Caring for Your Newborn

"Give yourself grace and hold everything with open hands, because you never know what's coming once that baby is born." - New Mom

Caring for Your Newborn

"Give yourself grace and hold everything with open hands, because you never know what's coming once that baby is born." - New Mom

Adjusting to Life Outside the Womb

You know all about the three trimesters of pregnancy, but what about the twelve week period following childbirth—that stretch of time when you, Dad, Baby are adjusting to life as you now know it? 

It’s called the “fourth trimester” and every new family goes through it. 

Read More

If babies could speak at birth, they’d tell you being launched into the world is no small shock. One minute they’re curled up in your warm, cozy womb and the next, they’re out in the bright, wide open in a constant stream of new sights, sounds, and sensations. 

And for moms and dads, it can be equally shocking.

Your pre-baby, once-predictable home is now upside down, as you and Dad wrap your brains around keeping a human alive. Not to mention that your body is healing, your hormones are fluctuating, your marriage is adjusting, and you’ve never been so tired in your life: a shock, indeed!

So, how do you proactively manage this window of time? 

A flexible, no-pressure approach will minimize stress and make for a smoother transition. 

Some "fourth trimester" tips...

Re-Create Life Inside the Womb

For nine months your womb was baby's home, so the easiest way to help her feel comfy is to mimic that vibe. In the womb, babies get used to being in motion, so look into a swing that moves front to back and side to side to match a pregnancy movements. Using a baby sling/carrier gives your little one that snuggled-up, attached feeling and lets you move freely about. And white noise machines and apps provide womb sounds (it’s loud in there!) and help soothe your baby to sleep. 

Let Go of Expectations

Placing unrealistic expectations on yourself, your baby, and Dad sets everyone up for stress. Like with any human you meet, it takes time to get to know them and your baby’s no different. She comes from your body, but that doesn’t mean you’ll instantly know her cues and needs, so stay patient while you get the lay of the land.

Follow Your Baby’s Lead

If you’re an organized, scheduled kind of person (type-A!), going with the flow and following your baby’s lead may take some getting used to, but it definitely pays off. In the early months, a newborn’s waking and sleeping periods aren’t always predictable, which can be frustrating and exhausting. But know that, over time, your baby will get into a routine and you'll feel more settled. 

Read More

Teamwork

Parenting as a team sets the tone in your home. Don't hold back: communicate your feelings and needs so Dad knows how to support you. Trusting that he’s fully capable of caring for the baby, will allow you to take time for yourself. So stay alert for when “gatekeeping” might be sabotaging your ability to lean on him, because teamwork is key to creating a solid family foundation.  

Get Out & Connect 

The fourth trimester can feel isolating, and it’s easy to get so cocooned in your house that you can’t recall the last time you went out. Avoid isolation by getting fresh air, going for walks, and keeping in touch with friends. 

Don’t Fear ‘Bad Habits’

In the early days, don’t add stress by worrying your baby will develop “bad habits” you won’t be able to break (like pacifiers and thumb sucking). The goal is to get through this adjustment period as comfortably as possible, and make decisions that are best for your family: if you’re thriving, so will your baby. 

baby and toy ball

Getting to Know Your Baby

You’ve probably spent a lot of time imagining what your baby will look like, act like and who he’ll grow up to be, but know that he may actually be very different than you envisioned. You and your partner’s genetics, plus family genes going back generations, will determine your child’s traits. And if you have more children, you’ll see that having the same genes doesn’t equal sameness: each of your children will have their own unique personality.

There’s also lots of research proving we’re born with wiring that is the foundation of our identity. For parents, getting on board with this concept is key to smooth sailing, because trying to mold your child into a different temperament will only backfire and lead to lots of frustration.

"You can't assume what kind of personality your little one is going to have, or what their needs will be. You and Dad could be the most outgoing people in the world and then have a little one shy who is shy and prefers it quiet." - New Mom

Read More

So, your first major challenge is identifying your child’s temperament: Who is she? Once you know her personality, you’ll have the key to unlocking how best to care for her and help her thrive in the world.

Embracing the belief that your baby has unique, pre-wired traits means: 

  • You’ll focus on your baby, rather than books, for the perfect technique. 
  • You’ll rely on your instincts: a proven method for millenniums.
  • You won’t blame yourself if your baby is a crier or poor sleeper, knowing he came into the world that way. 
  • You’ll quickly learn following your baby’s lead makes things more productive.
  • You’ll worry less about "doing things wrong," because discovering what doesn’t work leads to what does work.

Feeling intimidated from not knowing what to do is unsettling, and it can happen the minute you leave the maternity ward. Anyone who’s had a baby knows that mixture of amazement at what you made and shock that people are letting you take a little human home. This is when you remind yourself nobody knows what to do at first; it’s a gradual process of trial and error and fostering teamwork that leads to growth and discovering what works best for your family. 

And if you’re worried you’re not ready for the job—you are. Every new parent goes through the same learning curve and soon enough, you’ll know exactly how to “read” your little one. 

"What I learned is it’s okay not to have all the answers.Trial and error is okay, and I have a new comfort level with that." -New Mom

How to Speak Baby

Before babies learn to speak, they’re already skilled at sending clues to get their message across. Understanding your child’s needs takes time and trust that you’re able to do what billions of mothers have done before you. 

With all babies, new parents go through the process of learning their  baby's cues. Some are clear (poopy diaper, check!), and others are more of a mystery (overtired or super bored?). By observing and following your baby’s lead, you’ll figure out which cue he's sending and, soon enough, "baby speak" will be your new language!

"In the beginning, I had no idea what she was trying to tell me. I just went though my mental checklist-diaper, hungry, tired-until I landed on the right one." -New Mom

Baby’s Super Powers

Babies are impressive at getting Mom and Dad to do their bidding, and nature has given them the ability to use their sensory skills to get their needs met. 

Babies have finely-tuned senses:

  • Their hearing allows them to perceive your varying vocal tones so they can decipher how you feel.
  • Even with fuzzy eyesight, your baby is drawn to your face and will “read” it for clues as to what you’re communicating.
  • A baby’s sense of smell and taste is super sharp, and, even when half-awake, a baby knows the difference between Mom and Dad.
  • Her sense of touch is excellent, and gentle massages are soothing. 

A baby’s sensory skills also help him form a deep bond with Mom and Dad, and it's clear their desires go far beyond just surviving. The oxytocin surges they trigger in us leads to a deep and lasting love, which is a good thing, because this love will see you through challenges like sleepless nights and toddler meltdowns. As your baby grows, his senses will continue to help him understand people and the world.

 

baby and flowers

Nurturing Baby’s Nature

During pregnancy, your baby kicks away and complex biological processes of human relationships are well underway. At birth, babies show a capacity and drive for human connection and an extraordinary ability to respond to expressions. You’ll see his natural curiosity about the world and a desire to connect with you. A baby’s intense gaze is the greatest sign he’s not just a passive creature but a unique individual from the get-go.

Read More

For many decades, scientists debated whether nature (genes) or nurture (environment) was responsible for how human beings turned out. A consensus was finally reached that both contribute to our personality.

Beyond the basics of comforting, feeding, and keeping him warm, safe and clean, a baby’s key need is for mom and dad to embrace his pre-wired self. And deciphering his personality at this stage of the game prepares you for when he’s even more complex (those teen years!).

When observing your baby, what do you see?

  • Is he mostly sleepy or very alert?
  • Does he cry with gusto or just whimper when he needs something?
  • Is he apprehensive, sensitive or feisty?

These early observations will help you decode your baby’s unique characteristics and preferences: if there’s ever a beneficial time to “be present,” this is it. Try to avoid labeling your baby’s traits as good or bad. You may feel he’s “high maintenance” because he cries intensely and is difficult to console because this isn’t typically thought of as “good baby” behavior, but this intensity may later translate into qualities that are dynamic and productive. 

While a child’s core temperament is fixed, the intensity of traits is influenced by how parents react to their child’s behavior. For example, if your baby is shy in social settings and you avoid them, their shyness gene is strengthened, but if you gently encourage him to grow comfortable in these situations, the gene is subdued. 

Babies who talk early and often get lots of verbal interaction with their parents, which enhances cognitive abilities, but the child who talks less is the one needing the interaction more. If a baby doesn’t respond well to affection, most parents provide less, but it’s the very opposite that reduces the gene’s power. 

And how your temperaments interact will also influence your child’s behavior and personality. He’ll tune into your cues and be sensitive to touch, words, expressions and feelings, including stress. Over time, you’ll develop a mutual understanding and create a language all your own.

“Parenthood is not at all what I expected it to be. I thought you make little people in your image. But they are just nothing like me or their father. They are their own individuals.”  
- Reese Witherspoon, Mother & Actor

Temperament & Self-Soothing

For babies, self-soothing means how easily they independently calm themselves: an important factor in learning to fall asleep on their own. 

Some babies are born with self-soothing tools like thumb sucking, but many aren’t sure what to do and would rather be rocked or carried. Knowing your baby’s temperament tells you what they need to self-soothe and sleep easier. If your baby is sensitive to sounds, you know she needs a calm, quiet space to fall asleep. If she has a hard time relaxing after a lot of activity, you know to factor in additional time for transitions to sleep.

Again, the most important element is that you’re paying attention. The simple act of observation draws us closer to our child and naturally attunes us to their individual needs. The next couple of decades will be a profound journey of discovery, and while you can’t predict what type of temperament your baby has, you can set a course for a parenting style that allows your whole family to thrive. 

brown-hood-baby-crying

Crying

During the first few weeks, babies tend to sleep A LOT. But once she’s awake more, crying takes center stage as her main form of communication. As she gets older, you’ll get better at deciphering her signals: hungry, tired, or just plain bored? Eventually, you’ll know.

It’s also important to know that listening to your baby crying nonstop can be really emotionally challenging; especially when you’ve tried everything under the sun. Parents who feel frustrated and pushed to the limit can end up handling their baby in a dangerous way ("shaken baby syndrome"). So if sense you're heading in that direction, immediately place your baby somewhere safe (crib, bassinet, car seat) and give yourself time to regroup: same for Dad. And if you've both talked about handling crying (as in: “If either of us gets frustrated, we'll ask for help.”), it’s much easier to take the break you need: even five minutes make a huge difference. 

"I had those moments where I just broke down...you’re sleep deprived, baby’s crying, and you can’t get her to stop. And I had to just stop what I was doing and hand her to my husband and say 'you’ve got to take her.' I just needed to clear my thoughts, take my breather, and redeem myself. And that little breather made the whole difference. Even if it was a few minutes or fifteen." – New Mom

Read More

There are also a number of things that help soothe your baby. New moms and dads swear by the five S’s found in The Happiest Baby on The Block by Dr. Harvey Karp. This step-by-step method teaches parents how to calm your baby by recreating sounds and motions in the womb, including swaddling, swinging, sucking and more. Dr. Karp suggests watching the DVD, rather than reading the book, and even grandparents can watch and pick up tools for soothing the baby when Mom and Dad are out. And white noise gadgets and apps are lifesavers for calming a crying baby, drowning out unwanted noise, and helping your baby sleep. (One dad in Boot Camp for New Dads found luck after duct-taping a Roto tool underneath his baby’s crib for noise and vibration. Certainly not for everyone, but he definitely gets an A+ for creativity!) 

WATCH! Dirty laundry does the trick?

"You think, okay, that's how they communicate. I'll rock them, soothe them, do all the stuff. But it can get to the point, especially if they're colicky, where it's the worst part of the day. You can get so overwhelmed when you can't stop your baby from crying." 

- New Mom

Crying Checklist

Keep a "crying checklist" handy, because you’ll be in a fog those first few weeks, and the list makes it an easy go-to. Just start at the top and work your way down, trying each one. If nothing worked, start back at the top again. And always rule out crying as a sign of sickness; if you're uncertain, call your doctor or go to urgent care.

Here's a checklist to get you started:

Possible causes of crying:

  • Hungry
  • Clothes rubbing
  • Tired
  • Diaper pinching skin
  • Needs Burping
  • Frustrated
  • Gas/constipated
  • Needs to be held
  • Dirty or wet diaper
  • Too much noise
  • Diaper Rash
  • Room too quiet
  • Too hot/too cold

WATCH! "What's the Fuss? A Guide to Newborn Crying"

why is baby crying

Colic

Colic in babies generally starts around two weeks old and can last three to four months: often, it stops as mysteriously as it started. Colicky babies go through prolonged bouts of crying (usually, in the early evening: the “witching hour”), or they’ll make grunting sounds when sleeping. There’s no consensus on why babies become colicky, but an underdeveloped nervous system, being overly sensitive to stimulation are potential causes. Whatever the cause, it can be majorly exhausting and test your patience and confidence. The good news is colic appears to have no long-term adverse effects, and many pediatricians find probiotics reduce discomfort and crying (check with your doctor for recommended dosage and type).

colic symptoms

When to Call the Doctor

Most pediatricians will tell you: when in doubt, call. At first, it’s hard knowing if it’s routine fussiness or something more serious, but calling your doctor’s office to check in is part of that learning curve. You can also go to Mayoclinic.org for a list of guidelines and what information your doctor will need.

"I had those moments where I just broke down, and you're sleep-deprived, baby's crying, inconsolable, and you can't get her to stop. And I just had to stop what I was doing and hand her to my husband and say, 'You've got to take her.' I just needed to clear my thoughts, take a breather, and that little breather made all the difference." - New Mom

Soothing Baby

Some handy hacks for soothing your crying baby: Just go down the list one by one until you find what works.

  • Feed. It may not be her normal feeding time, but she might be hungrier than usual.
  • Swaddle. Newborns are comforted by that snuggled-up feeling they had in the womb. There are lots of “swaddling made easy” wraps out there and you can ask the hospital nurses to give you a tutorial.
  • Diaper. Check for a wet or poopy diaper, and if there’s a diaper rash, use a little ointment to soothe the burn. (For severe rashes, or if you’re unsure, call your doctor’s office.)
  • Burp. Babies swallow air when eating or crying and can get a gassy feeling if not burped.
  • Pat-Pat. Gentle patting is comforting to most babies and they love the feeling of being patted on the butt and/or back.
  • Holding. Babies love the warmth and security of your body. Try different positions to see what works.
  • Rock out. Try a rocking chair or hold her while swaying side to side.
  • Distract him. Sing to him, show him a new toy, gently blow on his forehead, take him into another room, or step outside for fresh air.
  • Sucking. Give her something to suck. Babies love sucking! It calms them down and releases oxytocin.

Read More

  • Stand, walk, or sway him. Babies really love movement and the combination of moving and getting their back patted often does the trick.
  • Talk or read. Bust out a good book, or tell her what you’re doing, what you see and what’s going on in the world: She’ll be soothed by your familiar voice.
  • Play. It not only distracts him, it assists brain development. Try moving his arms or legs and telling him about his body parts, or move an object back and forth across his field of vision.
  • Show her around. Sometimes all it takes is a walking tour around the yard or house. Tell her about the things you see. 
  • Try the swing. Most babies love an infant swing and it gives moms hands free time to get things done.
  • “Bicycle” his legs. He may have gas or constipation, so lay him face up on your lap and gently move his legs in and out, round and round.
  • Just dance! He’ll like the movement, it distracts you both and it’s a fun way to exercise!
  • Stroll. Babies love movement and getting outside: grab the stroller and go for a walk/jog around the neighborhood, backyard, or even the house!
  • Use a front carrier or sling. Leaves your hands free and the warmth of your body and beat of your heart soothes him.
  • Massage her. Gently stroke her back, legs or head.
  • Strike up the tunes. Play music you like (that he may remember from the womb). If that doesn’t work, mix it up with some jazz or classical to see what works.
  • Try a stimulating environment. After being in the womb where it’s noisy and there’s movement and vibrations, too much quiet can be unsettling, so try some white noise or music with rocking.
  • Try a calm environment. Over-stimulated? Try a quiet room with low lighting and gentle white noise.
  • Hop in the car. Usually the movement and vibration calms babies within the first few miles.

"One thing that worked for us was if he was crying, my husband would try to rock him and shush him back to sleep, and as soon as his patience started to go, I would pick it up because I was calm, and vice-versa: if I had him first, I would pass him to my husband. That's the thing with babies, they pick up on when your patience starts to go." -New Mom

Edel & Ryan: Breathing & Crying (1:59)

New Moms & Dads Share Tips

“The motion of the rocking chair really did soothe her. I would get frustrated, but if I rocked her it was almost like I calmed myself as well. Because, at times, you do feel like you reach your limit.”

“We’d go outside and go for a walk with her in the stroller. You get fresh air, the baby gets fresh air and everyone gets soothed and calms down.”

“White noise. We still use it and it 100% soothes her. It was almost instantaneous. Playing it in the background, she would go from crying to content.”

“He likes to be patted on the butt.”

“Rocking her back and forth provides rhythmic movement she really likes.”

"She loves the swing. If she's crying her head off, that's always my first try."

"Driving around in the car with the white noise cranked up is the magic combo. It burns up a lot of gas, but buys peace of mind."

Read More

“She loves the ocean white noise. Perfect California girl.”

“The swing was helpful for sleep. And the pacifier.”

“Taking him outside. He loves to look around. A walk always calms him down, and it’s good to get out of the house. We’re at the place now where we go for a walk every day, and he calms down and it calms me down, and we come home happier.”

“When it was crazy-time and we were just in survival mode, I would definitely go down the list. #1 diaper change? #2 is she hungry? #3 is it colic? But now she’s hit the three-month mark and it’s so much easier. I go down the list and if it’s not one of those things, changing her scenery or her environment really works. If she’s crying, I bring her to another room.”

“Sometimes just lullabies work for us.”

“The white noise is great. We used the microwave fan, some people use the hair dryer.”

“Swing, swaddle, sucking, being on their side. They tend to work really well, especially in combination.”

cute-sleeping-baby

Baby Sleep 101: Basic Guidelines

The angelic face of a sleeping baby…it’s a glorious sight, and you’ll put a lot of time into learning how to achieve this. 

Before your is born, you and Dad will want to discuss sleep goals and get on the same page. This chapter outlines the basics so you aren’t caught off guard trying to sort it out in the middle of a sleepless night. As always, there are many ways to go about it and each method has pluses and minuses. A proactive approach to sleep in the first four months of your baby’s life will establish successful sleep for the whole family. Your baby is unique, and figuring out what works best may take some trial and error based on the cues he’s giving you. 

  • You’ll see a gradual appearance of sleep cycles with periods of “active” sleep (NREM) followed by periods of "deep" sleep (REM). It’s natural for babies to startle, grimace, smile, or twitch momentarily during sleep.
  • Your baby’s sleep progress will sometimes regress to fussy periods when his brain is growing. On the upside, these stages often happen when babies develop new self-soothing skills.
  • Stay flexible but consistent in your approach. You'll want one that works best for your baby, and it may take some trial and error.
  • Watch for signs your baby needs sleep or less stimulation: drooping eyelids, yawning, or turning her head away from you. 

Setting Yourself Up for Success

Very Important: At some point, you need to give your baby the opportunity to learn to fall asleep on his own. Babies who are breastfed, cuddled, bounced, walked or rocked to sleep for every nap and at night may struggle to “self-soothe” and cry every time they wake. So if you’re working overtime to put your baby to sleep, chances are you’re looking at sleep issues that will keep you and Dad awake at night much longer than otherwise necessary.

It’s a hard issue. What makes things so confusing is that “putting your baby to sleep” by nursing or rocking works well at first so you’re inclined to keep doing it, but that sets you up for long-term sleep problems. The reality is, most parents are so exhausted they’ll do just about anything to see their baby drift off to sleep. From the start, approach sleep training as parent training for how to avoid poor sleeping habits.

The Sleepy Routine

Creating a nightly routine for putting your baby to sleep is recommended because it sends cues that sleep time is approaching, and it makes them feel calm and secure.

Note: Overtired babies do not sleep better and longer. In fact, being overtired actually makes it more difficult for them to fall asleep, so watch their "I'm tired" sleep cues. 

A bedtime routine may go something like: feeding (ditch the TV), bathing, diapering, changing, swaddling, a simple lullaby or book, turn on white noise, then put Baby to sleep in her bed.

Here are some ideas that parents found helpful:

  • Start your bedtime routine earlier rather than later and give yourself at least 45 minutes to go through the process.
  • Keep the routine consistent. Take your baby through the steps in the same space and order each time.
  • Make sure the room isn’t too hot or too cold.
  • Keep the space dimly lit (signals sleep and triggers sleep hormones).
  • Before dressing your baby, give her a relaxing massage.
  • Try using white noise.
  • Babies pick up on your vibe, so keep yourself relaxed and calm.

Sleeping Tips 0 - 6 Months

Some suggestions most parents agree are worth trying…

From 0 - 2 months

In the beginning, newborns are sleeping and eating often. Put them down to sleep with the first signs of drowsiness, like drooping eyelids or some fussiness. Offer more frequent feedings before bedtime.

  • The small, enclosed space of a cradle, bassinet, or co-sleeper gives them a secure feeling.
  • If it’s not a regular feeding time and he starts crying, wait a little to see if he goes back to sleep on his own.
  • White noise is recommended (sound machines, phone apps and CDs). “If you use the same exact sounds for every nap and nighttime it becomes a familiar cue that lets your baby know its sleeping time. If you use the sounds as soon as you notice signs of tiredness it can lull your baby to sleep.” –Elizabeth Pantley, The No-Cry Sleep Solution
  • Swaddling mimics the coziness of the womb and minimizes waking up from jerky arm and leg movements.
  • Infants can’t tell night from day, so lights off at night and on during the day helps them learn the difference. Morning sunlight also helps to set their circadian rhythm (body clock).
  • Attach a dimmer switch to a lamp to turn it on and off slowly for nighttime feedings.
  • Skip one diaper change at night with an absorbable nighttime diaper and plenty of diaper cream.
  • Minimize talking and actively engaging (revving up) baby while getting ready for sleep.
  • If you can’t get a burp after a night feed, don’t sweat it; babies are calmer at night and swallow less air.
  • At about week eight, she may discover her hand and suck on it to soothe fussiness (yea!).
  •  

From 3 - 4 months

Babies have a set Circadian Rhythm and know the difference between day and night: Time between feedings stretches out.

  • Put her in the crib when she’s nice and drowsy so she learns to drift off to sleep on her own. If she fusses, gently pat her back while she’s in the crib rather than picking her up right away.
  • Swaddling may no longer work since she can kick her way out of the blanket or gets frustrated trying to roll over. Try a “sleep sack,” which is basically a cozy sleeping bag that leaves her hands free.
  • Your baby will naturally start rolling over on his side or tummy, so find a position that works for him. Keep the crib safe—no ultra-soft, non-breathable material that’s hazardous.
  • At about 12 weeks, fussiness increases for a week or so followed by new self-soothing skills that may include wriggling, face rubbing, yawning, or learning to suck his thumb.
  • Don’t keep toys in the crib since they’re stimulating rather than calming.
  • Always remember: Do less and see what happens. Your baby will definitely let you know what works.
  • When transitioning baby to his own room, try starting with one nap per day in the new space.

From 5 - 6 months

Typically, babies don’t sleep through the night until this stage and some take longer. Nighttime feedings are reduced (or no longer needed).

  • At around 4 to 5 months, anticipate a few weeks of fussiness followed by baby developing new self-soothing skills such as bringing a bottle to his mouth, burrowing into you to turn off stimulation, and a new, sort of fussy but self-soothing, cry.
  • Around 4 to 6 months, babies are awake for longer stretches during the day and sleep longer before their first night feeding.
  • Teething kicks in around 4 to 6 months and may temporarily create sleep issues.
  • At around 6 months, fussiness may increase for a few weeks. Don’t panic, this will pass.
From 0 - 2 Months

In the beginning, newborns are sleeping and eating a lot. Put them down to sleep with the first signs of drowsiness, like drooping eyelids or some fussiness, and offer more frequent feedings before bedtime.

  • Babies love small, enclosed sleep spaces (bassinet, co-sleeper, carrier), as it gives them a secure feeling.
  • Wait a little to see if he goes back to sleep on his own. If it’s not a regular feeding time, he might just be stirring and doze again.
  • Swaddling mimics the the womb and minimizes waking up from jerky arm and leg movements.
  • Infants can’t tell night from day, so lights off at night and on during the day helps them learn the difference. Attach a dimmer switch to a lamp to turn it on and off slowly for nighttime feedings.
  • To avoid waking Baby, try skipping one diaper change at night and use  a nighttime diaper and plenty of diaper cream.
  • Minimize energetic talking and engaging baby while getting ready for sleep.
  • No burp? Don't sweat it. If you can’t get a burp after a night feed, let it go. Babies are calmer at night and swallow less air.
  • Watch for self-soothing skills. At about week eight, she may discover her hand and suck on it to soothe fussiness (yea!).

“If you use the same exact sounds for every nap and nighttime it becomes a familiar cue that lets your baby know its sleeping time. If you use the sounds as soon as you notice signs of tiredness it can lull your baby to sleep.

Elizabeth Pantley, The No-Cry Sleep Solution

From 3 - 4 Months
From 5 - 6 Months

"At first, it's like going out on a date with someone...you're just figuring it out and it's hard. Allow the baby to show you who they are and adapt, and have people in your life who are supportive of that."

-New Mom

Russell: Sleep Tip (0:47)

The Business of Sleep Training

“Sleep training” has become a heated issue with wildly varying methods like crying it out, no crying, controlled comforting, and interval comforting. And it can be an upsetting experience for moms and dads, but sleep-deprived, frustrated and desperate parents will try anything. As always, you'll need to discover what works best for your baby and family.

One thing all “experts” agree on: sleep training isn’t suggested until a baby is 4 to 6 months old. So check with your pediatrician to confirm sleep recommendations based on your baby’s needs.

If you decide to give it a go, know the debate focuses on the extremes (your baby screaming alone in his crib for hours or sleeping in your bed until he’s four), but few methods actually go this far. Most parents opt for the middle ground, and there’s tons of solid information online (e.g. BabyCenter.com) to help you find a method that works for you.

It's also worth mentioning that moms are naturally more susceptible than Dads to anxiety over hearing their baby crying. So work together and, again,  consistency is key. Some parents are able to sleep train in a few days, while others need a few weeks. Whatever your situation, don’t make comparisons and stay positive. 

Baby Sleep "Hacks"

Some ideas that may work at any stage of growth…

Pacifiers

Although often discouraged by breastfeeding experts, many parents swear by them (and sucking is a natural reflex). If you’re breastfeeding, introduce it after a couple of weeks or so when feedings are going smoothly. If your baby doesn’t get the hang of it right away, try using one after a feeding (as soon as she starts to suck on it, pull it out a little so she sucks it back in again).

Dream Feeds

A  feeding you offer before you head to sleep. Research indicates it helps babies sleep longer at night by stretching out the time between feedings. Around 10:30 at night, pick-up your sleeping baby, gently rouse him (diaper and swaddle), feed him, then off to sleep you both go.

Swings

These are popular, so if you’re doing everything you can and your baby is still waking up at night, try a swing with a reclined seat, but be sure it’s safety approved for sleeping.

Essential Oils

Lavender has natural relaxing property. Use a small amount of baby-approved scented massage lotion or Mom can apply it to her own neck so Baby picks up the aroma.

Co-Sleeping With Your Baby

This is a hot-button topic for new parents. On one hand, we have advocates of co-sleeping until the child decides otherwise; on the other hand, we have advocated for children being nowhere near the parental bed. As always, the vast majority of moms and dads fall somewhere between extremes, and each family must decide what works best for them.

Supporters of co-sleeping like that it maximizes attachment and makes breastfeeding easier, and fans of this approach generally love being with their baby all night. It’s also common that co-sleeper babies get used to feeding more frequently and may struggle with self-soothing and transitioning to their own bed.

"I read a lot of books when I was pregnant and even while the first couple of weeks, I was still reading books. I felt like my baby should have been fitting what the books were saying. I really should have relied more on my instinct and what my baby was telling me. Basically, she was born hungry and wanted to nurse 24/7, and I kept trying to put her down and two seconds later she wanted to nurse. So I spent a lot of time not sleeping that way, and later, I thought maybe I should have just co-slept the whole time, and I could have gotten some sleep. I wish I would have paid attention to my instincts and done what felt more natural..."  - New Mom

"It’s been hard for me, because I’m a polite person, and I’ve gotten lots of criticism for everything. I’ve almost been afraid to share what we do with sleeping, because there’s so much criticism. We co sleep, and I feel like I’m never going to have my baby where I can’t get to her. I love it! I love that she takes naps on me. And you have to do what’s right for you..." - New Mom

Read More

Based on the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents are strongly advised to “room share,” not bed share, with infants. The risk of SIDS is reduced when the infant sleeps in the same room, but is increased when infants share a bed with parents or anyone else.

Most babies start off in their parent’s room, because it makes the night feedings easier and being close to Mom gives Baby a secure feeling. Consider putting the crib in your room or using a co-sleeper (basically, a bassinet you attach to the bed). You may find that you’ve planned for one type of sleep routine but end up going in a different direction—great! Flexibility is essential to finding the right fit and creating harmony for your family.

And, of course, it goes without saying that you should never be under the influence of alcohol or drugs when caring for or sleeping near your baby.

More information can be found here:

What New Parents Say...

“We had a 4-month-old who was keeping us up at night, and it was taking a toll on us and our daughter. Sleep training took three nights and she was sleeping through the night.”

“We tried the Ferber method and after about an hour of it, we just stopped. She only got more hysterical when we went into the room and never fell asleep.”

“It initially worked really well...a rough first night, but after a couple of days she was putting herself to sleep pretty quickly.”

"Once we got into a routine, it was really helpful. We found out we were keeping him up way past the 'I need sleep' time." 

"People kind of know the first few weeks are hard. Your husband or partner needs to be your spokesperson, answering texts and emails like, 'Now isn't a great time,' or 'She's nursing,' or 'The baby is sleeping.'" 

 - New Mom

"We made the decision we were going to tell people they could come for, like, 10 or 15 minutes, maybe a little longer, but we gave them specific windows. And I had no problem being the bad guy...if mom's getting tired, then it's time to say 'We aren't taking visitors right now.'" 

- New Dad

First aid for choking infants:

1. Can your infant cry or cough? If not, proceed to next step.

2. Give 5 back blows

3. Give 5 chest thrusts

4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 

choking
choking

Repeat above until effective or the infant becomes unconscious. If the infant becomes unresponsive, perform CPR. If you see an object in the throat or mouth, remove it by sweeping with one finger.

CPR for Infants:

If alone with the infant, give 2 minutes of CPR before calling 911, otherwise direct someone to call 911 immediately.

1. Shout & Tap 

Shout and gently tap the child on the shoulder. If there is no response, and he is not breathing or not breathing normally, position the infant on his or her back and begin CPR. 

choking

2. Give 30 Compressions 

Give 30 gentle chest compressions at the rate of 100 per minute. Use 2-3 fingers in the center of the chest just below the nipples. Press down approximately 1½ inches.

choking

3. Open the Airway 

Open the airway using a head tilt lifting of chin. Do not tilt the head too far back.

mouth to mouth

4. Give Two Gentle Breaths 

If the baby is NOT breathing or not breathing normally, give 2 gentle breaths. Cover the baby’s mouth and nose with your mouth. Each breath should be 1 second long. You should see the baby’s chest rise with each breath. Keep giving compressions and breaths until help arrives.

mouth to mouth

The First Six Months: Mom & Baby Activities

Babies learn and grow through play. Take a look at the activities below to get an idea of where to begin and then be creative and let your baby’s personality and preferences be your guide. Keep in mind that playing when they’re infants isn’t the formal version of play that usually comes to mind; it’s about getting them to explore basic things in their world.

0-3 Months

Talk Away! Have (expressive) conversations with your baby: they love it! 

Eye Contact: A baby’s focus is about 10 inches, but it increases over time.

Colors & Sounds: Babies are fascinated by sights and sounds. Shake a rattle or play with colored fabric.

Tummy Time: Your baby spends lots of time on her back already so mix it up by putting her on her tummy. Get down on her level, face-to-face, and make soft sounds and fun facial expressions to encourage her to lift her head.

Bust out the Books: It’s never too early to read. Start with rhymes and let her listen to the tempo of your voice. Babies love songs and singing, and they’re able to recognize rhythmic patterns. Studies show just hearing a parent’s repeated singing calms a stressed infant. And it doesn’t matter how pitch perfect you are; your baby will love your voice anyway. 

Mirror-Mirror: Position a safe, unbreakable, plastic mirror where your baby can see her face and explore.

Climb Aboard: Put your baby in a front-pack carrier and go about your day, narrating like a tour guide. Tell her everything you’re doing and why.

3-6 Months

Foot Fun: Put a brightly colored sock on one of your baby’s feet. Place him on his back and gently move the foot into view. Watch his expressions and describe the colors, and imitate his sounds of joy. 

The Push Off: When your baby does tummy time and makes swimming (“frog legs”) movements, get behind her and, using the palms of your hands, gently apply pressure to the bottom of her feet giving her something to push against. Soon, she’ll push forward a few inches—mobile at last!

Dance Away: Hold your baby and dance around to fun music.

Get a Grip: Tape a piece of contact paper to the floor with the sticky side up and place objects he can grasp on the contact paper; let him lift them off and re-stick them. He’ll love the sticky sounds and challenge.

The Hammock: You and your partner hold each end of a blanket to create a hammock and gently sway your baby side to side. She’ll do little head raises and sit ups, building neck and stomach strength while having fun.

Elevator Ride: Once your baby’s old enough to hold her head up, lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent then place her on your knees and play “elevator legs.” Slowly push your legs down, so they’re flat on the floor (with baby still on your knees). Then pull your legs back to a bent position singing, “Elevator legs go up, elevator legs go down.” Your baby gets a little ride and you get leg exercises! 

A few things…

  • Babies benefit from face-to-face play over a toy, machine, or screen.
  • Babies need time to process stimulation, so resting is important. 
  • Babies love repetition and don’t find it boring.

Baby Care Resources

There are many resources, but the trick is finding support that fits your family.

Here are some favorites:

sed libero porta. Donec quis risus. Nullam Praesent

Pin It on Pinterest