Monday, October 1, 2012

Newborn Must Haves Part One: Sleep

Williamsburg, 2012

Nearly two months in I wouldn't exactly call myself an expert in newborn care, but I would say that Axel and I have found our own little rhythm and that I feel like I can usually anticipate what will set him off and what will keep him cozy and content.

Since I'm a little on the Type A-side of the spectrum, I've been keeping a running list of some of the things that have been useful to me in these foggy newborn days. When I was pregnant, I'd read lists like these as if they held the secrets of the universe. Of course, they do not. But I do think there are some gems of wisdom in here that might help new parents, so here goes. A first little segment on our sleep necessities (essentials for bath time, changing, feeding, playtime and more to come.)


1) Our Serena and Lily Sausalito Moses Basket.
Axel slept in our room for the first 7 1/2 weeks of his life and this sturdy, attractive bassinet took us from New York to Maine, Boston, Rhode Island, and back again. Before we got into more of a bedtime routine with Axel sleeping in his own room, we'd keep him in the bassinet with us in the living room until we went to bed. I think any moses basket would probably do, but I loved how this one was made of pretty canvas and didn't seem too fragile. We ordered a rocker for it from Rockers by Richard so I could push him back and forth while I was trying to drift off to sleep myself. Since Axel seemed a little antsy sleeping flat on his back when he first came home from the hospital, we used a little foam triangle that came with our stroller to prop up the mattress and keep it on an incline. We also got an infant head positioner (the Snuzzler) from Summer, so I didn't have to worry about him lolling about and mashing his face against the side of the bassinet.

2) The Sleep Sheep completed the picture and its ocean sound (I can find that third button down while still asleep) helped to muffle some of Axel's squeaks and grunts, giving us all a slightly better night's sleep. This was a shower gift that has been really, really useful.

3) The Miracle Blanket and the Halo Sleep Sack Swaddle.
Initially, I thought Axel hated to be swaddled as he always seemed to be fighting to get his arms free. Will has a little more patient with the concept (thanks to Dr. Harvey Karp's The Happiest Baby on the Block) and we found that when we used these baby straight jacket-style swaddles, he settled down almost instantly. I'm not looking forward to weaning off of the swaddle but whatever gets you through, right? I was also reluctant to use a pacifier because people get ou so worried about nipple confusion, but somewhere around 4 weeks we broke out the Avent Soothies and haven't looked back.

4) The Baby Touch Video Monitor by Summer.
We splurged on this snazzy gizmo and I am really glad we did. While a regular baby monitor would probably do just as well, it's kind of fun to spy on Axel when we are watching a movie and it's really helpful to be able to see what he's up to when he starts making noise without getting out of bed and opening his door.

5) The New Basics by Dr. Michel Cohen.
I've plundered the lending library at Caribou for all the baby sleep books I could find. Ultimately, I found a lot of them very confusing. Am I screwing it all up if we eat, then sleep, then play? Do I need to head home to make sure Axel naps in his crib, no matter what I might need to get done? There seems to be so much contradictory info out there. Fortunately, our pediatrician has written a book on childcare that breaks topics like sleep down into really simple, pragmatic one-to-two page chapters. Dr. Cohen's take on sleep is basically that you do not need to be held hostage for naps, so if the baby naps in the stroller one day, and the crib the next, that's perfectly fine. He also believes you can sleep train at 2 months and, well, we shall see how that goes. Initially that sounded kind of cruel (and far-fetched) to me. But since Axel seems to enjoy waking up at 3 a.m. just to make faces, I am leaning towards giving it a shot come October 6th. Time will tell.

6) Coffee. Did I mention coffee?

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