Monday, 18 August 2008

The P Monster

Over the last few weeks we’ve had a new problem to contend with every morning. Each morning when we pick our roughly one year old baby Dylan out of bed we would find him wet. Sometimes he’s wet all over. The nappies seem to completely fail at capturing a night’s worth of output. No doubt, this is a conspiracy by the joint militant arm of the baby clothing companies and the washing powder companies.
Faced by such mighty opposition, we were pondering how to best tackle this problem. We are not alone in P land: two other babies born within a month of our Dylan have also become morning lake producing machines.

We started off with tactical solutions. Instead of the Aldi nappies we have been using, which are good as well as cheap ($16 for 50 nappies, that’s $0.32 per nappy), we thought we would give Huggies another go.
Huggies are the winners of Choice Magazine’s nappy comparison, but then again I have said here before what I think of Choice as a reference; to add insult to Choice’s injuries, they have recently recommended a compact digital camera as a camera that takes better quality photos than a Canon SLR model that in everyone else’s opinion (mine included) beats the crap out of every compact digital camera out there. That said, when Dylan was born Huggies were the only nappies that fit him, so they’re not all bad.
We bought a pack of 48 Dylan size male baby Huggies for $25. At $0.52 per nappy they’re 60% more than expensive than the Aldi nappies, although buying bigger packages would reduce unit cost. Unlike Aldi, though, with Huggies you do need to shop around for cost, and barring a major sale you would still fork out loads more than you do at Aldi.
The first thing you notice about the Huggies is that they’re much lighter than the Aldi nappies. While Aldi nappies are unisex and feature absorbent padding on both the front and the rear, the male only Huggies feature front padding only, and a lighter one at that. We suspect the lightness comes at the expense of using more vicious absorbent chemicals: in the past we could feel some warmth coming out of a wet Huggies nappy. We might have been delusional, but those chemicals are probably not the best thing for a young male baby’s testicles. I suspect we’re creating a generation of blank shooters through the use of disposable nappies, but I guess only time will tell; there’s no way we’ll be moving to cloth nappies. At least that's one way for dealing with over population.
Question is, did we get our money’s worth? Well, the straightforward answer is no. No magic took place, and nastier chemicals or not it appears as if the Aldi’s thicker padding is working better than the Huggies. So much for trying to solve the morning wetness problem using tactical means.

The Huggies experiment was repeated by the other two pair of parents I have mentioned before with similar results. It appears as though there are no tactical solutions to the problem, only strategic ones.
I suspect the issue at hand here is routine: we have all started with feeding our babies every 3-4 hours, then moved to a routine of overnight sleep with a cut-off feed at around 23:00, and then cut off the cut-off feed as our babies grew up. However, all of us are still feeding our babies milk before they go to bed, and it is our babies’ increased mass that makes them pee en masse over night.
The solution is therefore to abandon old habits that have accumulated through gradual evolution and instead take the initiative and do some proper optimization. Instead of the bottle being the last thing we give Dylan before he goes to bed, we should give him the bottle before his bath and put a clean nappy on him after most of the bottle's contents already came out of other way. It is obvious this is the path we need to tread through: this is, after all, what we adults do ourselves, and it would open the door to teaching Dylan how to brush his teeth before bed and have a bed time story ritual.
The only problem there is that messing with a baby’s routine is a guaranteed recipe for losing sleep. No one wants to go there unless absolutely sure and unless it’s absolutely necessary.

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