Why we skipped the infant car seat

When we were planning baby gear, we didn’t get an infant car seat, we just started with a convertible car seat. I’ve shared our reasoning with several friends, and I wanted to share it here, too.

When you’re talking about a carseat to put a newborn in, you have two choices:

1) Infant car seat: this is the type that you see babies get carried around in and set on the floor in restaurants in. The baby lays in a fairly horizontal position and is low in the car in this type of seat. This is also the type of seat you can clip into some strollers with the right attachment and that has a separate base that stays in the car, meaning you can have one seat and two bases for two different cars. Most of these car seats can also be installed without the base using just the seat belt. Two examples are the Graco Snugride and the Britax B-Safe. These seats are usually safe to 30 or 35 lbs, 29-32 inches tall, or when baby’s head is closer than 1 inch from the top of the car seat, whichever comes first, though if you have this type of carseat, you should definitely check the regulations for your particular model. The limitations on how big your baby can be and still ride safely should be specified on the seat. Babies generally outgrow this seat sometime between 5 and 12 months, depending on baby’s height and body proportions. You could have a baby with a long torso that is still technically within the weight and overall height limits on a seat, but can no longer ride safely because his or her head is not contained appropriately within the top of the seat. Also, a report came out last year that said that babies should be moved out of their infant seat by age one.

2) Convertible car seat: this is the type that stays in the car. Infants might need an insert in order to ride in this type of seat (depends on the seat). The baby can recline at an angle that is safe for their limited head control, but generally sits up higher and slightly more upright than in an infant car seat. You can put very little babies in some of these seats, and then the seats can be used up to much higher weight and height limits. Two examples are the Clek Fllo and the Graco 4Ever.

Why we chose the Clek Fllo and skipped the infant seat all together:

  • I didn’t want to buy an infant seat that my baby might outgrow in as few as 5 months. I didn’t want to store an extra car seat for the next baby or have to buy another car seat in the first year.
  • I didn’t want to carry the baby around in the car seat or push the baby in the car seat in the stroller. The infant seats weigh at least 7.5 lbs, so add an 8+ lb baby and you’re already lugging a not insignificant amount of weight around. I occasionally lifted the 20 lb twins that I nannied for in their infant seats, and it was a lot. I felt like I would much rather carry my baby in my arms or in a baby carrier. We got the stroller + bassinet because we wanted to have the option of a bassinet to take into restaurants and have a place for Plum to hang out if needed and because I wanted her to get used to hanging out flat on her back in the stroller, which is how we wanted her to be comfortable sleeping (as you probably know, back sleeping is the safest for SIDS prevention). We ended up using the bassinet for sleeping in the house (naps and night time), too, which was a bonus that we didn’t anticipate and which we would not have been able to do with an infant car seat because they are not approved for sleeping.
  • I wanted to have one car seat that would work rear-facing for as long as possible. Our friend who is a pediatric emergency doctor recommends that children stay rear-facing ’til age four. Knowing that we were likely to have a tall/large kid, I wanted to get the seat that would last the longest, and that’s the Clek Fllo. It has one of the highest weight and height limits for rear-facing.
  • I knew that some babies hate the car, and one theory about why they hate it is that they can’t see out. Many convertible car seats allow them to sit more upright. Plum never hated the car, and obviously I don’t know if this is because of the convertible car seat or because she is generally easy going (probably the easy going thing, honestly).
  • We didn’t need to think about switching the car seat back and forth between cars.

All of that said, this is just what made the most sense for us. Most people do start with an infant seat, and I am sure it works very well or else the car seat companies wouldn’t sell so many of them. As a parent, you decide what is best for your family.

Plum at 11 months

Says cat (sounds like haT), all done (aw duh), and maybe shoe (sooh) and dog (daw). Still messes around with da, ma, and ba in various combinations.

Sits up in her bed, which sometimes might make it tricky to go back to sleep.

Claps, waves, and, when asked if she’s going to give her baby a kiss, brings dolls to her mouth for an open mouth “kiss.”

Almost always chooses the forward movement of commando crawling over rolling. Mid month,she went from pushing with just her right leg to using both much more symmetrically.

Sometimes all fours crawls. In prepping for all fours crawling, does a lot of spiderman stretching and rocking back to a seat.

Has started to reach up for things (the Christmas tree, coffee table, straps hanging off her high chair, etc.) sometimes from her knees.

Can sort of climb small obstacles like our legs and the cat scratcher.

Able to eat pieces of crackers and whole cheerios (these are the driest foods she’s tried).

Tried water in a sippy cup at the beach house we stayed at after Christmas and loved the cup (as opposed to the open cups and other sippy/straw cups she’d tried before). Luckily it was the cheap-o kind from the grocery store.

Enjoyed eating paper at Christmas time and loved the gifts—especially the books!

Kind of dances/bobs around to music or singing while sitting in her high chair/on the floor or while being held by us.

Kind of sings along with us when we sing and imitates other sounds that we make like coughing or emphatic talking.

Plum at nine months

She met (and was held by!!) President Obama this month. Pretty much the most incredible day ever.

Loves all food. Lentils, cheese, lasagna, bread, et cetera. She is also getting really good at picking food up on her own and tries out the pincer grasp more and more.

Still happy foot claps for food and other exciting things.

Rolls all over and changes directions fast by pushing with her feet while on her belly.

Hangs out a lot on her side in sort of a lounging pose with her top leg bent and the sole of that foot on the floor (looks a little like Burt Reynolds in a certain centerfold photo).

Sometimes gets up on knees and elbows and rocks back and forth (go, baby, go).

Sits much more steadily in her high chair and in our laps, but doesn’t sit up on her own from lying down yet.

Claps more and has waved a few times.

Conversational and quick to giggle. Mimics many sounds and even convincingly repeated “Obama” once.

Has two bottom teeth.

Loves to pull the dog’s fur and try to eat it.

No longer has a dream feed (one last feed after she goes to bed, usually while she is pretty sleepy). We are sad to not see her after she goes to bed, but she doesn’t seem to miss it.

Why I am glad we hired a doula

I wrote this list for a friend the other day, and I thought others might benefit from reading it. Our doula was wonderful, and I have no regrets about hiring her.

1) Being able to contact her (an extremely knowledgeable source for all things pregnancy and childbirth related) whenever. I know Andrew texted with her a lot when I was in early labor and she helped him to understand what kind of progress I was probably making.

2) The prenatal meetings. I honestly was stressed out about scheduling these at the time because it just felt like more to do, but in retrospect they were great. We had two and I liked getting to know her and having her reassure us that things were normal and help us think of things we hadn’t considered.

3) The help she gave us to think through our birth plan.

4) That she came to our house to be with me while Andrew went to the grocery store and installed the car seat so that I wouldn’t labor alone and helped us decide when we should go to the birth center. Again her vast experience of birth came into play here.

5) The position and comfort measure suggestions she made during labor (more of us using her knowledge!). She also made sure I stayed hydrated and nourished. And I think she cleaned out my puke bucket.

6) Having her help breastfeeding after Plum was born.

7) The postnatal visit. She brought curry and it was really awesome to have someone a little bit emotionally removed from the birth who could help us remember things and process and also reassure us that things were normal (like the baby refusing to sleep anywhere but on us)

8) The very positive feelings that I have about Plum’s birth. I can’t 100 percent credit the doula with this, but there is evidence that continuous labor support makes a birthing woman less likely to have negative feelings about childbirth.

Plum at seven months

Rolls everywhere! Onto all surfaces. She’s able to change directions by twisting her torso, so she can sort of roll toward things. It doesn’t always work and sometimes she ends up exactly in the opposite place as where she wanted to be, but since there are now toys all over the floor she generally just goes with it and grabs whatever is closest.

She’s eaten so many foods: bananas (chunks), apples, pears, squash, lentils (mashed up, not puréed), oatmeal, barley, and more. She still loves to feed herself with the spoon, and is learning to pick things up. Also enjoys drinking water from a small open cup or slurping it from a straw if we hold a finger over the other end.

New noises include more consonant sounds (ka, ya), squeaking, shrieking, purposeful smacking, and lots of talking with her hand or something else in her mouth.

No teeth yet, but evidence of one or two on the bottom very close to popping up.

Wants to touch the cats and dog so badly! The cats cleverly stay just out of reach. The dog is less clever, so we either watch them closely or keep dog and Plum separate.

Enjoys: books (the Global Babies series is tops), her dad’s return from work, being naked, other babies—especially my young nannying charge, eating

How we cloth diaper

How we cloth diaper | invitingjoy.net

Note: I’m not sure that anyone cares about this, but I read tons of posts while pregnant to get an idea of how other people were doing cloth diapering. So here we go!

Years before I was even pregnant, I bought cloth diapers from a friend when she was finished with them. They were FuzziBunz, which were recommended to me by my friend, Sarah. I moved those diapers to North Carolina from Nashville and then to all three of the places we’ve lived in NC. But our current place, our favorite place we’ve lived in NC, with the best landlord, the fantastic location, and the awesome neighbors, has a front loading, high efficiency washer. And as I started to read the mountains of info that was available online about washing pocket diapers (diapers that require you to stuff an insert into a two-layered diaper shell), it seemed like it was going to be a real pain to wash the microfiber inserts that had come with the diapers I bought from my friend and get them really clean.

I sold those diapers on Craigslist and started looking into what might work best for our set up. I knew I didn’t want to spend a ton of money, and that I wanted the diapers I got to last through toilet learning for Plum and then to be able to reuse them should we have another child at some point.

I don’t remember what I was like before I did a PhD, but now, at least, I like to research things completely to death. Lucie’s List, Amazon reviews, YouTube videos, and blog posts are my absolute jam. It borders on compulsive, but I’m just rolling with it for now. I’m sure that I could do way less research and be happy with whatever I decide, but the fact that I spend so much time investigating baby gear means that is it really validating when things work how I hope they will. And this diaper situation has so far worked great!

The diapers: I ordered size large, organic Cloth-eez Flat Birdseye Diapers from Green Mountain Diapers. I went with flat diapers because they are so easy to wash (more on this below) and because they are so versatile. You can fold them up into pretty much any shape and there are lots of tutorials online. For daytime diapering, we used a mini kite fold when Plum was little and now we do a modified version of the regular kite fold. We use a Boingo to fasten. For night time diapering, we used to fold one diaper into a rectangle/pad shape and put it inside of the kite fold. Now, we just do two diapers folded together into a giant pad.

These diapers get softer and more absorbent as you use them more. To prep them we washed them something like four times, maybe a few times without detergent and a few times with detergent. This part is kind of hazy because our postpartum doula did most of it. If Plum hadn’t come two weeks early, I would have done it myself.

The covers: We started with six Buttons covers and four Blueberry Coveralls. I’ve been happy with both covers for different reasons. I chose these types because they can be reused to cover a fresh flat diaper multiple times before washing and both brands have double gussets (an extra layer of PUL—polyurethane laminate, a plastic-y waterproof fabric—and elastic) to hold poop in at the legs.We have never had a poop blowout in either cover, and I cannot say the same for disposables we have used while traveling.

The Buttons covers worked really well for day and night early on and for day time until recently, when they stopped fitting my [98th percentile for weight] baby. I think if we’d been using the snap-in inserts for the Buttons covers, they would have fit for longer, but fitting them over the large flats stopped working for us.

I definitely don’t regret starting with the Buttons covers because the Blueberry Coveralls were too big at first. The Blueberry Coveralls are marketed to fit children 10-40 pounds, but they didn’t fit well until Plum was around 12-13 pounds. We’ve been using them at night to cover the giant two-diaper situation for a while now, and just switched to using them during the day. Plum has plenty of room in them, and I think we should be able to get through to toilet learning.

I recently picked up a few more Blueberry covers on ebay, some Coveralls and also some Capris in size two. The Capris are nice because they have flaps at either end of the cover, so you can stuff them with something absorbent, kind of like you would with a pocket diaper. We just tried using a Capri cover at night with two flat diapers folded together into a giant pad, and that worked pretty well.

Wipes: My mom made us a bunch of cloth wipes from old flannel pillow cases and receiving blankets. They have been awesome. I highly recommend cloth wipes if you’re cloth diapering because then everything can go into one laundry bin. We wet ours as we need to with plain water using the peri bottle I got after Plum was born. We also use this weighted wipe dispenser box, which we received as a gift.

Laundry: We keep dirty diapers and wipes in a plastic food storage bin with a lid that seals (we used to keep cat food in it), and wash them every three-ish days. The flat diapers are great in our high efficiency washer. Because they are just one layer, they wash as well as a cloth napkin or a dish towel. We do a double rinse cycle to remove the poop and pee and then run a regular wash cycle with hot water. After the introduction of purées, we also had to add a rinse for poop diapers using a diaper sprayer so that anything more solid goes into the toilet. Then we dry the diapers on the line. They dry fast in the NC heat. Sometimes I give them a quick tumble (about five minutes) in the dryer to soften them up, but sometimes I skip this step and it’s fine. Diaper covers get wiped of any poop with cloth wipes, and then washed with normal laundry.

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Plum at four months

Gazes at her fist like it’s the most fascinating thing she’s ever seen (it probably is). Also definitely looks at the cats and dog as though she’s realized they are independent beings and not just part of the decor.

Coos, squeals, squawks, smacks, and occasionally makes consonant sounds: guh, ma, da, mmm, and nnn. Also is starting to chuckle. Once she laughed out loud a lot because her Uncle T was so very funny.

Sleeps in her co-sleeper from about 7-7:30 pm to between 6:30-8 am with maybe one wake up for first breakfast sometime between 3 and 5:30 am.

Deliberately touches people (especially her dad) on the arm or the face. Also rubs her hands all over her own face while falling asleep and waking up.

Has just started drawing things—aside from the magical fist and its thumb—to her mouth.

Drools much more than she ever has before; chews on her bottom lip and tongue.

Rides the bus in the baby carrier to and from work with me four days a week (I work from home one of the days). At work, Plum naps in her stroller bassinet, drinks milk, visits with my coworkers, and plays on her quilt.

Scoots all around on her back by pushing herself with her feet. She is very unlikely to be in the same orientation in her bed at the end of nap as she was at the beginning.

Hangs out on her side with her legs to the side and could be rolling over any day now!