Now that I’m well and fully entrenched in the newborn stage again, I’ve noticed some striking similarities in how I mom. To be sure, there are plenty of differences too, but that’s a post all its own. My personality definitely errs on the manic end of the spectrum in pretty much all ways, but mamas know that the newborn stage will bring.out.the.crazy.
I’m not saying that any of these habits are necessarily good or bad. They’re just things I’ve noticed about myself… I do have to say though…my babies are both pretty good. Blessing? Product of my mania? Combo? We can’t know.
1. Bottle Prep
Both my babies have been/are bottle babies from the get go. This is just the choice that we made, and our babies have thrived and are super healthy (and I couldn’t be more thankful). That being said, if you walk into my kitchen at any point during the day or night, you are likely to see at least one (or two or three) bottles with water already in them and the parts laid out for easy assembly. I love Dr. Brown’s wide mouth bottles (although we have the traditional size too), but they have approximately 2,154,989,523 parts. I really think all those parts help to minimize gas, but Mama doesn’t have time to be assembling bottles under cover of darkness at 2 a.m. Instead, I go ahead and fill the bottles with water (bonus: this also lets the water come to room temperature, another newborn obsession – avoiding heating bottles as long as possible )and set the top (with nipple already in place) upside down on top. During the day I just scoop formula straight out of the tub, but at night, I’ve got it premeasured into a separator, so I can just dump, shake, and go.
Innovative? No. Immeasurably helpful? Yes…to me at least.
Few things make me crazier than trying to figure out baby sleep. Davis had his days and nights a little mixed up and didn’t do much in the way of sleeping for the first few nights. Once he figured things out, he still wasn’t a super scheduled napper until probably six months. He napped well, but not on a hard and fast, timed schedule. He did however sleep through the night (10+ hours before 8 weeks). Praise. Hands. I credit this pretty much solely to SWADDLING!
I tried to swaddle him from the very first night, and he hated it. Screaming, grunting, raging hate. I gave up, and we all suffered. After a few weeks though, the swaddle came back to stay. He learned to love it, and we never looked back. (Until six weeks when he broke out of it.)
Grant, on the other hand, has been a superstar in the sleep department from birth. We have swaddled him up tight and put him in his crib since our first night home, and for the most part, we’re having to wake him up every three hours to eat. Both boys have been mostly swaddled in these SwaddleMe idiot-proof velcro baby burritos. My sister is an expert blanket swaddler…but that skill must have passed over me.
Once I felt like I had a handle on nighttime sleep, I turned my attention to naptime. Because the boys go to daycare, and state guidelines don’t allow swaddling, I felt like I needed to keep naptime and nighttime sleep totally different. At naptime, I don’t swaddle (if I can help it), and I let the room stay a little lighter. (Obviously the first few weeks are a total free for all. Swing naps? Sure. Nap while I hold you? Always. Nap on the couch? Floor? Boppy? Yes to all.) Nighttime sleep is a totally different game. Long about 8:00, all the blinds are closed, and most lights are off. Diapers and bottle changes are all business, and then it’s into the swaddle and into the bed. I really think this helped both boys distinguish between night and day and nap and big sleep; it also helped me to feel like I was establishing some good habits and routines.
A little background to this one…when Davis was born, I was very concerned about keeping his head perfectly round. Like all newborns, he was a little squished, and his ears were not exactly even. (They’re totally fine now…and probably were then as well, but new mom concerns are real.) My mania led me to alternate how I fed and put him down every single time. If I held him in my left arm for one bottle, he went in the right arm for the next. If he slept with his head on one end of the bed for one nap, he went in the other way for the next. Every nap. Every feed. Looking back, it was definitely a little overkill, but in the moment, I felt like it was absolutely necessary. I even researched hats he could wear to keep him from laying on one side if it started to flatten. I’ve done much better with Grant, but trust that I will be keeping my eagle eyes on his baby head…
4. Day and Night
I heard about this one from my sister. She read that “introducing your baby to the sun” for a few minutes each day helps to regulate their day and night cycles (circadian rhythms?). I took it to heart, and I keep all the blinds open all day long and usually walk outside once or twice. If it’s cold, we just stand in front of the window or open door and soak up some rays. At night time, the blinds are closed, most lights are off, and we are much quieter. I can’t know if it’s helpful, but it makes me feel like I’m doing something.
Some parents are really go with the flow and weather all of the changes and stages in newborn life without batting an eye…I am not one of those parents. Being a little obsessive helps me feel like I’ve got some measure of control over this crazy time. Although, when my baby is wide awake at 3 a.m., I am definitely reminded of how little control I actually have…and that’s okay too. I think God may have designed the newborn stage in part to remind us that we.are.not.the.boss. It’s a lesson I’ve been learning for yearsssss.
I will obviously never know if my crazy newborn habits are helpful or not, but I do think establishing routines can be just as beneficial for parents as it is for children. I am by no means a perfect mom, and I definitely get overwhelmed and cry and wonder if I’m doing the right things, but when I have a plan in place, I feel a lot more secure in my decisions. With no plan, I tend to second guess and get frazzled.
I can’t be the only one who gets a little obsessive during the newborn stage though. What about you? Any non-negotiable newborn routines I should know about?