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The newborn stage is a crazy beautiful whirlwind of sleepless nights and trying everything you can think of to get your baby to sleep. It takes a lot of getting used to, for the baby and for mom and dad. Lucky for you, I recently went through the newborn stage, and I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve for you. Here are a few products that were invaluable to me during the newborn stage.
This. Thing. Is. Amazing. It’s basically just a vibrating pancake, but it saved my butt more than a few times when it came to getting M to sleep at night. For the first few weeks, M slept almost exclusively on my chest or in his baby bouncer that came with our Pack n’ Play (see below). But I knew that this wasn’t necessarily the safest sleeping position for him, especially since I was sleep deprived, and could fall asleep on the couch at pretty much any given moment. Believe me, I loved the snuggles, but I didn’t want to risk him falling into the sofa while we both snoozed.
The nice thing about the bouncer was that it had a vibrator on it, and it helped him fall asleep without me or my husband holding him. However, it was up at a bit of an angle, and he needed to be swaddled to sleep, and the three-point harness on the bouncer wasn’t meant to hold a swaddled baby. But anytime we laid him in his bassinet, flat on his back, he would wake up within minutes. “No arms to snuggle me, no vibrations to lull me to sleep? What madness is this? I shall complain at once,” said Milo. And complain he did.
Enter the Lullavibe. The squishy blue vibrating pancake with a handle that helped my newborn sleep safely on his back, in his bassinet. An absolute Godsend. We simply put the Lullavibe between the side of the bassinet and the edge of the mattress pad, and smushed the button to start the vibrations. Next step, lay baby on his back in vibrating bassinet, and see the beautiful babe sleep safely and soundly.
Can you buy a bassinet with vibrations built in? Yes. It’s called the Halo Bassinest, and it looks FANTASTIC. But it will also set you back about $300. And that’s a lot of moolah for something you might only use for 3-4 months, maybe less if your baby is especially fond of rolling over.
The Lullavibe is a $30 solution that does pretty much the same thing. Plus, it’s portable, so you can take the Lullavibe with you on car trips, or stroller rides, or visits to grandma’s house. Pretty awesome. The only problem I have with this is that it IS a battery suck. It takes 4 AA batteries, and when you’re using it 4-400 times a day, yah gonna lose powah. But tell me what’s more important? Spending $30 on batteries this month, or being sleep deprived because your newborn won’t sleep without vibrations?
Plus, it’s fun to see your dad’s face when you tell your husband that the vibrator needs new batteries. Just sayin’.
Pack n’ Play
I absolutely adore our Pack n’ Play. I hemmed and hawed over whether or not to get one, since we have a pretty small house, and it was already getting pretty full of baby stuff by the time I was about 8 months pregnant. But I’m so glad that we got this. We chose the Graco Pack n’ Play Playard Snuggle Suite LX with Bassinet and Changer. This one is like, the Rolls Royce of play yards. It has a bouncer, a changing table, built-in organizer for diapers or wipes, a sound machine, and a bassinet insert. Our sound machine got lost somewhere in our basement, but we have used every other aspect of this product, and I’m so glad we got it.
I especially love the bassinet insert, because I can sidecar the Pack n’ Play next to my bed at night and have M close by. But what I love most is that I know we will continue to use it even after M outgrows the bassinet portion. He’ll still use it for playing in when he starts crawling or sitting up. Plus it’s great for traveling. I brought mine with to Florida when we went to Sanibel (check out that post here). Obviously I didn’t carry it on, but a checked Pack n’ Play is better than a cootie ridden rental bassinet from a hotel. Am I right?
Activity gyms are fantastic for newborns. They provide a sensory and developmental experience for baby at the earliest possible opportunity. Some gyms come with lights and sounds, but honestly that’s a little much for babe at this early stage. Something with some bright colors and a few hanging toys or rattles is just perfect; bonus if there is a mirror or two.
M loves his activity gym from Skip Hop. I love that the mat has a bit of smoosh to it, which means I can put it on a hardwood or carpeted floor, and he’s still comfy. I also love that it’s super lightweight and easy to move. I can bring it in the kitchen or in the living room. I also brought this with me to Florida. It was easy to pack, and it gave him something to do while we got ready for our adventures during the day (i.e. mom takes a shower and mentally prepares herself for taking her 3 month old to a shell museum).
Swaddling is essential during the newborn stage. Unless you have a unicorn baby that sleeps perfectly all the time, without any assistance, you’re gonna need some swaddles. Swaddles come in all different shapes and methods. You can swaddle with a square blanket, or you can swaddle with a premade swaddle sack. I wrote an entire blog post about it here.
The important thing to remember is that all babies are different, and they will react differently to different swaddles. One baby might do great in a Love To Dream SwaddleUp, while another might do better in a HALO Sleepsack. You might have to try a couple of options before you you get the right one for your babe. The Swaddle Guide I wrote compares 5 different options, so you might want to start there to see if any of those options might work for your little one.
At the baby shower for M, we got a couple of brands of pacifiers. However, they were heavier silicone, and when M was first newborn they were too heavy for him. His sucking reflex wasn’t strong enough to hold on to it, and he ended up getting frustrated. My mom recommended the MAM brand, and we haven’t looked back. #MAMorBust
The MAM brand pacifiers come in an ultra lightweight option for newborns, and they are absolutely perfect. Again, different babies, different preferences, but M loved these immediately. I think it had to do with the shape of the nipple on the pacifier being more similar to what an actual nipple feels like when it’s in his mouth. So there’s that.
But the point is that these were actually light enough for him to hang on to in the first few days of life. And yeah, some people are against pacifiers in the first month due to the possibility of nipple confusion. I totally get that. If it’s something you’re worried about, skip the pacifier. But if you want to try something, try a MAM. And don’t forget to pick up a couple of pacifier clips. Because the pacifiers will inevitably fall out of babe’s mouth, and on to something gross.
The glory of white noise is not known to you until you have a newborn. I read Harvey Karp’s The Happiest Baby On The Block before M was born, so I knew that I would need two things to make sure M was content during the 4th trimester: swaddles and white noise. And love. Oodles and oodles of love.
Why white noise? Because it’s pretty similar to what babies hear in the womb. It’s not silent in that uterus of yours. Babies hear your heartbeat and the blood rushing through your veins. Plus your food being digested. Which now that I think about it is pretty crazy, and I’m wondering what that sounds like….
Anyway, babies are used to hearing a whooshing sound similar to a hairdryer or a fan, and thus a white noise machine was essential for us during the newborn stage. I tested the whole white noise theory in the hospital when M had his first truly fussy moment. We swaddled him nice and snugly, and I pulled up my Calm app and switched the audio to the white noise setting. He settled down almost instantly. It was like he had something familiar to listen to again, and he began to feel safe.
You can create a white noise effect just as easily with a fan, but there are some pretty cute sound machines out there too. We were gifted the Skip Hop Moonlight & Melodies Nightlight Soother- Owl, and we love it. It has multiple sound settings, including white noise with heartbeat, waves, nature sounds, and lullabies. It also doubles as a nightlight, and star/moon projector. Pretty nifty! I really like the waves audio setting because its a deeper white noise than most other white noise audios I’ve found. I know this sounds weird but not all white noise is the same. Some have a higher pitch (like a hair dryer), while others are deeper, more like waves on an ocean. M prefers the deeper white noise sound, and so do I. It’s very relaxing to listen to while you’re sleeping. The other thing is that it’s nice for YOU to use too. When my husband or my mom watches M while I nap, I always use the Skip-Hop sound machine, because it helps to drown out any crying or talking or dogs barking that I might hear when I’m resting.
So there you have it! The items I relied on when M was first newborn. Which items do you consider must-haves for the newborn stage?