Play: 0-3 Months

I found myself wondering how I could play with my newborn — there is so little they can do! When they start focusing on your face, for Archer that was around 5 weeks, I felt I could finally start to play with him. Here were the different things I came up with that were part of our everyday:

  • Music time: we’d choose a few upbeat songs and then sing and dance for him. Sometimes leaning over him while he laid on the bed. He loved it and would kick and wiggle his legs. He also loved head banging.. great if you have longer hair.
  • Singing anything; literally make up any song and sing it. I have a terrible voice and it kept him quite entertained, especially in the car or when I couldn’t run to him right away if he was getting fussy.
  • Mimic: stick out your tongue and make a funny noise. If you don’t get a smile you’ll start to notice in the days following your newborn trying to stick out their tongue.
  • Tarachi: this was made up by my father-in-law, it’s a fun game where you twist your hand back and forth and sing this song “Tarachi, tarachi, Archer can make a tarachi” (pronounced ta-raaaa-chi)
  • Open hands: put your hands in a fist front of your baby and slowly open them and say “open”. I’d do this over and over and slowly he started to mimic me.
  • Dangle toys: Archer didn’t become interested in toys until after 2 months old, but we’d dangle his toy Moose in front of him and he’d begin to swat at it. Same type of activity he’d have in his play gym, but more portable if you’re not home or want to change the scenery.
  • Tracking toys: take a toy and move it side to side up and down and watch your baby track it with their eyes. It’s good for them to practice following objects and fun for you to see them being able to track the toy’s movement. We used the Lamaze butterfly toy and had it ‘fly’ around, the sound of the crinkle wings flapping also helped him start noticing sounds and turning toward them.
  • Massage: this was one of my favorite things to do. I’d get Archer just in his diaper and then I’d do some baby massage while singing a song about all this parts. I never took an actual baby massage class, but I did read up on it and wanted more of the human touch, skin to skin, so I did baby massage every day. Here was my song “We rub your chest, we rub your chest, then we rub your tummy, we rub your tummy, then we rub your sides, we rub your sides, then we rub your thighs, we rub your thighs, then we rub your knees, we rub your knees, then we rub your calves, we rub your calves, then we rub your feet and we rub your feet, then we kiss ’em we kiss ’em we kiss ’em and we kiss ’em.” I of course would smooch his feet. I did the same type song for his upper body too. This usually got lots of smiles and squirms.

Those were our main activities in the first few months. If you have any more ideas or fun games you played share them here!

Donavan having music time with Archer.

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Talk to Your Newborn

I watched a documentary a few years back about an autistic girl who never spoke, but then once she was given a computer was able to type and begin to communicate. Her parents couldn’t believe after all these years of no talking how much she had to say and how well she articulated her thoughts. They also realized how much they shouldn’t of said around her, they didn’t think she understood or heard them. I remembered this story and now try to talk to Archer all day, tell him what I’m doing, what we are about to do, how wonderfuly handsome, smart and important he is. He may not understand every word, but I guarantee that he will be better off because he’s been spoken to.

At just two and a half months he was a chatter box! I’d talk, then he’d jabber, then I’d talk and he’d jabber back. A friend of mine said that she noticed a big difference in her child’s communication when she changed nannies – the first nanny didn’t speak to the infant much while the second one spoke to her all day. The result was a more talkative baby! I am not an expert, but I’d think that would be good for their mouth muscles for speech later on if they try to talk when they’re infants.

When you speak to your baby, pause and give them a chance to speak back. You can also choose one phrase to repeat over and over, they likely will try to say it too. My phrase was I Love You Archer!  After weeks of saying this 10+ times a day my husband and I were amazed when Archer made sounds with the same intonation. We couldn’t believe it! More proof that they’re listening so watch what you say and say a lot!

Skin to Skin

If you’ve taken a labor and delivery class then I’m sure you’ve been told about the importance of skin to skin time between Mom, Dad and Baby. If not, well I’m really glad you’re reading this because it’s very important! Skin to skin is exactly what you think, it’s your skin directly on baby’s skin – no blanket or clothes in between.

Right after you give birth they will be placing the baby on your chest, skin to skin. It’s the first step of bonding between you and your baby. My Doula (labor coach) said that during the first 3 months of your babies life you should do skin to skin every day. You can do it when you’re breast feeding or when your baby takes a nap on our chest, just do it! What else are you supposed to do while on maternity leave besides love and snuggle with your newborn?

There are also other benefits like warming your baby, regulating their breathing and rousing them to eat if they’re lethargic. Make sure Daddy gets his skin to skin as well in the hours after birth — it’s important that baby bonds with both of you!

 

Gear: AngelCare 3-in-1 Video Baby Monitor

As first time parents, we wanted the best baby monitor we could find. We also were told by friends that the Angle Care Video and Sensor Baby Monitor was the best of the best and we agree. This monitor has all you could want:

Sound: you can vary the volume as well as the sound sensitivity, which is especially important when your baby begins to sleep in their own crib and can put them selves back to sleep if they wake up. You don’t need to hear them rustling around.

Video: we love watching Archer sleep, it just is reassuring to see him in his crib when you’re on the other side of the house. It’s important too when you hear crying or talking, you can see what they’re up to without interrupting their sleep/wake cycle.

Motion Sensor: this has allowed me to get more sleep than I otherwise would have. The Motion Sensor pad goes under the mattress and detects all movement including just breathing. If there is no movement detected after 20 seconds an alarm will sound. As scary as SIDS is we love having this sensor – it keeps me from waking up every hour to check on him. I also like that if he was to be removed from his crib/bed for some reason the alarm will sound — I might be using this monitor well it his teenage years!

Amazon.com: AngelCare 3-in-1 Video Baby Monitor: Baby.

 

Here’s is an easy to use tripod for you monitor so you can angle the camera just right! Buy on Amazon.

Safety 1st Complete Nail Care Set

Trimming a newborns finger and toe nails takes care and precision! We had a few baby nail cutters gifted to us, but this was by far my favorite. I found that cutting his nails while he slept or while he nursed was the easiest.

Amazon.com: Safety 1st Complete Nail Care Set: Baby.

For Mom: Lily Pads

For everyday I use Medela nursing pads, they seem to be the best of the disposable variety. But when you can’t are aren’t wearing a bra, swimming for example, you can use these Silicone Nursing pads. They’re sticky on one side and smooth on the other, pretty much not visible through a thin layer of clothing without a bra. They put pressure on the nipple so leaking is reduced and if you do leak a bit it holds the milk. Just wash with a gentle soap after each use.

Amazon.com: LPS-Large: Baby.

For Mom: Bliss Nursing Soft Cup Bra

Once your milk regulates and settles, around 2 months, it’s time to go bra shopping again. I really wanted a nursing bra that gave support and also looked good under clothes. This Bliss nursing bra is my all time favorite! It has no underwire, which you’re no supposed to use while nursing, gives support and lift! It also has easy one handed clips that make it super quick to feed and put everything back. It actually looks kinda sexy on too which is an added bonus. 🙂

Amazon.com: Bliss Nursing Soft Cup Bra: Clothing.

For Mom: Bravado! Body Silk Seamless Nursing Soft Cup Bra

A comfortable bra is always important, especially when your bust size will change after birth a few times and especially since you’ll be accessing your breasts several times a day if you’re nursing. I tried a few bras, this one I loved for the first month or so after Archer was born. It is super comfortable and is made completely of a spandex-like material so it can grow as your breasts grow — as they will once your milk comes in — and until it levels out a few months after birth.

I am about a 34D so it didn’t give me enough support to wear as an everyday out of the house bra, but it was sure my go to bra for everyday around the house.

Amazon.com: Bravado! Body Silk Seamless Nursing Soft Cup Bra: Clothing.

For Mom: Bio-Oil, 2-Ounce Bottle

A friend recommended this stuff to me to prevent stretch marks and I loved it! It smells nice and soaks into the skin, it won’t leave you an oily mess once rubbed in. I didn’t get one stretch mark so not sure how much of that was my genes vs. this stuff, but I definitely will be using it for my next pregnancy.

It’s used to help heal wounds and lessen the appearance of scars, makes sense how it’d help a growing belly’s skin!

Amazon.com: Bio-Oil, 2-Ounce Bottle: Beauty.

Hormones, they will mess you up.

We all know the stories about pregnant women being weepy and emotional, but few people talk about the emotional state women are in postpartum. Hormones are a powerful thing and after you give birth you will be feeling all sorts of emotions for the weeks and months following.

I for example was high as a kite, talking non-stop, for the two days after I gave birth to Archer. I had a natural no-pain medication delivery so I think my endorphins kicked in and had me amped up! On the 2nd morning we were escorted to our car to leave and I began to cry. Archer in my arms, my husband getting the car seat ready, I just cried. And I continued to cry all the way home. I just couldn’t believe he was ours, we just got to take him home. I kept thinking about all the people out there who don’t have the means or care we do taking home little babies. It just overwhelmed me and I worried for every baby that left the hospital with a less than fit parent. I don’t have any clue why I felt this way. Maybe because I saw how vulnerable Archer was and how easily we just left with him, but the more I’ve learned the nore I realize it was most likely my hormones that were causing the extreme emotional worry. For the two weeks after delivery I was definitely more sensitive and cried on a whim here and there. I didn’t feel depressed, but over random things I’d just cry — happy or sad things would make me emotional.

For up to a year after you have a baby your hormones are in swing. When your menstrual cycle comes back there are more hormonal changes that kick in. So don’t be surprised if you’re a bit weepy for the weeks following your delivery. Postpartum blues are normal. What’s not normal are thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby or extreme anxiety or depression. If you have any inkling that you might be suffering from Postpartum Depression call your doctor. It occurs in 10-20% of women and can kick in after a few months.

Learn more and get help: http://www.postpartum.net/

Gear: Snap N’ Go Stroller

You will not believe me when I tell you that you will want more than one stroller — maybe up to 3. The nicer, long walk stoller, the trunk compact stroller and the jogging stroller (last one being optional if you jog).

I found the Snap N’ Go to be so handy when running errands. I just leave it in my trunk. It’s so easy to pop the car seat in and out of while running into the grocery store or when shopping. It’s small so great for restaurants or fitting through store aisles. It super inexpensive too ($50-$75) so even though I’ll only use it while Archer is in his infant car seat it is worth it.

It definitely rides like an inexpensive stroller. You can’t steer it with one hand and it rides a bit ‘stickier’ than the UppaBaby, but it is very functional and just fine for what I use it for.

Amazon.com: Baby Trend Single Snap N’ Go Stroller: Baby.

Gear: UPPAbaby Vista Stroller

I researched every stroller there is out there I think, we even tested them at a local Buy Buy Baby (they have all the strollers out for you to try), and my husband and I agree that this was the best one for us. It’s definitely an investment, over $600, but it handles so well, rides smoothly and has a the largest undercarriage basket on the market. It is also great if you have a tall husband or are tall yourself. The handle is adjustable and can be extended for tall folks. The only negative side to the UppaBaby Vista is that it’s wide, so taking into a crowded store is not the best. Many people who like the Bugaboo end up buying the UppaBaby Vista, it’s comparable in many ways and over $300 less expensive.

Amazon.com: UPPAbaby Vista Stroller, Cole/Slate: Baby.

We used the bassinet for Archer to sleep in at night or the first 3 months — it worked perfectly and we didn’t have to spend more money on buying one. You can buy a holder for the bassinet so you can place it next to your bead and rock it if needed.

What I also love about this stroller is you can take off the seat or the bassinet and clip in your car seat — it doesn’t lay on top of the stroller seat like many strollers. You need to buy the car seat adapter to snap in first. It’s very simple. Other strollers we looked at you had to screw in the car seat adapter and it would take 10+ minutes to do. This one took less than 5 seconds to snap in and out. I also like that the car seat ‘snaps’ into place, doesn’t lay on top of the stroller, much more secure.

Another benefit to the UppaBaby Vista is it can grow with your growing family! It can fit up to 3 kids — 2 seats and 1 standing skate board attachment.

The stroller seat itself reclines nicely to a laying position or can be more upright. When we’re out and about it’s perfect for him to take naps in, he seems very comfortable. Get the Snug Seat insert when your baby is still small, maybe 3-6 months. It’ll help keep their head and body secure.

Usually strollers don’t go on sale. Here’s a little secret on how we got over $200 off on this stroller. Sign up for Land of Nod emails or follow them on Facebook. They have 20% off ANYTHING coupons and you can us it on the UppaBaby Vista — most stores won’t allow it and they will!

Here’s a video demo:

Gear: Boppy Newborn Lounger

We used the Bobby Lounger a ton when Archer was a newborn. It was where he napped if he wasn’t sleeping on us. Of course, we never left him unattended in it, but we found that he liked the snugness of the pillow and didn’t have to be swaddled in order to fall asleep. This was only used during the day, at night he slept in his bassinet.

Archer never developed the flat head syndrome which I heard some Moms say their kids had as newborns when they slept in the bassinet that comes with pack n’ play. I don’t know if this is the case since we don’t have a pack n’ play, but we never had that issue and found this to be very useful during the first few months.

Again we only used it for him to nap in during the day or to sit in while we ate dinner and needed both hands. It is important to have them lay on the floor so they can kick and squirm freely. I think the tag on this product says don’t use for sleeping so know that we may be breaking the rules on this one so use at your own risk, but again, we only used during the day and never left him unattended while napping on it.

Amazon.com: Boppy Newborn Lounger, Seed Row: Baby.

Gear: Itzbeen Baby Care Timer

During the first 2 months this was a lifesaver. You get so tired that it’s hard to keep track of when you last fed or changed the baby. We mostly used it to track feeding times so we could understand when Archer might be hungry vs. just need other soothing. We didn’t use it so much for changing or nap time as newborns sleep when they wan to and we changed him before every feeding which was every 2 hours or so.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a Mom the key to a happy baby is anticipating what they’ll need when (food, sleep mainly) and get ahead of the fussiness.

 

Amazon.com: Itzbeen Baby Care Timer, Blue: Baby.

Toys: Sophie The Giraffe

Everyone seems to have Sophie the Giraffe teething and chew toy. We registered for it as it’s kinda expensive, $22-$25, and were gifted it by a friend. It definitely catches his attention and he loves to chew on Sophie’s ears. He still has some trouble handling it and getting it into his mouth the way he wants to, but as he gets old and has better motor skills I am sure this will be among his favorite things to chew on. This toy does squeak so if you have issues with that, I’d skip on this one.

Sophie The Giraffe: Toys & Media ~ Infant Toys | giggle.

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Toys: Olivia the Owl Crinkle Crackle with Ribbons

A friend of mine gave us this crinkle owl as a gift (but in blue) and Archer just loves it! I usually lay it on his lap when he’s in his car seat. He can chew on it, crinkle it and explore the different textures of the fabric and ribbons. It’s the best take and go toy I’ve found yet because it easily fits into my purse, I can just give it to him or dangle it for him to swat at and most importantly it’s super easy to clean! Just throw it in the washing machine.

He also has a smaller crinkle monster, affectionately known as his slobber monster, that he also loves. It’s not as much the crinkle sounds at this point but that he likes to suck and chew on the fabric — it’s easy to grab while their motor skills develop.

Olivia the Owl Crinkle Crackle with ribbons by twigsandtweets.

Toys: Sassy Developmental Rock And Roll Infant Play Gym

A Play Gym has been essential in our household. Archer at first would just look at all the colors and wiggle around during tummy time. Then he started to reach and swat at the toys. Now he grabs them and pulls them into his mouth. We have two gyms and this one he seems to prefer. The toys hang nice and high and it’s easy to switch out different toys once he got too used to the ones the play gym comes with.

It’s also great for tummy time, there are bright colors on the mat as well as lots of things to look up at.

We usually put him under this in the bathroom when we’re taking a shower or getting ready. It’s safe because he’s on the floor, no where to fall, and it’s entertaining.

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My Mommy and Me instructor says it’s really best that they’re on the floor a lot, helps babies develop their muscles and learn about their body. This was great because they’re on the floor free of apparatus, but safe and entertained.

Amazon.com: Sassy Developmental Rock And Roll Infant Play Gym: Baby.

 

 

Toys: Bright Starts Lots of Links

Links are a must have! They are great for baby to chew on, rattle when linked and you can add them to almost any play gym to help mix up the activities for baby.

Around 3 months of age when their vision starts to develop better, their eyes beginning to work together you’ll notice they starting reaching with boy hands toward toys. Maybe 3 month olds’ favorite toy is a simple ring! Archer had a black and white one he loved to reach out and grab then chew on.

Amazon.com: Bright Starts Lots of Links: Toys & Games.

Toys: Manhattan Toy Winkel

I just ordered this toy for Archer, came highly recommended by some other Moms in my Mommy and Me class. Hope Archer likes it as much as their kids do!

Amazon.com: Manhattan Toy Winkel: Toys & Games.

Toys: Manhattan Toy Skwish Classic

According to my Mommy and Me instructor this is the best toy for developing minds — usually good from 4+ months when they can really grasp things. It’s also great to chew on when they begin to teeth and other than most painted wood toys, the pain on this never comes off so you don’t have to worry.

Amazon.com: Manhattan Toy Skwish Classic: Baby.

Toys: Lamaze Play & Grow Mortimer the Moose Take Along Toy

All Lamaze toys are pretty awesome, here is Archer’s favorite.

Archer loves his Moose. It was especially interesting to him at 3 months when he really began swatting at things — we’d dangle the Moose and he’d swat at his legs which have bells in them. He loved it.

Amazon.com: Lamaze Play & Grow Mortimer the Moose Take Along Toy, Colors May Vary: Baby.

Breast Feeding: Choosing a Breast Pump

If you’re a working mom committed to breast feeding when you go back to work, I recommend investing in the top of the line breast pump. I don’t know of anyone who has a breast pump that isn’t Medela branded. They seem to be the leader in this category.

They have several options, but the two most common are the Pump in Style and the Freestyle. The main difference between the two is the Pump in Style must be plugged in while you pump and it comes in a large bag which you can’t remove it from while the Freestyle is cordless, you charge it over night, so you can take it anywhere with you and can pump anywhere — no outlet needed. Of course the Freestyle ($350) is about $100 more expensive than the Pump in Style ($250), but in my opinion it’s worth every penny if you’re a working mom who will be using it up to 4 times a day, 15 minutes at a time.

Several friends of mine bought the cheaper Pump in Style and wished they bought the Freestyle. I took their advice and so should you! You can also keep using it for all your kids so you can think of it as an investment.

Freestyle® Breastpump | Medela.

Breast Feeding: Building a Back-Up Supply

It’s always a good idea to have some milk stored up in your freezer for any time you have to be away, whether for pleasure or work, or if you’re very sick and aren’t strong enough to breast feed. But if you’re a mom who has to go back to work and wants a supply of milk for your caregiver to use while you’re away then I recommend getting started early to get your reserves built up.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to build up a freezer supply while still breast feeding every meal, but then once Archer started sleeping in 5-6 hour stretches at night it gave me an opportunity to pump and save the feeding he would have gotten 2-3 hours after his last feeding. For us this started when Archer was around 2 months old.

The longer your baby can sleep at night the more chances you have to store the feedings he would have gotten. It’s also a great way to keep your milk supply up. Also, I always pumped before I went to bed, it was an extra way to store more milk and to make sure I didn’t wake up in pain from full breasts a few hours later. Once your baby starts sleeping 8-10 hours at night you can also get up and pump then freeze that feeding. Some people would rather sleep than get another 5-10 oz stored and others (like me) had no choice because my breasts hurt when they were so full.

Here is a picture of just the top half of our freezer, there are two more shelves full of milk not pictured. When I am at work I pump and replace what was used that day, this way when I stop breast feeding Archer will still be able to have breast milk for a few weeks after I stop. This liquid gold is worth all the effort!

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Breast Feeding: Breastmilk Storage

Once milk is thawed you must use in 24 hrs do not refreeze. If milk is warmed you must use, you can’t refrigerate and reuse. If a bottle isn’t finished and there’s still milk in the bottle, you’re supposed to toss it. I usually just refrigerate and reuse the same day, otherwise I toss.

If you are unsure if milk is spoiled or not you can smell it, it will spell like spoiled milk (sour smell) or you can taste it. If it’s not sweet, but tangy and foul tasting it’s bad. Still unsure, offer it to your baby. If it’s bad they won’t eat it — mother nature is pretty smart that way!  Twice when my husband tried to feed Archer a bottle he rejected them, we didn’t understand why and only when we tasted the milk realized it had gone bad. We’re not sure how it went bad… but it did and Archer knew better than us.

Cradle Cap

Most infants at some point in their first three months get cradle cap. Cradle cap looks like flakey rough patches on the scalp. It’s basically from a build up of oil on the scalp.

Archer got cradle cap and after reading all these different ways to get rid of it, we just simply began washing his hair every 2 days with a mild soap making sure to rinse it thoroughly. Then after applied a little bit of baby oil to the scalp to soften the scales. Then brushed his hair with a soft bristle brush every day, morning and night, to help the flakes come off. Just a few days later it was gone and hasn’t returned yet. To help keep it at bay, we make sure to brush his hair 2 times a day to get the oil off the scalp and on the days we don’t bathe him we wipe down his scalp with a damp wash cloth.

 

Books: What to Expect When You’re Expecting

I think every pregnant woman hears that this is the book to get. It definitely has lots of information and can keep you busy reading for hours. There is information on every sort of issue and a weekly summary of what is going on in your belly. I was excited to read each week what was going on, but the summary was only a short paragraph and I didn’t really have any of the other issues listed in the book so it wasn’t as useful to me. I would have been fine just downloading a pregnancy tracker app for my iPhone. That said, if you are one of those people who wants to know what is going on and all that could go on this is the book for you.

Amazon.com: What to Expect When You’re Expecting, 4th Edition (9780761148579): Heidi Murkoff, Sharon Mazel: Books.

Books: The Baby Name Wizard: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby

If you are having issues coming up with a name for your little bundle on the way, this is the book for you! We looked at more than a handful of baby name books and this was our favorite by far. What we loved is that each name comes with meaning, history, popularity, matching siblings names and variants (nick names). They also have over 30 sections on certain name styles, like biblical names, classical names, mythological names, etc…

My husband and I had trouble picking a name so we each went through all the boys names and wrote on a list any name we liked. Then we compared lists to see if we had any matches. We did this 3 times before we chose the name Archer… and it wasn’t even on the first 2 lists we created!

It’s such a fun journey, enjoy!

Amazon.com: The Baby Name Wizard: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby (9780767917520): Laura Wattenberg: Books.

Books: Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

Whether you are interested in having natural childbirth or not, this is a must read in my opinion for every pregnant woman. The book is full of stories of women’s experiences in labor — each has a different and equally interesting birth. It’s important to read so that you mentally are not afraid but excited and empowered for labor and realize no matter how each labor went in the book all turned out ok, healthy mom and healthy baby. It really helped me understand that if all these woman can do it, so can I. More importantly, if you mentally can get yourself in the right place before labor you are closer to having the birth experience you want than if you walk in anxious or uncertain.

Amazon.com: Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (9780553381153): Ina May Gaskin: Books.

Books: The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy

This book was gifted to me by my sister when I was just a few months pregnant. It’s a fast read and a great starting book for what to expect over the 10 months of pregnancy. The book’s claim to fame is that it tells you everything no one else wants to tell you… all the nitty gritty details, both the good stuff and not so good stuff. Highly recommend it!

Amazon.com: The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy (9781416524724): Vicki Iovine: Books.

Weaning Off the Swaddle

The first two months of your baby’s life you’ll be in love with the swaddle. It’ll tell them it’s time to sleep and most likely it’ll help you get your newborn to happily drift off to sleep quickly and stay asleep longer. The issue is that after 2 months when their Moro reflex subsides, they really shouldn’t be swaddled any more. All the movement babies make moving their arms and legs makes them stronger and helps their brain develop.

Here’s how we weaned Archer off the swaddle. One night right after he turned 2 months we had Archer sleep in the bassinet portion of a pack n play (at Grandma’s house). Because it’s a bit curved it snugged his body so that he wasn’t rolling around and therefore was a good transition from a flat surface with swaddle snuggling him to a curved surface half snuggling him without swaddle. He began that night to sleep unswaddled. After a few nights sleeping there we moved him to his bassinet. At first he’d wake himself up and move a bit, but I’d just lean over, rock his bassinet and usually he’d calm down and drift off to sleep. If not, I’d pick him up and rock him to sleep again, holding him tight in my arms and holding his hand so that his limbs couldn’t flail around. He sometimes would fuss a bit but with calm rocking and walking, he’d calm down and start to drift to sleep. This only took a few nights of extra soothing before he was sleeping soundly without a swaddle.

Just remember, it’ll get easier for them to be unswaddled once their Moro reflex subsides, again usually this is at 2 months. You’ll notice when you put them down on the changing table that they stop getting a bit scared or suddenly raising their arms.

 

Swaddling

Swaddling will be your lifesaver with your newborn for the first few months. It helps calm and relax them. Just remember where they were for 10 months! In a cozy warm snug womb. They don’t know they have hands, arms or legs so they scare themselves if they move their arm in front of their face. They also have the moro reflex where they feel like they’re falling and flail their arms above their head when placed on the back. This reflex goes away around 2 months, which is also when you should stop swaddling.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet on how to swaddle: down, up, down, up.

Video demo (with a few other tips on soothing, side and shush!):

 

Make sure when you swaddle you use a square blanket. The best swaddle blanket I’ve found, and I’ve tried at least 4 types, is the Swaddle Design Ultimate Receiving Blanket. It’s thick enough that it keeps them warm, it’s the perfect size, and the right texture to help keep the swaddle in place. They also have a light weight version if you live somewhere really warm.

Sleep – Putting Your Baby to Sleep

It’s important to know there are two philosophies for getting your baby to sleep: cry it out method and the Dr. Sears sooth to sleep. Both work, it just depends on what you’re willing to go through/do to help your baby sleep. We used the Dr. Sears method. Mostly because I wasn’t willing to let Archer cry for extended periods of time and I generally believe it’s the right approach.

If you opt for the cry it out method of sleep training it shouldn’t stat before 4 months or before they weigh 14 lbs.

We’re not sure if we’re lucky because we have a baby who is a great sleeper or if we had good habits early on that have helped our baby become a great sleeper. Probably a little bit of both, but what we did has worked.

-Make the crib a happy place. We would help Archer fall asleep by walking and rocking him to sleep. Then we’d put him in his crib. If he woke up, we’d get out of bed, pick him up and help soothe him to sleep again. He learned that we’re there for him and going to bed isn’t scary and he isn’t alone.

-Gradually start putting your baby in their crib when they’re just drowsy, not fully asleep. At first when you start doing this, you may have to put them down up to 4 or 5 times. Each time Archer would start to cry and fuss, we’d pick him up promptly before he’d get too upset, tell him it’s ok and it was time for bed, and when we was calm and falling asleep again, we’d put him back.

-Now at 4 months our night time routine is set: promptly at 7:00pm we get him in his PJs and sleep sack, bath or wipe him down (sponge bath) and turn off all the lights in the house. Then I hold him laying in my arms and we walk around the house for 5 or 10 minutes until he’s calm and starting to self soothe. Then in his crib he goes! He knows it’s bedtime. If he fusses we quickly pick him up and walk or rock him a bit more. Sometimes we have to put him down once and he’s out and other times we have to put him down up to 4 times. Yes it takes anywhere from 15 to 45 mintues to get him to sleep, but there isn’t any crying involved and it’s more bonding time between me and him.

Some people say up to 45 or more minutes to rock and walk with your baby to put them down is too much, but I disagree. When you do sleep training (cry it out method) it can also take to an hour, but that hour is filled with crying. Which would you rather have? An hour of crying or and hour of holding your baby in your arms and walking around? Easy answer for me, but as my sister says (who sleep trained) it’s all about what you’re willing to do.

My whole motto with sleep is to not make it scary or forced. Make your baby feel secure, that you’re there for them and if they have trouble one night falling asleep that’s ok. You’re there to help them. Don’t you have trouble sometimes? It’s only natural.

Now at almost 5 months old, he sleeps 10 hours every night and another 2 or so after he gets fed in the morning. I will say that during certain developmental milestones (e.g. cognitive burst around 3 1/2 – 4 months) he has more trouble than other times going to sleep on his own. That just means sometimes I have to hold and walk with him longer than usual.

I’ll also note that sleeping through the night for us has varied. When he started teething he would wake 3 times a night for a few weeks. It was bad. He often wakes 1 time a night still even when not teething. I asked my pediatrician about night waking and she said her kids always woke at least 1 time a night so nothing to be worried about just something to deal with. (for those of us who don’t sleep train I guess)

This is a tricky subject for all parents, you have to decide what you’re comfortable with and what you’re willing to do to get your little bundle to sleep. Good luck and feel free to share what worked for you!

Here’s Dr. Sears’ video on sleep tips:

Sleep – Setting a Nap Routine

In the early weeks your newborn will sleep when they they want to and they will sleep a lot! Around 4-6 weeks you’ll notice your baby sleeping less and being awake for longer periods of time. They’ll still fall asleep pretty easily when needed, but by 2-3 months you should establish a nap routine.

We were told to start noticing his natural sleep patterns and start putting him down at those times each day. Well Archer didn’t have any sort of regular sleep schedule so by 3 months he still didn’t have a nap routine and sometimes would be up for 4+ hours straight which apparently is too long for a newborn. Here’s the simple advice we followed and it worked!

Every two hours you baby needs a nap.

Yup, it’s that simple. Wake up, feed and then when it’s getting close to 2 hours from when your baby woke up, they’re ready for their nap. Start playing more quietly with them, stop talking to them, break eye contact and just hold, rock or walk them around. They’ll be out in no time and you’ll be amazed at how quickly they fall into a nap routine.

The other benefit, they sleep much better at night too when they get proper naps during they day. Babies need a schedule, it helps them feel comfortable in their environment and gives them time outs during the day to recharge, their brains are such sponges so they soak up a lot in those little 2 hour spurts when they’re up.

Sleep – Setting Day vs. Night

Your newborn won’t know day from night when they’re born. That means you can have a sleeping baby all day and then a lively baby that wants to play in the wee hours of the morning! To help Archer understand Day vs. Night we did something very simple:

-Only swaddled him at night, when it was time to sleep for a longer period of time.

-Only place him in his bassinet to sleep at night.

-Only use sound machine (i.e. Cloud B Giraffe) at night when it’s time to sleep.

All other times of the day when he wants to sleep, let him sleep on you for some good skin to skin time or have him sleep in a pack in play or a sling while you wear him. We had our baby sleep in the Bobby Lounger which we heard was great and prevented flat head syndrome — Archer loved it. We think he liked that is snuggled him a bit so he wasn’t flailing. Of course, never leave your newborn unattended sleeping in the lounger. If you read my boppy lounger post you can read my disclaimer.

My favorite was nap time for Archer and I together during the day — skin to skin! It’s the best and such a special time when they fit on your chest and just melt into you.

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Breast Feeding

It was very important to me to breast feed. I wanted to feel the connection to my baby, my baby feel the connection to me through the closeness and of course all the health and nutrition that comes with breast milk. It also is what is intended, it’s natural, it’s what our bodies are made of, it’s the perfect nutrition for your growing baby.

Benefits of breast feeding: http://www.lalecheleague.org/faq/advantages.html

With that strong desire, most moms have anxiety over breast feeding — I sure did! Will I produce enough milk? Will it hurt? How do I know they’re getting enough food? So I took a breast feeding class and worked with a professional lactation consultant to learn all I could before being put in action. I encourage you to take a class, but here’s what I learned:

-You can produce enough milk. Only a very small percentage of the population has issues producing enough milk. To give yourself the best chances, make sure to have baby latch on and nurse starting just an hour or so after birth and then every few hours after that. Don’t go longer than 2-3 hours without the baby nursing in the first few months. You are supposed to feed 8-12 times per 24 hours.

-Feed on demand. Don’t rely on the time between feedings as a gauge if your baby is hungry. If your baby is crying and fussy and can’t be soothed from other methods (holding, walking, singing, change of diaper, change of temperature) and their not sick then feed them, they’re probably hungry! I made that mistake where I couldn’t believe that Archer would be hungry again so quickly, but he was. Babies have growth spurts so sometimes they feed closer together.

-If the baby is latched on correctly, it will not hurt. When the baby latches it shouldn’t hurt. If it does take the baby off and try the latch again. I have had to do this 4 or 5 times before I felt the latch was correct. If you let your baby feed with an improper latch you will definitely feel the pain later and it will be hard to let your nipple heal when you have to nurse so often.

-Always offer both breasts. I made this mistake and assumed that one breast was enough, alternating between feedings. The trick to get him to take the other breast was to feed Archer on one breast, then burp him and offer him the second breast. He almost always wanted the second breast once I started offering both.

-Be patient. While in the hospital I was having issues getting Archer to latch and the lactation consultant said “Nothing will teach you more patience than becoming a mother.” That hit home. Breast feeding and getting your baby to latch and feed is on their schedule, not yours. You have to wait until they’re ready and willing and be there ready to offer them your breast, i.e. shove it in their mouth the moment it opens wide enough! In the first few weeks it sometimes would take me up to 45 minutes to get a proper latch when he was ready for it. Yes, that long! Just hang in there, they call breast feeding a learned art. Both you and your baby have to learn.

-To get them to open their mouths wide, rub your nipple on their lips, express some milk on their lips.

-Proper latch: http://www.lalecheleague.org/faq/positioning.html

-Babies know how much milk they need, all you have to do is offer the breast, be patient and if they’re hungry they’ll eat. You can’t force a baby to breast feed!

-If you have a sleepy baby that is hard to rouse to eat, i.e. they won’t open their mouths wide enough to eat, then try changing their diaper before you feed them, undress them, etc.. what ever you need to do to wake them up. We had to do this for the first month or so for Archer, he as a very apathetic eater.

-Your newborn should feed for 10 minutes on each breast. We had a hard time getting to 10 minutes. He’d get tired and would just stop after 8-12 or so on one breast. Like I said before, try burping your baby, playing with them to wake them up, stroking their cheek to get them to suck, etc… and offer the breast again.

In closing, if you are having issues reach out and get help through a local La Leche League. If you still are having issues and want to give up, do what you think is best for you and your baby. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad if you decide to transition onto formula. The most important thing is that you are a happy loving mom for your new little joy.

Hello Mommies!

Welcome to Becoming Mommy!

I am a new Mom to my son Archer and spend a lot of time and money researching different questions, trying different products and asking for recommendations on everything from products to playtime. I’m going to share what I learn so others can benefit from all this time and money I spend!

I am not an expert nor any sort of accredited child development specialist. I am a working Mom trying out different things and sticking to what works best. I also belong to a Mommy & Me group where we share experiences and tactics – learn what I learn here.

I should also add that my general outlook on pregnancy and motherhood has been to be as natural and unintrusive as possible. I generally follow the thinking that nature knows best and try to facilitate natural processes and follow the natural instinct within us all.

I hope what has worked for me and my son help you in your adventures into Mommyhood!

-Lizzie