Amity Kramer is a childbirth expert and Doula trainer in Seattle at Thresholds who has helped thousands of parents prepare for parenthood. We are honored that she provided her expertise and guidance during the development of the Juno Bassinet to ensure that we were creating a healthy, safe, and simple solution for newborn sleep. We sat down and asked Amity for advice on becoming a new parent.
Q: What tip do you have for an expecting parent?
A: Have a more expansive timeline of the postpartum period. This can reduce the destructive feelings of self-doubt and shame that come about with unrealistic expectations. My ultimate tip for expecting parents is to take it slow and allow time to tune into your body and the wise intuition that is inside. It can take many months, or even years to gain an understanding and comfort in the new identities that come with parenting. Each step of parenting is a new layer of unknown and relearning.
Q: What are the main concerns parents have when bringing a baby home on the first night?
A: “Is my baby getting enough to eat?” That is the most common question. It would be nice if babies came with a gauge that allowed parents to know exactly how much milk a baby drank. Without a gauge parents have to depend on information in the form of dirty diapers, watching the baby's behavior, and following their own intuition at a time when they are exhausted! We live in an age of instant information. It is a big shift for parents to wait and watch while not knowing. Learning about what to expect from your newborn before they arrive can help reduce stress in the early days of parenting.
Q: What are the characteristics of a safe sleeping environment?
A: Safe sleep environment involves a lot of common sense. Within the first minute a baby is born they have to start doing a number of bodily functions all on their own! Breathing oxygen is one of those functions that grown-ups can easily take for granted, but for babies, it’s a brand new skill. When I think about a safe sleep environment I often connect it to thinking logically about what could be done to make it harder for a baby to breathe (don’t do those things!) and what can be done to make it easier for a baby to breathe (do these things).
If you think about ease of breathing vs. difficulty breathing it’s pretty simple. Also, remember that: babies have huge heads and can’t do things like control their bodies, roll over from side to side or push a pillow away.
The basics are:
- Lay babies down ON THEIR BACKS on a firm, flat surface
- Have the baby sleep in a room with a grown-up
- Keep the bed clear of loose blankets, sheets, stuffed toys, or crib bumpers
Q: What do you look for in a quality baby product, specifically for infants?
A: The first thing I look for is a fake promise. Any promise about some sort of baby magic is probably going to work for some babies and not others. I see families spend so much money trying to chase having everything perfect and a baby that never cries, never has gas, and always sleeps when parents want them to. Well, there is not any baby product that can do all of that. All babies are perfect and good and most will have gas, cry, and have some sleepless nights.
Q: What tip do you have for new parents in helping a baby go to sleep?
A: This is a funny question because I have raised three children and only one was a dream sleeper. I did the same approach with all of them and got VERY different results. Babies need a lot of loving care and attention during the day AND at night. For the first few weeks, the best thing to do is follow the baby's lead on the eat, sleep, wake cycles and just do what you can to keep yourself fed, and rested, to facilitate bonding with the baby. When you gain confidence in the basics, one thing parents can do is establish a pattern when getting a baby down to sleep. There is no right way to do this. A simple bedtime routine could include: dimming the lights, counting their adorable toes, getting them in a swaddle or sleep sack, saying “sleep well, I love you”, then singing one round of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Putting a child to bed is not a chore. It can be a time of creativity and connection that is enjoyable for everyone involved.
Q: Where can parents reach you?
- Amity Kramer