On Playing With the Baby

"Tessa and I were fighting over that box with our teeth last night... After a while the baby wasn't even watching anymore." - Sister's Roommate

Wordless Wednesday: Angelina Jolie is THFS; Changing Baby in St. Henri

Binky (left hand) not included. Angelina Jolie is THFS!

Where: Sister's house, St. Henri, Montreal. Why? Fuck the patriarchy.

The Tuesay Photo: 38 weeks old

This is from my baby-baby blog, The Tuesday Photo.

Click here to read The Tail of Otokiyo, Dragon Slayer.

Hot Topics

 Nov. 6 - 13 2011:

Our babies' love of inanimate objects. Sarah started the conversation with her post, For the Love of (Inanimate) Objects and followed up with a description of her baby P's desire for a vacuum; Svea wrote about her frustration with sharp edges on household products meant for babies.

Breastfeeding. Sarah wrote about her joy in the let-down action coming from her right nipple (and some great tips on increasing milk production). Svea wrote about La Leche League and being over-prepared for breastfeeding. She also came up with the genius idea of the combination vibrator breast-pump because, "...when lactating women are turned on, they spray milk everywhere." On that note, the lovely Anais discussed the challenges of maintaining sexual rapport during and after pregnancy in her Sunday Brunch interview.

And of course, there was much bemoaning the lack of changing tables in public washrooms on Mamactivism and oohing and aahing over badass babywearing on Too Hot For Stroller.

J'accuse! / Little things that make a big difference

It just took me three whole minutes to get the word 'diaper' into a text message and those are three minutes of my life I'm never going to get back.

Yes, my pre-child self says, because nobody wants to receive a text with the word 'diaper' in it. Well, missy. Let me tell you. The story is, last night I was at a high-stakes Rock Paper Scissors tournament and I couldn't very well compete with a dirty diaper in my hand. So I passed it off to one of the refs, who graciously dealt with it. I needed to thank her.

And of all people in the world, new moms don't have three minutes in which to leisurely spell out a six-letter word when auto-correct is being an auto-asshole.

Things need to change around here. In the tradition of middle-class feminism, I hereby declare a general strike against a few things that just really bug me needlessly provide barriers against new parents enjoying their lives.

In the words of Emile Zola: J'accuse!

1. The lack of changing tables in public restrooms. Where do we change our babies if there isn't one provided? On our laps (danger, rolling babies!) or on the floor (gross, rolling-in-excretion babies!). I even have a blog about it www.mamactivism.wordpress.com, showing all the ridiculous and unsafe places I've had to change Sweet Baby James' diaper. I also just ordered some 'Install Changing Table Here' stickers, which I will distribute to new moms (you can order them from the Cafe Press Mamactivism site or email me at svea.boyda.vikander@gmail.com if you want some).

I refuse to stay home all the time, keeping my baby and my person away from the view of polite society. And I refuse to quietly change my baby on a public restroom floor. The revolution is here.

2. Sharp corners on things meant for infants. Babies love to play with 'grown-up' things much more than real toys. My co-blogger, Sarah, wrote about her (foiled) desire to find 'real life' toys for her baby this week, and his obsession with inanimate objects last week. Sweet Baby James is no different. He likes to handle, mouth and generally bash around anything he sees us use, like the specially-made-for-babies sunscreen bottle.

I'm forever trimming the sharp corners off their plastic edges. It only takes a minute but it requires me to a) notice that there's a sharp corner, b) remove it from Sweet Baby James' hands (harder, and noisier, than you might think), c) locate the scissors, and d) manage to cut off the corner with one hand, without also cutting the baby in my other arm. Simply smoothing the edges during the manufacturing process would make a world of difference to any mom who's interested in introducing her child to the real world. And if you're going to charge $30 for some flippin' sunscreen, I think you can afford to do it. (Blue Lizard can charge that much because we're desperate for UV protection that doesn't contain chemicals that cause skin cancer, which leads me to my next point...)

3. Carcinogens in things meant for infants. I really, really care about my kid. I also really really don't like reading ingredient lists. It's so time-consuming to be googling everything he comes into contact with, and it pisses me off because I'd rather be playing peek-a-boo.

Here's the deal: when someone gives your baby an outfit, you have to wash it with special detergent because the dyes in most fabrics can irritate a baby's skin (and sometimes they come off in baby's mouth); if your baby is lying on a cushy foam mat (you know, those primary colour puzzle-piece ones we had in kindergarten?), it's probably off-gasing formamide. If baby's licking the floor or walls, there's a good chance he's also licking cleaning chemicals, floor varnish, and/or lead paint. Yeah.

Even if I mostly breastfeed and am careful (and privileged) to buy organic, there's still the chance that pesticides and GMOs are present in my baby's food. The special plastic Nuby Hot Safe Spoons
(which don't cut his mouth but are also somehow designed to change colour when they touch 'too hot' food – I am suspicious of them but they were the only ones available at the pharmacy) also probably release something icky. His super-absorbent overnight diapers have sodium polyacrylate in them (but he still pees through them on the regular). And now, even baby's shampoo (such as this Johnson and Johnson 'No More Tears' -- yes, I also remember this from the bad old days...) is a known evil. My family doesn't use it, but they gave us a good-sized sample when we signed up for a Babies R Us registry (don't sign up for a Babies R Us registry).

Can't we all just get along and agree to stop doing this? Is there really someone out there who's thinking, "Oh, this thing will give babies cancer. We should advertise it to new parents. We should also just give it away for free to make sure it disseminates widely. Leave no child untouched." To that person I say, take a step back and think about what's important. Just, stop. Please.

4. People who want to touch my sleeping baby. This doesn't happen very often but when it does it really gets my mama goat. What if it were really hard for you to get to sleep, but you also had a condition in which you NEEDED to sleep 12 hours/day, or you (or your mother) would meltdown into a hysterical, crying wretch? Would you want to be poked awake by a stranger who just wants to feel that special joy of having your momentary attention?

In our society, it's impolite to touch a baby without asking his/her caregiver first. I'm not always sure I like that rule, but everybody should know it. Those of you who just want a quick smile before you get off the bus: J'accuse! Let sleeping babies lie.

A Vacuum? Yes You Heard Right - My Son is in Love with the Vacuum....

Lately our house has been hustling and bustling in order to get ready for the big day. P is turning 1 in 4 days and on the weekend, the whole house is going to be filled with "big boy celebrations."

In the process of getting ready, we have spent endless hours deciding what to get for our little scooter. I mean really, what do you get a scooter that loves nothing more than to cuddle his inanimate objects? The answer - although it took a while to get to - was actually simple. A vacuum.

Since he's been able to indicate them, our son has had a strong affection for the vacuum cleaner. G is deathly allergic to anything that moves or otherwise and vacuuming is a more than once per day activity in our house. As such, P has grown rather fond of being worn around the house while one of us vacuums. In fact, its one of his favourite pastimes and most popular requests as of late. He's even tried his own hand at vacuuming, and decided he loves it. So when we realized this might be an option as a birthday gift we set out researching some toy versions.

Unfortunately, not many of these exist.

There were some specified criteria that had to be met. The vacuum has to be a floor model, not an upright, and it has to make real vacuum noises. In terms of quality vacuums we were able to find, there is only a dyson model for children available only in the UK. *sigh*. So I did what any self respecting parent would do and set out to beg every specialty toy store in our area to order me one. Apparently this is not common practice. In fact, I was met with many "A vacuum? For kids? Never heard of it..." and disproving glances that were dripping with judgements about exactly what types of child labor practices I engaged in at home.

Now here I sit, without a vacuum and a new reputation as that weirdo-mom-who-keeps-harassing-us-about-vacuums. No closer to my goal than when I originally set out making an argument for why these types of things should be more readily available for kids. Kids like to help out. They love to do "big people things" and learn a ton from the environment around them. So what is the harm in encouraging that? And why can't my son legitimately love a vacuum cleaner enough to have his own smaller toy version? Since when have we as a society developed a 'toy hierarchy?'

I have seen some parenting styles that opt for providing their children with video games and television as stand ins for nannies even at the infant stage. Baby Einstein and other television shows might work for some, but its not my style. I prefer to offer my children hands on and engaging learning experiences - and to be a part of this process. So why am I left feeling like the weirdo? When did it become more acceptable for television and video games to be considered 'normal' versions of children's playtime?
Me: "Dammit, kijiji won't let me post my listing, it keeps saying something contained in my listing goes against their rules of conduct"

Husband: "Well, I'm just guessing here, but maybe its because your offering to sell 4 'diaper shits' instead of 4 'diaper shirts'..."