One Month of VCB

This past Wednesday, V turned one month old. Here's a nice collage showcasing his first 31 days on the outside.

VCB's First Month
He's become quite the charmer, is beginning to stay awake during the day, and give mom & dad a solid 4-5 hour stretch of sleep each night.

Ideas on How to Organize Your Diaper Changing Station

Life with baby is full of incredibly banal decisions that you still have to make and for which you have no real preparation, like

How do I arrange my diaper changing station?!?!

To which the real answer is "whatever, you'll figure it out after two or three weeks of changing 12 diapers a day. Take a deep breath". But let's try to do a little better than that.

The main thing to think about when considering changing station layout is "how do I make things as quick and easy as possible at 2:30am?" We did this by putting everything that we could possibly use on a regular or semi-regular basis within arm's reach. There's no real right or wrong way to do this. Whether the area to the left of the changing pad holds Purell, Snappis, or wet wipes is up to you. Just make sure that everything close to your arms will be used frequently.

If you must know, the items seen around the changing dresser, going clockwise from the bottom left, are: diaper pail from Baby Diaper Service; step can for used wipes; window sill for extra cloth wipes orphaned clothes that need to find a match in the next load of laundry (single socks, onesies without matching pants, etc.); top dresser drawer stores baby clothes; to the left of the chaning pad are Purell, cloth wipes, coconut oil, and diaper rash cream; changing pad; on the raised platform are snappis, covers, prefolds, and wet wipes; the wet bag is hanging from a drawer that stores the spare pad cover, other rash creams, and emergency disposables; and finally a laundry basket for everything other than covers and really soiled clothing.

We found our dresser/changing area on Craigslist, and it's great for having lots of stuff accessible during diaper changes. It's similar to the Davinci Kalani combo dresser, but you can find others that have the same raised storage section on Amazon, Babies 'R Us, other baby/child furniture stores, and possibly even regular furniture stores.

Keen-eyed readers may notice that in the bottom right-hand corner is a clear plastic tub holding some loose disposable diapers, and a couple of rash creams. The tub will be going to West Side Baby, which collects diapers to give to low-income households. Because diapers aren't food, the two main social support programs for poor children, WIC Nutrition Service and SNAP (aka food stamps) can't be used to pay for diapers. This borders on the criminal. If you have leftover bags of diapers, consider giving them to a food bank or other non-profit that will accept them. Even better, turn your kids' first birthday party into a diaper drive.

Our Baby's Favorite Swaddle Blanket is The Summer Infant SwaddleMe

The primary struggle for new parents is getting their squishy newborn to Go the F**k to Sleep. Newborns need to eat constantly, they eat more frequently at night, and they have a terrible time calming themselves down to the point where they can fall back asleep, or at least relax.

The latest hotness in newborn-calming techniques is Dr. Harvey Karp's The Happiest Baby on the Block. He's got a book, a DVD, and an Amazon Video with tips. Karp's main idea is that newborn babies are calmest when their surroundings are familiar, which to a newborn means that things look, feel, and sound like being in the womb. Life in utero is full of loud swooshing noises, being bundled up, and bouncing around as mom walks goes about her business.

One of Karp's primary soothing mechanisms is the age-old technique of swaddling a baby. The two keys here are to get your newborn packed up in the blankets very tightly, and also getting baby to keep his arms down. It's this second part that can be tricky; if your baby likes to try sucking his thumb, he'll punch through a number of swaddling blankets.

The baby industry has made umpteen different swaddlegizmos to try and solve this problem -- the Halo Sleepsack, the Woombie, Aden & Anais giant swaddle blankets, and so on. Which one is the best for you? I have no idea. Which swaddlegizmo your baby likes depends on how well you wrap them with it, how well their body type fits it, and a million other factors that can't be anticipated. Just by a bunch of them from a store with a good return policy, try them out over a couple of weeks, and send back the ones that are no good.

The Summer Infant SwaddleMe has worked
wonders for us. Give it a try, but if it doesn't work
try something else!
For us, at least, the winner is the Summer Infant SwaddleMe. The SwaddleMe features a roomy pouch to fit baby's legs, plus velcro that sits really high. The velcro makes it easier to keep baby's arms down by his side while still leaving enough room to reduce the risk of hip dysplasia. Thanks to the SwaddleMe, VCB has gone from waking up 3-4 times per night to once or twice. Just as importantly, when we bundle him back up after feeding, he goes back to sleep quickly. Or at least calms down, meaning mom and dad can get some rest themselves.