The Expensive Pile of Inexpensive Things That Parents Buy

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Back when Amy and I were doing due diligence on this whole having-a-kid thing, we received conflicting reports as to how expensive babies are.

On the one hand, there were those public service billboards that tell you diapers cost $7,000 a month and ask “how much is your allowance?”

On the other hand-some new parents we knew pointed out-for at least the first year or so, you just don’t need that much stuff. A little infrastructure (crib, bassinet, car seat), some clothes (most of which people will give you), and a few other odds and ends you’ll pick out for yourselves, and-once you come up with that $7,000 a month for diapers-you’re off to the races.

It’s those odds and ends that are the problem-not because the ones that you actually need and end up using cost all that much in total, but because you won’t know which ones you actually need and end up using until you purchase and reject three other versions of the thing.

For example, more than one friend has suggested to us that Coen’s nighttime sleeping difficulties might be remedied if we started accidentally smothering him in our sleep “co-sleeping” with him. If you’d told me back in college that I’d one day be “co-sleeping” with two other people, I would have formed a very different mental picture from the reality, but, basically, the idea of co-sleeping is that your baby sleeps next to you in bed. The hope is that, as a result, his sleep will be longer lasting at the same time that you will be able to feed him or soothe him before he descends into the wails that would otherwise be necessary to get your attention all the way from the bassinet. Also, mom can nurse lying down and avoid killing her back repeatedly bending down to scoop the baby out of the bassinet.

As I suggested earlier, one down side to co-sleeping is the increased risk of smothering the baby in your sleep, so there are various items for sale designed to prevent this. Someone sent us a link to a fancy one, and I went to Target to see if I could find something similar but cheaper. As it turned out, there was nothing at Target specifically designed for co-sleeping, but there was this Sassy Perfect Position Sleep System with crib wedge, vented bumpers, adjustable bottom, and “turn head tab” which looked basically like the fancy Snuggle Nest we’d seen on-line, absent this little wall or guardrail that I guess is part of the Snuggle Nest’s baby-smothering-prevention toolset but which didn’t look all that tall or sturdy in the picture anyway.

I also grabbed a The First Years Safe and Secure Bedrail with MattressLock Design, so that, if we ever put the Perfect Position Sleep System on Amy’s outer side, Coen couldn’t possibly roll off the bed, but I rejected the $29 bottle warmer as ridiculously overpriced. Total tab: $54.

Anyway, do I even have to type it out in words that the Perfect Position Sleep System didn’t work out very well last night? It was awkward to nurse with (or it looked so to me) and Coen didn’t seem to appreciate the vented bumpers or adjustable bottom. About two hours after we’d all turned in, and after the 3,331st time Coen had awoken me, I requested that we stop the experiment, because every now and then I just have to get some work done, and today was one of those days.

A few hours later, Amy told me the next morning, Coen had stopped tolerating the vented bumpers and adjustable bottom altogether, flailing and writhing against it until Amy took him out of it and just tossed it in the corner.

He immediately calmed down.

So while we’re still game to try co-sleeping, the Perfect Position Sleep System might not be the thingy we need. We will probably need to purchase other thingies, many of which will probably also not work, and all of which are going to end up in a more-and-more expensive pile in the corner of the nursery/office.

What’s that you say? Why not just return the Perfect Position Sleep System if it doesn’t work for us? Well, what if-a few weeks from now-Coen’s reluctance to sleep morphs into some other nighttime difficulty and his nervous system matures a little more and the vented bumpers and adjustable bottom turn out to be just the ticket for a ride to dream land? The ticket, just in case you’re not clear on the stakes here, to a night of longer than one-hour sleep segments for mom?

So we probably won’t return the Perfect Position Sleep System or many of the other individually inexpensive odds and ends we end up purchasing over the years. Instead, the pile will just mount up, full of “things that might help us get a good night’s sleep,” “things that might help him eat solid foods,” “things that might help him learn to use a toilet,” and so on.

And I can imagine it getting expensive, as time goes on.

Meanwhile, after a particularly frustrating episode of trying to warm a bottle in time to head off Coen’s clearly growing hunger, while mom was supposed to be getting a nap, I think I might swing back by Target for that bottle warmer this evening.

Maybe it will be just the thing to help him take to the bottle.

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