The Hot Pot Blog

April 10, 2011

What the Heck to do with the Layette?

Next time you need a rhyming couplet, by the way, I’m your girl.

I’m beginning to realize that there are advantages and disadvantages to buying baby gear and having a baby in the foreign service:

Advantage #1: We save loads of money on nursery furniture and suffer little to no temptation (ok fine, a little temptation) to buy one of these beautiful looking (read: absurdly expensive) cribs and any correspondingly modern and aesthetically pleasing furniture:


Because frankly, putting something that gorgeous in the same room as 2 Drexel Heritage Great Aunt Edith dressers seems like a total waste.  Like offering black truffles shaved table-side as a topping for a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  Or using a prime piece of fatty toro tuna in a hamburger helper.  Wrong, just so wrong.

So yea, no fancy cribs or rockers or dressers or changing tables here!

Disadvantage #1: Our child may grow up thinking “18th Century” in a “cherry mahogany” is an acceptable design choice.

I’m kidding…sort of.

Advantage #2: No need for fancy infant travel systems followed by another car seat and stroller purchase by the time he’s 6 months old.  We don’t drive much and, even if we wanted to take our baby in a taxi, there isn’t a cab in Chengdu with seat belts in the back seat-there’d be nothing to strap a carseat to.   A high-quality convertible seat that lives in our POV and can take the kid from 7-70 pounds (rear facing to 40!) will do us just fine:


Disadvantage #2: Please don’t tell Child Protective Services about Chengdu’s taxis.  I promise we’ll avoid them.

Advantage #3: No need for an SUV stroller or a $1600 baby basinette on wheels.  We’ve got 13 million people and cars on the sidewalks here.  Oh and lots of really curious grandmotherly-types.  If we aren’t in an airport or a space with less than a few hundred thousand people milling around, this kid is likely going to be strapped bodily to one of us.

That being said, we are psyched about the stroller we’ve picked out.  So far, it is the one baby recommendation we’ve gotten completely unsolicited from multiple people.  And these folks practically squealed with delight.  I mean, after all, it folds up with one hand!


Disadvantage #3: With such a cool stroller, I’m going to want to use it all the time and not be able to!  Plus strapping an infant to my chest is also an excellent way to learn first-hand how Sichuanese grandmothers might pronounce the phrase “You are crazy!  Why is your child wearing only 3 layers?  Don’t you know he’s supposed to be red in the face and sweating at all times!!”

Advantage #4: Not being able to receive our layette shipment until our baby is 3+ months old (and not being able to ship many things DPO) will prove to us exactly how few items we really need to raise a healthy, happy infant.

Disadvantage #4: So help me Allah if I can’t get a freakin’ pack n’ play or bassinette through the DPO mail.  If it won’t fit, this kid will be sleeping in a drawer…a Drexel Heritage 18th Century drawer, in cherry mahogany.

Advantage #5: By using cloth diapers I can be kinder to the environment…by not using the traditional split pants:


Disadvantage #5: Despite incredibly affordable household help, I will still end up washing all of our poopy diapers myself.  This isn’t so much a disadvantage per se, as a could-have-been-advantage to having a baby in the Foreign Service.

Advantage #6: Our child will begin racking up frequent flyer miles at the tender age of 6 weeks.

Disadvantage #6: I will have to fly for 16 hours with a 6 week old infant.  We also had to buy new luggage.  Hauling around giant duffle bags sherpa-style are no longer an option when one also has a diaper bag, a stroller, a car seat, and a baby to cart around as well.  Chris is lusting over this bag:


Advantage #7: Without stores to buy baby gear at (correction: baby gear that hasn’t been banned for import into the US for safety reasons) there is less temptation to buy all sorts of non-essentials.

Disadvantage #7:  ‘Nough Said.  Reading 1,000 reviews isn’t the same as reaching out and touching something…especially when it takes 3-6 weeks to get to your house after you order it.  If I talk myself into and then out of buying the following products sight-unseen one more time, I think I’ll have to call it quits and let Chris buy everything:


It’s a chair! For a baby!  It’s a pretty color!  It’s also a multi-tasker!  You can also strap it to a Drexel Heritage Dining Room chair to use as a high chair…until the kid is like 18 months old.  Does this mean we’re eventually going to have to go out and buy another contraption so our kid can sit at the table with us?


It’s a bath! It’s a bucket!  An expensive bucket!  But it’s so nurturing and womb-like!  And it saves water! Plus I can use it to store bath toys and stuff after the baby outgrows it!  But seriously, 30 bucks for a bucket?  And could I really manage to bath a slippery little baby in this thing without a 3rd hand? (But then again, haven’t women been bathing their babies in buckets for thousands of years?)


It’s a giraffe?  It’s 17 dollars?  Why the heck is chewing on a giraffe any better than chewing on an old fashion teething ring?  Or a washcloth?  Am I a bad yuppie mother for not seeing the point?  I don’t think we’ll be buying this.  That being said, I’m fascinated by the phenomenon.

So there you have it.  A few of my baby gear fixations.  Be glad I spared you an entire post on cloth diapers…for now.

It’s really interesting looking at all of this gear and thinking about what we grew up with even when I was a kid.  There’s just so much more stuff now!  Some of it I think probably makes sense and is infinitely more user-friendly than older versions.  All-in-one cloth diapers that work just like disposables (except you wash and reuse them) come to mind.  So too does the Ergo baby carrier we want to get.

Some of it though, I can’t decide.  Does a “nasal aspirator” work that much better than an old-fashioned bulb?  Is the giraffe really that big of an improvement on those squishy jelly rings?

Any thoughts?  Any “do we really need this?” purchases that turned out to be life-savers?  Any total duds?

And where the heck did your kid sleep until your crib arrived at post??

6 responses to “What the Heck to do with the Layette?”

  1. Amy says:

    All the expat babies in beijing had ikea cribs, sort of cool? And ikea high chairs. One trip to the beijing baby store and ikea was the only option. Singapore does have some excellent baby stores in tanglin mall alone. We went nuts on out several medivacs there…..good luck!

  2. So interesting to read this post because it’s very much what I was thinking about when I was expecting.

    I have to admit that I have been buying a lot of second-had things this time around compared to with our first child, when I felt I had to have everything new. Though we had cribs for both kids, neither slept in the crib at first. For the first month or so they slept in a Boppy pillow in our bed (between the two pillows). Both of them seemed to love it. Plus it’s raised, so we can be sure, we wont accidentally roll over on top of the baby. Chutney is now starting to outgrow the Boppy as a bed solution, so we have moved him in the bassinet portion of our play pen, which is right next to our bed. He also often sleeps on my chest. I know that makes me sound like a horrible parent but he is a colicky baby and needs a lot of comforting and this seems to works for us. Eventually, we will move him in the crib but I personally don’t like the crib for the first 2-3 months because it’s high and I can’t see the baby from our bed.

    But I agree with you on Sophie the giraffe. She looks cute but $17 for a teething toy!?! Yeah, I don’t think so.

    I went back and forth on the stroller thing but ended up getting one from a thrift store nearby. It’s oldish but I hate that you have to drop several hundred dollars to get one of the cool ones.

    I am also wondering about raising a little one in India. I worry about mosquitoes, food, health, safety and what not…

    • Chris & Dani says:

      Oooh I like the Bobby in bed idea, if only Chris and I weren’t such acrobats in our sleep! I don’t trust us with a baby in bed the way we both thrash around at night! 🙂 I think we’ll go the playpen bassinet route for the first few months too.

      My hub’s parents took him to Bangladesh when he was 3 months old…during the 70’s no less. I figure India will be a huge improvement over what they had then. Only thing I’m definitely planning on for India is a good quality air purifier for the baby’s room (and probably one for ours too). Our air quality here is so bad that we we all get them from GSO here but not in India and with the pollution during the winter there, I think it will be worth the peace of mind-plus it’s like a giant white-noise machine! 🙂

  3. eve says:

    I went crazy on craigslist before we left DC. Somehow justified a bugaboo stroller to my husband because- hey- it’s infant to toddler. Plus, we can let the kid sleep in that cute little bassinet for the first 3-5 months. right? I mean, it’s like 5 different things in one. PLUS- I got one for about a third of what we’d pay for one new. and it’s like an old school pram with a modern frame. Love it. I tried to find multi tasking things. The stokke highchair, since I couldn’t stand the thought of a big bulky plastic thing at my dining table for the next 3 years. (jesus, I’m a selfish ass.) Oh! and the stokke changing table since it converts to shelves and then to a little work station/desk. All from Craigslist, all very good deals. Same thing with all of the diapers I’ve gotten (maybe around 30?) Mostly all BumGenius, all in great shape.
    I haven’t sent a layette yet either. I figure I’ll piece it together in Pretoria. Also, since the bulk of the baby stuff is in our HHE, I’ll have the option to ship other non-baby items if I feel it’s necessary once we get into our housing….sigh.
    I can justify ANYthing. Including the giraffe. It’s really stinkin cute. And sometimes those things are necessary too. I’ve got a feeling I’ll need to look into that little green chair. I’ve heard too many people mention it.
    Good luck to you.

    • Chris & Dani says:

      Ooooh Craigslist. I miss the DC metro area Craigslist!! It sounds like you got some great deals! I took a Craigslist spin for the area around where my parents are in Wisconsin…ughhhh. Pretty slim pickings-unless I’m looking for a baby Packer’s cheerleading outfit! Bon voyage and safe travels to you guys and the baby!!!! Enjoy Pretoria when you get there! I hear great things!

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