Don't get me wrong, it's good to be prepared, to read great parenting resources and get some great ideas from other mums, dads and grandparents, but You and your Baby are unique.
I learned to Read my Baby and Respond to her. Once I got the hang of it it was such a relief. There was no such thing as 'wrong' (within the boundaries of basic safety), there was just what worked for us and what didn't work for us.... and sometimes what worked one day, didn't work another. The joy and challenge of Baby reading:)
Here are some of the questions I had to discover answers for during the first few months:
Our Question. Why was she crying when I put her down? Is it because I am not routine enough? Is it because I pick her up again if she cries?
Our Answer. She had been such a good sleeper in the earlier days and then it changed. As it turned out she was crying when put down because she had colic. She had gas building up in her little body that made it quite painful for her to be horizontal at times. My instinct to pick her up rather than leave her to 'self settle' was right. I was not giving my Baby bad sleep habits by picking her up, I was responding to her needs.
What I worked out was to read her tired signs and put her down when she was tired. Her tired signs were rubbing her eyes, yawning and/or a slight darkness under her eyes.
During the worst of the colic we often had to hold her upright until after she feel asleep so she could get some rest. When she was having a good day we coud put her down sleepy but awake and she would go to sleep.
We didn't go with a structured routine, but we did have what I call Time Markers in the day. Every day at around 4pm we would go for a walk. Bath and PJs time was at 6pm and any time after that was quiet time. Night feeds were different to day feeds. The house was dark and we feed and went for a nappy change quietly. When she woke in the morning (anytime after 7am) we'd open the curtains so it was light in the house and had normal noise in the house during the day.
Other than that, I feed her when she was hungry and put her down when she was tired. Sometimes we needed to go out and I'd do my best to work that around her likely feed and sleep needs, but it wasn't always perfect so we just made do and made sure the next day was a quiet day at home.
Our Question. Was she getting enough food? She isn't always sucking for the 25 mins one side and 15 minutes the other side that the book talked about. Why was she spitting up sometimes? Did I have enough milk for growth spurts?
Our Answer. She was alert, active and happy when awake, pooing and weeing plenty each day and was slowly putting on weight. She was fine and getting plenty to eat. In actual fact I was giving her too much sometimes, that was why she was spitting up. I was one of those fortunate mums with an good milk supply and she was a good sucker, so 25 and 15 was actually more than she needed.
If there wasn't enough I would let her suck anyway to build up the milk supply and then there was enough. So for short periods during growth spurts the feeds were more frequent and that built up my supplies until she was getting enough at each feed to not need such frequent feeds.
At three months old I looked back at the early days and realised that it wasn't as hard anymore. Reading Baby rather than working by a formula and schedule was tricky at first, but the pay off for us was awesome.
The first little while is a steep learning curve. So go easy on Yourself.
A few helpful items we found for those early days:
- One of my favourite tools during the early day was my Bubbalog. A friend gave me one before Baby was born. It was great to be able to record sleeping, feeding, medication and nappy changes. It helped me to see what her patterns were, double check she was getting enough sleep and reassuring to count the nappy changes (as an indication of her getting enough milk). There is another great Review of the Bubbalog from another mum on our website.
- The Snooze Cloth is great for when Baby has a tendency to spit up on bed. I remember changing the whole bed in the middle of the night one night when Baby had spit up. I used to put a terry nappy under her head to sleep, but the Snooze Cloth is better because it tucks in at the edges of the cot and has a lovely soft cotton jersey knit cover rather than the rougher texture of a terry against Baby's face.
- The Baby Bjorn Synergy Carrier was my life saver while Baby had colic. The back support was great and the lighter breathable fabric meant that Baby and I didn't get as hot if we were in it for a while. Some babies are snuggly, but our Baby loves her own space and hated snuggly carriers... but she loved the Baby Bjorn.
- We found Baby's mobile helped to distract her for a little while and help her fall asleep.
- I found it hard to get out and about because I didn't feel comfortable feeding in public and Baby needing feeding all the time. A nursing cover made getting out and about easy for me.