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This beautiful baby blanket depicts the painful first year of parenting

New parents do not get a lot of sleep.

This beautiful baby blanket depicts the painful first year of parenting
[Image: courtesy Seong Lee]

Having a baby is the greatest joy I’ve ever known. And hearing them wake up at 2 a.m., and again at 2:30 a.m., and again at 2:45 a.m., is the greatest pain. The first month in particular is a blurry-eyed trend line leading toward a certain insanity. That is until one day when, miraculously, they sleep through the night.

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[Image: courtesy Seung Lee]

It’s a fuzzy memory visualized perfectly by IT specialist Seung Lee, who knitted this blanket depicting his son’s first year of sleep. Each row is a day. And each stitch depicts six minutes of time spent awake or asleep. He collected the data with the help of the app BabyConnect, taking a series of technical steps to output the data into a legible data visualization—before then spending three months knitting the actual gift for his son.

[Image: courtesy Seung Lee]
“I’d seen visualizations of this kind of sleep data in the past as images, and they’re very cool, but also ephemeral as anything online is,” says Lee. “I wanted to give him something physical that can just exist as an object that was nice on its own merits, but had a little bit of both of us imbued in it.”

The blanket tells a very clear story once you know how to read it. The top end shows erratic patterns of sleeping (blue) and wakefulness (beige). In these early days, the concept of sleep is but a dotted line spanning 24 hours at a time. About a month and a half in, and you can tell Lee’s son began a more dependable sleep pattern (though you can still see some unexpected long nights here and there!). Then roughly five months in, the baby sleeps through the night, with three, and then two, naps a day (nice job, mom and dad!).

[Image: courtesy Seung Lee]
When I tease Lee, saying that he’d come up with the ultimate guilt trip gift for his son, he concedes the point. “I definitely had the guilt trip aspect in the back of my mind when I thought of this—but just as a joke,” says Lee. “At first, I definitely set out to just make this cool thing, but upon reflecting on it a little more deeply these past few weeks, I can see how strongly the entire project was motivated by dad feelings.”

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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