Jun
28
2011

  Black & White Box for Wakeful Baby

I was reading the newborn chapter in a baby care book I had, and it had some tips for wakeful babies. I think M is in this category, sort of. The wakefulness continuum for newborns is from 2 to 12 hours per day (meaning some babes sleep 22 hours per day, others 12). This is per the book I'm reading, I have no idea what the distribution on this is in real life. Max sleeps a fair amount, but he is also awake for long stretches of time. He doesn't sleep and wake in regular cycles like W did. I try to "sleep when the baby sleeps" to make up for the nighttime feedings when, but when M is up from say 7:30am through noon, I can't always make it that far without a nap. So I sleep when the baby is awake.

M is such a good baby that he just lies in bed next to me looking around while I snooze, but I do feel a little bad for not being more interactive when he's awake. Baby book to the rescue. It seems that many parents with "wakeful" babies don't quite know what to do with them for such long stretches, and these babes wind up lying in their beds alone for stretches of time. This is not the end of the world, but the author does suggest some things to liven up the environment for baby when you can't be interactive yourself. One of the suggestions was to put black and white pattern cards where the baby could see them.

I have a baby book that is black & white silhouettes, so I started with that. When M was laying next to me, awake, I propped the book up about 8-10" from his eyes (the newborn focal distance) and sure enough, he seemed very interested in it! After a few minutes, I'd reach over and turn the page so he could see some new shapes.

But the book is not patterns, which the baby book author said are particularly engaging to newborns; patterns are the most interesting thing for newborns to look at after human faces (which are most interesting). Since I don't plan on getting out of the house until next week, and if I recall correctly from when I was shopping for infant things for W the black & white pattern cards are inexplicably way more expensive than the regular flash cards for kids. So I figured I'd make my own.

I have TONS of leftover birth announcements from W (I used a commercial printer and they sent me the overruns for free) so I flipped the cards to use the blank back side (except for one side where I used the baby photo) to assemble a cube with a different black & white pattern on each side. I just used a permanent marker, packing tape, and an x-acto knife to score the edges square. The whole project only took a few minutes. Of course, by the time I finished M was sleeping, so I don't yet know how he likes this.

I may keep some extra cards and the markers handy by my bedside, and make some regular flat cards with various patterns. I'll see if I can't find some examples online to give me ideas of more patterns to make.