Why you should care
Because when it comes to sleep and sanity, every tip helps.
Of course you adore your newborn. But you’re sleep deprived, loathe nursery rhymes and worry you might drop your baby. Maybe you already have. Welcome to the club — it’s called fatherhood. This is my second time round the rockaby rodeo, and while I’m in the early weeks of tending to my son, my daughter has managed to survive for more than three years in spite of my care. I can thank the village it’s taking to raise her and, now, my son — along with some of these newborn hacks.
In the midst of all the rocking, swaying, cradling and transferring, new parents often fear they’ll drop their child. When fellow Torontonian Hayley Mullins was cuddling her 2-week-old, she moved her hand to pick up the phone, causing her daughter to roll off her chest and onto the floor. Baby was fine, though the experience prompted Mullins and her sister, Ashley Wade, to create the SleepBelt ($54.95). Its stretchy yoga-pant fabric with Velcro doesn’t look like much, but it comfortably hugs a naked newborn to the torso of a shirtless parent, offering reassurance and providing skin-to-skin contact while seated. Kangaroo care is great for newborns, especially preemies, and a recent review of 12 studies found skin-to-skin time with dads helps infants regulate temperature and pain while alleviating parental stress and anxiety. “Lots of dads want one because there’s nothing marketed toward them,” says Mullins.
For serious multitasking, I’ve tried the Moby Wrap, which I couldn’t get on without the help of YouTube, and returned my friends’ BabyBjörn and Ergobaby carriers — neither felt comfortable on my back. My go-to: the $140 Beco Gemini, which doesn’t require my wife’s supervision to put on. Its crisscrossing straps provide back support, and its front- and rear-facing options are great for babies (up to 35 pounds) as they age toward toddlerhood. Mine have slumbered on my torso as I’ve put away onesies and sippy cups, typed out work assignments and, once, hiked a switchback trail for three hours in the Canadian Rockies. Sweat resistant it is not, though it is machine washable.
Sean Braswell is right: It’s time to kill off Mother Goose. Forget offensive nursery rhymes (“Peter, Peter, Pumpkin-Eater” and “Ten Little Indians”), and download lullaby renditions of famous hits instead (typically up to $16.98 per album). There are instrumental takes on tracks by everyone from the Doors to the Grateful Dead, though I’m a pop-loving papa who prefers the Beatles, Michael Jackson and Coldplay. This year’s best-sellers on Rockabye Baby include baby-friendly versions of Beyoncé and Hamilton.
Skip the how-to books and birthing classes this time and watch (or, in my case, rewatch) Happiest Baby on the Block ($8.95). Annoying sweater-vest aside, Harvey Karp offers great tips for re-creating five “calming womblike sensations” through swaddling, shushing, swinging, pulling out a pacifier and using a side-stomach position. Deploying these are the closest I’ve come to feeling superpowers, especially when my mother-in-law has tried her tricks, then passed a fussy newborn my way.