marni

Between their impossible cuteness and frequent demands, new babies have a way of running a household.??

He’s barely bigger than a sack of flour, but he effortlessly runs the house. A precious, commanding, endearing, fascinating wonder, this tiny human can cause three adoring adults to spring to action with only a whimper.?

I am staying in the Colorado home of my new grandson, George. His parents (my daughter and her husband) happen to live here, too, peripherally. Oh, and the two dogs, who’ve lost some status since Baby George erupted onto the scene, bringing all sorts of equipment.?

My role here is to cook, clean, wash and fold miniature clothes, and shore up this new little family while doubling down on my efforts to not offer unwanted advice. (I brought my muzzle.) In between, I stare at this impossibly small face, which changes like the sea, calm and placid one minute, then rippling into stormy waves. Even his pterodactyl cries are cute.?

“We were prepared for the crying and lack of sleep,” my daughter Paige said. “What I wasn’t prepared for was how little access I would have to my hands, for doing anything besides feeding and rocking the baby.” The diaper consumption (easily a dozen a day) has been another surprise.?

The extra hands are welcome. Less welcome are opinions. “I feel like I signed up for tough college course and I’m not doing well at it, but I’m figuring it out with my husband, and I don’t need a bunch of well-intentioned naysayers.” Point taken.?

As I have been gently reminded: “Things have changed in 30 years.” Indeed. Not only has baby science made new discoveries with regard to sleep and feeding routines, but also technology has advanced, creating devices that help babies sleep longer and parents better monitor their every move. Today, parents have pacifiers designed by orthodontists and baby-butt spatulas for applying Desitin. (Now there’s an idea.)?

Grandparents and friends are not the only ones weighing in with opinions. “We’ve been bombarded with so much marketing advice on what we ‘have to have,’" Paige said. “It’s too much.”?

Here, fresh from the trenches, are some discoveries, warnings and advice for other new parents and those around them:

RESIST MARKETING PLOYS: Don’t feel like you are a subpar parent if you don’t get every baby gadget thrown at you, Paige said. But be picky about what you do get. Big-ticket items include a bassinet, a crib, a changing table, a docking station (what we used to call an infant seat) and a rocking chair.

ROCK THE ROCKER: Paige and Adam sometimes spend half the night in their rocker. Look for one that’s covered in performance fabric, fits both parents and is more glider than rocker. (Gliders are safer for babies’ fingers.) Some rockers have handy USB ports. Have a table nearby that can hold a water glass, snack, book and phone, because you will be parked there for a while.

CATCH MORE ZZZs: Smart-sleeper bassinets, such as the Snoo, are helping new parents get more winks. These smart bassinets, which you can rent or invest in, sense when the baby stirs or starts to wake and will rock it back to sleep. It can also emit white noise, which helps soothe.

MONITOR THE MOVEMENT: When my children were babies, baby monitors let us hear what was going on in their rooms. Now high-tech monitors, like Nanit, HelloBaby and others, connect to cameras, so parents and caregivers can see and hear baby via mobile devices, which is why these monitors top many baby registries.

MAKE SOME STATIC: Because being in the womb sounds like living in a laundromat, having some white noise in the nursery can calm babies. App-controlled noise machines, such as the Hatch Sound Machine, are available to make wanted static while masking environmental racket.

CREATE A SLEEPY SPACE: While you can’t control what kind of baby you’re going to get, easy or fussy, you can control his or her sleep environment and set the stage for good sleep habits. When not sleeping on one of his parents or in his smart bassinet, George naps in a cool (70- to 72-degree), dark nursery with white noise and a watchful camera.

GET A UNISEX DIAPER BAG: Diaper bags have come a long way since the blue-and-pink flowered, quilt satchel I used to have, the kind no self-respecting man would be seen carrying. Bags today are gender neutral. Paige and Adam use a neoprene diaper backpack in a sandy color called Dune. It clips to the stroller, and has a changing mat, specific pouches and pockets for must-have baby gear, and a laptop sleeve. Huzzah!

COVER YOUR DOORBELL: And put a “do not disturb” sign on your door. Tell expected visitors to please text upon arrival. Homes with newborns do not have normal sleep schedules. If Mom and baby are finally falling asleep at 10 a.m., and some solicitor rings the doorbell setting off the baby and the dogs, the visitor should go directly to jail.

MAKE WAY FOR FEEDING SYSTEM: Make way for feeding systems. Whether bottle fed, breast fed or both, you will need a system for sterilizing bottles and breast-pump parts, and a dedicated kitchen shelf or drawer. You can use a sterilizer or the dishwasher. At George’s house, we drop parts into a tub of warm soapy water before they go through the dishwasher on the top rack.

GIVE THEM SPACE: According to my friends, many of whom are also becoming grandparents, being asked to wait to visit until two or three weeks after the baby born is the new normal. New parents want a couple of weeks to become a family, said Paige, speaking for her boundary-setting generation. “When you do visit, come to help. Don’t just come to snuggle with the baby. What is helpful is cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, getting groceries, running errands and making sure everyone is fed.”

Hear that, grandparents?

We’re on it.

Marni Jameson is the author of seven books on home and lifestyle. She can be reached at www.marnijameson.com.