She’s a small wonder, lovely and bright with soft curls.
She’s a small wonder, a child unlike other girls.
She’s a miracle, and I grant you
She’ll enchant you at first sight.
She’s a small wonder, and she’ll make your heart take flight.
This is what I’ve learned about parenting in my 2.5 years since Oliver was born. Basically, each child is different so everything below might be useless but if anything is helpful use it (I know there are books and books on this stuff, some of which I’ve even read). Babies seem dumb but they are not. They are really good at learning and mimicking things. Early on their sense of vision is bad but they can see 6 inches (the distance from boob to face). They love faces, they NEED faces (if they don’t know faces well it means they will have a hard time socializing later). Breast milk gives a few IQ points (not huge, but if you can, try to give them boob).
They are heavy and will break your wrist, your shoulders, your back, etc. There’s no real workaround for this except that you need to utilize others when you can and don’t be afraid to put the baby in their bouncer as much as possible. Sometimes you HAVE to carry them, but that’s usually when they are sleepy/cranky. On that point, timing is SUPER important. At the early stages they will wake/sleep pretty frequently, no concept of night/day, so YOU need to keep track of how long they’ve been up and make sure to not disturb the schedule. In the middle of the night there are 2 scenarios:
Scenario A, the “dream feed”
You boob/bottle the baby who woke up after being put down 3 hours ago (or so), and she (it’s a she) finishes eating in 10-15 minutes or whatever. Kevin then burps her as you go back to sleep. Usually during the burping you can get a good sense of how active the baby is. Sometimes the baby will just sort of collapse into your hand and barely be active. I usually like to pat up the back (pat pat pat from bottom to top) and keep her upright for about 25-30 sets (so usually like 3 or 4 minutes of burping). Just keeping the baby upright is enough, even if sleeping they will usually get some gas out. Then pick her up, I keep her upright in my arms, sometimes they fart at this point, but if sleepy maybe not. Putting her down is crucial, I’ll do a section on that below. But if all goes well you put her down and she goes right back to sleep (and you do too!).
Scenario B, No Such Luck
If in the middle of the night baby is wide awake or becomes wide awake when you put her down (eyes open, definitely lots of movement), you probably have at least 45 minutes to kill. Take them up from the crib, bring them to a different room (so they don’t disturb Mom). For the first bit of time just lay them down and look at them, make faces, cuddle them. Don’t carry them, save that for when they get fussier. Give them toys, read to them in the bouncer, whatever to just kill time.
Around 30 minutes or so, the baby will be bored/tired/fussy. You’ll be able to tell, they won’t like anything except for being held and carried around. Carrying you can face them out and just walk around, or (and this is good for gas too) try carrying them over your shoulder. Over the shoulder is tough on the back though and they usually have trouble with keeping on you unless you lean back some (BE SURE TO KEEP THEIR BACK/HEAD SUPPORTED IN CASE THEY DECIDE TO THROW THEMSELF BACK). As for carrying, I suggest making circuits. For reps just when you carry them you might get tired but really it hasn’t been much time. So do something like
“I carried you to the end of the hall, now I’m turning around, I need to do another 10 reps of this before baby will be comfortable enough to be put down.”
After a good number of sets/time of being carried, the baby will show signs of sleepiness. Signs include red eyes, rubbing eyes, babbling, etc. There are a couple of options here, either give the baby another small feeding (this usually helps them pass out quickly) OR (less likely to work) you can try to put them down. Sometimes they will fall asleep while being carried. If that happens give it a couple more minutes of carrying to make sure they are good and sleepy and THEN put them down (drowsy but awake is BS).
Putting them down
Lay them GENTLY onto their back, usually a hand on the butt and a hand on the head. You can keep your hand/hands under them but I think that’s tricky. If you do it too soon they usually wake up, if you wait too long they will wake up. Best to get them on their back and then take the hand from the head away but keep the other hand under the butt and hold their feet a bit. If they feel supported still they will fall asleep and then you can take your hands away. Swaddling is good too, if they are wrapped up it makes it easier but it’s harder to get them swaddled. Even if you just sort of wrap them in a little blanket while carrying before putting them down is good, they don’t like the cold of the crib/bassinet right after being warm on you so the blanket helps.
You have to connect it to 2 ghz network not 5 ghz. You should control it yourself, meaning bump it up to level 2 (pink) for 10 minutes of fussiness and then see if she stays asleep. You can usually tell if it’s working or just pissing them off. If pissed off upping the setting won’t work (but if you’re dead tired and can’t carry them I’d say better to have them fussing a bit in the snoo instead of dropping them).
In terms of them making sounds while down I’ve learned a lot. At first (with Oliver) we were super worried about every little sound but they tend to make a lot of sounds. It’s only when they escalate, when you can tell they are frustrated/hungry, you NEED to get them. I think it’s on you the parent to know, like, if the baby has been asleep for 2-3 hours they probably need to get up and eat/fart for a little bit and hopefully it’s a dream feed. IF on the other hand you just put her down and it’s like 10-15 minutes later. So you know she’s sleepy and probably will sleep but is moving/making sounds. IT IS OKAY to leave them. When they are pissed you need to get them, but if they are babbling or moving a bit and you know they are awake but not pissed, just let it play out. You can give it say 15 minutes or something and if the babbling/moving stops they’ve gone to sleep on their own (YAY!) if not maybe you need to pick them up.
A lot of it is following the cycle. Like, they get up, have lots of energy, can be put in a bouncer/whatever, but then 45 or 50 minutes later they start to show signs of getting sleepy again.
The general schedule is
Put down to sleep (around 9 PM)
First wake up (between 1 and 3 AM)
Goes back to sleep (15 minutes later after eating/burping if dream feed, otherwise 1 hour)
Second wake up (between 3 AM and 5:30 AM)
Goes back to sleep again (MUCH less likely to have a dream feed here, looking at 1 hour later)
Your day begins (between 6 AM and 8 AM)
Night and day are really similar, especially at first
Really rough timeline
For the first month it’s really hard because there’s just no telling night from day and their window is shorter. As they get older and older it gets easier and easier in terms of them being able to sleep for longer and longer stretches. Just recognize the beginning is SO SO HARD but it gets better! You WILL do this. Call me to complain/vent 😛
The good news is the first month they aren’t as fussy, they just want to cuddle, eat, poop, and sleep
Months 2, 3 normalish, but baby can be fussy (although neck gets stronger)
Month 4 (can roll, has the dreaded 4-month sleep regression where they sleep badly, this also happens at 8 months)
Months 6-12 very similar although they get smarter, can hold things better, start to crawl, walk, etc., “talk” (mama, dada, etc.)
12+ FUN TIMES (walking well, beginning to communicate better (can sort of talk, baby sign language is good), eating at the table, etc.)
For bottle feeding we had good success at the beginning, like anyone could feed Oliver or Ocean, but eventually they both got to a point where they wanted Mom at night (maybe Kevin can wear perfume and a mask to mimic you?) and only Jenny’s boobs could comfort them. So for the first couple of months pumping and keeping the milk to be warmed up can be good and hopefully the baby doesn’t get hooked on just boobs.
Mistakes you might make
- Baby falling asleep on boob/bottle without burping. Don’t worry about waking them up right after the feed, they go back to sleep quickly. IF you don’t keep them upright for 5-10 minutes though, do the burping described above (the one where it looks like a choke hold, Kevin can do it), if you don’t do this the baby tends to sleep poorly and when gassy they don’t even like being held so it’s REALLY hard.
For a tip/trick with bad gas and/or no poop when you know they need to. Put a rectal thermometer in their butt and (gently) press it down some so it opens their little butthole. A lot of times the gas will SHOOT out (often poop too, so make sure to do it on a pee pee pad and diaper) and they will feel much better.
2. Not switching off properly – this is basic but you both need to sleep, a good strategy is that if you wake up and feed the baby, the other person burps/handles putting them back down. You’ll both wake up when the baby wakes up, but the amount of time will be less (like if you feed for 10 minutes Kevin can get up, pee, get a drink, put some headphones in, whatever, and then take her, burp her, put her back down, MAYBE have you feed her again after an hour). If you guys need help (and if you do it will probably be in the first few weeks/months), you might want to look at a night nurse or night nanny. Is a night of sleep worth a few hundred bucks? If so try to find someone to help out. It might even be a once a week thing at least then you guys will have one night a week to “treat yoself” to some sleep. Just google night nurse or check some place like https://www.care.com/night-nannies/baltimore-md
Other random stuff
Words for baby. Just talk, describe whatever. They did a study on low-income v. high-income babies, low spoke 600 words an hour V. 10000 an hour. Basically language is the most important thing. The more you talk about things the better. Somewhat related but when they are older if they can describe their feelings that’s really good.
A note on communication, once she’s 4+ months and can use her hands better you can teach her the most important word in language…
For baby sign language it’s just putting your hands together with the fingers touching, it’s easy and really helpful for feeding them later
A minor update but for the waking up for an hour that’s usually a good time to change them. If they just dream feed don’t worry about the diaper since changing it will definitely wake them up (they can sit in a pee pee diaper for a bit it’s fine).
At 4 months there’s a noticeable “sleep regression” where the baby will have trouble sleeping (so instead of sleeping for 4 hours or something they’ll sleep for 2 hours, or worse, for Oliver he was waking up every 15 minutes or something crazy). There are other regressions at other times but that’s the hardest one.
This is hard, if you read this far it means you’re serious and you care about raising this kid. That alone is SUPER important. The fact that you care and that you love them is all that really matters, but it doesn’t hurt to get as much support as you possibly can. Don’t be a hero. Don’t break your back. Switch things up with others as much as you can. Cut out everything in your life that you don’t need. Like to grab a drink and chill, cut that out. Like to watch TV to calm down, cut that out. You basically need to cut all leisure activities and just use any time you have to eat and sleep.
See you in a year 😛
(teach her how to crouch 😛 :P)
YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS
4-month sleep regression…hits hard. Ocean went from being a good little sleeper, then to a consistent wakes-up-3-time-a-night-but-goes-right-back-down sleeper, to a consistently hard to put down sleeper. This might also be because we transitioned out of the SNOO which I think other people complain of so you might want to wait a bit longer (like, 6+ months instead of around 5 months) because I think the older they are the better they can roll so just generally safer.
We do the whole “attachment parenting” thing where we meet the babies needs and don’t let them cry it out. If you do go down the cry it out route I don’t know when to start that but I’ve heard later is better psychologically. So if you were to do cry-it-out you could do it maybe during the 4-month sleep regression where they are going to cry a ton anyway? I’m not sure, I would look into that though if that’s you’re plan.
If you are planning to be like us and just pick them up when they cry GET READY because it’s been nuts in terms of the lack of sleep (for Jenny mostly). I don’t actually have any useful tips, maybe just make sure that you don’t stay up late when they first go down (the best time). Like, if Ocean goes down around 8 PM at night she might sleep until 10 or 10:30 so you might feel tricked into thinking “Oh she’ll sleep all night.” Nope. Get done what you need to while wearing the baby during the day and then at night (or any time you can during the day). SLEEP!!!!
So if you can sleep good but then your other stuff will fall apart (messy house, bills to pay, etc.). I think you’ll need to multi-task as much as you can. Get a good bouncer and when the baby is content there (give them a toy or something) you can do other things. Then they’ll fuss and you’ll need to carry them. Potentially just put them in a carrier for a while (tops is an hour, but you can get a lot done during that time). If you need a mental break and the baby is willing (like, fed/changed, but still not too sleepy) get them in the stroller and go outside (bundle up!). It’s a lot of work though to bundle them up just to be outside for a while but the fresh air and going out can be really good FOR YOU and the baby likes it too. Other than that keep fighting the good fight sister!!