We are now responsible to take care of another tiny human and this is an opportunity that I am extremely excited to tackle with my wife. She has been such a trooper throughout the entire pregnancy and I am extremely proud of her! I am going to use my final post of my project to outline some of our routines we have planned for our little one when they arrive through the first few months. I have found another resource that is written by Adrian Kulp entitled We’re Parents – The New Dad’s Guide to the First Year.
0-3 Month Checklists
Baby Month 1
- Be sure to watch for jaundice in the first few days. If the baby appears to be yellowish, even in the eyes, be sure to let your pediatrician know. This is a common condition and usually responds to sunlight exposure or light therapy treatment.
- Be sure to spend as much time as possible during the first few moments. Be sure to touch the baby often – massage, cuddle, gently move their legs in a cycling motion.
- Be sure to support the baby’s neck – they are not strong enough yet to hold up their head.
- At nighttime, keep the lights low and the movement to a minimum.
- Keep the umbilical cord site clean and if applicable do the same for the circumcision site.
- Be aware of the fontanel (soft spot) on their head.
- When changing diapers, be sure to wipe from front to back!
- Be sure to start stocking up on breast milk if possible. If not, be sure to find a good formula to use in place of breast milk.
Baby Month 2
- Put the baby into their crib when they are still sleepy, so they can learn to fall asleep on their own.
- Be sure to talk and interact with your baby often!
- Give the baby plenty of opportunity to move and assume different positions.
- Continue learning what your baby likes and what soothes them!
Baby Month 3
- Start tummy time! They may find this frustrating at first but it is so good for them and helps them get stronger. There are tons of tummy time activities online – so be sure to look some out and give them a try!
- Begin to let the baby cry for a bit when they first wake up – resist the urge to run in. This will help them learn how to self-soothe and possibly fall back asleep.
- Be sure to expose them to a lot of color throughout the day.
- Continue to chat it up with your baby. This helps develop their own communication skills – they may even begin responding in their own unique ways.
- If breastfeeding is an issue, consult a lactation specialist, or switch to formula feeding.
- Be sure mom is eating well and getting plenty of water, especially if she is nursing.
- Take stock of her mental health. Changing hormones can result in mood swings, but you will want to watch for signs of postpartum mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
Signs of Postpartum Mood Disorders
“Postpartum Depression” has become the umbrella term for mood disorders that moms may be experiencing after their baby has arrived. They experience these mood disorders as a result of fluctuating hormones, high stress levels, sleep deprivation, and exhaustion. Some new moms may also experience the lesser known postpartum anxiety disorder. There is some crying and worrying to be expected with childbirth and parenting but we must be aware of when these behaviours become too overpowering for moms.
The “Baby Blues” are characterized by temporary symptoms such as mood swings, crying, anxiety, feeling of overwhelm, irritability, difficulty concentrating, but these usually subside within 2 weeks. Postpartum depression or anxiety can last for months or longer if not treated. New dads can experience these mood disorders as well. New moms and dads need to know that these mood disorders are temporary, common and treatable.
The signs and symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety will differ from person to person but can include a variety of the listed signs and symptoms below:
- Excessive crying
- Rage or anger
- Severe mood swings
- Difficulty bonding with baby
- Severe fatigue or restlessness
- Withdrawal from others
- Feelings of despair, hopelessness, guilt or unworthiness
- Feelings that you’re not a good parent
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Diminished interests in activities
- Hallucinations – are more serious and are a sign of postpartum psychosis.
If you suspect that you or your partner are suffering from any of these symptoms, DO NOT hesitate to reach out to healthcare professionals to get treatment started ASAP!
Being able to soothe someone who is not able to communicate their needs directly, means that you need to understand various cues and what they may mean. Even though babies cannot speak yet, they do have unspoken cues which they are utilizing to communicate their needs to their caregivers. Crying or becoming visibly upset is usually the last attempt to get your attention. Baby’s may provide their parents with cues that will let them know when they are hungry, sleepy, uncomfortable or need a diaper change (these are just a few cues they will give).
When a parent is trying to or needing to soothe their baby, they should follow the 5 S’s of soothing a baby:
- Swaddle – Swaddling recreates the snug packaging inside the womb and is the cornerstone of calming. It decreases startling and increases sleep. And, wrapped babies respond faster to the other 4 S’s and stay soothed longer because their arms can’t wriggle around. To swaddle correctly, wrap arms snug—straight at the side—but let the hips be loose and flexed. Use a large square blanket, but don’t overheat, cover your baby’s head or allow unraveling.
**Note: Babies shouldn’t be swaddled all day, just during fussing and sleeping.**
2. Side or Stomach Position – The back is the only safe position for sleeping, but it’s the worst position for calming fussiness. This S can be activated by holding a baby on her side, on her stomach or over your shoulder. You’ll see your baby mellow in no time.
3. Shush – Contrary to myth, babies don’t need total silence to sleep. In the womb, the sound of the blood flow is a shush louder than a vacuum cleaner! But, not all white noise is created equal. Hissy fans and ocean sounds often fail because they lack the womb’s rumbly quality.
4. Swing – Life in the womb is very jiggly. (Imagine your baby bopping around inside your belly when you jaunt down the stairs!) While slow rocking is fine for keeping quiet babies calm, you need to use fast, tiny motions to soothe a crying infant mid-squawk.
5. Suck – Sucking is “the icing on the cake” of calming. Many fussy babies relax into a deep tranquility when they suck. Many babies calm easier with a pacifier.
When a baby is hungry they are going to go through 3 stages of cues to try and let their parents know they are hangry!
- Early Cues – stirring, continually opening their mouth or turning their heads to the side.
- Mid Cues (Feed me now!) – stretching, increased movement, putting their hands in their mouths.
- Too Late Cues – agitated, turning red, crying. These cues will likely require mom or dad to soothe the baby before they are ready to eat.
Sleep or tired cues are different from those they use to demonstrate they are hungry. Babies may use numerous cues to communicate that they are sleepy. These cues may be increased yawning, rubbing their eyes, pulling on their ears, clenched fists of losing interest in things or people.
We were given a great resource that focuses on sleep for both parents and the baby which is entitled “Will I Ever Sleep Again – Creating Healthy Sleep Habits for Your Newborn”. This resource was published by the company Taking Cara Babies which specialize in newborn to two year old sleep classes and resources.
Cara, from Taking Cara Babies, has 7 tips for successful baby sleeps!
- Swaddle – arms in, very snug!
- Always wake a sleeping baby during the day – babies usually do one long stretch of sleeping, try to make that happen at night! E.A.S.Y – Eat, Awake, Sleep, You time.
- Let daylight in, darkness fall – carry on normally with all sounds and light you normally do during the day. At night, it is all business – eat and sleep with no purposeful awake time. You also need your sleep!
- Use a sound machine for sleeping day/night – babies are used to a lot of noise from inside the womb where it is noisy 24/7 and a quiet space will be weird for them. Low pitched noises (white noise, rain, ocean), no music as this stimulates the brain.
- Lay baby down – end goal is to teach the baby to be able to fall asleep on their own. You do not want to create routines where they need to be fed or rocked to sleep. Be sure to set the baby down for naps 1-2 times a day still awake.
- Don’t skimp on naps – good daytime naps lead to better nighttime sleep and less nighttime wakings.
- Stretch night feedings based on age – 5 weeks = 5 hours, 6 weeks = 6 hours, etc. Use S.I.T.B.A.C.K as your guide.
When your goal is to lay the baby down for a longer stretch of sleep, Cara recommends to S.I.T.B.A.C.K.
Stop, wait, watch, observe – are they awake or just stirring?
Increase the sound machine – this will mimic the comforts of the womb. Move the sound machine closer or increase the volume.
Touch the baby’s chest
Binky – if your baby has a pacifier, offer it now.
Add in rocking (of the body) – gently rock the baby while they are swaddled side to side.
Cuddle/C.R.I.E.S – now is time to pick up your baby or implement CRIES which is the same premise as the 5 S’s to soothe a baby.
K… it’s time to feed.
Setting a daily routine was something that we were stressing out about as we had NO CLUE what these schedules even look like. We were comforted by the fact that each routine should be set up to cater to each specific family. Be sure to follow and adhere to your baby’s hunger and sleep cues. Taking Cara Babies outline a few guidelines that will help each family succeed with setting up their daily routine.
- Baby eats every 2-3 hours during the day. Never allow your baby to go longer than 3 hours between feeds.
- Try to get the baby down for a nap 60-90 minutes after awake time. If you wait too long you will have a cranky baby who will struggle falling asleep.
- During the later afternoon (4-10pm) it is not uncommon for babies to cluster feed every 90-120 minutes. They are tanking up for a long stretch of sleep!
Whether you are using a fancy tub insert, stand alone tub, kitchen sink you will have to prepare your bath space. You will need:
- Gentle baby soap
- Two or three washcloths
- Plastic cup
- Soft baby towel and thick plush towel
- Clean outfit for all involved.
Once you have all of your supplies gathered, it’s time for the bath!
- Set up a landing area – clear an area and spread a towel over the plush thick towel for them to wrap up with.
- Beware of the belly button – if they have not yet lost the umbilical cord stump, be sure to give the baby a head to toe sponge bath with a warm, damp washcloth, baby soap, avoiding the belly button. Wash the baby’s bottom last and set that aside to be run through the laundry. Wash off any excess soap with a second, warm cloth.
- Fill the bath – If they have lost their umbilical cord stump, you can fill the bath half full, just enough for the baby to sit in some warm water. Test water before putting the baby in, and never let go of them.
- Wash head to toe – start with their head, use a warm, damp washcloth to later put a small amount of soap onto their skin. Support their back and neck as you work your way down and be sure to wash the bottom last, setting that washcloth aside.
- Rinse – fill the plastic cup with some warm water from the bath and pour it over their trunk and legs to keep them warm and rinse them. Wet the second cloth and wash the soap out of their hair.
- Wrap up – lay the baby on the towel you set aside at the start of bath time. Wrap them in the clean towel, spot drying his head and body. Cuddle them until they are warm and dry and put them into their clean outfit.
As I wrap up this learning project surrounding pregnancy, fetus development and initial parenting, I find it hard to wrap my head around the fact that within a month I will be a dad to a young baby boy or girl. This project has helped me understand what my wife is going through, the changes she is experiencing, but also what and how our baby is developing, and early parenting duties, routines and expectations. It has also helped me understand what the first few months are going to be like and how our lives as parents are going to change.
Thanks for following along!