Citizen Science with Newborns

Even before the boys were born, I was already thinking about how much fun it would be to introduce them to citizen science. I kept seeing announcements and blogs about all these cool baby-related studies we could do with them (See: NYU Baby Sleep Study). “This is going to be great!” I thought enthusiastically to myself.

As the nine months of pregnancy ticked on by, I stayed busy going to check-ups (there are a lot of them when you are pregnant with multiples), working full-time and getting the nursery all set up. What I didn’t do was look into those baby-related citizen science projects. I was too busy preparing for the babies’ arrival. I figured I’d have plenty of time to figure out the projects once the little ones had arrived.

Those seasoned parents reading this piece are laughing out loud at me right now. Seasoned parents of multiples are REALLY busting a gut! Oh how naïve I was.

Then the boys arrived and with them, they brought my dear enemy – sleep deprivation. Greg and I knew this part was coming. We tried to prepare mentally as best we could for long nights of crying babies. But there really is no way to truly prepare for sleep deprivation. Unless, of course, you have been through basic training with the military. Our service men and women know a thing or two about working in a sleep deprived state. I have so much respect for them. But I digress…

Greg and I? We were not prepared for such sleep deprivation. It was brutal! We were walking zombies for several months. Not exaggerating here. Months. Friends and family ensured our little family of four survived with their meals and their visits and their helpful hands. The stories we will tell our boys when they are older! Needless to say, between feedings, diaper changes, and my recovery, we were lucky to find time to sleep or eat ourselves. There certainly wasn’t any citizen science happening in our house!

I wish I could fill this post with stories of the newborn and baby citizen science projects our boys and I participated in. But alas, that is not the case. Instead, here I am with 15-month old kiddos and I am just now finding the time to (again) think about how we will do citizen science together.

And that brings me to my words of advice to soon-to-be parents or those of you thinking about being parents – if you want to participate in citizen science with your newborns, do not do what I did and wait until your baby arrives. Do your homework in advance! On your to-do list, along with organizing the nursery, setting up the crib, and figuring out how to open the nightmare-that-is-child-proof-packaging, add ‘identify citizen science projects to do with our bundle-of-joy’ and ‘familiarize myself with project protocols’ to your list. If you’ll need to purchase any equipment for the project, do that ahead of time too! Once your little scientist arrives, it will be much easier to participate in your citizen science project because you will be fabulously prepared. When not you’re bonding over feedings, diaper changes and crying sessions, you’ll be making memories together as you start your little one on a lifetime of joy with science!


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