OK, maybe you do, but chances are, your infant does not.┬áThis is another item that is on a lot of “get this for your baby” lists and, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why. That didn’t stop me from trying to settle on one before Astrid was born though, just in case. Let me save you the trouble: skip it.

The one caveat is if you live in the desert or at high altitude. If you do, check with your OB or your pediatrician (if you have one already) to see if they recommend one for newborns in your specific area, but I’m betting s/he’ll say, “No.”

I’m not saying you’ll never need one. You may, when (and if) your baby gets sick. That’s it. Croup or a bad cough or the like and your pediatrician will recommend slanting little Tyrone’s crib mattress up and turning on a humidifier to help him breathe and sleep better. Until then, you won’t need one (unless, as I say, you live somewhere parched and your doctor says so).

Don’t worry about preparing for that eventuality before it happens: humidifiers are relatively inexpensive ($20-60) and available everywhere (drugstores, Target, Amazon, etc.) Worst case scenario, you stop by a Walgreens on your way from the pediatrician’s when she told you to get one. See? You’re done.

If you are just dying to have one, or you definitely need one right this instant, I’ll put in my recommendation for the Crane Drop Shape Cool Mist. (Most places recommend cool mist vs. warm. Our pediatrician says it doesn’t matter which, but I went with majority opinion.) We have one and it works as intended without too much noise or fuss. (Reviews on pretty much every model I looked at ranged from, “This is perfect!” to, “This is terrible (for one reason or another,” so abandon the thought that you’re going to find one that everyone likes.)

On the Crane, you can adjust the mist nozzle’s direction vs. having to turn the whole unit to redirect the mist, which is slightly convenient. It does have a visible light when it’s on, but it’s not irritatingly bright, and its, “I’m working!” hum is minimal. One note: if you have it on full blast, as we did during Astrid’s bout of croup, you will want to put some towels down in the path of the mist to protect your floor or carpet.

Crane Drop Shape Cool Mist Humidifier, $45 at Amazon

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Bath Thermometer

January 6, 2012

OK, so seriously: you do not need a bath thermometer. Unless, of course, your hands and arms are coated with asbestos from that incident at the power plant that one time, in which case, yes, go ahead and get a bath thermometer.

Yes, infant bath time is stressful. I’m with you. I put it off for a long time. An unnaturally long time, really. Like two weeks. And then I got help from our postpartum doula. And then I waited another ten days before the next bath, when it took, like twenty minutes of prep time and two adults to bathe a seven-pound infant. I get it.

The first thing on the anxiety list is scalding your new little baby in those terrible, dangerous waters. You know: the same ones that we all bathe ourselves in daily without incident.

I don’t mean to make light of this – you should absolutely be very careful about the water temperature in your baby’s bath – but this is one of those things where your fear should lead you towards the use of common sense and caution, not the purchase of an additional gadget. Especially ones that work as poorly as infant bath thermometers.

Here’s how the DIY, no-gadget bath extravaganza works:

Step 1: Run the bath.

Step 2: Stick your elbow in it to see if it’s too hot* (your hands’ skin is a little too weathered to read the temp for a baby’s new skin)

Step 3: Adjust the temperature as needed.

Step 4: Put your baby in toes first, to give her a chance to pull them out if it’s uncomfortable. (I used to yell, “Tootsies first!” every time I dipped Astrid’s toes in the tub. I sounded like a crazy person from the 1950’s, but the habit stuck and it works, so just be quiet.)

That’s it. You’re done.

Think of it this way: you’re just as likely to forget to put the thermometer in the tub to test the water as you are to forget to test it yourself, so there’s no savings to your memory bank. If you’re really worried you’ll forget to dip your elbow in before the baby, put a Post-It on the infant tub, your bathroom mirror and her towel to remind yourself. Or write it in Sharpie on Junior’s tummy.

Trust yourself. It’s going to be fine.

*”Too hot” = any level of discomfort for your elbow. I erred on the side of lukewarm for a long time even though our infant care class instructor said repeatedly that warm/hot is OK. Do what you’re comfortable with – but do make sure it’s not chilly: you don’t want to swing wide and give your baby a cold!