This particular “essential” gear recommendation may be a tad specific to my own experience. The Rock ‘n Play and a baby carrier have become universal requirements for proper bourgeois parenting—run a Facebook poll of your parent friends and the endorsements will come rolling in. Minimalist as you may plan to be while you begin your baby registry journey in the first trimester, you will still find yourself in seven months, awake at 2am on your third night home from the hospital, cluster-feeding your infant in one arm while signing up for Amazon Prime on your phone with the other so you can order the RNP to be delivered in the next five hours.
But a Carseat Canopy™, you ask? After all, you registered for several of those Aden & Anais muslin swaddlers, and your friends all assure you they are quite versatile, even if they do cost as much as your father’s entire four years of college. Why do you need yet another blanket, just because it has a heavy interior lining and Velcro straps?
One of the many things no one tells you about newborns is that they are easily overstimulated. I don’t mean that they get a little antsy at Chuck E. Cheese, I mean that turning on an overhead light can send their raw-pancake-batter nervous system into a manic frenzy. Some newborns are more susceptible than others—with zero data and only a vague recollection of reading this on BabyCenter, I think babies born on the early side of 40 weeks tend to have stimuli receptors that are more undercooked than their late-term counterparts. Maybe that’s just my excuse for why my son, born two weeks early, was a screaming ball of exposed nerve for most of his fourth trimester. He shrank from sunlight like a wrinkly-skinned mole, and if we had the audacity to have a ceiling fan going when the phone rang, he reacted like he was having dental surgery without anesthesia. My pre-baby visions of taking him on long walks in the stroller, admiring the fall foliage and opining on the meaning of life, were dashed by the reality of having an infant whose senses were frequently overloaded by the stripes on his crib sheet.
The Carseat Canopy is a thick blanket that attaches to the handle of an infant carrier and creates a sensory deprivation chamber of darkness and calm. It’s the newborn equivalent of scented candles, a warm bubble bath, and Enya on surround sound. Once I discovered the utility of the Carseat Canopy, I was finally able to take little Gollum out of the house and into the world. Enveloped in the womb-like solace of his car seat, he would stop screaming and fall asleep a few minutes into a car ride, as long as I played David Sedaris podcasts on the stereo and never stopped at red lights. I could even take him for walks in the stroller, secure in knowing that no UV rays would pierce his paper-thin eyelids and trigger his Saw-like baby nightmares.
Thanks to the Carseat Canopy, by 12 weeks I had my baby on a schedule the Baby Whisperer would envy. A one-hour nap in the morning, driving around a city route that elegantly avoided all speed bumps, stop signs, and traffic lights; an afternoon nap in my arms as I made impressive progress on Candy Crush; and an early evening nap while I walked a three-mile loop around my neighborhood, a roadie in my hand and triumph in my heart.
Written by: Kathleen