Today I went on a very lovely hike with a dear friend who has a 6 week old baby. She carried him in her front carrier pack and I carried my 2 year old son in my huge hiking baby/kid carrier. It was a nice warm morning and we both got a good work out in while catching up. I prefer active meetups with girlfriends these days especially if I have my son with me. I mean, I still love a glass of wine with the girls, those just don't happen as often.
So my friend was talking about the usual challenges at the 1 month to 6 week stage with a newborn and unsurprisingly, sleep and nursing came up the most. I shared some wisdom with her that she thought was really helpful, like she had no idea about any of it. So I thought I'd share it with other new moms. Below are the tips I gave her that worked for me. Not to say these work for everyone and I'm not a doctor or a lactation expert, I've just been through this twice with my two kids and it's always helpful to hear how other moms do things.
1. Rest Your Hand On Their Tummy At Bedtime
In the first few months, long windows of sleep are likely not going to be happening with your baby or you...but it will come so do what you can to help the baby sleep. Rely on all the sleeping crutches if they work, like the swings that vibrate, sleep sacs that are weighted on the chest, pacifiers, sound machines, etc. For my son in the first month he wanted to be near me for sleeping at night but I couldn't get any sleep if he was in the bed with me so my husband build a make-shift side-car bed that I put our Snuggle-Nest bassinet in and I would put my hand on him while sleeping next to him in my bed. It seemed to help him transition to sleeping better on his own because he could still feel me as he fell asleep. I eventually weaned him off that and he started going to sleep better on his own. I also used the pacifier in the early months but ditched it by 4 months when they become more attached to it.
2. Move Them Out of the Room Early
I know, I know, this is not what your pediatrician recommends because sleeping near mom reduces SIDS. However, for my husband and I, it seemed like a small risk and for us to get better sleep, it seemed worth it. So we moved both of our kids out of room at about 8 weeks. Their nursery was not too far away from our room as we live in a small house. This did require me to get up out of bed and go in another room to nurse them but this way my husband was able to get a solid night sleep and it allowed me to sleep better as well. Not being in the same room meant I didn't hear every little peep, squeak and short cry that came out of their mouths and I only went in the nursery when it was time to nurse. So when the cry ramped up I knew it was time for me to go in. I think this trick can also help babies sleep through the night sooner because again, you aren't fussing over every sound they make.
3. Breastmilk Composition Changes Constantly
It has recently been discovered that breastmilk straight from the breast contains exactly what the baby needs right at that moment because their saliva provides feedback to mom's breast and tells it what the baby needs. So if you are pumping and preserving milk for the future, it's still a better food source over formula but it might not have the enzymes and antibodies that your baby needs right at that moment. If your baby is fighting off a cold bug, your body will produce milk with more illness-specific antibodies. It's really quite fascinating. This might be a reason why breastfed babies don't get sick as often or for as long as formula fed babies. Read more about the fascinating facts of breastmilk in this article on ParentingToday.com
4. Milestones Happen Every Two Weeks
Every two weeks most babies go through a developmental leap. So if you're baby is extra fussy for several days and you feel like you are about to break, just know that a change is happening inside their little brain and they will get through it soon. "It won't last forever" and "this too shall pass" are great mantras to live by during these early weeks and months. Whether it's extra crying, not sleeping well or constantly eating...know it won't last forever but it feels like forever!
Oh and the Wonder Weeks App is a great tool to help you figure out what leap your babe is going through
I hope these tips are helpful to you on your parenting journey. Stay tuned for more mama tips.
Happy Mamaing (Is that a word? Now it is!)