I was able to look out the window today and enjoy the sun and breeze coming through. I was high enough to see down into the bird’s nest. I’ve never paid much attention to the next because usually, the birds are out of it, chirping and hopping from branch to branch. Today though, I caught just the right moment, where the bird landed and reached down only to be met an instant later with the gaping beak of one of its hatchlings. For the next 20 minutes, all I saw was that bird taking flight, then quickly returning to feed her little birds, over and over and over.
Sometimes, it is helpful to remember that the stuff that goes along with parenting are all extra. What is essential for your newborn can all be taken care of with what is on your body: comfort, food, safety, and warmth. Those little birds can’t do anything but open their mouths, and all they know is that their parents will come back and feed them while they wait in their cozy nest.
But, we aren’t birds, and we aren’t all extreme minimalists. So it makes sense to explore some of the comforts and technology that can make the first weeks and months easier for us to bear when we are learning how to be a new parent ourselves. This post isn’t a list of specific products. However, it’s about what we’ve learned after working with families for our years of service. We have learned a few things after seeing many ways to navigate the first weeks and months of life with a newborn.
Thoughts on “The Chair”
We have held a fair amount of babies. We have also spent a fair number of overnight hours in nurseries watching sleeping babies. We have opinions about chairs.
Some of the characteristics that are helpful in a baby-holding chair are:
- The hight of the back. Sit in the chair, and see how high the backrest comes up. Can you lay your head back and have the chair meet you at a place where it is comfortable?
- The armrest location. They can’t be too close to your body, because there needs to be room for little legs, little arms, or your arms to be in that space. Plus, some extra distance between the armrest and your body means you can bolster with pillows, which allows for even more support, or position options.
- The armrest height. If the armrests are too high for you, they won’t be comfortable, and they will knock your baby on the head more times than you want to admit. Also, if they are too high, when you are doing a cradle hold or football hold, there is no room for your elbows to splay out as needed to hold your baby/breast in position. If they are too low, there is no reason for them to be there at all. But if you had to pick too high or too low, go with too low because, again, there are pillows.
- Depth of seat. Again, sit in the chair and see if your bum can reach the back of the chair, AND your knees can extend past the end of the cushion. A seat that is too long means you will have back pain, and may not be able to reach the floor comfortably to push against it to rock (if it rocks.)
- A chair that rocks (or glides) is very nice for self-soothing, and stress relief.
- A chair is not necessary. Your “chair” could be a spot on a couch or your bed. In these instances, we hope you have more pillows than you think necessary to use as you see fit, a table or stand nearby for anything you may want to put down, and a light that can be very dim for night feedings.
Thoughts on Diaper Bags
Diaper bags are supposed to be a tool that helps you, not frustrate you. So if the diaper bag – be it a bag sold to you for that specific purpose, or a bag you love that you now use as a diaper bag – doesn’t help you and using it is harder than it should be, get a different bag. Try something else.
Some of the characteristics we like about useful diaper bags:
- Having a “general space” and small “specific space” is great because life is unpredictable, AND you know you are going to need diapers, wipes, and extra clothes. Having access to space where you can reach in and get out a “thing” – which we don’t know yet if this will be a pacifier, a lovie, a burp cloth, or a snack for you – without going through a sipper or complicated snap is 100% a feature worth having.
- Consider your lifestyle and get a bag that matches, don’t change your life to match your diaper bag. This can help when thinking about crossbody strap vs. backpack, vs. tote. All of these are great for different reasons.
- Can you throw it in a washing machine? Or can it be wiped down?
Thoughts on Babywearing Devices
Babywearing is not new. It has been around for as long as humans have been around. But there was a blip of time when babywearing was low-class or uncivilized, which we can see now was privilege in action. The resurgence of mainstream babywearing in the last 20 years, or so, has meant there are now many brands of babywearing devices to chose from.
Some characteristics we like in a babywearing device:
- We want the carrier to be safe for your baby. So make sure directions are followed in every way
- There is a lot of personal preference here, and it makes sense to see if you can try on baby carriers to see what you like.
- Infants need a different kind of carrier than older, stronger babies. We like infant wearing because of the increased skin-to-skin, temperature control, reduced stress for parent and baby, and less exposure from nosy people wanting to pop their fingers and face inside strollers.
- Babywearing an older baby or toddler is also great, and our concern is you have a device that will protect your back. It may make sense to re-invest.
- We like carriers that can be washed because babies spit up, bodies sweat, and milk can get funky.
Thoughts on Noise Machines
White, brown, pink, or other white noises are incredibly soothing to babies. Having a tool that creates this sound is unnecessary, but it may make the difference in you getting a 20-minute nap or a 2-hour nap.
Some characteristics we like in a noise machine:
- It is a tool that can be used in any environment to help soothe your child. Meaning you can be in different places, and recreate some of the same sleep scenarios that your child recognizes.
- For the reason above, you may want to look into a noise machine that can be charged or run independently of a wall plug.
- If you are not out with your baby much, don’t worry about the above suggestion. You can use an app on your phone if it is needed.