I have always loved kids, but to be honest didn't have much experience with babies, newborns especially, until my own. I remember the nurses rolling Oliver to our room and saying "Congrats!" and then just leaving! One of our funniest memories is Ryan and I looking at each other with panic and stopping her at the door saying, "Wait! What do we do?". This was after we took all the courses, read the books, and listened to the podcasts, might I add.
This week, December 9 2020, our Eleanor turned 3 months old, which means we have officially closed the "Newborn Season" chapter. Whew. While it's still fresh, I thought I'd do a roundup of baby basics that helped me. This is not a full "Baby Bible" type of thing. It's not complete and not "one size fits all". But if you're new (or scared) of babies... here's some hacks that helped build my confidence.
Always brace the back of the neck with your first hand and body with your second hand. (See picture above for example) Using your inner elbow to cradle and hold the neck is a good option too. Babies aren't as fragile as you think... but it is important to guard that floppy neck the first 12ish weeks.
Carseat chest buckle should be at the nipple line and tightened at appropriate tightness. Carseat must be installed and brought to hospital. Don't just show up with it in a box in your trunk.
Top of the Skull has a soft spot where the skull is still forming - be careful around that spot.
When dressing baby, add one layer or item more than you for appropriate body heat.
SIDS (Sudden Infant Death) is hopefully prevented with putting babies to sleep on their back and making sure nothing loose is in the bed that would cover their mouth (no crib bumpers, blankets, or stuffed animals).
Disposable diapers have lines to help you out. Yellow means dry. Blue means wet. Horizontal tab lines show you when to size up.
Put an opened clean diaper under the dirty diaper first before changing.
Unopened diaper boxes can be returned to any store with no receipt for a bigger size. They just take your DL.
With a wet wipe, wipe right above the top of the diaper on the skin horizontally, wait a few seconds. This will cause them to urinate if they need to, and prevent them going during the diaper change. (Especially helpful for boys 🙃)
Always wipe down (away from privates).
Keep a backup outfit in a large ziplock bag in your diaper bag so that *when* you have a mess you have a new outfit and a place to contain the messy one.
Wet wipe on their back or feet to keep them up for a full feed. Newborns can be very sleepy. But you want them to get that full feed so they will have full sleep.
Cries with a "Nah" sound tell you they are hungry. *Full video of explanation here*
You know it's been a full feed if their hands go from tight fists to open palms.
*Air when eating creates gas which creates FUSSY babies. Minimize gas by:
Tipping the bottle so that the nipple is full of milk when feeding if craddle feeding. You can do "pace feeding" as an option too.
Make sure there is good full latch in breastfeeding. *Helpful video here.* (You're listening for a "K" sound as they swallow. If you hear gulps likely air is getting in and you need to work on your latch.)
Burping every 1-2oz and or after each breast.
***Breastfeeding blog about my journey here. I'm so happy to report my journey this time has been night and day different. Zero supply issues!
Let's be real - babies are pretty much beautiful blobs for the first few weeks. But after that one month mark they really start "waking up" and it's so fun to play and interact with them.
Talk to the Baby - Ask them about their day or if they had any dreams. Leave pauses for them to coo back. This may feel silly now, but it'll pay off big time later.
Blanket Time - Blankets over buckles! There are so many baby containing items that it's easy for a baby to go from carseat to bouncer to swing to chair and never have wiggle time. These items aren't bad but put that baby on the floor with a few things to look at (toy, propped up book, mirror) and let them wiggle and you can get a coffee break at the same time.
Tummy Time - Helps strengthen arms and neck control, as well as keeps that head from getting flat spots.
Fresh Air - Go for a walk or lay on a blanket outside. Fresh air is so good for you and baby.
Do you best to mimic the womb in the first few weeks.
Newborns are NOISY sleepers. They grunt and groan and sound like little dinosaurs, they gasp and gurgle, and can even cry in their sleep. (This was a shocker to me!) Before picking them up and calling the nap done, pause and check to see if their eyes are open. If they are still closed, try to soothe with a pacifier and let them go back to sleep.
Swaddle - a tightly swaddled baby will sleep longer because they won't wake themself up with their jerky reflexes.
White Noise - The sound of rushing blood in the womb is equivalent to a vacuum cleaner! Either a white noise machine or some "Shhhhhhh Shhhhhh Shhhhhhh" from you in their ear will help them go to sleep.
Bottom Pats - Some babies do really well with bottom pats to put them to sleep. It mimics mom's heart beat they felt in the womb.
Motion - Walking , bouncing or swaying will help put a baby to sleep. They are use to mom walking around so this motion will be soothing.
There is a reflex between the eyebrows that causes eyes to close. If they are sleepy but fighting sleep, usually a few downward strokes with one finger will help them dose off.
If "inconsolable" it may be over stimulation or over tiredness. Try going in a pitch black room with limited sounds (closet, bathroom,etc) and "shhhhhh" in their ears calmly. This can usually calm them down enough to fall asleep when being rocked.
If baby only wants to sleep on you, you can use one of your shirts that has been worn by you,not washed, as a tightly fitted sheet so they get your smell.
Full blog on sleep tips on this blog. They've worked for Eleanor just as well as with Oliver!
Overall Mom Hacks
Bring a baby seat of some kind in the bathroom when you need to shower. We love this one because you can use it 0-2years old!
Airpods. (or any knockoff wireless headphones) Game changer for baby two. I listen to podcasts during night feeds, watch videos when baby falls asleep in my arms, etc.
Sitting on the floor, leaning your back on a wall or couch, with your knees propped and baby on your thighs is my go to. It's great for eye contact, to get gas out, and with some swaying left to right, can put the baby to sleep.
Wonderweek App tracks "brain growth spurts" called "leaps. It lets you know when they'll be extra fussy and it's very helpful.
*When* you get overwhelmed (We all have our days. You are sleep deprived and have hormones out the wazoo running through you), put the baby down in the crib or bassinet, and take 10 (or 60) seconds to breathe. Leave the room if you need to. The baby will still be crying. That's okay. Yelling, shaking, or throwing a baby is a dangerous thing. You think you'll never cross that line, but you'd be surprised how baby screams can boil your blood and cause you to loose your cool. (*Ive never shaken or thrown my baby. I’m not saying neglect. I’m saying 10 seconds of reset can be helpful. ) For safety and success, your emotions must be anchored first before babies. Babies feel things. I can't explain it scientifically but if you are calm, they are calm; if you are stressed, they are stressed. Take a few seconds to "regroup".
Cheering you on Mama! You are not alone, and I promise the day will come again when you will have a routine, get the sleep, and feel yourself again. That newborn season really is survival mode. It's special and sacred so try your best to cherish those cuddles while you have them. Proud of You, Abby ***Don't Forget... The Cirkles are Cheering You On! *I love helping Mamas! If you have any questions feel free to message me on social media platforms @abbycirkles