This post was prompted by a conversation I had yesterday with a newly-pregnant friend. She's been collecting lists of must-have baby items and we were discussing some of them. It's my experience that at least half the items on any must-have baby list are not in fact things you must have. What you absolutely must have for a newborn is food (your breasts or formula), shelter (your home, including diapers), and love (your arms). And a car seat, or they won't let you leave the hospital and drive home. Everything else, no matter how convenient or attractive, is non-essential. So many of these helpful lists are compiled by companies, stores, or manufacturers who want to sell something to you, or by magazines who are currying favour with their advertisers. They all have a vested interest in making you think you need more than you do.
One of the things on the list my friend was looking at was a fancy counter top steamer. The helpful hint that accompanied the recommendation was that the steamer could be used not only for sterilizing bottles in the early days, but later on would be great to steam vegetables and make your own baby food. It was multi-purpose, thereby saving you from having to buy both a bottle sterilizer and a baby food steamer. Sounds logical, right?
Except that you don't need to sterilize bottles. A run through the dishwasher or a careful hand wash in hot soapy water is all that's required. And you don't need to buy a special steamer to make baby food - an inexpensive insert or dim-sum style bamboo steamer is more than adequate to cook anything you want. Or sterilize your bottles, for that matter.
It's always better to trust recommendations from other moms. They have no interest in selling you something you don't need, and they've actually used the product in practical, real-world situations.
With that, a new feature here on Wave The Stick: Things I Love.
It should be noted that I do not work for any of these companies, I don't own stock in them (but maybe I should!) and I've not been given free samples to review or promote. This is stuff I have heard about from friends or discovered for myself and actually use. I should also say that I welcome feedback if you've tried a product I recommend and love it too - or even more important, if you've tried something and didn't like it at all! Nothing works for everyone - I'd love to hear all perspectives.
The Bumbo Baby Sitter
It's a really fascinating and wondrous thing to watch your tiny human evolve from a helpless being completely oblivious to his environment, to an aware little creature observing his environment, to an engaged little guy interacting with his environment, to a very busy little person trying to effect change on his environment.
Until babies' eyesight develops enough to see beyond the distance from mother's breast to her eyes, they're pretty much oblivious to anything and everything else. You need to get right up close and personal for them to be aware of you. Toys don't mean much - heck, even their own hands float through their field of vision and cease to exist once they're no longer in view.
As eyesight improves and babies learn to hold their heads up, observing becomes a huge thing. They watch EVERYTHING. My son has always wanted to know about everything that was going on around him, and would get frustrated if he couldn't be a part of the action. He got bored pretty quickly with looking up at the ceiling all the time. That's where the Bumbo seat came in.
Here's The Boy, pictured in his Bumbo at about 3 1/2 months. It gave his little body excellent support, allowing him to sit up and watch the world before he could manage it on his own. There are no fussy straps or buckles, and it's really easy to get him in and out of it - but not easy for him to escape from himself, at least not yet! It's really easy to clean - a smooth surface with no nooks or crannies for gunk to collect in. Babies are shockingly proficient producers of gunk in various forms: spit up, drool (not the same thing), dropped food particles... Not to mention the unfortunate leakages that occasionally occur...
Once my boy was past simply watching what was going on around him but not yet able to sit up on his own, his Bumbo allowed him to stay upright while interacting with simple toys: rattles, wooden blocks (and whatever else was handy and not baby-toxic).
Now at 7 1/2 months, and really trying to effect change on everything around him - what I call the see-it-grab-it-eat-it stage - the Bumbo is really effective in limiting his grabbing range. Now that he can sit up and move around a little on his own, I use the Bumbo to curtail how much trouble he can get into. It keeps him just immobile enough that I can get things done, but not so immobile that he's shrieking to get out of it.
Excellent product, performs as advertised.
Retails for about $60 new.
Pretty indestructible. I bought mine used for $30 - it looks brand new.