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Unitaskers versus multitaskers

June 18, 2012

I’ll admit it. For someone who has certainly put way too much thought into baby products, I am strongly attracted to anything that fits in the multitasker category. I am loathe to see the parade of new products that will enter my life and be strewn across our apartment, all for the supposed necessity of helping my baby cope, so something that fits the bill for two or more jobs or multiple ages of development definitely intrigues me. Anyway, the multitaskers all sound very sensible.

-Wow, you can pump breastmilk, store and feed from the same bottle?

-That cloth diaper fits from birth to forty pounds?

-Your stroller also teaches your child the alphabet and composts waste to fertilize your houseplants?

Sometimes, though, when one peruses through the reviews, it’s noted that the multitaskers don’t seem to be all they’re touted to be. If one product does three so-so jobs that a parent considers vital, that might be better left to three separate products. Take pumping, feeding and storing from the same bottle. If you’re a hippie like me, you’d doubtless love the storage option of glass. Evenflo and other glass bottles with a standard neck can all be attached to breastpumps directly (and some companies sell adapters for their bottles), so you could, theoretically, pump and store and feed with one bottle, saving time. The downside? Glass is heavy, yo. If you’re intrigued by hands-free pumping and the opportunities it offers mamas for doing some multitasking of their own (like, you know, reading blogs on the internet), you don’t really want to be weighed down literally by a pair of eight oz glass milk jugs hanging off your own jugs. Yeah, you can prop the bottles up on a table, but then you’re even more “tied to the pump” and whatever awkward position you have to hold in front of your laptop. And on the other end, your baby might have her own preferences for what bottle is best, and not eating is not an option for parents. Multitaskers do work for many families, but they’re not always going to work for every situation, and it’s best to evaluate them with caution and pessimism before being blown away by the possibilities.

That being said, the multitaskers I’m intruigued by are:

The Sidekick. A diaper bag and a hip carrier for baby? Yes, please! The design of the Sidekick sounded quite sturdy when it was launched by Kemby, the current quality now that it is being launched by Go-Go-Babyz is unknown, since most of the reviewers have not mentioned the length of time they’ve owned it. The Sidekick sounds great for that funny stage of prewalkers and early walkers whom you’re never sure if you should bring a stroller along to accomodate their needs, since they want to be up and sitting in the grocery cart, or out and about at the playground, and then OOF! They want their carrying time. Freeing one hand while carrying baby sounds like an absolute lifesafer, in my opinion.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to keep my current purse setup and just transfer my favorite essentials (wallet, cellphone, keys, water bottle, extraneous items (e.g. bandaids, tylenol) in makeup bag) to the diaper bag when I’m out with the baby. With the anticipated flow of caretakers (me, XY, whoever keeps baby alive when XY and I aren’t present) and the desire to cloth diaper, we need a designated diaper bag that goes with the baby, not one of those diaper clutches that you throw in your purse to keep things simple (though that does work for some folks). To save space I’m going to take out whatever changing pad’s in there and use this microfiber towel (I have one for travel that I LOVE) as a changing pad/blanket (when it’s clean). Most of those “wipe clean” changing pads are an awkward size for larger babies and toddlers and THEY DON’T MACHINE WASH. NOT my jam, thank-you-very-much.

The Aprica Presto Flatfold stroller. An umbrella stroller that doesn’t look bad, has a completely flat recline for newborns and can even hold a Graco or Teutonia CarSeat? Very impressive. Although I’ve come to realize I really don’t like Graco’s carseats, infant or otherwise, from an aesthetic standpoint. Too many busy patterns & gendered colors, not enough simple, solid greys or blacks. I’m still debating whether we should even get an infant car seat or figure out a way to use a convertible – I really want to minimize the time my baby spends in a) an environment that restricts motor development and promotes flat head and b) a CAR, which is a pretty high-risk fatality environment. (Public transit doesn’t scare me so much – I’m way more of a safety-statistics freak than a germaphobe.) Anyway, the Aprica Presto Flat DOES come in a nice black color, and hopefully can therefore work as the “one stroller to rule them all”, even if we do go convertible car seat-from-birth. Fingers crossed for stroller durability up to the upper weight limit!

The Funpod Highchair. This one, I admit, I’m a little leery of, both because of price point ($275???) and because I’m not sure I buy into the whole “safety” feature of the Funpod as a ‘learning center’ for use at a kitchen counter. Of course, the fact that the chair can also pop out and be used on the floor or at a little table seems nice for a toddler who wants an activity table or just a chair of their own. And it DOES have a tray (if you like trays; I’m not sure I do). As far as ‘learning centers’ go, I’m actually leaning more towards having my kid do kitchen stuff at their own height as much as possible, though that does restrict access to the sink. Still, I’d rather have them demonstrate good balance before encouraging them to be up that high – in that sense, a sturdy chair for an older toddler or preschooler seems like more of a good idea than a “learning tower” or “learning center” (which also takes up LOTS of floorspace; the FunPod does have the advantage of a smaller footprint over the Learning Tower). Anyway, not something to rush into – methinks we’ll decide the whole “highchair or booster” thing later, and the decision of whether or not said highchair converts into a “learning tower” shouldn’t be the ultimate decider. In the meantime, I would love to see the market for this sort of product expand – there really should be more “multi-use” highchairs, in my opinion.

Anyway, it’s fun to see the multitaskers parade by, because of the fact that they offer SO many options for parents. Keep dreaming, product designers! Your market will never fail to be amazed at the options.

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