it was so frustrating. He would cry and cry as I was holding him, then he would have a scream fest after I would swaddle him, thinking it would make things better. Finally one day, I was just exhausted. I couldn't take the feeling that my child didn't want a bond with me. So (and this probably makes a few mom's shudder) I stuck him in the vibrating bouncy chair. I though that maybe it would lull him to sleep like I couldn't. Well, it worked. From that moment on (until he could crawl anyways) he was in that damn chair. It was nice though, when I was baking or making a meal (which was a lot) he would sit, strapped into his bouncy chair on the table, and babble back and forth with me. In my opionion, this thing actually improved the relationship with my son!

  55. Man, I was totally against baby clutter, and so wanted to be a minimalist momma, but there's a reason why the baby industry is so lucrative.

    The one item we could not live without is our Rock and Play ( I was totally against a bouncer/swing until I realized that Liam hated being in another room when we were doing anything, and lugging the PnP between rooms (not to mention to grandparents') was a pain. Oh my gosh, eating dinner is so much easier without holding a squirmy little thing. Plus, this is tons more stable than a bouncer and folds up smaller than a swing. He naps in it, too, and many a late night we were saved by having him sleep at our bedside where we could rock him.

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  56. I got an excersaucer handed down to me. I first thought it was a monstrosity that barely fit in my apartment, much less through a doorway. But from the time that my son could sit up I could pop him in it, drag him to the door of the bathroom (so I could smile at him if he started to fuss), and actually get a shower longer than two minutes! I could even use it to get the dishes and laundry done!

  57. the little plastic tub was HELL for Joel. I would get in the bath with him and lay him in my lap while i sat indian style. But the best thing for us gadget wise was those little vibrating chairs. He had thrush the first 2 months of his life as well as bad gas, and the vibrations seemed to help him feel better about all of it.

  58. I thought the Itzbeen we were given was an extravagant uni-tasker, but when DD showed up after five days of labour and an unplanned c-section? I have never been so grateful for a gift in my life. Not only did it allow me and the hubby to keep track of feedings, diapers, naps, etc., it had an unlabelled extra timer button that I used to keep track of my pain pill schedule.

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  59. Ours was a stroller! We have friends who bought three of everything for their baby and he never used any of it, including an expensive stroller! So we weren't going to get one but my in-laws bought us one, and we use it all the time, even when babywearing to carry her and our stuff.

  60. I think the best thing we bought for our son was a bumbo seat. We used it for everything, feeding, playtime and even when we were sitting and teaching him sign language. Even now at 20 months old, he still tries to sit in it, of course getting his butt stuck in it!!!

  61. Vibrating bouncy seat. Best. Gift. Ever.

    With my first son, a friend of mine gave me her bouncy seat that her son had outgrown. Man, oh man, it was a lifesaver! He would bounce and kick and bounce some more in it! When he was too big for it, I had to retire it. I didn't plan on having any more kids after him, so I had gotten rid of every single piece of baby mess I had…..except that seat. I don't know why I held on to it.

    Expect now. With my 2nd son, he is a cuddler. He HAS to be in the room with me. I can't use the bathroom, or go to the kitchen, or breathe unless I'm in the same room with him. Enter…..the bouncy seat. He fell in love. He was quite colicky, then he got sick, colicky showed up again, trouble sleeping….that seat was a sanity saver in this house! It has been carted all over this house, upstairs, downstairs. I'm typing this now while he's in his seat, my foot bouncing it gently while he sleeps.

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  62. This post made me laugh so hard I cried! This is why I love Offbeat Mama so much! REAL stories not like the poo in those magazines! Thank you so much Ariel for the amazing community you have created! I think you are changing the way women communicate with each other!

  63. This is really a good post.All I have to say is…. I love this post! I know you're very selective about what personal experiences you share here, but whenever we get one, it's SO GOOD.

  64. I had two things I actually really wanted but was unsure about forking over the cash – a moby wrap and a nice breastfeeding pillow. My girl did not like being put down and left (can't say I blame her) and she really didn't enjoy her small swing for long either. I had a second hand snuggli but found I didn't really like it. Since the name brand moby wraps sell for 50 bucks I decided to make my own and all I needed was 6 yards of jersey knit fabric! It was great and although she would slip in it after awhile I just would readjust and was able to have hands again!

    The other item – the My Brestfriend. We had a second hand boppy but I'm apparently too big for that and could never get it to be right – it would slip out and also didn't fit with me and her in our "mommy chair" (which I also insisted on but was given one for christmas and love it). The Brestfriend looked funny to me and I hate the name but went ahead and used a Walmart gift card I had been saving to get it. Completely worth the 20 bucks for me as it actually adjusts around the waist, and has much more support. It's like a little padded table! I was actually able to doze off many times while feeding overnight. I know with my second one coming in less than 30 days now I'm not gonna have quite so many issues with the breast feeding.

    Also – I love the comments about what babies REALLY need: food, clothes, a place to sleep and love. Pretty simple. It's not until they start begging you for new toys that they get "high maintenance" LOL.

  65. honestly, my stroller is my life saver! I am all for carrying your babe with you wherever you go…but as a petite lady with carpol tunnel syndrome in both wrists (they think anyways?) and a crazy toddler, this just wasn't feasible. The dam stroller allows me to go everywhere with my kids! Plus I can carry the bags and stuff, and put Herb's tricycle on top to ride the bus! (it folds up) And I never have to worry about dropping something–especially my baby!

  66. The baby industy is worse than the wedding industry!

    I will say i ended up buying two strollers…and two slings. A big stoller that matches the carseat and a little umbrella one. I use them often, sometimes both in one day.

    And, like a lot of other moms, the swing saved my sanity so many times.

    oh and the Baby Einstein DVDs. she LOVES those…and I always thought they were a gimick.

  67. Stuffy-nosed kids can sleep in a vibrating lil recliner and you don't have to prop them up with your boob all night while they sneeze over you, Woohoo! But my daughter was bathed in sinks and shower stalls-I think it may have helped her balance actually, what with washing her in my arms and her having to conterweight herself xD

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