The Tiniest Capen

I’ll start with the easy stuff.

We’re using cloth diapers, except for when we travel.

We love them.

They were entirely hand-me-downs, from two families with four little boys. And so I didn’t have to do any research, ask any questions, or commit to any expense. I just had to figure it out based on the really overwhelming (and generous!) boxes of folded cotton and water-resistant shells and lots of snaps and velcro… And I did figure it out, but it took a bit of trial and error. In the sleep-deprived early days I did some amazingly stupid stuff, like the morning when I got G up and she was soaked through her jammies and her sheet and what the hell is wrong with this diaper? You mean this diaper that doesn’t have a cover on it? So it’s just soaking wet cotton? Riiiight. That diaper. Nothing’s wrong with that diaper. The problem lies between the diaper and the one who put the diaper on the baby. But we found our rhythm, and figured out what we like, and really, my “what I like” is… I like cloth diapers.

I like all in ones. I like the pre-sewn diapers that are diaper-shaped and snap shut. I like the pre-sewn ones that need pins or Snappi closed. I like the prefolds that have to be folded with soakers added and held in place with covers. I just like cloth diapers.

Gwyneth has had no diaper rash at all. We’ve spent less than $50 on diapers (because we were lucky, I know that cloth diapering is not usually this cheap) when she was a newborn and when we’ve traveled. We just do an extra load of laundry every day or two, and we’ve had no issues yet with our front-loading HE washer — Justin set it to do a Custom Load that’s the Baby setting, and it takes about 2.5 hours to run, but it works wonders. And we get to have things I value: fewer chemicals on my baby’s body, and less waste into landfills. I can’t say enough good things.

So here’s what I’ve loved most in our dragon’s hoard of diapers I did not have to buy:

Swaddlebees diapers. When she was teeny, these were perfect. Just perfect. The right amount of absorbency, the right size, minimal bulk, and a snap to keep the diaper off her umbilical cord.

BumGenius all in ones and pocket diapers. I will admit, here, that I never insert anything into the pockets. If I need added absorbency, it goes on top. Because, frankly, I don’t want to stuff the things in, and I surely don’t want to pull them out again.

Thirsties diaper covers. Really straightforward, useful diaper covers.

BottomBumpers all in ones. These are the ones we bring with us when we’re leaving the house and know we’ll need a diaper change. Super-easy. SUPER. EASY.

Cloth-eez Workhorse diapers. Soft, effective, well-made, good shape. Easy to put on the baby, work great with Snappis. Fantastic for overnights.

GroBaby. I like this system – the soaker is just as big as it needs to be, and snaps into the cover, which has the softest velcro (while still being effective) of any we’ve used. Great for daytime.

Imse Vimse diaper covers. The best leg gussets around, hands down.

So, basically: I like cloth diapers. There are tons of options out there. They all work for the basic purpose of containing baby excretion. And cloth diapers aren’t really a big mystery, or a huge amount of work. I’m a fan.

The animals, The Tiniest Capen

I finally got myself to bed around midnight last night, and woke up at 2:30, wide awake and convinced I needed to check on Gwyneth. Who was sound asleep, swaddled in her crib. I woke again at 6:30… still sleeping soundly. She finally woke around 7:30, and we got up and started our morning. Pausing to do the math, she slept for 8+ hours straight despite the fact that she fought the bottle last night. (We give her 4-6 oz of formula at bedtime because I was struggling with supply and because it lets Justin do bedtime and because I needed some sleep, dammit, and it’s become a good part of our routine that works for everyone.) I don’t know if she hated the bottle last night because it’s got Enfamil in it instead of Baby’s Only Organic (because we ran out of the good stuff), or because Mama doesn’t do bottles so give me the boob, dammit, or what… but she only ate 2 ounces of formula before I gave up and nursed her (which worked because my supply has rebounded), and she slept straight through anyway. Good job, kid.

I tried to convince her she wanted to go back to sleep with me in the big bed around 8:30, but she was having none of it, and when I sat up to play with her (since there was going to be no sleeping), Malcolm realized it was morning. So instead of my dream of a lazy morning of sleeping babies and my bed, I got up and put on a pair of jeans and found the baby sling and got Gwyn into it and then got Gwyn out of it and untwisted the baby sling… yeah. That kind of morning. But we did make it outside, and Malcolm was a perfect gentleman today. No pulling on his leash, no running after birds, just cheerful trotting and wandering and peeing on things and eating The Grass That Is For Dogs.

Of course, I put on my Keen minimalist sandals, and so I promptly slipped on the wet grass in the front yard — I went fully down onto both knees before I could rebalance and get back up, and Malcolm thought I was playing, so he was bouncing vigorously around me while I tried to regain my balance and hold Gwyn steady and Oh God Don’t Fall On The Baby. It was all fine, just a bobble, but it did aggravate my left foot pretty badly — I’m fighting plantar fasciitis there — and scared the shit out of me. I got over it. It was too pretty out to be upset.

The truth is, in a baby sling tightened right, the baby ain’t goin’ nowhere if you slip. I pretty much love the ring sling. I took G to Michael and Amy’s on Wednesday evening for a drinks-and-cheese party, courtesy of a cheese shipment from Amy’s dad. (Which I call “Va Cheese”, as she calls him Va and it’s his cheese and I’m easily amused.) I spent the first hour I was there wearing her, and she passed out on my chest while I drank beer and ate Caprice des Dieux and talked to adults. Today I walked the field with Malcolm, with Gwyn on my chest. It’s easy, it’s comfortable, and it’s almost entirely hands-free.

Justin prefers the Baby Bjorn, with its adjustable straps and more structured shape, but the sling works great for me and what I want to do with G when I’m wearing her. I do choose one of the Bjorns (we have two, both used, both gifts, bless you, our village) when I’m going to take her for a real walk, out on the road or somewhere not just our backyard. It feels more stable for that more exposed kind of movement. I could be making that up, but it feels true to me. The Bjorns also allow her to ride facing out, and man, does she like to be facing out. But for around the house, around the yard, and in generally “indoor” kinds of environments, the Sakura Bloom ring sling (also used, also a gift) is my clear winner. Easy, simple, and sturdy. Linen is awesome. G gets to do what I’m doing, see what I’m seeing, and be present in the activities of the house, and I don’t have to sit on the bed and play with her in order to be interacting with her. She has enough mobility to look around, and she can look over my shoulder to some extent. And the dog gets walked. (He likes that.) When she was teeny tiny I used the Moby wrap, because it made such a great nest for her to sleep in. I suspect I may use it more again as she gets bigger, as it’s a more adjustable way to carry and wear larger infants. We’ll see.

So I guess that qualifies as a commitment to babywearing, but bleh. I have no interest in declaring that we are a Kind Of Parent. These ‘movements’ around how you raise your kids — Free Range Kids, Attachment Parenting, Baby-Led Parenting — have no appeal for me, in large part because I’ve never been the kind of person who needs to identify with a larger group. I don’t need a pile of initialisms to describe my family (“My DH is SAHD but we EBF our LO as much as my supply allows” is accurate, but makes me want to gag), and I don’t need a label to describe how we’re raising our kid. Instead, I’m interested in learning about what other people have done, understanding the biological drivers of child development, and seeing what works for us. And part of what works for us is baby carriers.

We have a stroller — the Quinny Zapp — and it’s a great stroller. I like it bunches. Our Maxi Cosi baby bucket snaps into it, and later, it has a real stroller seat, too. Generally speaking, it strolls. As strollers do. But I’m not gonna put G in a stroller to walk Malcolm. I’m also not interested in leaving her strapped into her baby bucket in the corner of the room while I drink beer and eat cheese and talk to grown ups. Slings and carriers have been our lifesaver in the quest to ensure that we give Gwyneth the things she needs to develop confidently and comfortably, but also allowing us to be functional human people with lives we want to be living.

And the dog gets walked. He likes that.

What we’re using for baby moving:

Quinny Zapp and Maxi Cosi Mico Travel System

Sakura Bloom Ring Sling

Baby Bjorn Original, and Baby Bjorn Miracle (we have both…)

Moby Wrap


The Tiniest Capen

Another of our favorite things is a really simple one: the bouncy seat. So much so that we’ve disassembled it and taken it with us pretty much everywhere we’ve taken Gwyn — it was intended to even go to IL with us, except we ran out of suitcase room. Nothing so consistently makes the Pook as happy as being in the bouncy seat, being bounced. 75% of the time, in fact, we put a foot on the frame, push to start the bouncing, and she grins, and then falls asleep.

*bounce bounce bounce bounce*

One day, as Justin was bouncing her, quietly saying “bounce bounce bounce bounce bounce” to the time of his foot moving the seat, I said to him, “Well, now I know the pace of the rhythm in your head,” because I’d realized he was utterly consistent about the speed at which he bounced the seat. I have no idea if that’s significant to anything else in our lives, consistent across individuals, etc… but it’s certainly true of us. I bounce her at a very particular speed, in a very particular way. Justin has his own. She doesn’t care, really, which one it is.

And this is, as you can see, a very straightforward seat. It’s a hand-me-down Maclaren, and it has no bells. No whistles. No dangling spinning noisemaking toys. No colors. It’s just a seat, on a metal frame. That bounces. And it does the job. Other babies might love other kinds of seats, other parents might want more frills than we prefer. So long as it bounces, I suspect it’ll do the job.

*bounce bounce bounce bounce*

The Tiniest Capen

One of my favorite baby things has been the Halo SleepSack Swaddle. In childbirth classes and in the hospital they showed us how to do a swaddle with a blanket, and it’s, frankly, not that hard. It’s like wrapping a burrito, but the fillings are less mobile. Three folds, a roll, and you’re good to go. Or sleep. Mostly sleep.

Blanket burrioted tiny baby Pook.

But it’s sometimes precarious; sometimes you pick up a baby who’s wrapped up in perfect burrito style, and they stay burritoed. Sometimes you pick them up and their little arms go wild and free, and they’re wide awake and mad. The Halo? Is made of velcro and magic. Zip ’em in and wrap ’em up and you’re done. Perfect burrito every time, and they stay that way, immobile, fully burritoed, no flailing limbs and no slipping blanket. Just cotton, velcro, and an adorable head popping out of the end of a burrito wrap. And, at least in the case of the Pook, a burritoed baby is a secure, happy, sleepy baby. We liked the burritoed baby, and the Halo made it easier to get there.

The Halo burrito on the days-old Pook

I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to write a bunch of short entries about things I loved for the tiny Baby Pook — I originally thought it’d be one entry, but finally realized I’d never have the time for all that in one sitting. So shorter entries it is, and where to start? Well, sadly, the Pook is now 3 and a half months old, and about 25 inches long, and she can’t kick her legs in her Halo anymore. She’s also getting strong enough to bust her arms out the top if she wants to… so our days of swaddling may be coming to an end. Oh, Swaddling, how we loved you. Let me mourn you with a fond remembrance: You helped my baby sleep, and helped her stay asleep because she couldn’t accidentally punch herself in the face like a tiny drunk boxer. You were a good friend, and we will miss you.