I’ve climbed some of the biggest mountains around the world, from Alaska to the Alps to North India. Along the way I tested gear for Black Diamond, and learned early on that I had a small obsession for discovering the right approach, and the right tools, for every situation. This is a worthy challenge in mountaineering because the conditions are so variable, changing from day to day, and within each day as sun, wind, and precipitation constantly reshape your world.
Today I have enough gear to outfit a small expedition, thanks in part to an especially adept climbing expert named Mitch, who escaped New York for the Black Hills many years ago. Each time I was planning my own escape he helped with the game plan, hooking me up with lighter axes, avalanche beacons that actually worked, a tent that could handle anything. He discovered the now-famous wool company Icebreaker for me, and we’ve since become friends with its founder Jeremy Moon.
All this equipment is waiting patiently for me now, in closets from New York to Switzerland and France. My search for the right layers, tools, and technologies is far from complete, but I have a new role, that’s carrying me through a whole new set of challenges, to a whole new set of heights.
A New Role
In February my baby daughter Daisy was born, and quickly I’ve discovered a couple of things. One is,
What a mom does to create and support life
is beyond imagination.
And she does it with a naturalness and breathtakingly beautiful ease, through the same degree of difficulty
as swimming an avalanche on K2.
So very quickly I’ve learned that I’m happily in the supporting role here, doing everything I can to clear the path and make things just a little easier for my wife Tara and baby.
The second thing I’ve discovered is I have a whole new set of conditions to consider as I sherpa my wife and baby along here. Things like sleep and food, comfort at home and on the road, the right outfit, the best transport system. Just like on the mountain, these conditions – along with the right solutions – are continuously changing. And for this expedition team – Tara, Daisy, and me – the right gear makes all the difference, every step of the way.
Breaking Your Own Trail
There are some critical items I’ve found for help in the key areas of Sleep, Food, Clothing, Transport, and Home, and I’ll keep sharing what I discover with you here.
I got here through the extreme patience of my equipment testers Daisy and Tara, the support of good friends like MindBodyGreen founders Jason and Colleen Wachob, who opened up the trail a month ahead with their own baby girl, along with some extensive research at local stores and of course online.
Some gear I left on the mountain after first use, like that pair of boots which failed me miserably on a Mount Washington winter climb. Some of it was good but not great. And we’re always looking for great.
Keep in mind that what works for some people, even many people, might not work for you and your baby. So even more than the Best of the Bests I’m sharing here,
Take this spirit of exploration and discovery
with you as you go on your big adventure.
Try things, see what works,
adapt and evolve in real time.
It’s how you become the world’s leading expert on you and your baby. It’s still a challenging climb. But this way you get to enjoy every step.
The Best of the Best : Sleep
Everyone knows you won’t get so much with a new baby. But good sleep is important both for you and your baby, and you can dramatically improve conditions for everyone with the right gear.
There are three main advantages you can give you and your baby for good sleep, that cover your whole day. The first two are for night-time: the right swaddle, and a bassinet that does some of the rocking for you. The third is a good chair, for your baby’s daytime rest and relaxation. The remaining items – things like a noise machine, music, clothing, mattress – all fall into the support category, which I’ll cover in a later post.
The Right Swaddle
Let’s talk about the swaddle first. You’ll discover soon enough that your baby continually wakes up through involuntary movement of arms and legs, keeping sleep shorter and lighter than it can be. The swaddle is a comforting and long-tested approach for dampening this movement, enough that your baby (and you) get the best possible rest time.
For me, Daisy would happily try a new swaddle – whether it was a simple blanket-wrapping technique, or a more structured system. And this happy period would last anywhere from a few minutes to a few days, before she would set out to defeat the system. A born gear-tester. So we spent some time together finding the right one.
A couple made the Best of the Best list. One is a swaddle for your first months. The second is a motion-dampening suit, that helps with the transition from swaddle to to complete freedom.
The Right Bassinet
You’ll discover pretty quickly that your baby enjoys having you around. This is pretty cool. At the same time, you’ll find that over-presence might keep your baby awake more than needed, which leads to over-tired and not so happy. So you’re looking for the right balance. And when nighttime roles around, once you know your baby is burped to get the bubbles out, has a clean diaper, and some good attention from you, it’s bassinet time.
Now you have a good challenge. Baby might want you to keep a hand on her, maybe squeezing or lifting her legs, or generally rocking her about every 10 to 15 minutes, just to be comfortable. This might keep baby from crying, but it will also keep her from getting a good sleep. And it will keep you from getting good sleep.
It’s important not to under-value you here. The care that you give to yourself is the care you’re able to give to others. So this isn’t time to be a martyr. You need sleep, it will make you a better caregiver. And there’s some equipment that can help.
As a start, there are some bassinets out there that gently rock as a mechanical response to your baby’s movements. There are also some electric ones that give a half-hearted vibration or small movement.
But our testing took us far beyond half-hearted, to a whole new technology created by California super-couple Dr. Harvey Karp and his wife Nina. It’s a bassinet for your baby’s first months that combines optimal sound-soothing with whole-body motion, and responds in real-time to your baby. This means far better sleep, for everyone.
The Right Chair
Your baby sleeps about 18 hours a day. At night, you’ve got the swaddle and bassinet creating your perfect environment. And for daytime, you’ll want the perfect chair.
With Daisy, some of her daytime naps are simply lying flat, no special equipment required. But she has her moods and preferences, and has made it clear that Two chairs are on her list both for daytime pondering, as well as naps that can range from 30 minutes to a few hours.
I hope this helps! Enjoy your adventure, more coming soon.
– by Mike