Random Observation/Comment #589: I haven’t slept in 10 days, but that would be too long…
When pregnant, pretty much every parent gave us the same wry smile while informing us, “It’s only the beginning…” and sometimes this was also accompanied with, “sleep while you can.” As with projects, these are just milestones leading to the next set of challenges.
The two pieces of advice that make sense in hindsight are: “You sleep when the baby sleeps” and “Get into a routine together”.
What isn’t explicitly stated is that our baby learns these routines and cues from us at the same time, so it’s really all of us doing our part together. Our bodies adapt to just never getting a full night’s sleep. Breastfeeding gets easier. Diaper changes, once gross and awkward, are now second nature.
These first few months largely guide what goes on your baby registry. Even with all the research and planning, it really isn’t until your baby arrives when you learn what she prefers and what also works for you as a family.
Here are our favorite tidbits we picked up under the categories of what babies do best: eat, sleep, and poop.
Newborns eat every 2-3 hours, so if you’re breastfeeding it gets very demanding on the mother (especially during cluster feeding).
Mommy Tip: When baby was too frantic to latch on properly, we’d give her a little bit of formula to calm her down. Now we have breast milk handy.
- Glider – A microfiber swivel reclining glider is the best thing we’ve ever bought. We sit in it to hold her and often fall asleep in it (not while holding the baby) because it’s so comfortable. Being able to prop up your feet greatly helped with mom’s swollen feet both during pregnancy and postpartum. Plus, the microfiber ensures it will stay nice despite the inevitable spills and spit up.
- Tracking App – We use the Glow App, which is free. The feeding timer is especially useful and we also like the charts. The downsides are you can’t append a note to a specific entry and misses some additional data points.
- Nursing Station/Basket – Feeds can take up to 45 minutes so having a dedicated spot to easily access what mom and baby need saves time and avoids stress (and daddy needing to run and grab things). Store in a basket things like hair clips, snacks, burp cloths. This is also where you use all those pillows and blankets you got from loved ones and stuff them to prop up the baby and the mom’s elbows. We built two stations: one in the bedroom and one in the living room.
- Be on Lookout for Feeding Cues – We decided to feed our baby on demand and quickly learned how much easier it is to feed a baby when she isn’t crying for hunger. This article describes this method and the video is especially helpful for depicting the cues and stages of hunger. Once the baby shows cues, Mommy should get ready in the nursing station. Daddy should also be around to retrieve objects that Mommy will inevitably drop out of her reach as soon as she starts feeding the baby.
- Take Care of the Source (Boobs) – This can be it’s own separate book. Adjusting to breastfeeding can be difficult on new parents. Ruth from Doula Care introduced us to our postpartum doula (Kim Kushner). Kim was a godsend and taught us techniques around feeding and caring for breasts. Lansinoh did not work, but our doula gave us calendula salve from Tweefontein Farms (available at Union Square Market). Refrigerated cabbage leaves can also be applied to prevent engorgement. It’s also very important to alternate breasts for feeding. The app helped, but using a rubber band around the wrist is the easiest.
Newborns sleep a lot – like as much as cats. If we measure the time our baby is awake, she’s probably spending a third of the time pooping/being changed, a third of the time breastfeeding, and the last third just wriggling out of a swaddle while making funny faces.
- Crib – Of course you need one of these. Some parents use a sleeper or regular bassinet to start, but we were able to adjust our mini crib to a bassinet setting. Make sure you adhere to crib safety guidelines.
- Fisher-Price Deluxe Newborn Rock ‘n Play Sleeper – During the day, our baby really likes this little rocking chair. It contours to the curled up position and has nice vents on the side.
- Swaddles – These thinner elastic-y blankets are super useful for making the baby feel like she’s in the womb again. A tight swaddle is the difference between a 2 and 3 hour sleep, so make sure you make tight burritos.
- Lots of Napping – We do a lot of napping (especially during the day). Parental leave has been filled with 20 minute naps. Even if you can’t sleep, closing your eyes and breaking away from all digital devices can provide much needed energy.
- Day vs. Night – We normally swaddle at night when we want to do a longer 3-hour sleep. Other times during the day we do more holding and moving between different beds.
Did we mention newborns also poop a lot? It starts with 1 poop for day 1, 2 poops for day 2, 3 poops for day 3, etc. I thought it stopped, but still literally 7+ poops on day 7. Why so much pooping? Don’t worry, diaper changes will change as baby gets older, about 10 in a day, most being wet diapers.
- Changing Table/Pad/Station – Being tight on space, we opted for a changing pad on top of our dresser. For safety, we connected it to the dresser and to the wall.
- Lots of Newborn Diapers – We started with a pack of 88, but that barely lasted a week. Again, did we mention babies poop a lot? We opted for Pampers because of the price and the yellow-to-blue stripe indicator for pee avoids needing to peek in every time or guess.
- Lots of Diaper Wipes – For every dirty diaper, we use at least 3 wipes, so buy 3 times the number of wipes. One of the best gifts was a bag of Kirkland unscented wipes, which work out great and are also inexpensive compared to other wipes.
- Coconut Oil – We are pretty much almost done with the jar. Mommies also like it for treating sore nipples and moisturizing.
- Wee-wee Pads – Accidents happen and we can’t wash that changing station cover every time poop gets on it (it happens a lot), so we place the blue wee-wee pad on top of the changing pad by default. It gets thrown away every few days, so a pack of 30 should last you around 30 days if you’re lucky.
- Doggy Poo Bags – Instead of buying a diaper waste bin, we worked out a great system to use the doggy poo bags to tie up the soiled diapers and wipes. They’re usually scented and much cheaper by the large packs than regular bags. Plus, it’s easy to store a roll in your diaper bag.
- Changing Station – All the must-have items listed above should be placed together in a convenient location. We installed Ikea rails and added baskets and hooks to hang all of the extra diapers, pads, bags, and wipes.
- Technique – You will get very good at this from lots of practice (lots of poop). There are a few little tricks learned with re-wrapping most of the poop with the same soiled diaper and folding it back together. Also, stretching/folding out the new diaper before putting it on helps make sure the frills stay pointed outwards (these prevent the leaky blow-outs when they happen – yes they will happen).
- Take Cover – We used to call her the Double Deuce, but now she’s the Triple Threat. We have been peed and pooped on. Always keep a clean diaper or wipe on hand to use as a shield. Best to cover the diaper back up or just wait when your baby makes intense eye contact and funny faces.
~See Lemons and Vnessa With an Eye to Take Cover