When I think back to when I was getting ready for the birth of my first child – and then compare that with how I was preparing for baby number four – I realize that, indeed, experience matters. 😀
It’s not that I decided not to worry; I just noticed that my preparations for baby number four reflected all that I had learned from my previous three babies – combined with my love for… minimalism.
What was most important?
I think one of the most important things was knowing what it’s actually like living with a baby during the first few months. That, basically, the child’s life revolves around S, S, and S:
- Service, and
Today, I want to share some thoughts with you. Each ‘S’ can fill a book, but I am only going to focus on my most important observations:
I remember the diligence with which my husband put together the crib for our son, and the delight we had in choosing blankets and quilts. I also remember how I imagined my baby sweetly sleeping in the crib nestled under the cozy blanket. When I think about it now, I can’t help but grin.
Because in the first weeks of life, our child preferred to be close to his mother and wasn’t about to give me up. Safe co-sleeping allowed us to survive the first weeks with our new baby. I never even got around to covering my newborn with that comforter I had bought with such enthusiasm…
Here are some facts you should know right from the start!
– According to the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP), the safest sleeping position for your baby is on the back – lying on a flat, medium-hard surface.
– Car seats and baby bouncers aren’t the best places for a baby to sleep. Any situation where the baby’s chest is compressed and the head is tilted forward or to either side can cause an increase in effort from the baby in order to breathe. Research confirms the relationship between a prolonged stay in a car seat and a decrease in the baby’s blood oxygen saturation level.
– Where baby sleeps should be clear of any objects that could hinder the child’s breathing: pillows (that could make it difficult for the baby to turn his or her head), quilts, blankets, cot bumpers, plush toys, etc.
– Overheating a child is one of the risk factors for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It is especially important to make sure the room where the child sleeps is not too warm (the optimal room temperature is in the range of 63 – 68 degrees Fahrenheit).
– A baby sleeping bag works really well as a cover during the first months of life.
– Baby cots are usually purchased before the baby is born, but it is worth knowing that your baby may not want to spend any time in it at all. The theory of “The Missing Fourth Trimester” may give you a hint as to why this can happen…
– When choosing a mattress, it is worth paying attention to its elasticity and degree of firmness. A mattress with high elasticity and medium hardness will work well for an infant. It should also be as smooth and airy as possible. Read about the other features of a perfect mattress.
There is no doubt that the first few months of a baby’s life – apart from sleeping and feeding – are all about picking up, putting down, changing diapers, and bathing. While it doesn’t seem extraordinary, you can feel quite insecure when holding your little one for the first time.
Therefore, I would like to draw your attention to how you pick up, carry, and put your baby down. It should be done confidently, calmly, and in sync with natural developmental stages.
When “handling” a baby, I would certainly pay attention to the hip joints – which are exceptionally delicate in a newborn baby.
Why is this important?
Handling a baby is frequent and repetitive – and children learn by repetition, so I would like to be sure that I handle my baby in a consistent and deliberate manner. Baby-friendly care is truly intuitive and I believe its benefits outweigh the effort from Mom and Dad.
Accompanying your child in his or her development can turn out to be an amazing adventure for you as well! Read more about Baby-Friendly Care!
What about your household set-up? First of all, I would pay attention to ergonomics, drawing upon the concept of a “kitchen work triangle.” The place where you store diapers, tissues, or clean clothes should be close enough to your changing table so that you can reach for everything with a single step. Maybe this is something for an interior designer. 😉
It is also a good idea to work through the bathing scenario in your head so that you have everything at-hand when needed.
– Baby carriages?
The right strolling equipment is very important when it comes to caring for your baby. Of course, when choosing a stroller, everybody uses slightly different criteria. Those of us who like to walk a lot and live near a park or in a city, may choose a classic bassinet as a flat-lying sleeping basket. Looking back, I would’ve paid closer attention to the size of the bassinet I chose, to make sure it would fit as the baby continued to grow.
I know, strollers with small bassinets are so cute!!! But, it might be hard for your baby to fit into it up to month 9-10, at which time your baby should master sitting up on his or her own and graduate to a stroller.
When choosing a stroller, I would pay attention to its suspension system; especially if you walk on rocky trails or run with your baby. For me it was important to roll along a gravel road without difficulty.
The type of wheels, the stroller’s weight, the dimensions after folding – all of these things are worth analyzing in the context of your individual needs.
Of course, we need to discuss the car seat, which is where many babies end up spending a lot of their time. Personally, I only use the car seat for the car. Why? To avoid keeping my baby bunched up for too long, because it’s just not the right place for a baby to sleep. Better to keep your baby lying flat in a bassinet or reclined stroller if your walk lasts longer.
Of course, 3-in-1 strollers are a practical solution, where you have the car seat, bassinet, and stroller on one frame. However, in time, many parents tend to choose a lighter and more handy stroller for everyday use.
In our case, a baby wrap carrier turned out to be invaluable. I regret that I discovered all of its possibilities after my first baby turned 6 weeks old. I am aware that, for some people, the decision to carry a baby in a wrap carrier is not entirely clear-cut (it may involve an unfavorable upright position). However, if wrapped correctly, you can ensure your baby stays in an age-appropriate position. In my case, it helped save my mental health.
If you are considering buying a baby wrap carrier, I encourage you to seek the guidance of a specialist who can show you, step by step, what to look for – and what to avoid. A consultation of this sort can give you peace of mind and reassurance you are doing everything correctly.
– Activity Mat or Carpet
During the first few months of life, a baby usually doesn’t care about toys. He or she just wants to be carried, hugged, and rocked. The child wants to smell his mother, hear her heartbeat, and stare at her face…
Buying toys can certainly wait. As it turns out, toys very often find their way into your home through others. 😉 In my case, I would realize (at around the time of one of my kids’ birthdays) that I have not bought a single toy.
What can be useful in the first months of life is a mat or carpet where you can put your baby for tummy time or short playtime.
Foam mats are a good choice. I recommend those that come without too many patterns and embellishments. It will be easier to match them with the decor of your interior, but also, the colors and patterns could overstimulate your child and make it difficult for the baby to find a toy placed on the mat.
The first thought that comes to my mind when I hear the word “feeding” is that breastfeeding is not always a piece of cake. Sometimes, it’s presented in the media and other places in a way that, frankly, might not have much to do with reality.
Of course if nursing comes easy for you, that’s great. However, my fourfold experience tells me that it is better to be prepared for possible difficulties, rather than assume that it is simple (because it’s natural) – and then be disappointed.
If we add a postpartum storm of hormones and increased fatigue, it is not hard to get frustrated and feel a sense of despair.
Yes, women have trouble breastfeeding. Mothers need really wise and gentle support if things do not happen easily.
If you decide to breastfeed your baby, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that, at first, it can be quite time-consuming. That’s why you should have a comfortable place to will nurse your baby.
If you are planning to breastfeed while sitting down, you should have your feet supported in some way, like with a small footrest. That is how maintaining a sitting position for a long time will be a little more bearable.
You may also find a nursing pillow useful: It is a great way to support the weight of your baby. However, it shouldn’t be too soft. In order for the baby to latch on and suck effectively, he or she needs STABLE support. If the position is unstable, the baby may tense up or arch his or her back.
One more important thing.
There is no doubt that mothers nowadays are faced with many challenges. The image of motherhood bliss that you see on social media or television may differ from the reality of your first weeks together with your child. That might leave you with a sense of despair.
I know, it’s easier said than done, but it’s worth keeping a healthy perspective.
Recently, I posted this photo on social media:
I got a lot of positive feedback to this post. I also got a lot of thanks for showing reality as it is.
One of the messages I received sums it up:
“None of us manages it all, only some are better at hiding it. 😉 ”
I am going to keep this as my motto for difficult days. 😉
Enjoy your day!
How to handle a baby is an essential skill for new parents. My e-book on “Playtime” is a fun and easy read that will teach you about natural child development, how to meaningfully ‘play’ with your child, and will help you bond with your little one!
E-book: A COLLECTION OF IDEAS FOR THE MOST FUN PLAYTIME WITH YOUR CHILD