Just like every male nerd thinks they need a man-cave (preferably with a lab or in an underground bunker), they quickly realize that their baby actually does best in a well-equipped nerdsury. I’ve found that when you are on the 2-am bottle-duty, you frequently wonder what time it is and how long feeding takes (usually with the goal of whining to your spouse or bragging to your coworkers about how tired you are).
A good clock with large digital numbers is a good investment – something to put in a place where you can see it from your feeding rocking chair. You’ll likely be so tired that you need some minor stimulation to stay awake, but anything as complex as conjugating words will be beyond your ability. Staring at numbers while feeding a baby seems like the extent of my mental abilities sometimes on 2 hours of sleep.
Once you get your rhythm down, you’ll find that routine is very good for your babe’s piece of mind. Doing the exact same process each day at the exact same times seems to help greatly with good sleep. I’ve found that a little music helps set the mood, but also entertain me. I do very poorly when doing repetitious actions, so I need some mental variation. Luckily, we had an extra iPod Touch, so we set it up to play Pandora to stream baby music each night. We have three stations – “Lullabies”, “Lullabies and Soundscapes”, and “Sesame Street”… and keep the iTouch right next to the feeding chair so you can reach out and control it with your off hand. You can also use the awesome “Total Baby” app to track weight, feeding, and dirty diapers.
Speaking of diapers, we’ve found that a cold wet wipe in the middle of the night is the single best “baby alarm” trigger. Blood-curdling screams result. Our friend Paul got us a wipe warmer, which heats the moistened cleaning towels to body heat. The baby doesn’t even notice most of the time. Awesome!
Temperature is quite important – babies aren’t quite as fragile as most people think, but they are very sensitive to heat and cold. You especially want to avoid boiling them. This floating thermometer works very well – it beeps when the water is too hot or cold.
Some people breastfeed, some use only formula. Likely, you’ll do both. And likely, you’ll use reusable bottles to do both. Washing and cleaning these bottles is very repetitive and time consuming, but these three tools make them much easier. Much easier!
To switch gears a bit, we’ve found that mental stimulation seems to really cheer up the baby and keep them occupied. We’ve found this Baby Gym to be perfect for the half hour before bath time. It’s colorful, has a lot of moving pieces, and plays music. An added bonus is that it seems to entertain the dogs as well.
When we have the baby downstairs during the day, it’s great to put the baby in this swing. It both rocks, and has a mobile that twirls and our son loves to stare at. As an added bonus, you can tilt the seat up into a sitting position, or down to a sleeping position. Great for getting a few hours free while still having him close enough to keep an eye on.
The other best tool we’ve found to keep an eye on the baby (especially at night) is to use a video monitor with an IR light. This one works perfectly, and has extra IR lights so that you can see clearly at night – it also has great audio pickup. With an extra cable, it easily plugs into a television set for prime HD baby-watching goodness.
Speaking of taking video and pictures, I’ve noticed that our picture taking has increased about 100-fold. The primary set back to taking more great pictures is downloading them off of memory sticks and posting them online. This EyeFi card is excellent at automatically offloading the pictures from your digital camera and uploading them to a laptop or website like Flickr. I use the Pro card, as it supports about 500 pictures in full RAW resolution (needed for the highest resolution images and work in great photo programs like Aperture).
If you’re up for some serious baby picture-capturing, I think the Nokia D90 is the best combination of capabilities for the cost, and has resulted in some excellent pictures – and reignited my love of photography. Rather than using the lens that usually comes with the camera, I’d recommend getting the bare body and this fixed lens (which works better in low light indoor photo situations). An added bonus is that it integrates very well with the EyeFi Pro card found under #2 (make sure you get the Pro as you want to be able to use RAW images that the D90 supports).
In conclusion, we’ve been very fortunate to have great friends and family that have supported us during our baby-rearing process. We are incredibly loved, and have a wonderful son that we really enjoy. We hope that some of these finds will also work great for you or the expecting nerd in your life!