Here are 50 tips every new mom must know about baby sleep:
1. The first two days after birth, your baby will likely catch up on sleep. Take that opportunity to do so yourself, you're gonna need it. No, you won't lose if you snooze in this case.
2. Wonder what that noise is that your waking up to? Yes, your child, but it could also be your sleeping child. Babies are noisy sleepers so wait before you pick them up or, it just may be the reason you both (or all) are awake.
3. A baby pillow may not be safe in the crib but it is an amazing prop to lie down and nurse so that you and baby can both doze off in the middle of the night. (As long as your bed is baby safe of course.)
4. Once your little one is rolling you may find them on their belly or side in their sleep (or even spinning 180 degrees like my little acrobat). But resist the temptation to fix them, at the age where they can roll they are also able to sense danger (to a certain degree) and roll back if needed.
5. Co-sleeping may feel like the most natural thing in the world (second to breastfeeding for some) but a recent study (this isn't a boring one), found that 74% of babies who die (ugh, sorry about the morbidity) before the age of 4 months do so due to co-sleeping. Between 4 and 6 months, majority of deaths are caused due to unsafe things in the crib.
6. Babies need different amounts of sleep at different ages, some get more in the day and some more at night. Look for guidelines but don't panic if your child isn't doing long naps in the day (I did, and then realized I'm grateful that he sleeps longer at night). Some kids will sleep less at night and bless you with long naps, and some will bless you with long sleep hours at night and catnaps in the day.
7. Do try and keep track though of how much your child sleeps atleast until you have a predictable pattern. There are different ways to do this, I use an iPhone app called babyconnect as I am a data junkie. Graphs like the one below help you see trends, know when your child has fed or slept less or too much, and know what to expect so that you can identify change and adapt to it instead of getting flustered.
About your baby:
8. When your baby starts tugging on his feet, it may seem convenient to have him hold up his own legs for that diaper change.. But be wear of poop on his hands, then in his hair, and just about everywhere!!
9. You are likely to need more bibs when starting solids! Beware of colorful spit up on your whites and lights.
10. Hide the baby clothes you were planning to frame or turn into a quilt, when you start solids.
11. Football position is a great way to nurse and even pump simultaneously, until your child is tall enough (or you're thin enough) for their feet to hit the headboard and start to kick you (baby and pump in tow) away.
12. I didn't know this but meats can be introduced before 6 months! Puréed beef chicken or turkey are great to start with and rich in protein and iron.
13. Stop feeding your child at the first sign of them being full, or they will learn to eat even when they are not hungry. (And may hold this against you when they are pudgy teenagers.)
14. Solids can cause constipation, so if you see your baby struggling, turning red in the face, or having really hard poo, try some foods that help move things along like pears or prunes. You can also hold baby's legs up in a frog position and keep it there for a few minutes to help!
15. Some uncommon sense: left and right handedness has been found to not be genetic! It is determined more by the hormonal and brain development in the womb, so don't be surprised if your baby seems to be the only left handed one in the family. (No dads, mom didn't fool around!)
16. Did you know that spit up can fly? When your baby is turning their head and spitting at the same time.
17. When they lie down and then sit up beware of more (and sudden) spit up.
18. Teething gels may sound like a great concept but in reality are completely useless. The benzocaine ones are probably effective but unsafe (can affect baby's blood oxygen supply), while the natural ones wash away so fast that they don't really provide much relief.
19. Teething feels like it will never ever end! (I will let you know if it ever does.)
20. I recently read that children can be born with a full set of teeth!!! As freaky as that is, can you imagine skipping teething all together? (Apparently those sometimes fall off and then baby has to start from scratch.)
21. Do baby's gums look like they are bleeding? That's yet another sign of teething! ( Wish I could insert an angry face emoji here).
22. Overheating is more of a risk to a child than being cold so don't be afraid to keep the air conditioner on, or skip that blanket (which is a suffocation hazard anyway).
23. Is your child at the point where he should be crawling and isn't? Over 30 percent of babies now walk and skip the crawling stage all together. This is because of the very successful back to sleep campaign that drastically reduces the tummy time babies end up getting (but saves their lives instead).
24. Once your little one is rolling, tummy time may become much shorter than you like. But let your baby sit up as much as they can, even if they fall over and then roll. This will help engage and strengthen their muscles for crawling (and sitting for longer periods of time).
25. Most babies stop spitting up by 4 months, some like mine, continue till around 6 months. You will reach a day though when you realize that it's finally less, and once your child is sitting up more, it will be gone.
26. Shuffle butt! That cute little word represents exactly what you picture it does - baby shuffling their butt around so that they can move to get what they want (pre-crawling). Kids also bottom shuffle, wiggle, bear-crawl and roll around to obtain some mobility before they are actually mobile.
27. Dryer sheets have recently found to be toxic. There are no laws requiring ingredients of these sheets to be published accurately, so ditch those sheets as they can do serious harm to your baby.
28. Walkers and baby shoes actually make it harder for your baby to walk. Walkers offer too much support not letting muscles strengthen as they should (in addition to just being dangerous as they move unpredictably), and shoes make it difficult for your baby to balance.
29. You will realize that you can actually leave behind (out of lack of space) some of the things you thought completely necessary, but you will be able to make do without them for the duration of your trip anyway.
30. Carry a ton of toys to keep your baby busy on board, specially if he doesn't he wants to be awake through the flight!
31. Try and board as late as possible (maybe with one parent going ahead with the baggage, if you're not traveling ahead) so that your baby has less time in the seat.
32. Nurse/ give your baby a bottle or pacifier during take off and landing. (Try not to start too much before actual take off or landing as you may be struggling to get baby up to relatch like I had to). This is to equalize the pressure in your baby's ears.
33. Definitely carry a baby sling or a soft carrier/ wrap (in addition to a ton of toys), this will keep your baby comfortable and asleep on you without killing your back, act as a nursing cover up (though practice before so you don't flash a few rows of people) and keep your baby safe incase you pass out like I did (my brother was slapping me and I didn't wake up, or move Riaan, I was that passed out).
34. Change diapers just before you board the flight, its way easier on board than off.
35. Warn people that it's your child first flight (or first flight "this long"), if you are worried about how your baby will be on board. You will gain sympathy and maybe some helpful advice.
36. An umbrella stroller is definitely helpful if you have a long layover (or a lot of bags, and baby things, and a travel bed etc.) Gate check it so that you have it with you as soon as you land. (You can also use it as a high chair on your trip.)
38. Take turns getting up and putting the baby back to sleep, or napping/ entertaining to make it easier on you and your partner, if youare traveling together.
39. If all else fails, and it's a really long flight keep some baby benadryl on you! (with an MD's permission, and having tested it before as some kids get hyper and you don't want to discover that mile-high). I didn't have to use it but did keep some with me just incase, though I likely would have used it on myself.
Baby jet lag:
40. Breast fed babies actually jet lag worse than kids who are not breast fed! It's because we are making melatonin on the wrong time zone and that's being given to our child through their milk.
41. Even the best of sleepers of the most well trained babies, will be hungry at night, if there is a huge timezone shift. Nurse or feed them all day at their usual mealtimes (in your new time zone) but also give them milk or formula when they wake up at night because even if they are full, they will feel hungry at their usual mealtimes (in their old timezone).
42. When your baby is doing 45 minute naps at night, you may want to fly right back to where you came from. (Hang in there, it will get better).
43. At some point during our sleepless week, I did use the benadryl (on the baby, not on me, and out of sheer desperation and exhaustion). But it did no good, he was falling asleep initially (while I ate, pumped, got into bed), and then doing those 45 minute nap cycles in the middle of the night. So my advice is skip it, and let your baby's circadian rhythm adjust naturally.
44. As long as you keep them up in the day (for some portion of daylight time) and give your child meals and nap time during in the day, it will get better. Go outdoors for a walk if you can during sunlight hours.
45. We moved countries, and I also moved my baby to his own room for the first time. I got a lot of grief for it, but stick to your convictions and instincts. My baby is now sleeping better than he ever did because we don't disturb him by going in and out at night (nor can he smell me, my milk, or my boobs! and wake up craving food). I did these two things simultaneously so that he didn't adjust to one room and then have to adjust all over again.
About you, new mom:
46. Maternal gatekeeping is a phenomenon a lot of us are prone too. It's our control over baby and daddy's relationship. So do your best to keep the gate open by encouraging dad to spend time with the baby and not interfering in how they interact.
47. If you're looking for a fool-proof method of contraception, IUDs are nursing safe, baby safe, and as effective as having your tubes tied. They have no side effects for most people (beyond slight cramping on insertion), and are completely reversible, when you're ready to try again. Somehow, only 8% of the american public is aware of this (I don't have stats on other countries, sorry). Here is some more information I thought worthwhile to share, recently published by Time Magazine titled "the best form of birth control that no one is using."
48. A secret mommy tip: wrapping things in diapers are great ways to hide valuables on the beach or by the pool (in a clean one of course.)
49. Are you as frustrated with the constant mommy wars as I am? It's human nature to judge I'm not going to pretend like I don't (though I really try not to.) But do we really have to do so about parenting choices, like breast versus formula, epidural versus "natural" (yes, I took one and I'm so damn grateful for it), CIO versus nurse all night? We are all in this together and most of us are trying our very sleepless best !
If you got this far, thanks for reading. Sorry this post is so overtly information packed, but I had a lot to share since I haven't written one of these in a while. I do hope though that it is helpful to you. Feel free to send me feedback or ask questions!
P.S. I may be a little erratic in the next few weeks while settling down but I'm not going anywhere (at least virtually). Also, with all the jet lag (between, hubby, baby, coco and me), I definitely haven't had time to proof read this so excuse any typos!
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