He might not be as good looking as Teddy Ruxpin or as cheap as those $5.00 Malaysian plush bears you can buy at Wal-Mart (that lose all their fur like some sick zoo animal and become dog toys) but the heartbeat bear puts in serious work.
The basic principle here is, at the time of birth, a baby is so synchronized to the sound of her mother’s heart that when she enters the world and first lays down in her crib, the silence is absolutely deafening. Terrifying. The heartbeat bear plays back a sound intended to replicate what the mother’s heartbeat sounds like to a baby in the womb. I’m not sure how scientific this really is, I mean, who really knows precisely what a mother’s heartbeat sounds like to a baby swimming around in amniotic fluid? Apparently the makers of heartbeat bear, in their research, found that it sounds much like an asthmatic Darth Vader just after being chased by a pack of pit bulls.
I can play dumb enough to say, “Yes, that’s definitely a mother’s heartbeat,” because I know it works in putting Ellison down. And, like her, I can sympathize with not being able to sleep unless there’s some sort of white noise. And, like her, the hum or drone of a fan, air conditioner, low-level FM radio playing “Deliliah Overnight” (nothing brings on sleep like listening to a computerized radio personality play Michael Bolton to weeping, sobbing callers), is necessary to masking the sounds of loud, insensitive neighbors carrying on, their annoying little yippie dogs, the roar of passing trucks or booms of someone’s car stereo passing through the neighborhood in the middle of the night.
As a product, I suppose it doesn’t really matter what kind of animal it is or that it’s an animal at all. What makes it go is this small battery-operated device which situates in the belly of the bear with a small knob on it that adjusts the volume of the heart beat. The bear outfit just makes it look cute and marketable. Nothing really sexy about the coaster-like noisemaker that the bear swallowed. Plus, I would imagine the plush is a cheap exterior that helps pad the margins for the manufacturer. The contraption alone probably only costs $3.00, but so that they can charge $20.00 for it, they put it in a cheap, ugly teddy bear, put a velcro strap on the back so that you can tie it to the crib and, voila, the heartbeat bear is born.
Ellison lived with this thing in her crib for the last eleven months and we’re just now weening her off of it’s soothing effects and, it appears, that the weening off is fairly easy. Not quite as easy as weening off mommy. The sound of the heartbeat bear through a baby monitor apparently has soothing effects for adults too.
I’m not crazy about buying another plush animal because, you’ll find, there’s no shortage of plush for a newborn. Every uncle, co-worker or neighbor defaults to plush for a newborn because they don’t know what else to get a newborn. It’s alright…I was there too, at one time. And, I’d rather just buy the device inside the bear for $10 than have to invest twice that for an ugly bear. In the middle of the night when your baby’s is levitating in some sort of colicky possession, there’s no points for sexy. I’d just want whatever was going to do the trick. That being said, heartbeat bear’s winning percentage bettered the ’96 Bulls and never met a baby that he couldn’t soothe and that’s priceless as a sleepless new parent. Five Black Elvises for the heartbeat bear.