I have become one of the older parents dropping off my infant daughter at daycare each day. My daughter’s tattered onesie against their daughter’s dainty outfit with matching headband are a dead giveaway that this is kid #5 for me.
When I catch myself in these moments of snickering, I’m quickly ashamed that I’ve now become the daycare equivalent of the old man waving his fist at the teenage drivers whizzing down the street. I am the “Jamie Moyer” of child-rearing – the grizzly veteran who teaches the spit ball to his younger teammates in the bullpen.
This Good-Bad Dad has to focus on efficiency and thriftiness. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that buying for babies is one of the largest wastes in parenting.
Those mini-sized UGG boots or the itsy-bitsy rain coats are preciously irresistible to the novice dad. Just as tough to resist are those tiny Nike running shoes for your newborn. My little #5 has none of that (although #1 did).
In preparation for baby #5 this fall, I found myself un-digging boxes of baby items previously bought – and generally unused. I realized that many of these stowed items had seemed useful before fatherhood but useless after.
Baby Waste 1: Newborn Clothing
Depending on the gender of the baby, expectant parents will plan to outfit the next GAP kid, Michael Jordan or the latest American Girl Doll.
Veteran GBD’s like me have much lower standards for newborn swag. General thresholds start with three month sized, one piece, earth-toned, no-socks-required outfits that are gender neutral.
My strategy here is simple – it’s a waste to buy anything for the baby wardrobe that can only be worn once, requires too much time to put on, will not mask the inevitable baby poop stains, or that comes with accessories that I am a lock to lose.
Baby Waste 2: Cloth Diapers
As good stewards of the environment, my wife and I were committed to using cloth diapers for our last two infants. In both cases, I soon learned that our little poop machines had only one setting – rapid fire. There was no way I was signing up for the laundry or mess.
Needless-to-say, our investment in earth-friendly diapers is significant. I quickly got over that fact as I dug out the remnants of my first “wet bag” in the laundry basket.
All is not lost. The dream still remains of using our eco-diapers after exiting the “full wet bag each day” stage with my daughter. If my previous four child track record holds, however, those cloth diapers will likely make for very expensive, but ultra-absorbent, hand towels.
Note that I’ve planted two trees in my backyard as a penance to Mother Nature.
Baby Waste 3: Baby Genius materials
When my first biological child was born, I immediately bought several “Baby Einstein” books and movies. I figured this was the initial down payment for Ivy League admission for my new bundle of joy.
Although the jury is still out on my kids’ predestined Yale education, my 3 year-old does eat his boogers and uses “me” instead of “I” – hardly an Einstein yet.
These whimsy videos of flashing lights and airy music have never been able to soothe my savage beasts. The books filled with black and white pictures seemed equally ineffective in settling down my little ones – unless I use them as a stall tactic until natural exhaustion finally wins.
I generally file these baby genius materials next to the gas droplets parents can buy as a cure for fussy infants – well-intentioned placebos for stressed out parents.
I have learned a thing or two with my precious #5. Most notably is a straight-jacket swaddle causing a “sleeper hold” effect that would impress “Rowdy” Roddy Piper (google it, younger dads).
As with most Good-Bad Dad issues, the waste I’m unpacking is a result of doing my best. I can only hope my little daughter will appreciate my efficiency rather than resenting me for being cheap.