One of the things that occupied the forefront of my mind when I was pregnant with my first child was all the baby stuff we needed to get.
We needed a crib, a stroller, a swing, a bouncer. Bottles, wraps, pacifiers, loveys. Blankets, clothes, diapers, socks. A car seat. A pack and play. A glider and a changing table.
To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement. Eventually we worked our way through the list of “must-haves” and figured out what we thought we really needed, but I probably still thought more about “stuff” than I did about the actual arrival and caring of a baby. Instead of reading books on birth and childcare, I was pouring over lists of so-called essentials and product ratings. Part of it was exciting — a way to embrace the baby that was coming when I had no other way to express it — but mostly it was a pain in the butt.
I’m beyond relieved that this is a step we can completely overlook the second time around. We saved everything in anticipation of a someday future baby, and here we are, fully ready to bring baby no. 2 home (which is more than I can say for the first time around, despite all the research and planning).
However, when I say “completely overlook” buying baby gear, I may be slightly incorrect. There’s one piece of baby gear we’re changing with the second child, and it’s probably not what you’d expect. It’s not a cool new gadget that came on the market in the last four years. It’s not a fancy double stroller or an upgrade from the many hand-me-downs we used with baby no. 1.
It’s an infant car seat.
Yes, the one item that is usually at the top of every single baby registry idea list or mommy blogger “must-have” round-up. The infant car seat, the bucket-type seat that comes out of the car so you can tote the baby around, was one of the things we crossed off our original “need” list during my first pregnancy. We went straight to a convertible car seat, the one that we’d need in a few months time anyways. We simply chose one that was rated for as low as five pounds, had the ability to be rear-facing, and could then be used as a standard forward-facing seat.
We made the decision to forego the infant car seat not only to save money, but because I’d stumbled upon anecdotal research talking about how bad such car seats were for babies. Now I’m sure much of this appealed to my “I’ve never done this vulnerability,” but I saw the logic in it. Because the car seats are so convenient, babies are often left in them for extended periods of time, not just when riding in the car.
Babies sleep in them, nap in them, sit in them at restaurant outings, and ride in them in strollers and in the back of grocery carts. The convenience sounds great, I have to admit, but being in the same position for so long can have its downsides, such as plagiocephaly and can contribute to “container syndrome,” where babies are just moved from carrier to carrier instead of allowed to move freely on the floor. As not-yet-a-mom, those negatives scared me, and the lack of convenience factor didn’t scare me at all. So we decided to go with the convertible car seat and just see what happened.
Spoiler alert: it worked, and I have no regrets.
By now, you’re probably wondering why we’re buying an infant car seat for baby no. 2 when we managed just fine without it the first time around. The major difference is now I have a 4-year-old to factor into the equation. And with him, comes a 45-minute round-trip drive to and from preschool three days a week.
The stress of trying to time car rides with naps with my first child still haunts me and because we had such struggles with infant sleep, the idea of waking up a sleeping baby to escort my preschooler to his class three times a week already makes me cringe.
Sure, maybe the baby won’t sleep in the car or maybe the baby will transfer easily into my arms or a carrier, but without knowing the disposition of the baby, it seems smart to plan for the worst-case scenario. (I don’t mean that to sound as pessimistic as it comes across.) Too, I don’t want to force my active and rambunctious 4-year-old to sit in the car in the driveway if his sibling is napping when we get home, like I did so many times when he was tiny.
Once I reconciled with the idea that we might benefit from using an infant car seat even though I was so against it in the first place, I started to see all the tiny situations in which it might have come in handy the first time around.
Like when we would visit friends for dinner and I’d tote along an infant pillow to lay the baby down in so I didn’t have to eat over his head while I wore him on my chest or balanced him in my lap.
Or the time I took him to my postpartum OB-GYN checkup and he fell asleep on my chest, so I had the entire awkward exam done with him laying on top of me.
Then there’s little things that didn’t matter but might be easier when trying to factor in schedules of two kids, like haircuts and dentist appointments — places you wouldn’t normally have somewhere to put down a baby but couldn’t wear them either.
I’m hoping for the most part that the infant car seat can stay in the car, unless it’s an absolute necessity to move a sleeping baby. Convenience is awfully alluring and the temptation to use it all the time could be greater than I can withstand. Then again, maybe this baby will hate being in a car seat. Or sleeping.