Sunday, September 25, 2011

Preparing the Home and Family for a New Addition

#2 will be debuting at the end of next month.  The exciting and anticipation is mounting.  The to do list is also mounting.
When you speak about prepping the home for a baby, folks generally think about decorating and buying equipment and gear.   Honestly, I tend to gloss over these things.  It doesn't fit our lifestyle.   We are more focused on making our home a healthy and safe place for our children.
With all children, younger and older, you need to provide a safe environment for them to thrive and grow. 
Safety First
Forget about whether you should have pink elephants or a mural of black and white stimulating patterns, it's important to make a safe environment for your baby.
1. If you don't want it broken, put it away
Put away any breakable or valuable objects that may be within child's reach and/or you.  During those first few months when sleep deprivation and post partum body wobbles are in high gear, your coordination is not at its peak.
2. Wear and use Natural materials
Also make sure items are clean and non-toxic.  Our family was always keen on using products in our home and self that were healthy but it became even more important for us during our pregnancy. 
As much as possible avoid unnecessary chemical intake.  Switch to natural cleaning products for home and body.  Just as what you ingest affects you and your family, so does what you surround yourself with.  Be smart and wise and choose products that are natural, healthy, clear and free for you and your family.  Not only will your family’s health benefit but that you get the bonus of having it probably be good for the environment too.  (You may not be environmentally conscience now but after you have a child, you realize just how much waste one person can produce and you begin to wonder, where does it all go?)
Being healthy also applies to what we wear which is why we use natural baby products on #1 and plan to do the same with #2.  We were big fans of Seventh Generationdiapers and wipes and still are.  In fact, I think that’s the first thing we started stocking up on when we found out we were blessed with #2.  I have my small package of newborn Seventh Generation free and clear diapers ready and a few large quantity boxes of size 1 diapers ready to go.  The biggest seller for us regarding wipes and diapers is that they are free of chlorine and man-made fragrances.
I remember the first time my husband opened the case of Seventh Generation wipes and asked why we don’t use a commercially popular brand.  I told him to read the label and the first thing that struck him was the words ‘Chlorine Free’.  “Why would anyone put chlorine in something a baby is going to use and something that is going to touch such delicate parts?”  I couldn’t give him an answer.  After that, he realized how important it was for us to be extra mindful in what we use not only on the baby but ourselves.
Here are a few more things we learned that might be helpful to others:
3. Mini Stations
In common areas, keep a small box of diapers, wipes and tissues available for quick and easy cleanup and diaper changes.  It’s great to have a changing table station but there will be times where it’s easier to have a little mini-station available such as in the bathroom, play area and bedroom.
It doesn’t have to be big.  For example in the bedroom we have a small bench at the foot of our child's bed that has a small dim headgear lantern, a small pliable changing mat, a package of wipes, a few diapers, a small pail for refuse and facial tissues. 
What’s the headgear for?  Well, a startled baby does not equal quality sleep so we keep the lights off and change our baby’s diapers in the dark.  We look like miners changing the diaper but it works.  By changing the diaper in bed, we keep the bed warm and toasty and avoid startling a baby and avoid the risk of fully waking up the baby.
We also keep a mini station in the car.  Yes, we it’s easier to have a mini-station than unpack a bag.  Plus having wipes available not only for diaper changes is a big win-win for any parent.
4. Clean Up Baskets
It’s also helpful to keep a small basket or box to put any toys or items that you think need to be cleaned.  Babies use all their senses to learn about their environment.  When you think that slobbered on block needs a quick cleaning, put it in the box and when you have a chance, grab all your to be cleaned items and wash them.  Our toddler also knows that’s where dirty items should go.  She participates in keeping our home and family healthy and clean.
Remember, those items are just going to go right back in his/her mouth or what not.  Use environmentally free and clear cleaning products.   As my husband once said, “If I douse this in bleach, my child is just going to be sucking on bleach.  Does that sound healthy to you?”
5. All in the Family
Instill the importance of health and teamwork early on.  Our toddler helps with cleanup.  Because we use natural free and clear products, I’m comfortable with her helping me wipe tables and do laundry.  She has her own spray bottle we place with diluted cleaning solution and a small towel and she helps wipe down tables and her toy areas.  She also helps sort laundry and measure out detergent.
6. Incorporate the other kids in baby safety
You would think being parents already baby proofing would be easier.  Not so.  Toddlers like things like pens and sticks and small coins.  We're blessed our child isn't into sticking things in her mouth but as with most toddlers, she drops the object wherever and whenever she's bored with it.  This means they are mostly likely going to be within reach of an infant. 
We've reminded our toddler to not throw things and to be mindful where she leaves her toys but it's an ongoing process.  We know we will have to be more alert when the newborn arrives.
7. Make sure baby gear is up to date and meet safety regulations
I'm not going to tell you to not accept a used baby gear item.  That's unrealistic in today's economy and bad for the environment.  However be smart about it.  Do not accept anything that has been in an accident or is over 3 years old.  When i was pregnant with #1, my mother recommended I use the crib I used as an infant.  No lie.  Here's the deal, back in the days when we were babies, the safety regulations were slim.  For gosh sakes, my brother's car seat was a hand me down that was essentially steel poles wrapped in toxic vinyl.  Be a smart consumer and read read read!     
8. Have your car seat inspected by a professional and/or police officer if your town provides this.  
You would not believe how may car seats my husband had to correct and advise our fellow friend parents on.  Two were strapped in on the bottom but not the back causing a flip and fold danger during an accident.  For your own peace of mind find the nearest inspection site and learn from the experts.
9. My list of nevers:
  • Never put an infant on a changing table alone.
  • Never put a carseat with an infant on the seated portion of a shopping cart.
  • Never put a bouncer with an infant on a table or other high countertop unattended.
  • Never leave the car with an infant or child strapped in unattended
10.Spend time with your family and yourself
With all the planning and prepping you can forget what you have in front of you.  Remember, the baby is important but also your brood here and now is also important.  Schedule a picnic and individual outings with your kids, spouse and yourself.  It doesn't have to be fancy.  An afternoon at the playground, a daddy-daughter restaurant date, a trip to the beach or amusement park are all fun things to do together before the family expands.  Amusement park you say?  Yes, during my 3rd trimester, DH and I took a trip to a small amusement park with our toddler.  It's not bad.  I wouldn't recommend a large theme park like the ones in FL but a small local one or town fair is doable.

We’re making our mini-stations and going through our to do list now.  I’m sure there will be more to do in the weeks to come and although my worry list will always increase with the addition of another child in our home, I have the comfort of knowing that we are being mindful and not adding unnecessary chemicals into our bodies new and old.

*I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Seventh Generation blogging program, for a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here.