We have survived the first week with 3 kids :)... mostly because Steve is home full time for the next 2 weeks! Life actually seems possible as a family of 5 when both parents are always around. I've got to come up with ideas fast of how I'm going to make it on my own when Steve starts dental school. When I was pregnant with Brayden (here's a post about that), I read every book about babies and parenting that I could get my hands on. Now in the crazy midst of raising all these littles I remember little about what I read :). So, out of curiosity and just for fun, I pulled out some of my notes, and I quickly reminded myself of the bottom line from each of the books. But before I go into all of that, I just have to say that for me the biggest thing I want to focus on is just ENJOYING this little baby!! This is such a PRECIOUS TIME and I don't want to be overly preoccupied about doing something that some book says. And honestly, we do some things that certain books out there tell you never to do :).
I do LOVE to read books and glean what I like from each one, and I think gaining knowledge brings confidence in your ability as a parent and tools you can use. But, I really do believe that the bottom line, top priority I have is to snuggle and love this baby. To soak up this special time and try to survive in the process!! I've been somewhat sentimental during these postpartum days in just realizing how fast these littles grow up. I just wanted to cry with how much I love these BIG kids as I looked at these pictures from the hike they just did with Daddy:
Oh how these days with lots of littles is so fleeting, which makes me want to cherish more and more moments with them! But oh how these days can also feel eternally long sometimes as we are mothers in the thick of things! So here's the BOTTOM LINE from various baby books prefaced with what matters most... enjoying each stage of these little people. Maybe you'll find some of these books interesting...
The Happiest Baby on the Block:
The first couple months of a baby's life is like a "4th Trimester" as they transition from the womb to the world. They desire an environment similar to inside their mother's womb. Here's Dr. Karp's 5 S's to help your new baby to be happier:
1. SUCKING - Newborns have a great need to suck, so nursing of course and pacifiers.
2. SWINGING - Similar to the womb experience, babies often love the motion of swinging side to side, riding in the car, walking the room with a parent, and rocking. Our motor swing has been a complete life saver!
3. SHUSHING - White noise machines or cds, "ssshhhh"ing loudly, vacuuming, turning on a fan can all be soothing.
4. SIDE/STOMACH position - Holding your baby on the left side to aid in digestion or holding the baby on her stomach to provide support. Being held on their back often causes babies to startle. Once a baby is calmed down and sleeping, they can then safely be put on their back for sleeping.
5. SWADDLING -
Baby Wise's "flexible routine" of PDF (Parent-Directed Feeding) is the center point between strict clock-feeding on one extreme and demand feeding/child-led feeding at the other. PDF provides tools to recognize and assess 2 potential problems with infant feeding: a) A child who feeds often, such as every hour, may not be getting the rich hind milk. And b) When the cue is not present, the clock serves as a guide to ensure that too much time does not elapse between feedings (like if a baby is sick or is doing his longer sleeping stretches during the day instead of at night).
For the first 7-10 days, don't look at the clock but rather focus on one thing --> getting a FULL feeding at each feeding - no snacking. This often naturally falls into a predictable 2.5-3 hour routine. But you do have to work on keeping your baby awake at each feeding since they are usually sleepy. Average 8-10 feedings in 24-hour period
Normal Weight-Gain Guide:
Birth-2 weeks: Regain birth weight plus
2 weeks-3 months: 2 lbs. per month or 1 oz. per day
4-6 months: 1 lb. per month or 1/2 oz. per day
6 months: doubles birth weight
1 year: 2.5-3 times birth weight
Structured Routine - E.A.S.Y
Think of it as a recurring period more or less 3 hours long, in which each of the following segments occurs in this order:
E - Eating. A normal baby, weighing 6 lbs. or more, can go 2.5-3 hours until the next feed.
A - Activity. Sometimes this is as simple as changing a diaper.
S - Sleeping. Takes 15-20 minutes to fall asleep. Put baby down drowsy and soothed but still awake. Put him down once you have met his needs. The author never leaves a screaming baby, but she does put baby down the minute he's calm.
Y - You. Take care of yourself and possibly rest. [And what if you have other kids? :)]
Storing Breast Milk:
- Freshly expressed breast milk should be placed in the fridge immediately and stored for no longer than 3 days.
- You can freeze breast milk up to 6 months, but by then your baby's needs are different. The miracle of breast milk is that the composition changes as your baby grows.
- Thaw breast milk by placing the sealed container in a bowl of warm water for about 30 minutes. Never use a microwave (it breaks down the protein). Shake the container to blend any fat that may have separated. Feed thawed milk immediately or store it in the fridge for no longer than 24 hours. You can combine fresh breast milk with thawed, but never refreeze.
Breastfeeding Dilemmas: Hunger, Need to Suckle, or Growth Spurt?
Newborns have a physical need to suckle approximately 16 hours out of every 24 hours. Growth spurts usually happen around every 3-4 weeks. All-day hunger binges only last around 48 hours. If your baby wakes up hungry one night, feed your baby that night, but the next day give her more feedings during the day to up caloric intake during growth spurt. If your baby seems extra hungry only at night, it's probably not a growth spurt. Rather, it's a sign that she's not getting enough calories and you need to adjust your E.A.S.Y routine to accommodate your baby's need for more calories. This may be a good time to "cluster feed" in the evening (nursing at closer intervals). Also, in the morning, after a good night's rest, your breast milk is richest in fat. You could pump early in the day and save that fat-rich milk for a nighttime feed.
The author likes to use a pacifer for the first 3 months of life to give a baby adequate sucking time, to calm her before sleep, or when she's trying to help baby skip a night feed. After that period, however, infants have more control over their hands and will be able to self-soothe using their own hands.
Most pediatricians suggest waiting until your baby is 6 months old before starting to introduce solid foods. By the 6th month, your baby needs the extra iron found in solid foods, as her store of iron has been depleted by this point. Also, a baby's reflex to stick out her tongue when anything touches it has disappeared, so she is better able to swallow mushy solids. Also by 6 months, head and neck control has developed.
Sleeping Through the Night [I'd like to add that the definition of "sleeping through the night" is technically about a 5-6 hour stretch, not the entire night!]
- During the day, never let a baby sleep more than a feed cycle - no longer than 3 hours - because otherwise it will rob his nighttime sleep hours.
- One of the ways we get babies to sleep more at night is by filling their tummies. When an infant is 6 weeks old, Tracy Hogg suggests 2 practices: cluster feeding - feed her every 2 hours before bedtime AND dream feeding - nurse baby in her sleep right before you retire to bed. For example, you give baby the breast at 6 and 8 in the evening, and the dream feed at 10:30 or 11.
- If a pacifier isn't allowed to become a sleep prop, it can be very helpful in weaning a baby off the nighttime feed. If a baby weighs 10 lbs. and he's getting between 6-8 breastfeedings, he doesn't need an additional night feeding for nourishment. If he's still waking, he's using the opportunity for oral stimulation. When he wakes up crying for the breast and yet he only feeds for 5 minutes, give him a pacifier instead. The first night, he'll probably stay up the entire 20 minutes with the pacifier in his mouth before falling back to sleep. The next night, it may cut back to 10 minutes. The third night, he might fidget in his sleep at the time he'd normally get up for the feed. If he wakes, give him the pacifier. Eventually, he won't wake up for it.
What They Need/What You Can Expect
Age/Milestones Sleep Needed per Day Typical Patterns
Newborn 16-20 hours Nap 1 hour in every 3; 5-6
hour stretch at night [wow,
that sounds pretty dreamy,
Penny still gets up every 2-3]
that sounds pretty dreamy,
Penny still gets up every 2-3]
1-3 Months: more alert, 15-18 hours, until 18 months 3 naps, 1.5 hours each; 8 hour
aware of their surroundings, stretch at night
able to move head
4-6 Months: Gaining mobility 2 naps, 2-3 hours each; 10-12
hours at night
6-8 Months: More mobility, 2 naps, 1-2 hours each; 10-12
able to sit and crawl hours at night
8-18 Months: Always in motion 2 naps, 1-2 hours each, or one
big nap 3 hours long; 12 hours