Now that our son is firmly in the toddler stage and his baby days are behind him, I’ve had time to think about this past year and reflect on the things that made our lives easier amidst the sleepless nights and crying. These three things were hands-down the best purchases and made our lives easier almost instantly. The irony is that all three were things that I didn’t consider a “necessity” before Brayden was born. Sure, they’d be nice to have, but on the list of priorities, I didn’t put them at the top. In hindsight, we could have done without a lot of other things as long we had these three items. Well, these three and diapers.
1. Baby Monitor. This was definitely one of those things I didn’t think we’d need, and we actually put off buying until Brayden was probably about 7 months old. We live in small place, and I assumed that I could easily hear my little babe wherever I was in the house.
While it is true that I could hear him, I couldn’t see him unless I ran into his room at every cry or whine. Which I did before we had the baby monitor. Day or night, I couldn’t help but get up and go check on him. I’d hear a little whimper and my mind would start racing as I thought about all the danger that he could be in, all alone in his crib. I imagined him struggling to breathe or tangled in the sheet or any other number of worries that prevented me from ever really getting a sound sleep. I got so paranoid that I even slept on the floor by his bed for several days.
And then we finally caved and got the monitor, and our world (ok, MY world. My husband never seemed to have trouble getting some sleep.) completely changed. If I heard a little whimper, I could simply glance at the monitor and see that my little guy had just rolled over and gone back to sleep. No need to jump up and run to the next room! After this purchase, I FINALLY got some sleep. And at that point, I would have paid millions for that luxury. Luckily the little monitor only cost about $100. I think that was the best $100 we ever spent (ok, actually my mom bought it for us–thank you!!).
2. White noise. This was another one of those things that I assumed as overrated. And personally, I just didn’t want to listen to noise all the time. So we tried lullabies or silly songs or classic rock or any other number of tunes. We played one particular CD so much that is will forever be ingrained as the music of our newborn. Every time we listen to, we are immediately reminded of crying and constant rocking of our infant in a desperate attempt for sleep.
Before white noise, we would tip toe around the house while our babe slept in his crib. If we had people over, they would have to talk in whispers. The slightest noise, one bark from our dog, or a door shutting would wake our baby instantly and we would have to begin our whole rocking routine again.
Then on Christmas, my brother gave us an awesome iPod/CD player thing with speakers. At this point, our babe was about 7 months old and we were tired of being tired and ready to try anything. So we plugged in our iPod touch, turned on a white noise app, and celebrated the enormous change that this little noise machine brought. With the white noise turned up and Brayden tucked safely in his crib, we could talk at a normal level! We could open and shut doors on a whim! We could start laundry, play with the dog, watch a movie… we suddenly had complete freedom to live a normal life!
White noise + baby monitor = sleep. I can’t believe we wasted the first 7 months of our babe’s life without these things. I would gladly get rid of half his toys, clothes and blankets to have had the white noise and monitor from day 1.
3. Baby Bjorn. This one isn’t related to sleep, and we did have this from day 1 (thank you, Auntie Crystal!), but I had no idea how necessary this baby carrier would be. And perhaps it wouldn’t be as absolutely necessary for other babies. But our particular babe was not the best traveler. He hated being a stroller for the first 6 or so months of his life. He’d kick and scream and be genuinely miserable whenever we tried to take him anywhere in the stroller. But put that child the Baby Bjorn and poof! One happy traveling baby. Having the Bjorn meant that we could go places and see things and not feel totally isolated in those first few months. It meant we could have our hands free — I could go shopping and pull things off the shelves or simply walk hand-in-hand with my husband — and baby was content and happy to be out and about as long as he was tucked away in his carrier.
I wanted to share these things because I wish I had read a post like this in those first few confused months when we just didn’t know what to do. This would also be helpful for anyone attending a baby shower — the mother-to-be may not realize it, but these gifts will be some of the most important tools for sanity in the newborn days. Yes, moms have done without these things for generations. That is why I initially shied away from getting them, too. But hey, people also did without novocaine and anesthesia, and I definitely wouldn’t choose to do without them now! Sometimes we have to just be grateful for the little modern inventions that make life easier… or at least more restful for new moms.