Terrified new parents seek answers
May 24, 2011 2:32 PM   Subscribe

Our little baby boy has been in the NICU for the past 8 days and should be released in a less than a week. He was born 6 weeks early and before we had bought anything (even a car seat) so we're rushing to prepare for his imminent arrival. We came up with a few questions while shopping for baby stuff...

1) My mother in law got us this Pack n Play. What's the different between a Pack n Play, bassinet, and crib? Can a newborn sleep in a Pack n Play? Can it be his primary bed? It has a "removable, full-size bassinet" which looks pretty sturdy and appears to meet the SIDS guidelines of a "firm mattress" -- even though it's not really a mattress. My impression is that we can save a few bucks by just having a Pack N Play which he'll be able to use even after he gets too big for the bassinet (which we'll remove once he can push himself up).

2) I've really gotten to like the heartbeat and breathing monitor they have him hooked up to in the NICU, watching those lines on the screen puts my mind at ease. I've also read that preemies have a somewhat higher risk of SIDS. I'm thinking of getting one of the Angelcare movement monitors, what do you guys think of it? I can only find one real mention of them on MeFi and it's negative. We're taking the baby CPR class the hospital tonight and we know all the back to sleep stuff.

3) Are European car seats really safer than American car seats? My wife's cousin swears by Maxi Cosi car seats and she told us that American car seats are less safe because they use more plastic parts, while European ones use more metal.

4) Am I being overly paranoid by wanting to use only glass bottles? I know that pretty much all the plastic baby bottles out there are BPA-free but I'd still prefer to avoid plastic. Does anyone else use glass bottles?
posted by exhilaration to Shopping (54 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: 1. Pack n plays are portable cribs/play areas. we used our pack n play as our newborns bed for a couple weeks, but the "bed" part isn't really comfy, so I don't think I'd use that long term.
2. I don't know about the monitor systems with heartbeats, but the summer infant baby monitors with the video screens are fantastic for checking to see the little chest rise and fall and get over those initial SIDs worries.
3. If they weren't safe, they wouldn't sell them here. Car seat standards are really strict. Don't buy a used one (because you have to get a new one if they have been in an accident) but a new one will be fine.
4. If you want to use glass, use glass. But it isn't necessary, however, you know what will make you calmer and a calmer parent is a better parent. We used plastic though.
posted by katers890 at 2:40 PM on May 24, 2011

The baby is really low in the Pack N Play. Once my babies were big it got hard to them in the bed without waking them. It hurt my back, too. It's hard to pat a baby back to sleep in there. I am short, and it seems like it would be worse on your back if you are tall. (But maybe easier to put a sleeping baby in there if you have longer arms than me!). Congratulations!
posted by artychoke at 2:43 PM on May 24, 2011

Best answer: Congrats on your son! Mine was born five weeks early and was in the NICU for three days. It's a great milestone to get him home.

Re: pack n play. I liked having it in our living room to have a safe place to put him down when needed, and during the earliest newborn days he did some napping/sleeping out there. We migrated him to a crib in his own room within the first few weeks and now just use the pack n play for brief awake time when I need to set him down, or for a portable overnight crib if needed. The bassinet tray works very well for lightweight newborns, but for ours and for friends who have them as the child gets heavier they don't support him in a flat shape. Not that it's in danger of dropping him, but it's not stable to set him down without waking him or to keep him from rolling around. I don't think they are a good long-term substitute for a crib, but it would push out the need for a crib for a few weeks.

re anglecare: I sympathize with the comfortable feeling of the montiors in the NICU! I would just say that when babies grow they move around a lot more, and keeping him hooked up to a monitor will be hard to do. Moving around will lead to false alarms, which reduce the effectiveness of alarms in the first place. I realize how big an issue SIDS is in the minds of new parents, so I can't tell you it's not a good idea...but I think that you will find it easier to follow best practices for infant sleep than to add in the monitor.
posted by handful of rain at 2:44 PM on May 24, 2011

Best answer: We were also unprepared parents to a preemie! I know how crazy it is, but you can do it.

1) Our kid slept in something like that for two nights, until we figured out that we were going to co-sleep. I think it's fine for your baby to sleep in a pack n play, if the baby agrees to the plan. It did seem to us that it was colder (sort of like sleeping in a hammock) than a regular crib would have been, but what do we know.

2) Our NICU said that the monitors available for home use were pretty lame, and gave you a false sense of security (they are for various reasons not actually somehow going to "prevent" SIDS or whatever) but also would go off randomly and scare the shit out of everyone. We didn't use one.

3) I am a car seat safety skeptic. I am unconvinced that there is that much difference between seats. If you can correctly install the car seat and use it correctly with your baby (those are huge ifs - most people don't use their car seats correctly) you're ahead of the game. Safety gains between seats are marginal. The huge jump is using a seat at all, rear-facing, installing and using it correctly, etc.

4) We BF and don't have a lot of bottle experience, so take this with a grain of salt: we used Dr. Brown's glass bottles for feeding pumped milk. Later, we occasionally fed him pumped milk directly from the Medela bottles (which are BPA-free) just because they fit directly on the pump and it was easier. I didn't find there to be a huge difference in ease of use, but I will say that we were feeding him small quantities of human milk. I think that if you formula-feed, you're dealing with larger volumes of liquid, so the weight of the glass might make a real difference.

(But you'll get no argument from me - we're skeptical about plastics and try to avoid them, too.)
posted by thehmsbeagle at 2:47 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also: if you are looking to swaddle know that some swaddle blankets are too big for a preemie-size baby. The Miracle Blanket worked very well for us and our 4.5 pound little guy.

We prefer glass bottles to plastic - do it if it's what you want! Just know that down the road day care (if you are going that route) might require non-breakable bottles.

If you memail me I will send you a write-up I did on baby stuff that worked well/didn't work well for us for the first three months.
posted by handful of rain at 2:47 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Congratulations on Baby Exhilaration! As far as baby bottles go, I don't think you're being paranoid. They told us for years that plastic bottles with BPA were safe, and now suddenly they're not. Who knows what they'll discover isn't safe next week? if I were having a baby now and breastfeeding wasn't an option, I'd definitely use glass bottles.
posted by MexicanYenta at 2:50 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

So sorry your son is in the NICU--best of luck to you and him!

The Pack n Play mattress is fairly thin and cheap but my son slept in it for months as an infant. We eventually switched him to a crib because we wanted him to sleep in his own room and not ours--but he was comfy and cozy (and safe) in the PnP! It's a good thing to have anyway for travel and as a play pen, so if you get it as a bed and he doesn't like it you can just get a crib and pack it away for whenever.

I can't speak to any of the other stuff except to say I think the movement monitor is probably unnecessary and might make you *more* anxious in the long run. All new parents check their babies obsessively when they're asleep (I still do it nightly, almost 14 months in) and I imagine the prematurity compounds your worries, but I am wary of products that seem to be manufactured just to make new moms and dads even more paranoid!
posted by tetralix at 2:50 PM on May 24, 2011

We used a co-sleeper. You can pick them up at consignment stores or new. The co-sleeper attached to the bed and worked fine for us until she was ready to move to the crib. Just follow the best practices - sleeps on his back, firm surface, nothing else in the crib, swaddle them if they are in to that, pacifier if you're past nipple confusion phase or don't mind the use..

We have only recently started to use the baby monitor, basically because she was in the room with us until she was 6 months old. If you are going to put her in a separate room or separate space for naps I'd get a basic monitor, the video might be nice but we've found if we heard her and she keeps scrobbling it's time to go in and check her.

We started out with a hand me down graco snugride car seat, we used that until we couldn't stand the stroller attachment and got tired of how bulky it was and how the base fit our vehicles. We moved to a Britax seat that seems to be very much more sturdy, however it wasn't a safety thing, honestly it was just time to move to the next seat and deal with umbrella strollers/etc. there area ton of permutations here, so don't spend a ton of cash on the first seat unless it can carry them for a while and it's not a total pain in the ass.

We use the born free glass bottle but mostly because we think that coupled with the nipples and the thingambob inside there is less gas and burping. Gas and burping is the one thing that wakes ours up an hour or two after putting her down, so we got pretty picky about it after a couple months. The Born free glass bottles aslo clean easier than the plastic ones.
posted by iamabot at 2:54 PM on May 24, 2011

Best answer: 2 quick comments. I don't have a kid yet, but will hopefully relatively soon!

3. All car seats, properly installed, are safe. One nice thing about European seats is that if you have a small car, there are more options. It seems that some American seat makers assume that everyone drives a suburban.

4- I spend too much time with physiologists and endocrine researchers to not be leery of anything other than glass and stainless steel(that's what they use for their little ones). It's really hard to make hard plastics without using unpleasant chemicals, and most companies are just swapping BPA for something that is completely untested, and in the context of our innocent until proven guilty chemical regulation scheme, "safe."
posted by rockindata at 2:54 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

zia: even parents who are breastfeeding give bottles sometimes. I breastfeed but would pump so my husband could give a feeding while I slept, for example. Also, preemies may be on a prescribed supplemental feeding routine, as mine was. He got one or two feedings of high-cal formula mix a day in addition to breastfeeding, and I pumped during his formula feedings.

I think the OP needs advice and support, why don't you save the assumptions and the judgement?
posted by handful of rain at 2:56 PM on May 24, 2011 [24 favorites]

Best answer: We had each of our babies sleeping in the bassinet insert in the pack&play for the first few months. That worked well because we could have it in our room and made nighttime feedings much less disruptive. We transitioned them to the crib when they hit the weight limit for the bassinet insert. The pack&play alone is quite low for putting down a baby, I agree.

We used a combination of glass bottles (the old-school Evenflo kind) and the plastic Medela bottles that came with the breast pump. We have never had a glass bottle break, although it is heavier than the plastic and thus a little harder for the baby to hold by themselves when they get to that stage. With the second baby, however, we've noticed that the Medela bottles leak A LOT when we try to use them for feeding. Our theory is that after countless warmings, and runs through the dishwasher, the plastic has warped slightly and so the bottles leak around the collar. I use the plastic ones to pump into, but now feed with the glass ones which don't leak.
posted by ambrosia at 2:58 PM on May 24, 2011

Best answer: 1) It's really hard to put kids down into the pack and play while they are sleeping because it is deep. We use ours as a travel crib and when the kiddo was smaller left it up in the living room and used the changing area on it.

In general:
Pack 'n Play = mobile crib (optional bassinet insert and optional changing table thing)
Bassinet = bed when the baby is small and isn't gonna move
Crib = bed when the baby can roll over or move until he/she can sleep in a normal bed

Our first was 5 weeks early and slept in a bassinet for 2 months then in a crib when he started to roll over. When we traveled before he was 2 months, we took the bassinet with us for him. After that, we used the pack 'n play with no insert.

The bassinet insert for the pack 'n play is for being a bassinet. If that's what you have, may as well try it!

2) We have friends that swear by the video monitors, but I've never heard anything about the heartbeat ones. Our baby slept in a bassinet in our room next to the bed until he was 2 months, and so we didn't use a monitor. He was on my side of the bed and for the first couple weeks I'd wake up a lot of just peek in, but that slowed down over time as I calmed down. After he moved to a crib in his own room, we had an audio monitor and it was really stressful to listen to at the start, but you get used to it.

3) We loved our Chicco Key Fit car seat. It had an insert for our tiny tiny baby. Obviously, you're gonna need one of these really soon in order to leave the hospital! They'll do a test with the car seat first probably to make sure it is suitable.

4) If it makes you feel better use glass bottles! More people use them than you think. It's not weird. We used the Medela plastic bottles because they fit on the breastpump and just meant less cleaning things.

The bottom line is you need to do what you need to do to feel like you're doing a good job.
posted by cmm at 3:06 PM on May 24, 2011

Best answer: 1. The PnP is great for us as a temporary spot to set the kids down but next to our bed we used the co-sleeper. It was great as we could change the babe right there and turned into a small play pen perfect for overnight trips.

2. We used the babysense monitor right up until the day I took the boy child out of the crib, forgot to turn the thing off and got halfway through cooking dinner before it sounded the alarm. (And yes, the fan was off and it wasn't under the a/c vent and we tested it weekly. It just wasn't reliable.)

3. I use the Britax seats because they are easy to install and have great ratings. The key is correctly installing whichever car seat you choose and properly securing your infant. Those two things make a bigger difference than which brand you choose. Buy a new seat, not a used unless you personally know the history of the seat.

4. I wish I had done glass. Glass definitely won't cause harm yet plastic might. Choice seems clear to me.

Congrats on the kid! It's totally life altering! Make sure you each take turns so that you can both get sleep. Good Luck!!
posted by PorcineWithMe at 3:13 PM on May 24, 2011

Best answer: My daughter was 5 pounds, 7 ounces at birth and got down to 4 pounds, 15 ounces, although she was not premature, just tiny. We used the pack 'n play bassinet insert during her daytime naps just fine, and she moved into her crib within 2 to 3 weeks. So, I say you try the pack and play and then see what you think after a week or two. You could very likely save some money.

We also used glass bottles for at least the first 6 months. However, if you are planning on using daycare, I wouldn't buy a ton of them. Our daycare does not allow glass bottles. You can find bottles not made in China, it just takes a little work.

My sister bought a video monitor, and the motion detector device you are talking about. However, she kept her daughter sleeping in her co-sleeper for almost a year and never even ended up using those devices. So, not sure it's worth the money. For me, the sound monitor was strong enough that I could turn it up really loud and hear my daughter sleeping.

Finally, I am really, really going to suggest you figure out how to use a boppy pillow. They are a life saver for these first few months. It rests on your lap, under your arms while you cradle the baby. You are likely to be sitting, holding the baby in your arms and falling asleep due to exhaustion. The boppy pillow will hold your arms up for you, instead of your muscles....very helpful and much safer. (however, don't prop the baby up in the boppy to sleep unattended).

With all these worries you have, I am sure you are going to do great! Getting out of the hospital is a huge help and will allow you all to rest a lot more!
posted by fyrebelley at 3:14 PM on May 24, 2011

Best answer: First of all, hooray on your little one joining you at home! You've all come so far already!

Now on to your other questions:

1. Our son slept in a Pack n Play for the first 3 or 4ish months home. We started in the bassinet, then moved on to the regular "crib" portion. He slept as well as one does at that age, and it was worth it to have him close at night for feeding. We'd considered a co-sleeper, but ultimately decided on the P n P because we'd be able to use it when we travel, even after he'd moved to a crib. My friends who used co-sleepers also liked them for the convenience of being able to just roll over for feeds at night, without the worry of squishing anyone.

2. I agree that the safety monitors are probably not needed. If your perinatologists have specific concerns about your baby having sleep apnea, they would recommend a monitor and send you home with it. If they're not recommending it, I wouldn't worry about it. Trust me, you will find yourself waking up with every little change in the baby's sleep (sighs, movement, etc.) and sometimes for no reason at all. I would worry that the monitor would just disturb what little sleep you'll be getting in the next few weeks.

3. You can check the Consumer Reports website for ratings on car seats. We inherited a rear facing seat that was only a few months old and have since been using Gracos. They've been just fine and had good safety ratings.

4. We used some BPA-free plastic at first, and then switched to glass bottles. Both were fine, and I think if we have another we'll probably go with the glass from the start.

You will find that every decision feels incredibly fraught right now. I spent months obsessing over which was the "right" stroller, to the point of tears, and in the end, he never really used it much. Don't even get me started on the other stuff (toys, bouncy seats, swings, etc. etc. etc). This is even more so when you've been through the frightening experience of a premature birth, and when you haven't had those extra weeks before meeting your little person to prepare. You're going to find that your instincts work just fine, and that most of this stuff truly doesn't matter in the long run. Right now all you need are some diapers, something for the baby to eat, somewhere for the baby to sleep and some clothes that are easily washable, and hopefully easy to get on and off and a car seat so you can get that pumpkin home. For the rest of it, take some time to get to know your baby and you'll soon figure out what works for him and what works for you. You are all off on the best adventure together and you're going to do a great job (I can tell by the fact that you're pondering all of this now). Take good care of each other and enjoy your baby boy!
posted by goggie at 3:20 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The Pack 'n' Play will be fine, and if you find it doesn't work for you in the longer term, you can buy/order a crib or bassinet quickly without too much hassle.

If glass bottles are the most paranoid thing you do as a parent, you're fine. All first-time parents are a bit paranoid and most people will cut you some slack and cater to your first-timer whims. :) I think it's a little silly (for example) to wash a pacifier every time a six month old drops it on a relatively clean carpet (since he's rolling around on that same carpet and putting his mouth on it and his hands on it and his hands in his mouth), which my friend does every time, but you know what? It's HER baby and HER decision and I will happily wash that little pacifier exactly how she wants it washed, every single time. Lord knows I have my own parent paranoia other people have accommodated.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:24 PM on May 24, 2011

Best answer: Bassinet: small. For newborns and small infants. Easier to fit into a smaller space (such as near your bed), sometimes portable. Sometimes they rock back and forth. They tend to be shallow because young infants can't pull themselves up. That makes it easier to take the baby in and out without waking them.

Crib: sometimes used as a catch-all for "where baby sleeps". Larger than a bassinet. Usually big enough to last until they want a toddler/twin bed. The sides of the mattress relative to the height of the crib are either adjustable, or relatively high. This keeps you from having an escaping/falling baby/toddler. It makes it more difficult to put them in and out of the crib without waking them. Waking up a baby can suck if they are the type of baby who needs more help to get to sleep.

Co-sleeper: more like a bassinet, designed to make it as easy as possible for the baby to sleep right next to you while still maintaining the relative safety of extra-fitted sheets and a very firm mattress. Adjustable to bed height, one side is extra low/removable. Here's what we're getting.

Pack & play: portable playpen that can be used as a crib. The bassinet attachment, I have no experience with. Seems to be chosen for its portability and price. You can also use it for a safety measure if you need a place for your child to play while you cook or juggle knives. This is true of a crib as well but if you have a big place, it might be easier to have something that is on the same floor or in the same room, which is where the portability comes in. If baby travels it can be nice to have a familiar place to sleep. Hotel cribs aren't always up to snuff or available. It seems like it would be a hassle to get baby in and out.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:27 PM on May 24, 2011

Comgratulations! My first spent eight days in the NICU and it can be very stressful so I imagine it feels like information overload right now. That will get better. You're going to get so much conflicting information and anecdotal reviews on different parenting methods, products, baby 'equipment' and such that the only thing I can tell you to get that you will definitely need and use? A thick skin!

Enjoy him! Go to Babys R' Us and pick out gear you think you might like in the price points you can afford. Out of everything I did for the first several years of my childrens' lives, regretting the choices of beds/bottles/carseats ranks pretty low!
posted by pink candy floss at 3:28 PM on May 24, 2011

We used our Pack 'n' Play as a bassinet but found it was too low for a regular crib. Loved it for a portable crib and a playpen though.
posted by TooFewShoes at 3:29 PM on May 24, 2011

Best answer: Bottles: Find out what bottles and nipples the NICU has been using and use those. Same with formula (unless you have a medically indicated reason for something else or you really need to save cash.) Babies can be picky about that stuff and there's no reason to add more transition and change for your baby unless you have to.

If you decide to go with glass, get silicone sleeves for them. The riskiest situation I've ever been in with a baby involved broken glass. I was in bare feet and was holding the baby and had nowhere safe to put him down. I could have been seriously injured, I could have lost my balance trying to avoid the glass and fallen with a baby in my arms. I got out of the situation with a minor cut on my foot but it could have been a lot worse.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:37 PM on May 24, 2011

(I'm not saying not to breastfeed or give pumped milk, just that if your baby is already used to one formula it's best to stick with that.)
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:38 PM on May 24, 2011

1. We had a pack and play and a crib for our first, and I ended up only using the pack and play for a few days as a crib, I found it hurt my back too much bending all the way down to floor level every time. For the second, we bought a used Co-sleeper, and loved it. I used it for the first 8 months (beyond the recommended age, but he was still within it's weight restrictions). The crib is great once you want to move them into their own room, and it generally doesn't hurt the parent's back as much as a PnP does. I never used the PnP as a playpen, and found it too damn big to travel with (unless a car journey), so in the end it was kind of a waste for us, but YMMV.
2. I don't know anyone who has used one of the angel monitors, except for one person on a mailing list, who seemed happy with it. I totally understand how scary SIDS is, and having to move away from having that nice heartbeat monitor from the NICU. My sons weren't in the NICU and I wished we had the monitor. If you think it will make you feel better, then why not?
3. European cars, car seats, and car seat laws are completely different than US ones. Even from country to country. In the UK for example, children are turned around to be forward facing at 9 months, which is quite regressive in comparison to US thinking on car seat safety. In Sweden, children are kept rear-facing until well into toddlerhood. Also consider that using a non US-approved car seat in the US is illegal (although you are unlikely to get caught, unless you get pulled over by a sharp-eyed cop). Quite honestly I think a well-rated US car seat is fantastic, and as others have said, installing it properly is more than half the battle. If you want to read up at great length on car seat installation, choice, etc then have a look at car-seat.org, the forums are chiefly inhabited by qualified car seat install techs, and you can ask a question without registering if you like.
4. Glass bottles are great. I don't see a downside, so use them if you think you would like to. Lots of non-crazy people use them. You are not being paranoid, just exercising your judgement and making a choice.

Congratulations and have fun!
posted by Joh at 3:46 PM on May 24, 2011

I'm nthing everyone who's advised you against getting a heartbeat (or O2 sat, or respiratory rate) monitor. Did you ever spend a whole night in the NICU? Those things go off for no good reason all the time. They're meant to err way on the side of false positives, with the assumption that there's already someone awake in the room who can glance over. To get a good night's sleep, you'd have to set the tolerances so wide as to be useless.

However, if you do pick one up and then decide not to use it, send it my way. It would be one of the great joys of my life to take a sledgehammer to a Philips IntelliVue MP70 patient monitor.
posted by gurple at 3:52 PM on May 24, 2011

1. All of our kids have slept for as long as possible in a co-sleeper. Which is sort of Pack n Play/Bassinety but designed for sleeping next to the parent's bed. Any of the above will do for a while, but they eventually need a crib and then even more eventually a toddler bed. For now I'd ignore this, you'll figure out what works, and when it stops working you'll figure out the next thing.

2. The home monitors suck. The professional ones suck too. Worry about the back-to-sleep, beyond that there's not much you can do.

3. Any new carseat is going to be safe as long as it's used properly. So, look for a carseat that's easy to use, have it professionally installed, and watch the installer so that when you go to move it you can repeat what they're doing.

Take care of your self coming out of the NICU. It's going to be stressful. This thread has some good advice, but if you need someone to talk to feel free to MeMail me.
posted by togdon at 4:18 PM on May 24, 2011

BTW, the pack and play *with bassinet insert* is not at all too low. I was so puzzled in this thread until I figured out people meant without the insert! With the insert it's about the height of most bassinets.

We used a sidecar/cosleeper, a pack n play, and a standard crib all with our newborn ... all were fine. We eventually settled into a less chaotic routine. :) I have a pack and play similar to (same as?) the one you linked to. The insert is great.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:24 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Unsolicited advice: sign up for Amazon Mom if you like to shop online. You'll get 2 months of free Amazon Prime, plus another month each time you make a purchase of $25 of baby stuff. Prime = free 2-day shipping, no having to schlep out of the house with your preemie. It also lets you make these decisions at the comfort of your computer, with reviews and everything, rather than overwhelmed by the aisles and aisles of stuff at Babies R Us.
posted by katemonster at 4:25 PM on May 24, 2011 [9 favorites]

Just weighing in on glass bottles- I liked them for a sort of silly reason. I found them much easier to use when warming up refrigerated breast milk or formula since they didn't float around in the warm water.

I also found the pack and plays hard to use when the kids were infants because of the low level and depth. My wife is petite, and wasn't able to reach all the way to the bottom to get the baby out.
posted by uberfunk at 4:28 PM on May 24, 2011

Re: #2: when my son was brand new and I had terrible PPD and was freaking out about everything, the Angelcare monitor gave me the tiny extra peace of mind I needed to be able to sleep without thinking he'd die if I took my eyes off him. He was in a cosleeper right next to me, but I needed that extra reassurance. I say if it makes you more comfortable, do it. (and I was able to resell mine pretty easily.) (of course, in addition to, totally not as a substitute for, all of the other safe-sleeping practices.)

Congratulations on your baby!
posted by devotion+doubt at 4:53 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have no idea of how effective they actually are for detecting SIDS, but we've been using the Snuza Halo breathing monitors on our newborn twins and have been really impressed.

One of our bubs in particular goes a bit grey in his sleep and his breathing at times can be alarmingly shallow. Previously I was sceptical of such devices, but after these little events I've found great reassurance by having the monitors on. We've found these ones to be very easy to use and amazingly sensitive. We've had a few false alarms over the 2 months we've been using them (due to incorrect placement), but mostly they make me feel reassured that they are working.

They are not all that expensive, discrete, can be kept on at all times and are supposed to be effective for co sleeping also.
posted by bingoes at 5:11 PM on May 24, 2011

1. Pack N' Play: There's nothing wrong with putting your kiddo in a Pack N' Play, but it's probably not the best solution for a few reasons. Your baby will be low to the ground. If they're upset, it's more difficult to comfort them because they'll be hard to reach. It's also a but rougher on your back because you have to reach down so low to pick them up. It doesn't seem like a big deal, but remember you'll be doing this 1,000's and 1,000's of times! Whenever I take my daughter to visit somewhere overnight, she sleeps in a Pack N' Play, and seems to like it, I just don't think it's the most convenient thing for everyday use.

For the first 2 months, I put my daughter to sleep in the Rock N Play sleeper, which is sort of like a tiny, stand up bassinet. It's small enough to move around, so you can keep it in you room, or use it to transition to have them sleeping in their own room at some point.

2. I relate to your fear of SIDS, I definitely shared that fear as a new parent as well. Remember though, as scary as it seems, SIDS is actually a pretty rare occurrence. At some point you're going to need to weigh the piece of mind you get from a monitor with the need to sleep, for yourself and your child. I found all the lights, constant beeping, static, false alarms etc. from the monitor kept me waking up all the time, and also would disturb the baby sometimes. One of the best decisions I made was downgrading to just a simple audio baby monitor. If she cries, I hear her, but there aren't constant distractions keeping us both from sleeping.

3. I have a friend who works at Underwriters Laboratory, and tests things for safety for a living. He's told me that any modern, approved car seat that is properly installed is extremely safe. He places his own child in a US car seat.

Best of luck! You'll get the hang of being a parent before you know it, and your worries will start disappearing day by day.
posted by EvilPRGuy at 5:37 PM on May 24, 2011

Congrats on the new munchkin! We have the same PNP that you have linked to only in a different color. Our daughter is now 13 months and has been sleeping in it since birth. The bassinet part was good until she weighed a certain amount ( I want to say 15lbs but check your manual). She's been sleeping down at the bottom for 8 months now with no problem. I loved the changing station because we have a small apt. and it was nice to have the changing stuff contained in a small area. I agree that the mattress that comes with it is not comfy but the baby doesn't seem to care! I did get quilted sheets for it but that's a personal choice. The mattress is near the floor and I am just able to put a sleeping baby down in it (I am 5 foot 4) but I have a shorter relative who finds it hard to put her in without waking her. On the other hand, at this point she is good at putting herself to sleep so she can be put in bed awake anyway. What I love about the low mattress in the PNP is that I think she can sleep in it for at least another year before she'll be able to climb outta that thing and if she does tip it over by chance, it's a short trip to the ground. Also, the PNP can be packed up and taken along on trips so the baby has her familiar bed when traveling.

We used plastic bottles because they came with the breast pump. Good luck!
posted by bijou243 at 5:43 PM on May 24, 2011

We're taking the baby CPR class the hospital tonight and we know all the back to sleep stuff.

Good job, dude!

You're doing everything right. A lot of it is just preference...and new parents are HORRIBLE at telling others what they prefer. It comes off as "This is right...and I guess you don't care about your child that much if you don't do what I say".

If you can find sturdy glass bottles that won't break easily, I say do it.

BUT...as your baby is growing is will be harder for the baby to hold up a glass bottle vs plastic (weight).

posted by hal_c_on at 5:45 PM on May 24, 2011

Also...if you're worried about car seats (like a new parent)...Britax seats are kinda awesome.

I'm not saying they are any more safe than other APPROVED car seats...I'm saying that if you have the slim hips, you will be able to sit in it and feel how solid they are. 5 point harness, easy to get in the car, easy to put in another car, adjustable for every type of angle...excellent.

Again, I don't they are any more safer than other seats...but they do provide the illusion of "safer". And that helped me out a lot.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:47 PM on May 24, 2011

To (1) I think i'd go with using the car seat as a sleeper rather than a pack and play. In addition to car seats being designed with safety and sleep compatibility foursquare at the center of the design, car seats are extremely portable (a plus when you want to run to the store & the kid has racked out). Being low-income myself, I've known Lots of people, including us, who used the carseat as their primary bed for the kid for the first several months.
posted by Ys at 5:51 PM on May 24, 2011

When I was pregnant I worried about things like which car seat was best and whether to use cloth or disposable diapers. After the baby was born, you go with the flow of what your baby likes and don't worry (NO TIME) about having THE perfect bottle, crib, etc. There is no perfect answer to baby supply questions, at least that you can find beforehand because so much depends on YOUR baby, YOUR car, your bedroom, etc. Everyone says it, enjoy the baby as a baby, because it goes by to quickly. Everybody says it because it's true.

Good luck.
posted by daneflute at 6:01 PM on May 24, 2011

Congratulations on your bouncing baby boy!

Slight thread derail, if I may:
I'm just an aunt, not a parent, but there are a couple things I've learned. The first thing is that your choices --- baby monitors, cloth vs. disposable diapers, glass vs. plastic bottles, breast feeding vs. formula, etc. --- are *yours*, and you do not have to raise your child however BabyE's grandparents, aunts & uncles, neighbors or coworkers or whoever tells you to. Sure, they may have lots of experience, but this is your child, not theirs, no matter how well-meaning they may be.
When it comes to baby clothes, don't go overboard with a complete 'size 0 month' (or any infant size!) wardrobe: BabyE will grow amazingly fast!
posted by easily confused at 6:03 PM on May 24, 2011

0.) The bottom of the changing table must clear the nail on your big toe. This is very important.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 6:26 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

I am not sure what Angelcare sensors you speak about directly, but we used one that was a pad under the mattress, and went off if there was no movement. It only went off when we picked up the kid and forgot to turn it off. It was very accurate, and totally worth having for the "slightly" less stressful sleeping. I would recommend getting one (of those) but as always, it is not to replace careful monitoring of your child (by you!), only as secondary redundancy backup.
posted by lundman at 6:48 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm currently getting a list together for our first little one to arrive in a few months. I've recently read that the stuff they're replacing BPA with isn't much better than BPA -- so I'm definitely buying glass bottles, both for feeding and breastmilk storage. The reviews I've read all say that they're not that breakable.

I have one of those Angelcare monitors on my registry, but after reading the comments here, I might switch it for the Snuza. Both have great reviews on Amazon, and I'm thinking it might be worth it just for the peace of mind.
posted by statolith at 6:55 PM on May 24, 2011


Just wanted to chime in to say we had almost the exact same model of Pack N Play, which we chose because you could store diapers and clothing underneath while you're still using the bassinet. We ended up using ours for around 18 months, first with the Bassinet and then without, when we moved him into a toddler bed. It was a great solution for a tiny apartment. Our little guy's a skinny peanut, so by the time he was old enough to transition to the lower level, he was also mature enough to go in standing up and lie down on his own, so no back problems here - though I have to admit that in the mornings we would be super lazy and just unzip the bottom opening and let him crawl out if we wanted to stay in bed.
posted by Mchelly at 6:55 PM on May 24, 2011

If you are worried about the glass bottles breaking or being uncomfortable to hold, there are nifty silicone covers you can get to sort of cushion them. My kid was born before BPA was a Big Thing in the news but if I were having a baby today I would definitely use all glass bottles. Better for health, better for the environment. I don't think you're crazy for wanting to use them at all.

To resolve the car seat argument, I'd check with Consumer Reports. They publish safety rankings for car seats in the same way they do for cars. Personally I am all for buying the safest car seat you can reasonably afford (though you may want a second, cheap backup seat for a friend or a grandparent's car in case of emergency), but I wouldn't assume that a car seat was safer just because it's made in Europe; you might find that there are U.S. brands that are just as safe if you do a little research on stats. But it's possible your wife has already done this.

Also on the car seat, for convenience's sake, I really loved our infant car seat travel system back when my kid was a baby; it was sooooo easy to click that infant seat out of the car and into the stroller when he was sleeping without waking him up. Even though we had to buy a bigger convertible car seat later on I felt like the travel system was totally worth it when he was a newborn. (Anything that helps a baby stay asleep when you want the baby to be asleep is wonderful.)

I loved our Pack N Play and did use it as a bassinet for a while, but it definitely is not a replacement for a full-sized crib. Once the baby outgrows the little bassinet attachment thingy, as others have said, it's quite a strain on your back to get your kid in and out of the thing.

If you really want to keep an eye / ear on the baby at night, but you're not into the co-sleeping situation, rather than buying a bunch of expensive monitors, I would personally consider putting the baby's regular crib in your room for the first few months, if it will fit. This is not just so you can obsessively check to make sure the baby is still breathing (which, hey, I totally did for the first couple of weeks, too). Newborns absolutely NEED to eat at night, and it is waaaay easier to stumble back into bed after feeding a baby if the baby is in the same room as your bed.
posted by BlueJae at 9:15 PM on May 24, 2011

To (1) I think i'd go with using the car seat as a sleeper rather than a pack and play. In addition to car seats being designed with safety and sleep compatibility foursquare at the center of the design, car seats are extremely portable (a plus when you want to run to the store & the kid has racked out). Being low-income myself, I've known Lots of people, including us, who used the carseat as their primary bed for the kid for the first several months.

Being in a car seat can cause breathing problems: sitting upright in that way can compress the airway in an infant. That's why babies being released from the NICU often have to pass a car seat challenge (less awesome than it sounds: they have to sit in the car seat without having an episode of apnea for 30 minutes) before they can go home. I don't know how much of a real concern the compressed airway thing is for a healthy term infant, but for a preemie, they should spend less time in a car seat (or any convenience device), not more.

OP: I feel like I'm always recommending stretchy wraps (like a Moby) in newborn threads, but it was a lifesaver for us and our preemie. You can tote them around snuggly warm and upright against your chest, it is (IMO - but I think research backs me up here) safer for someone with semi-questionable breathing skills than any kind of carry where they curl up, and your breathing helps regulate their breathing.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 9:36 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

WOW! Congratulations!

Just a heads up, when it's time to bring your child home, things may feel weird. If you start feeling anxious, it's completely normal. My wife and I brought home our preemie twins after having them in the NICU for four months, and it can be a very odd and overwhelming feeling to bring your kid home from the hospital.

If they're sending your kid home, it means he hasn't had a brady in a while. Take that for what it's worth, but if having a monitor helps you feel better, by all means get one. Anything to help you try to hold onto whatever scraps of peace of mind you may have is worth it.

Bassinet in your bedroom would probably be the best way to go in the beginning. Anything to reduce the amount of time you have to spend thinking, because you will not be able to think. Also, it helps with the peace of mind. Priceless.

Glass bottles like Doc Brown's are great. But they're a project to clean with all the parts. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but one Doc Brown's tends to take up a bit of room on the drying rack. If you do go with plastic, we found that the weird elbow-shaped Playtex bottles work great for reducing gas with a minimum of leaks.

Our boys are now 19 months gestational/15 months corrected. If you have any other questions, please feel free to PM me.

You're doing great! He'll be home before you know it!
posted by hgswell at 10:00 PM on May 24, 2011

Best answer: congrats! glad you're getting to bring baby home soon!

1) if your P&P will have the bassinet insert, disregard warnings about being too far down to set/reach baby. it does have a hammock effect and won't be useful past 20# (if not before - the swaying effect for heavier infants may discourage their attempts to sit up on their own). difference between types was explained well above in several places. we used an Arm's Reach Mini Co-sleeper with a Snuggle Nest (in bed with me until she was solidly asleep, then moved in the nest into the co-sleeper) until she was too big for those. tried to put her in the P&P to sleep but she doesn't find it comfortable. probably going to end up having to buy a crib - so wish I'd known to ask for the regular-sized co-sleeper!). if you end up crib shopping, remember that drop-sides are more dangerous. (I found this site helpful)

3) I don't know about safer, but they do fit better in small cars. I started with a Safety 1st given by a friend, but it required the front seats to be too far forward. then used a Cosi gifted by step-mother - too big to fit in backseat of compact as rear-facing. finally bought a Chicco Keyfit 30 myself and it's perfect. she's snug as a bug, it was easy to set up properly, and there's room for other adults in the car.

4) you're not overly paranoid. do it! you'll need the kind with silicon sleeves. we bought the First Years Breastflow bottles because the lactation consultant recommended it to avoid nipple confusion. but now that I know the BPA-free status might be a smokescreen for another, potentially worse chemical...yeah, wish I'd used glass. do note that some daycares don't allow glass bottles.

seconding the Amazon Mom thing, also: I order a couple of things that need replacing regularly as well as having used it extensively to fill in what we needed after she came home and it's totally worth it.
posted by batmonkey at 2:39 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Congratulations! I've had my wee girl home for four weeks now after 34 days in the NICU. From my experience:

- I hated, hated, hated the monitors. I found them the opposite of reassuring, as every time I held her and she or I moved they would go off. Or just randomly go off with no apparent cause. The NICU is a loud, loud place (I always wanted to yell out "level up" when the deafening oxygen monitors went off, but that would have been inappropriate) and I felt that the first month of my baby's life had been so medicalised, I was ecstatic when we could leave that behind.

- Is/ was your son fed intravenously, or through an NGT (tube through his nose)? Is he very small? If either or both of these things are true he might have a lot of trouble feeding, and a full feed might take a long time (preemies, tiny babies and babies who are initially fed with assistance usually have trouble feeding normally - they get very tired sucking and fall asleep frequently). My wee girl takes 1 1/2 to 2 hours for a feed, whether breast or bottle, so weight of the bottle is a factor. If you do want to try breastfeeding, I've found nipple shields invaluable - it's like a straw for your boobs for your baby's tiny mouth.

- Consider a sling. I have the Cybex Ugo and it's great. I haven't bought a pram yet, the sling is just fine for all 4lb of my girl, and it's great for even just wearing her around the house when she won't settle.

Best of luck! While you think your boy's time in the NICU was hard, your adventures are just beginning!

posted by goo at 5:02 AM on May 25, 2011

Crap, that was fine in preview.
posted by goo at 5:03 AM on May 25, 2011

OK, hope I can add a little to what's already been written:

2) We were given an Angel Care monitor when our eldest was born. We threw away the "breathing sensor" after the first use. Too many false alarms. Useless rubbish.

3) We had two of these: Britax First Class car seats. They worked fine from birth till about 2 1/2 for our kids. They are adjustable from reverse, fully-reclined, to forward facing and are super easy to fit in most cars.

Also, the single most useful thing we bought for our kids was a sling like this.
posted by col at 5:23 AM on May 25, 2011


My baby was in NICU for 5 days for desaturating, and I *loved* liked the Angelcare monitor. It seemed to go dodgy after about 3 or 4 months and start doing false positives, but it may have been related to our fan - I never investigated further because then we were becoming much more relaxed anyway. Now we just use it as a normal audio monitor.

My understanding is that it doesn't protect against SIDS per se, because SIDS can have different/unclear causes, but it could conceivably alert you to suffocation (which is not the same as SIDS, I think). Anyway, it's just for peace of mind. You'll be checking the baby a million times a night anyway, but if it lets you get just a tiny bit more sleep, it's worth it.

Oh and, this thread is making me feel bad about using plastic bottles :( I had never heard the BPA replacement was risky.

Also seconding the nipple shields, if you happen to need them. I don't think the new ultra-thin silicon ones affect supply much at all - certainly didn't harm mine even after several months of use.
posted by 8k at 7:18 AM on May 25, 2011

Best answer: By the way, here's the article I read that persuaded me to get glass bottles. It's mostly speculation, but since I don't like plastic and prefer glass anyway (and it's probably more eco-friendly), it wasn't a hard choice for me to make.
The Environmental Protection Agency has a voluntary program that is evaluating BPS and 17 other possible substitutes for thermal paper, but has not yet completed its analysis. Until it does, it will not endorse any alternatives.

In the few, limited tests conducted outside the United States, BPS shows estrogenic activity — not as strong as BPA, but not a good sign. BPS is now used in the United States to make PES (polyethersulfone) plastic. Some baby bottles marketed as BPA-free use PES plastic.
posted by statolith at 8:09 AM on May 25, 2011

I just realised that I completely misunderstood your question about car seats, doh. I thought someone was recommending that you import a European car seat to the US, but I think you actually meant US-sold European-brand car seats. Sorry about that, need more coffee. Forget about brand snobbery, just check safety ratings. I have no great love for Consumer Reports, and they did make a stupid boo-boo with their car seat testing a few years ago, but the results were actually quite fascinating. So check what their top-rated infant car seats are, and then focus on getting it installed correctly.
posted by Joh at 8:27 AM on May 25, 2011

Truly, congratulations on the impending homecoming!

Just wanted to weigh in and say that we used this Pak n Play from Graco right next to our bed for the first 3 months of our daughter's life on the higher setting, then moved her to a crib but retained the Pak n Play on the lower setting for quick moments (like when you have a pot boiling over, bathroom, etc.) or for travel. On the higher setting (note: this is not a bassinet), both my husband and I never experienced any back pain and we're tall. It's been great for travel, or for when we have guests and need to use her room for visiting folks. I'd recommend it highly since it's multipurpose and can grow with the child, and you can find them used at baby consignment stores if they have those in your area.
posted by thenewbrunette at 8:48 AM on May 25, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you all so much, this has been amazing thread. I think I'm going to print it out for my wife to read at the NICU tonight. I promise I'll come back and mark best answers as soon as I can.
posted by exhilaration at 12:33 PM on May 25, 2011

1) I haven't used a Pack n Play, but I know people who have and they're totally fine as a short-term thing, but I wouldn't think you or baby would like it long term. We use a co-sleeper, which is similar in that it's collapsible, but it's much smaller and attaches to our bed. I recommend it highly for new parents who want to keep baby close by during that newborn "eating all the time" stage. This is a sort of bassinet, which is a small bed for baby that goes in the parents' room. Cribs are solid pieces of furniture and are usually used in baby's own room.

2) We didn't get a monitor, but I've heard really good things about video monitors. A friend got a sort of bed-monitor that went under the crib mattress and would sort of vibrate the baby awake if s/he didn't move for a certain period of time - the idea being that it would keep the baby from falling asleep too heavily and help prevent SIDS. She really felt like it eased her mind a ton. Since my own son sleeps right next to me and he snores so much that I know if he stopped breathing, I haven't used anything like this.

3) We have a Maxi-Cosi infant seat and I personally love it because it's *lighter* than the American carrier seats. It's safe, reasonably attractive, and baby's comfy in it. Any new car seat should be fine - things you want to think about in addition to safety rating are if you have a stroller travel "system" for it to attach to and how heavy it is to lug around if you don't.

4) I hear good things about the Born Free glass bottles. We use Avent BPA free bottles and I have no worries about them.

And congrats on the little one! :)
posted by sonika at 6:29 PM on May 25, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you for the suggestions about the boppy pillow. My wife says it's a huge help when breastfeeding.

We did go with glass bottles, we got the Dr. Brown's ones. Buy Buy Baby only had the giant 200 ml ones, we found smaller 100 ml ones at Babies R Us.

We got the Sunza Halo monitor suggested above. We know it may not prevent SIDS (thought it's got a vibration feature to nudge the kid to a higher level of wakefulness if breathing stops) but we feel a million times better hearing the click every time our baby breathes. We can step out of the room and hear it via the baby monitor and know he's OK.

My mother in law got us a Safety 1st car seat + stroller combo from Costco for cheap, like $150 or $170. I paid the $6 for access to the consumer reports website, as suggested above, and saw that it was very well rated.
posted by exhilaration at 11:47 AM on June 6, 2011

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