Coping with load shedding and a newborn

Load shedding is an unfortunate reality in South Africa and can be extra tricky to navigate with a newborn baby.

While we all hate load shedding, it can be particularly difficult to navigate when you have a newborn baby to take care of.

Being left in the dark with a newborn can be challenging and with load shedding it’s extra hard coping with midnight feeds and nappy changes when the lights go out. Here’s how to beat the power blues with your baby.

Load shedding lessons

The good news is that most of your baby’s needs can be met by going the ‘natural’ route – breastfeeding, co-sleeping and not bothering too much about a nightly bath. Modern accessories make some aspects of parenting easier and become part of our daily routine. When those routines are disrupted it can be hard to adapt, so identify the crucial areas that need to be kept up and running when the power goes down and make sure that you have a backup plan.

Keep safe

It should come as no surprise to hear that criminals often target areas affected by load shedding, taking advantage of inactive alarms and other security features.
This makes it vitally important to have a backup power supply for your alarm, electric fence, garden beams, electric gate motor or other access systems. These days, most security systems include backup batteries. However, this solution won’t stand up to repeated four-hour stretches with no power.

By now, you will know if your system is struggling to cope with load shedding. If it is, call in a security consultant to boost your backup power. Unfortunately, the solution is often a little more complicated than simply adding a bigger battery. As one security provider explains, “Getting a longer-lasting solution in place isn’t as simple as just buying a bigger battery, because recharging a bigger battery puts extra strain on your system.”

He advises that you should purchase an extra power pack to support the original backup system with an additional 12 volt 7 amp hour battery.
It’s important to speak to a security consultant about how many security features any one power pack can support, and for how long, to make sure that you are covered in the inevitable case of load shedding.

Food preparation

Electric ovens use a lot of electricity. Even if you get a backup solution like a generator or an inverter, you probably won’t be able to power more than one hotplate. If you can cook with gas, you’ll save yourself a whole lot of trouble and expense – even when there’s no load shedding. If you aren’t in the market for a new oven just yet, you can pick up a two-plate Cadac gas stove or a camping cooker attachment  (you’ll need to buy a gas canister for both of these). If you need warm water, it’s a good idea to get a large thermos flask and top it up before load shedding times so you can mix and warm baby food and do a top-and-tail baby wash with a facecloth.

Keeping warm

If you’re trying to keep your baby’s room warm, the best alternative is a gas heater. However, don’t leave it on, unsupervised, in the room where your baby is sleeping. You can roll one in to warm up the space at bedtime, and then bundle your baby up in a cosy baby sleeping bag.

Lighting

Consol solar glass jars are a leading South African innovation that came along at just the right time. While they don’t light up a room with a comforting yellow glow, one or two can give you enough light to get most things done.
A head torch will also be a good investment that will allow you to handle your baby with two hands, while still being able to see what you are doing.