First off, you should know that every single piece of baby gear you buy will come with multiple warnings in a variety of languages that inform you that any alteration or misuse of this product will undoubtedly kill your baby. At first these warnings are terrifying, but worry not—eventually you will grow numb to neon yellow tags that threaten the spontaneous combustion of your offspring, and you will no longer tremble at the sight of the all-caps labels on your stroller barking at you like an irritable French waiter, “Mise en Garde! Mise en Garde you stupid American filth!” Indeed, soon enough you will be recklessly dressing your toddler in baggy pajamas and putting your lukewarm coffee in the cup-holder of your BOB accessory bar, but in the early weeks you will be bullied into compliance. Thus when I tell you right now that letting your newborn spend the night in the Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play will save you from openly empathizing with terror suspects in Guantanamo, you will not listen. Babies must sleep on their backs on a hard, flat surface, you will think with the smugness of someone who has never put kitty litter in the coffee maker. That’s what both the Mayo Clinic and all of the other first-time moms on the What to Expect message board say, and by God that is how your baby will sleep, no exceptions.
Except that newborn babies won’t sleep flat on their backs on a hard surface because newborn babies are not preternaturally suited for a post-apocalyptic nomadic civilization or a third-world prison. Oh sure, maybe in the hospital your little bug slept in that plastic fish tank like a champ, but only because he was knocked out from the Fentanyl drip you got when you still thought you could handle a natural childbirth. Once home, your baby will only sleep in one of two places: your arms, or the Rock ‘n Play (aka the “RNP”, as those twats on the message board will refer to it after they enjoy three straight nights of cluster feeding).
The RNP is firm enough to mimic a prison cot, and it gives you no choice but to put your baby on his back, however, unlike on that slab of concrete they call a crib mattress, your baby will actually sleep in it. The curved basket imitates your own warm embrace, and it rests your baby at a slight elevation, which helps with colic and reflux and all of the other made-up reasons newborns scream non-stop for 4-8 hours a day. Plus his spastic muscle control will cause the RNP to rock back and forth, lulling him into that mythical “deep” sleep that lasts until the moment you put the shampoo in your hair.
Go ahead and register for the RNP, telling yourself you will only use it to lay your baby in while you read to him from the New York Times or sing him Italian operas. It will be there waiting for you after you drag the Arm’s Reach co-sleeper out to your front lawn and light it on fire, and it won’t even say “I told you so.” It will just cuddle your baby close, swaying slightly as if jostled by a warm summer breeze, while you weep quietly into your cold cup of litter-coffee and wonder if Guantanamo might not be so bad this time of year.
Written by: Kathleen