Bringing home baby is not like it used to be


He’s barely bigger than a sack of flour, but he effortlessly runs the house. A precious, commanding,  fascinating wonder, this tiny human can cause three adoring adults to spring to action with only a whimper.

I am staying in the Colorado home of my new grandson, George. His parents live here, too, peripherally. Oh, and the two dogs, who’ve lost some status since Baby George erupted onto the scene.

My role here is to cook, clean, wash and fold miniature clothes and shore up this new little family while doubling down on my efforts to not offer unwanted advice. In between, I stare at this impossibly small face, which changes like the sea, calm and placid one minute, stormy the next. Even his pterodactyl cries are cute.

“We were prepared for the crying and lack of sleep,” my daughter Paige said. “What I wasn’t prepared for was how little access I would have to my hands for doing anything besides feeding and rocking the baby.”

The extra hands are welcome. Less welcome are opinions.

As I have been gently reminded: “Things have changed in 30 years.” Indeed. Not only has baby science made new discoveries about sleep and feeding routines, but technology has advanced, creating devices that help babies sleep longer and parents better monitor their every move.

Grandparents and friends are not the only ones weighing in with opinions. “We’ve been bombarded with so much marketing advice on what we ‘have to have,’ Paige said. “It’s too much.”

Here, fresh from the trenches, are some discoveries, warnings and advice for other new parents and those around them:

Resist marketing ploys: Don’t feel like you are a subpar parent if you don’t get every baby gadget thrown at you, Paige said. But be picky about what you do get. Big-ticket items include a bassinette, a crib, a changing table, a docking station (what we used to call an infant seat) and a rocking chair.

Rock the rocker. Paige and Adam spend half the night in their rocker. Look for one that’s covered in performance fabric and is more glider than rocker. Some rockers have handy USB ports. Have a table nearby that can hold a water glass, snack, book and phone, because you will be parked there for a while.

Catch more ZZZs. Smart-sleeper bassinets, such as the Snoo, are helping new parents get more winks. These smart bassinets, which you can rent or buy, sense when the baby stirs or starts to wake and will rock it back to sleep. It can also emit white noise.

Monitor the movement. When my children were babies, baby monitors let us hear what was going on in their rooms. Today’s parents can see and hear their baby via mobile devices thanks to Nanit, HelloBaby and similar high tech monitors.

Make some static. Want to replicate the rushing sound of the womb? Use an app-controlled white noise machine, such as the Hatch Sound Machine, in the nursery.

Get a unisex diaper bag. Diaper bags today are gender neutral, perfect for mom or dad. Paige and Adam use a neoprene diaper backpack in a sandy color called Dune. It clips to the stroller and has a changing mat, specific pouches and pockets for must-have baby gear and a laptop sleeve. Huzzah!

Cover your doorbell. And put a “do not disturb” sign on your door. Tell expected visitors to please text upon arrival. Homes with newborns do not have normal sleep schedules. If mom and baby are finally falling asleep at 10 a.m., and some solicitor rings the doorbell setting off the baby and the dogs, the visitor should go directly to jail.

Make way for feeding systems. Whether bottle-fed, breast fed or both, you will need a system for sterilizing bottles and breast-pump parts and a dedicated kitchen shelf or drawer. You can use a sterilizer or the dishwasher. At George’s house, we drop parts into a tub of warm soapy water before they go through the dishwasher on the top rack.


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