Remember when you used to make forts with blankets as a kid? Creating a space within a space that you got to design, create, and imagine in? My kids built a cardboard neighborhood the other day, and I was intrigued at what they included in their own “house” that they thought was important! They all had a “pantry” insert for food, lots of pillows and blankets, and whatever individual items suited their own personalities. I thought “this is just like when I tell new breastfeeding parents to create a “nursing nook”!
I’m officially changing the name to Baby Fort.
Depending on the size of your home, you can create one or two “nursing nooks” or “baby stations” or “forts”. You may have one upstairs and one downstairs, or one in your bedroom and one in the living room or another room where you spend a lot of your time. You don't have to configure a teepee or bring in all your kitchen chairs and blankets.. just create a space that is comforting and relaxing in whatever ways suit your and your baby's comforts. You can create baskets of like items (like a changing basket) that you can carry to other areas of the house for restocking or easy access.
Include some or all of the following things:
- Snacks and bottled water (and other beverages) - you will get thirsty (like REALLY THIRSTY) and need a snack but feel like you can’t or shouldn't get up.
- Towels or burp cloths… It doesn't have to get fancy, just have rags to wipe away leaking milk or spit up.
- Electrical outlet or extension cord for charging your phone, plugging in a breast pump, oil diffuser for aromatherapy (consult an aromatherapist for baby safety), or a fan for comfort and white noise.
- Table for setting pumped milk, drinks and snacks or other things.
- Books for reference and inspiration! I recommend a breastfeeding reference book nearby, as well as a positive or inspiring book with small inspirations or quick reads (Bible, poetry, Chicken Soup, etc).
- Remotes for easy TV access.
- Comfy chair, or bean bag, yoga mat, pillows, etc for setting up in various comfortable positions.
- Changing pad and accessories. If you don’t have a changing table nearby, just have a handy pad or towel, a few diapers, wipes, creams, etc on hand to change between feedings.
- An extra baby onesie or outfit.
- Other baby accessories.
- Things that accommodate your hobby. Do you like to knit or draw? Can you take the time each day to journal about baby’s changes? How can your creative side show up in this space?
- If you have other children, include quiet activities for them, too! Books you can read or help them read to baby, coloring materials, or small pretend play figures are a few suggestions.
If you were to set up the perfect cozy space, what else would be there? A space that allows the versatility of setting up for meditation, distracting activities, and snuggles with Baby looks like… what for you? Maybe you already have a nursery that you feel will serve this need, or maybe you have a tiny house with a lot of clutter. Putting your intention into one safe and cozy room, space, or area will feel routine and predictable in the new and constantly changing and adjusting environment with a beginner human.
How to begin
Find your space, and put your chair, bean bag, or pillows down and… sit. Organizing the rest of the things there will come to you little bits at a time, and change as you adjust to what you and baby need.
Your Sweet Space
Take time out each day when your partner has the Baby, to declutter and reorganize this space! Care for the Fort, so it will take care of you. Make it the one spot in your house that you can count on to have what you need right at hand. Keep it Zen! Keep arguments and bad vibes out of here - take them outside and then retreat with baby back into this space for comfort and winding down. Eventually, your baby will associate this space with those feelings of calm and look to this space for their own comfort as well.
Creating a Zen space might mean putting your phone on "do not disturb" or not bringing it in at all! Let's be realistic, though, we might have to send our partner an S.O.S. text ("Out.of.Water. Send supplies!"), and it sure is relaxing to read a book off a tablet or play our favorite playlist.
Just PROMISE ME you won't miss the good stuff with your baby. Promise me you'll put your phone down for playtime, and that you will look him in the eyes when you're talking to him. Promise me you will not spend one extra minute on Facebook Mommy Wars posts, or feeling bad about yourself because your friend in Iowa has a two week old who sleeps all night (she doesn't, no matter what she writes). Do not use your Baby Fort for evil, only good.
Can't Have It All
The one thing your fort will always be missing is a toilet! Make sure you use the restroom before sitting down to breastfeed, and in between feeding on each breast, take a break to burp baby, stretch out, change a diaper, and use the toilet again! It's good for you to get up and move anyhow. You can't stay in your Baby Fort ALL day.