Fourteen months ago. That's the last time I held a baby the size of the little girl I cradled yesterday afternoon at the hospital.
And that afternoon, I returned home, and stared in the face of...a toddler.
There's no denying it. My baby is no longer one. He crawls. He climbs. He tries to tackle his daddy. He thinks he's a big shot for using a spoon to eat "real" milk and cereal. He wiggles around like nobody's business. And he applauds - yes, applauds - me when I get home at night from work.
There's no denying it. There's no longer a baby in this house.
Sure, the signs were there. My kitchen countertop has been reclaimed from the bottle racks and bowl of bottle pieces, long retired. The baby swing has been taken down after too many attempts of trying to climb into or out of it. Toys are already being retired, not to mention the several rounds of sizes of clothes.
But now that baby is no longer a baby, what do you do with the aftermath?
You realize as a parent that the first year is definitely resource-heavy. There's the furniture, the diapers and safety factor, resulting in child-proofing gadgets galore, not to mention the clothing that's outgrown in weeks (as in my daughter's case) or months.
But the little things add up quickly. The pacifiers - love them, or hate them - just get tossed after a fateful fall or too much chewing upon. The bottle nipples, and sometimes bottles themselves, are similarly tossed as the baby gets more demanding in his or her needs. The teething toys. The starter spoons. The age-appropriate toys you'd gotten as gifts. The list goes on and on.
And what do you do with them as a parent? Some, you can just save for future children or pass along to another parent. But others too often get tossed.
As we've approached our baby's "graduation" to toddlerhood, I've been fortunate that I've been able to help some other people out while avoiding just tossing away things the family no longer needed. Pacifiers rejected by my baby after a use or two were re-sanitized and shared with a mom of multiples. The bottles and bottle rack, rather than being tossed, were donated to my work's newborn pantry, with a few given to an expecting co-worker who was going to have to try bottles when the return to work approached. The myriad of baby blankets, particularly the swaddling ones that only really work for a month, were also donated to the cause. Clothes get the usual passing-along to a new mom or to a shelter. And I have a few rejected sippy cups - refused because they just weren't like his sister's cups - just waiting for a new home.
Sometimes, it takes a little creativity to find a new home for still-working infant supplies. But if you can help a parent save some money as well as reduce our impact on the environment, it's worth it.