Sound Sleep

Graco Sweet Slumber Sound and white noise machine

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Ridiculous Things Brand New Parents Do


  • What: White Noise Machine
  • Why: For a peaceful night’s sleep
  • Where: Amazon

Logic flies out the window once you become a parent. I’m not talking the usual stupid mistakes new parents make, like the time we accidentally nuked our frozen pancakes for eleven minutes in the microwave instead of one. Oops. (In case you wonder what happens, after about six minutes your pancakes turn into small black disks, a terrible smell emanates from the kitchen, smoke fills the house, the alarm starts blaring, and only then, after all that, do you realize the pancakes are still on fire inside the microwave. Correction: only then do you realize something is definitely wrong and start asking questions to figure out what it is. Finding out takes another minute or two.)

Those blunders come from sheer sleep deprivation. But no one tells you sleep deprivation adds up very, very fast. I cannot, in retrospect, tell you why the following ever seemed like a good idea, but at the time it made total sense.

I should backup some and start from the middle if not the actual beginning. We all know the actual beginning: someone plops a screaming, pooping, eight pound bundle in your naked lap and pats you on the back. There you go, you’re all set to be parents. “Have fun,” they seem to say, as you wait for your car at the front of the hospital. All those smiles? It’s not because of the ridiculously cute bundle in your arms. It’s more ha-ha, fooled you too, didn’t they.

Our baby slept (I’m using that term very loosely. What I really mean is we put our baby down so we could attempt to sleep.) in a bassinet in our bedroom about a foot away from our bed. I had just enough room to swing my feet onto the floor, and bend over to grab a mewling baby. On a good night, I could complete the maneuver without waking my husband the first time. The more times it happened, the less concerned I became about anyone else sleeping and the more I cared about not dropping the baby and reducing the noise for my own sanity.

Because I breastfed at all hours of the night (because I wasn’t going into work, not to mention my permanent attachment to the boobs), I claimed the side of the bed closest to the baby. Brilliant, I know.

Because I now claim temporary insanity due to sleep deprivation, I refused to have a white noise machine. If I needed white noise, I made it. Manually. You know, with my mouth and air and whatnot. It’s called shushing in the baby book I read and comes highly recommended. Don’t fret. I gave up the manual part soon enough.

I objected, in my delirium, to a white noise machine playing constantly. I, in my infinite wisdom, did not want to get my baby “hooked” on a particular white noise, thereby eliminating the possibility the baby would sleep without that noise. I did not want to have to pack a single extra thing when traveling. I did not want a loud machine in my bedroom interfering with my own sleep. (Update: We have two white noise machines now in our bedrooms, and one of them is never turned off. It irritates my mother so much that she had to buy her own white noise machine just to cancel out our white noise. She now sleeps with one, too.) I did not want the stress of picking just the right white noise machine, much less one of the fifty versions of white noise each one could produce.

In summary, I was a complete idiot. Buy the white noise machine, preferably before birth. Or this could happen to you.

My husband, about four weeks into the trial confinement period, gifted me a sweet looking little stuffed bear from hell. It had a noise machine inside it, and hung from the sides of the crib or bassinet or car seat or wherever your baby slept. When the baby started wriggling enough, the white noise would turn on for five minutes. After five minutes, it would automatically turn off. Beyond brilliant. We thought it was the best thing ever.

White noise worked. It magically seemed to calm our very particular baby before the baby fully woke. The only problem? The baby didn’t move around enough to set off the white noise machine before waking up. Our little bundle of joy woke up screaming. Every. Single. Time. Many times a night. Every night, and every day, too, but at least then I was supposed to be awake. In all honesty, the nurses commenting on how well his lungs worked in the delivery room probably should’ve clued me in. (In all fairness, I’m not sure any message would’ve gotten through after 48 hours of labor.)

Our solution? Jiggle the noise machine as soon as we heard a single creak from the baby bassinet. Since we spent so much of our very limited energy fighting over whose turn it was to jiggle the bear, and since my husband objected to getting out of bed and going around me to do his fair share of jiggling, and I objected to being woken up, possibly unnecessarily should the jiggling succeed and the baby went back to sleep, we started sleeping with a hiking stick.

I know, I know. That makes no sense unless you are or ever have been a totally sleep-deprived parent of a newborn. How on earth did the hiking stick help? My husband slept with it by his side. Every time his turn to jiggle the white noise bear came around, he grabbed the stick, reached over me, and whacked the bassinet with the stick to set off the white noise. Worked like a charm!

I can see the look on your faces. No need to worry. That bassinet was super sturdy, and had wooden rails on all four sides at the top (and elsewhere, but the top is what concerns you). Under no circumstances could we have accidentally whacked the baby. The hiking stick simply would not fit into the bassinet. Even a gentle poke was unthinkable in this scenario, as it required way too much dexterity and just the right angle, which could never be achieved in the dark, much less half-asleep.

So yes, we spent weeks where my husband squished me to lean over and whack the bassinet with a hiking stick to generate white noise. That’s not the crazy part. The crazy came when we were convinced that whacking your child’s bassinet multiple times a night was perfectly normal.

Buy the noise machine. I recommend this one. No hiking stick required, only an electrical outlet or even batteries. Ours has lasted almost six years and not caused us a day of trouble. We love it so much we bought a second one before our second child was born.

Graco Sweet Slumber Sound and white noise machine
Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine

As for packing? I always take it.

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