I have come to the conclusion that the best gadget in the world, ever, for saving your sanity when you have a baby is this:
Yes, readers, I am talking about the humble motorcar. The magical, sleep-inducing, cry-preventing machine that is, with any luck, sitting right outside of your front door or maybe at the side of the road in a residents’ bay or in a parking space behind your house. If you have a car and a new baby and have not yet tried the alchemy that is “placing a screaming baby in the back and starting the engine” then you must do this right now. See how the screams almost instantly cease. Feel the life pour back into your body, your headache disappear, see your strained relationship with your partner suddenly fix itself as your eyes meet in the rear-view mirror and the car gently follows the curve where the M40 feeds into the M25. (Yes, friends, sometimes you have to travel far, just to keep them sleeping!)
If you do not have a car and ever, ever needed an excuse to find a way of acquiring one, then this is it. If you can’t drive and ever, ever needed the motivation to learn, then – again – this is it. Even if you buy a 1984 Peugeot 405 (fifty quid, Autotrader) with no wheels and stick it on the driveway (Oh Hi, neighbours!) you’ll be winning in the baby-soothing department – though I’m still not sure which part babies love; the vibrations of the engine or the sound of the road beneath the tyres…
I always thought that the “driving baby about in the middle of the night” thing was a bit of a cliché, a method of getting babies to sleep used only by those with particularly screechy, angsty babies. But as anyone with a baby that has cried at them full-volume for more than approximately forty-five seconds knows, it only takes a minute of this stressful screaming for your brain to go into full-on can’t-cope meltdown. When a baby is red-faced and shouting at you at midnight and you’re completely knackered, it’s almost impossible to think of things to offer as a comfort or distraction – you’ve fed, changed, burped and cuddled the baby but you just need the crying to stop.
By the way, I use the Cybex Aton Q car seat – it’s bloody brilliant. I think it provides the most “laid-flat” baby position on the market (or something) and so it’s great for when the baby is really small. And it has been designed, also, with premature babies in mind, and the insert kind of cocoons them. You can find the Aton Q at Mothercare here.