11/16/11

What I Wish I'd Known with Baby #1


The first few months after my first child, Joshua, was born were rough. OK, I'm under-exaggerating that. He cried endlessly, didn't sleep and I was a basket case. Maybe you've been there. It's not a pretty sight. 

The second time around went much smoother. I knew what to expect, I thought a lot about how I wanted to do things, and I learned piles of stuff through experiences, my own and others. Maybe this is your first child and maybe this is your fifth. Either way, sometimes we all need a moment to take a look at the bigger picture, remember what to expect and maybe even get a few pointers. 


Here's my list of what I wish I'd known with  baby #1. 
  • Remember, life with a baby is a journey, not a destination. Keep the end goal of great sleep etc. in mind, but don't get so distracted trying to reach it that you forget to live and enjoy the journey.
  • Make sure to let baby fall asleep on you every once in a while. It is one of those precious moments that will stay with you forever.
  • We all have our bad days, babies included. So don't freak out and jump to every possible conclusion when they happen! You will stress yourself out for no reason at all. If things last for more than a day or two, then it is time to start the investigation.
  • Consistency pays off. It really does. 
  • An overtired child, particularly a baby, is your worst nightmare. Mess up all over the place, but do not even go there! See waketimes and sleep cues for some pointers.
  • It's OK to not be supermom every second of every day. Everyone needs to ask for help sometimes. Consider it practice at being humble.
  • Someone, somewhere out there will always be critical about how you raise your child, especially how you sleep train and discipline him. Forget about it. As long as you are keeping your child safe, happy, healthy and loved, then you are doing the right thing.
  • Children are hard. They take a lot of work. They stress you out. At the same time, raising them will likely the best thing you ever do.
  • Babies have different personalities. Some are easier than others. It is a fact of life (albeit an unfair one!). Some sleep great no matter what. Some have quite a few sleep problems even if things are done "perfectly". That is how it goes. If you fall into the doesn't sleep great party, that's OK. It doesn't mean you are a bad parent, and it doesn't mean there is something wrong with your child. Sleep just isn't one of his strengths. I'm sure he has many others.
  • Motherhood is full of small, but great moments. Focus on those. 
  • Be patient with sleep. It takes some babies a while to get it. If it takes them a month longer than their older sister or cousin it doesn't matter. They have their own time table. Their uniqueness makes them special.
  • Tomorrow is a new day. It doesn't matter what happened yesterday or the day before. Time to start afresh. 
  • If you think your baby has colic, rule out overtiredness first. Because that is very possibly the problem.
  • Everyone needs support sometimes. Someone to talk to. Someone to give you a hug. Knowing you are not the only one going through something does wonders.
  • Comparing your child's sleep to others is only sometimes useful as a reference point, not a copy point. Your child is not their child. Your child has his own needs and his own strengths and weaknesses.
  • Sometimes there is no reason for what is going on. No reason at all. Sorry, but it's true.
  • Babies have different personalities and will respond to your routine in different ways. Work with your baby, not against him when making your routine.
  • Be flexible. Don't be so ruled by your routine you are unable to enjoy life, unable to enjoy your baby and unable to follow your mommy instinct. Adjust your routine to fit you and baby.
  • Life with a young baby is full of phases. Much of what happens is just a phase. That's it. Some have names and causes (teething, learning a new skill) and some appear nameless and causeless. But guess what. Each of these phases do pass! Keep that in mind when you feel at your wit's end.
  • Relax. Enjoy life. Enjoy your baby. He will not be little forever. You won't do everything perfectly and that is OK! Besides, if you're perfect, how will your child learn what he doesn't want to do as a parent when he grows up :)
  • A sleep association is not the end of the world. In fact, it is much preferable to a mom pulling out all her hair, going half insane and a baby getting no sleep at all. Yes, start as you mean to go on, but only if the end result will be a pleasing one. There are many things worse than a prop dependent baby.
  • Your baby is not a machine. The same thing goes for you. Do not expect perfection on either front. Do not expect things to go exactly by the book. They won't. Thinking so will result in piles of stress and, sometimes, a feeling of failure.
  • You are doing better than you think you are. You are really are!
  • Remember to take time out for yourself sometimes. You need it and most importantly, you deserve it!

12 comments :

  1. Hi Rachel, I am a follower from Val's blog. I sure love what you guys are doing. This post was especially great for me to reflect over. My now 10 month old was horribly colic and we had to do a lot of investigating as to what could be so wrong. I am not kidding she was wide awake and screaming for 7 hours straight at 6 weeks old. I thought I was loosing it. My now almost 3 year old was textbook turned angel with following the BW routine.

    All of that to say, Yes! I agree!
    www.themoseshome.blogspot.com

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  2. Tyler and Shea Moses,
    I agree, colic is not cool. Glad you are past it!

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  3. Read your article, I came from the link up at Brighton Park. What an extensive list. My first child was the one who never slept and cried day and night lol he is now 5 and is still not big on sleeping ;) My second child was a very good sleeper when she was born I was dreading those long nights and even longer sleep deprived days but alas she slept like, well, a baby lol You have some great tips keep up the post

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  4. Hi Rachel,

    I have a 10 week old baby boy - Archie - who has taken to 30 minute day time naps and still wakes a couple times a night - though we are working together on extending his naps and his night sleep! I had recently become a bit obsessed over his sleeping habits and was beginning to get miserable trying to correct things and Archie seemed to be getting less and less sleep with each thing I tried! Of all the information I've gathered and things I've found on sleep training / techniques etc I have to say this post has by far been the most helpful. It has put things back into perspective and reminded me that the most important thing of all is enjoying and loving my baby and taking his weaknesses with his strengths. We will keep trying to improve his sleep habits without letting it rule both of our lives! My little boy may not be the best sleeper, but at 10 weeks he already converses with me (even seeming to try and copy some sounds!) is very active and alert during his waketime and can already lift his torso up with his arms when having tummy time! (which he loves!) I just wanted to say thanks for your post, it's given me hope that his sleep will improve if I keep at it and that I'm not doing a bad job :) I love your site and will be highly recommending it to friends and family!

    Kindest Regards, Ali

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    Replies
    1. Ahh, Thanks Ali. It's so nice to hear that I'm helping someone out ;) Good luck with everything!

      Rachel

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  5. Today a is so not too good day Feeling down again.. After the child care nurse questioning my method mood putting my baby to sleep plus baby been refusing refusing formula that dr prescribed which end up he is cat nappy the whole week. Now I am feeling upset coz the dreamfeed attempt failed (just starting implementing it).. As I am lying on my back thinking what has been happening past 11 weeks - very unsettle baby, in laws that which I felt blaming me for baby being unsettle(jerking movement which they thought due to c-section, hard to falls a sleep, baby hav reflux, colicand intolerance which I am sure they think due to baby on formula as I don't breastfeed (not enough supply) etc etc..,
    I am then remember this post and my friend advice.. Things will get better. Do what you think right for your baby and you feel comfortable doing it.. Someone somewhere will always be critical with the choice of parenting. I am doing better from why I hav been thinking
    Thanks Rachel.. Definitely will read and read again this post just to keep the spirit up.. I am glad you hav this post

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    Replies
    1. LuChu,
      I'm so sorry you're having a hard time right now. Life can sure be tough sometimes! And it doesn't help when you aren't feeling supported by those around you. But yes, things will get better! And if you are doing what you feel is best for your baby then that is the most important thing. Take things one day at a time. Sleep will get better with time and you may end up being the one that other people envy because you have a child that will sleep! ;)

      Keep working at that dreamfeed, it can take several days to 'work'. If you're having jerky issues while sleeping, try swaddling.

      Best of luck with everything!
      Rachel

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    2. Thanks Rachel..
      I have been trying to do the routine but its so hard.. Baby napping, refuse feeding - even tough its been 3 hrs since last feed.. But then again there are good and bad days

      Not sure if others have same issue with Df.. But baby did not want to take the milk.refused. He then cry for a while and did not want to go back ro sleep.. It was 3.5 hrs before last feed..

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    3. LuChu,
      That is uncommon for a baby that young to be refusing feeds. I would focus on trying to get that issue figured out before worrying too much about other things although a routine can often help some babies. You'll have to see what seems most helpful right now. Keep working with different formulas, see if the nipple whole in the bottle needs to be bigger, evaluate for reflux. I'm not sure what is going on, these are just some suggestions to consider. See if having him not get overly hungry helps with feeds. Also see if he eats better if you are able to get him well rested by any means possible.

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    4. Hi Rachel, Thank you for your tips.. I tried the more holes for the bottle - it helps. Just noticing that he still bit difficult to drink his milk or not as much in the morning compared to afternoon or at night. He would play with the teat of the bottle in him mouth.. not drinking the milk. H

      I still keep going with the dream feed - i changed the time to 11 pm, although he sometimes wake up before the dreamfeed time for milk. he slept from 630 - 7 pm through till 5 on two occasions. Sometimes he wakes around 230-330. which i thought for feed but the consumption varies from 40mL to 50mL. He still refusing feed on waking in the morning (between5-6)

      I would love to do any routine but not sure where to start due to the feeding challenge. and he usually has no problem to falling asleep ( which I am grateful for) and he sleeps heaps during the day - although mostly naps.

      I would love any advice from you to improve the current 'routine'. I just cant wait until he can start solid.

      Thanks for the great website. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and family

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    5. LuChu,
      They generally sell bottles with nipples wholes that get bigger. There is stage 1, stage 2 etc.

      If he isn't eating much at a feeding, I wouldn't worry too much as long as he is growing well and isn't snack feeding all day. He is likely not eating much in the morning because he is still full from eating at night--a good sign that he is possibly ready to be weaned more from night feeds. He is about 3 months old, yes? He might be happier on 3-3.5 hour feeds during the day. Some babies get irritated if you try to feed them too soon.

      I don't know enough about the feeding issues to know how to help you with them and how to work with them to make your routine better. I can only suggest working on getting a formula he tolerates, making sure the nipple whole is a good size, trying to feed in a dark, calm room, and ruling out any health issues like reflux. To get on a routine, the main thing is to start at the same time each day, probably around 7-7:30. Then go from there with feeds around every 3 hours. Look at these posts
      http://www.mybabysleepguide.com/2012/03/eatwakesleep-routine-ews.html
      http://www.mybabysleepguide.com/2009/05/parent-directed-feeding-pdf.html
      http://www.mybabysleepguide.com/2009/02/wake-time.html
      http://www.mybabysleepguide.com/2009/08/why-have-scheduleroutine.html

      I actually dread starting solids. It's a lot more work, more time consuming and very messy :) Don't count on it helping with night sleep. But who knows, maybe it will help with some of your feeding problems--I don't really know enough about them to know.

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