Newborn Product Review: The Soothers

MamarooCollage

I worked briefly for a parenting website and stored many, many bookmarked pages of cool baby stuff. One of those pages was the 4moms website and specifically the Mamaroo.

Mamaroo

It moves in lots of different ways and has white noise options with many different white noises. We keep it in our living room and plop Gabe down in it when we need to run and grab something in the kitchen, when we’re eating dinner, or sometimes when he needs a nap. When he was very very new, the mamaroo was not his bag. I mean, it was fine as a “set him down for 5 minutes so I can pee” type of thing, but as far as “soothing” goes it wasn’t awesome. But I’ll talk about soothing a little more in a second. My biggest pro for the mamaroo is that it does a lot of things and I never felt compelled to get any other kind of swing or vibrating chair or anything else. And in my space-saving, money-conscious mind, that is a really big pro.

Now that he is very nearly out of the newborn stage and into the full on baby stage the mamaroo is coming in very handy. He loves to look at the mobile. He stares at it, mesmerized. He will nap in it when he is fussy, and the white noise machine has been a life saver on many a fussy-baby-needs-sleep-but-refuses occasions.

But! Because this is a NEWBORN product review – I would have to say it kind of wasn’t worth the space it takes up or the money up until this point. If he needed the comfort of mom then he needed to be in the front pack or all curled up on my chest like a little tree frog. The mamaroo was never going to cut it if what baby really needed was … mom. And this segues into my issue with things that claim to “soothe.”

With my experience with Gabe, soothing just prolonged his fussyness. If he cried it was because he wanted something specific. The faster I figured out what that was, the faster he stopped crying. There was a period of fussyness where I think he was growing, and that was shitty, but it was also 1.5 weeks of a one-off. If I tried pacifiers or the mamaroo during normal times I would maybe get him to shut up for a few minutes, but it would ultimately turn his whiny cries into full on meltdown city later on. In the beginning we would try to use the mamaroo when he was crying, but all it did was frustrate the entire house. If he needed to be fed, I needed to feed him. If he needed to be rocked, I needed to rock him. It sounds weird, like maybe the baby runs the house and maybe we should teach him to stop being such a … baby… about everything.

Hi Gabe, can you please quit it with the demands already?

But the reality is: he needs what he needs when he needs it, and the faster Kamel and I learned what was up, the less Gabe cried and the more put-together our house became. No amount of soothing items made our life with a newborn more manageable. And I think that is kind of a panic-ridden sentence if you are about to give birth. It would have totally freaked me out to read that, because… you mean… there is nothing that fixes things so that I can get some peace and quiet for 15 minutes?! Well… there is… it just isn’t magical and it takes work. It’s all part of getting to know your kid. And it does very much help that time marches on and they stop being such broken little humans like they are during the first 6 weeks, holy hell.

But! (And this is a huge but.) Every single kid is different. From my experience, the mamaroo was a nice place to put the baby and during certain times he liked the motions and he passed out cold with the white noise and the older he has gotten the better the usage has become. Some kids, though, live for the swing, some for the vibrate-y chair. I just don’t think, in my limited experience, that soothers are necessary for a newborn. They just want you, they just want food and naps and diaper changes. So do you need it? No. Do I need it? Not really. Is it nice to have somewhere to put him that is not the floor and not his crib (before a playpen is useful), yes. But overall, meh. And that is that.

12 thoughts on “Newborn Product Review: The Soothers”

  1. “With my experience with Gabe, soothing just prolonged his fussyness. If he cried it was because he wanted something specific. The faster I figured out what that was, the faster he stopped crying”

    Ok, on the one hand the idea that soothing objects/chairs/etc don’t help is quite terrifying when thinking about a newborn. But this makes sense – it’s like treating a symptom rather than an underlying condition.

    This makes me really curious though as to where you and Kamel fall on the baby sleep spectrum with the whole letting him cry it out idea.

    1. Our night time routine is this: baby goes down between 8-9 after last feeding and he will sleep for about 5ish hours (this has greatly increased from 1.5-2hours at the beginning). When he makes sucking noises or chirps/fusses I (usually) poke Kamel to go get the baby. Kamel changes baby and then brings him to me to feed. Then Kamel burps the baby and puts him back in his crib. We do this because sometimes when I burp him it just makes him mad because he can still smell milk on me.

      At about 3 weeks we noticed that Gabe was slowly refusing to sleep in his crib and only wanted to sleep being held. This was greatly reducing our sleep and making us crazy. At the newborn stage you can’t really let them cry it out because they will never stop crying until they feel completely abandoned. Real sleep training happens later on, but I could see a bad bad pattern arising and I wanted to nip it in the bud as soon as possible. So we pseudo-sleep trained for 1 night. This is what we did: Baby was fed, Kamel burped him, then placed him in the crib. When baby cried to be held, we stayed with him in the crib petting his head and giving him a pacifier. The first round took 30 minutes for Gabe to sleep. The second round took 10 minutes, then after that he slept in his crib. From then on out he knows when it is night time and sleeps in his crib when we put him down.

      Of course there are one-offs. When he is REALLY tired and a mess sometimes he throws little tantrums, but we stand at the crib with a pacifier and he will sleep in 15 minutes or so. We just stay really consistent and figured out what worked for him and stuck with it.

  2. I feel pretty lucky that I didn’t have a crier. I mean she cried. She still cries, but as you have said, there was usually a reason and if I could figure it out, she stopped. At 8 weeks old she cried every evening for about a week, until we realized, she just wanted to go to bed earlier, for example. There was a 2 week period when she started teething where she woke up several times a night sobbing, until we realized that her teeth HURT, and she just needed some tylenol already. Man, it’s going to be awesome when she can tell me what she wants – which at 16 months she still mostly can’t.

    I think for us, the “soothers” weren’t really for Frances, as much as they were for us. We had a hand-me-down swing, and it was a life saver for when I just needed to pee/use both arms/have a few minutes break from the constant mommy/baby time. It is sort of crazy though that these things (that cost a decent amount of money) are really helpful for a few months and then they are totally over them. I’m not sure that we would have spent the money on the swing, or a bouncer, but I was happy to get them as loaners and use them.

  3. So this brings up a question for me that, in my ignorance, I hadn’t even considered yet. What do you do with the baby when you are the only adult at home and you need to go pee/shower/cook and the baby is not sleeping? And you don’t have a swing or vibrate chair, etc? I think I better figure this out soon…

    1. I’ve found I can just lay him down in his crib or a blanket on the floor, etc. I try to get showers and cooking in when he’s sleeping if I can, but if he’s having a particularly “awake” day, then sometimes he’ll just have to wait for a little bit.

      If he isn’t thrilled about that, I just tell myself in the shower, “Oh darn, a perfectly safe, well-fed baby might have to cry for five or ten minutes. Not like that’s ever happened in history before.” 😉

      1. Oh thank you for this comment! I was hoping putting the baby in the crib might do the trick. 🙂 We are trying to avoid buying too much baby stuff, especially in the beginning, because we just moved into a fairly small condo.

  4. thanks for doing this review! ever since i saw it on your list of things you bought, I’ve been wondering if it was helpful! so thanks so much!

  5. I’m still so torn on the mamaroo. If it were cuter (not into the patterns and colors the seat comes in), I might be swayed to just buy it. But it doesn’t make me squee and I’m like maybe I’ll just plop them in a glider thing that costs half as much.

  6. Have you seen the book The Wonder Weeks? They have a theory that babies have fussy periods (for the first twenty months of life) that correspond with major mental and physical developments. The first is at 5 weeks and the last at 72 weeks. It happens when they learn things like ‘patterns’ and ‘systems’ and all the other ways to make sense of the world – and because it’s new and weird and scary they freak out and get fussy. Dear Boy seems to have corresponded with pretty much all of them. It’s a great book (with warning signs as well as appropriate games and toys, during those phases as well as the types of skills they’re mastering). There’s even an app which sends you an alarm when a fussy period is coming 🙂

    It’s my go-to baby recommendation. As well as Love to Dream summer swaddle suits (but that’s another story).

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