As some of you know, having a new baby is not as easy as all those sleepy newborn photos make it look. A few weeks ago I posted Tips and Tricks for Babies Part 1 and because the list was so long, I created Part 2. Here is some unsolicited advice, since you didn’t ask!
1. When buying furniture, think about how it will fare with milk and blueberries. Leather works well. Or, don’t buy nice furniture until your kids move out. I can’t count the cups of milk that have been dumped on our couch.
2. If you’re going to sleep train try doing it very gradually before they can jump out of their crib; in my humble opinion, between six and eight months. This is after they are out of the “fourth trimester” but before they can stand up and fall down to hit their heads. This is a very tricky topic, and you know your child best, so trust your instincts.
3. Best sleep training books. Another note on sleep training. Because sleep is a VERY big deal. After unsuccessfully trying to sleep train, we co-slept until about 15 months, but couldn’t take it anymore because she wiggled and pulled my hair all night. I read a ton of sleep books (usually at 4 am) and found a combination of ideas that worked best for my kids. We ended up with a modified Ferber method, meaning we had a bedtime routine (bath, milk, brush teeth, stories, songs, bed) and laid our daughter in her crib awake so she could learn how to put herself to sleep. But rather than waiting longer and longer to respond to their cries, we went in and picked her up every 3-5 minutes. We put her back down after a minute or two of reassurance, crying or not. We found consistency to be the most important thing but wanted to avoid the stress that some say raises cortisol levels in babies (here is an extreme and a moderate view for more info). For our second child, we started earlier and laid him down awake as an infant (after a routine), and he didn’t need much sleep training. Here is a list of books I found helpful:
Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber
Health Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth
The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley
4. How to survive on little sleep (since we are on the topic). With two little ones, I would get so ticked when people would say “sleep when the baby sleeps!” because, well, there are two of them and they never slept at the same time. Here are some ideas:
- Coffee, if you’re nursing baby allows it. Mine didn’t for the first 8 months (the repercussions were worse than the benefits). But after my son grew out of whatever digestion issue he had, coffee kind of made me a better person.
- Just decide to keep going. You have to. And complain to your friends.
- Fake it till you make it. Sometimes the only thing I could do was just pretend like I got a full night of sleep so I didn’t have the lack of sleep AND the self loathing.
- When things get really bad, I waited till the baby was napping, then put on TV for the toddler and slept in the same room as her.
- Make a plan with your partner on how they can help you get some rest, even if it’s only on the weekend.
5. For nursing without a cover but with some modesty, wear a cami under your shirt, and then just pull your shirt up and the cami down. You’re basically covered. Forget the nursing cover after the first few months. Babies hate them and our society needs to get over the fact that boobs have milk in them.
6. Potty training. According to the potty training guru who wrote “Oh Crap. Potty Training” potty train between 20 and 30 months. This way they are old enough to obey, but young enough not to protest. We waited until the 30 month mark and the method proposed in “Oh Crap. Potty Training” worked fast and very well. I’m talking four days from diapers to undies with a rare accident.
7. Consider letting your baby sleep in the pack-n-play. I know it sounds ghetto, but we lived in a small space and I didn’t like that my baby would hit their heads on the wood of the crib when learning to crawl and stand. A pack-n-play is all mesh! I bought a special mattress for it to give it a bit more softness. Plus, when we traveled, our son was still in his own bed.
8. Babycenter.com filled in the gaps in teaching me how to be a parent. Try signing up for their monthly update on what you can expect developmentally from your baby. It’s free.
9. Find lots of parent friends and schedule play dates a couple of times a week. It will help you stay sane to know that other parents are feeling the same sense of craziness. Look for free parent education classes, Meetup.com groups, or mommy and me classes. Put your shyness or pride aside, parents need community. I love my mommy friends (near and far)!!!
10. What tips and tricks would you give to new parents?