Newborn Survival Guide 0-3 months

Joshua, 4 days old
A little overwhelmed by the list of sleep posts? I don't blame you. It can be a bit daunting, particularly if you have no idea where to begin.

That's where this post and the 0-3 Month Newborn Sleep Guide come in.

Here you'll find a summary of the most asked about topics from baby's screaming introduction to this new world to around
his 100 day birthday. 100 days? Don't think that sounds so long? For some of you, it'll sound like an eternity. Time will almost feel like it's stopped. And you'll spend your free time (if you ever have any) daydreaming about inventing a time machine to get you past this tough stage. I'm not trying to make you pee your pants with fright, but, folks, the newborn stage doesn't always flow by like an ABC family special. And for some reason, most of us don't seem to know that when we sign up for this parenting gig!

So let's start from the beginning.

From Birth to Beyond
When your baby is born, don't expect the gerber baby. You'll get there soon, but it probably won't be during your hospital stay. I'm sure you'll still think your baby is the cutest thing ever, but let's just face it, once the mottling and smooshed head and rashes disappear, she'll look even more perfect--not to mention a little more like what you expected.

Some of you might be end up with babies like mine that fuss and cry the entire time in the hospital. I sent my babies to the nursery a couple times (which I don't think is as scary or as bad as the breastfeeding experts make it out to be!) and even the nurses were flustered by my babies. But guess what, these first few days weren't at all a reflection of how they acted later one. So if you have a baby like mine or the complete opposite, don't put too much merit into it. I see far too many people worried out of their minds by their baby's behavior by day two when they have a completely different baby by day four. At the same time, don't get too smug if you've got a heavenly baby in the hospital. You may be in for a surprise!

I want to throw in that every parent parents differently. There is no one best way to be a mother. Do the best you can do and don't let others make you feel guilty for doing things differently from them. And certainly try not to judge others for doing things differently from you. Until you've walked in someone's shoes, you can't completely understand where they're coming from.

Little Sleepy Head, or Not
The first couple weeks home from the hospital (by due date), your baby will be an 'A', 'B', or 'C' baby (these are beautifully and artistically named by me). 'A' babies like to sleep all the time. You can play pass the parcel with them and they won't even blink an eye. Getting them to do what babies do best, EAT, is even a difficult task (tips on how to keep baby awake during feeds here.). You may have to wake them up every few hours to get calories in them. If you've got one of these babies, you might be thinking this baby thing is pretty dang easy--what is everyone else complaining about?? And you might also be making some small enemies with the parents of C babies!

C babies are active and alert from the get go and do not sleep well. I've had one of these babies and to this day I still think it is overly unfair to have a baby like this after you've gone through 9 months of pregnancy and labor! These babies are tough! If you've got one of these babies, you may be daydreaming about that time machine I mentioned--or about punching that mom who keeps showing off about her A baby :)

B babies fall somewhere in between A and C, because that's just how the alphabet goes.

After the first couple weeks at home most babies wake up a bit (if you have a C baby things may stay pretty much the same). Some will suddenly become active and alert and no longer sleep easily like they did before. Some will slowly become less and less sleepy over the next several weeks. This change can be a bit shocking for parents--I know it was for me the first time around! Just think of it as practice for the months and years to come because children are always changing and surprising parents!

The Newborn Fussies
Most newborns go through an extra fussy period in the late afternoon and early evening that people sometimes call the Witching Hour (a time of bad luck). And trust me, it can be a majorly terrible time of bad luck (if you're lucky, it might not be very bad at all). If you've heard parents tell nightmarish stories of babies crying for hours on ends they were probably talking about this time. Good thing there's a post coming up about this time to help you get through it in one piece! For now, turn on some LOUD tv (funniest home videos saved me with my colicky first child) and focus on the tone your arms and legs are getting form all this baby holding and jiggling. Who would have thought your baby would be your own personal trainer?

Along with the witching hour, most babies get progressively fussy (especially at night) for the first 6 to 8 weeks of their life. After this point, it usually SLOWLY goes down hill. I emphasize slowly because I thought things would suddenly improve, but they didn't. And I'm pretty sure I cried.

If your baby is really fussy at night, don't worry about lots of holding etc to get her to go to sleep. You do what you have to then for her and for you. Once she gets over this phase, then you can work on sleep more at this time. Working on it now will likely not be very helpful.

Keep in mind that babies have their on and off day with fussiness and sleep. One day you may feel you have an angel child and the next you may wonder if someone switched out your child for another while you were sleeping! Try not to get too worked up problem solving all these changes because much of the time (as you can see by the wonder weeks and growth spurts) there isn't much you can do--you simply have to wait them out as gracefully as a tired parent can. With newborns, these changes can happen by the day, with older children, they happen more by the month. If you are breastfeeding, feel free to evaluate your diet, but most likely it doesn't have anything to do with diet, and most likely, your milk supply is totally and completely fine. If you are worried your child may be fussy because he is ill or not getting enough milk, of course check with your pediatrician.

No one knows for sure what colic is or what causes it (some even say it doesn't exist) but lots of babies are diagnosed with it. If you've got one of those babies, I'm sorry. I'm so so so sorry. And for the next 3 to 4 months, I'll continue to be very very sorry. The good news? You'll have some majorly toned arms, abs, and thighs by the time your baby is 4 months old! Until then, The Happiest Baby on the Block and a swing can help. IMO, this is the best swing out there by far. I also always recommend  probiotics for babies, especially formula fed babies. Refrigerated ones (I use this one for my newborns) are the best, but this one seems to still have decent results and easy to find online and in stores.

Sleep and Eating
Sleeping and eating with newborns starts off pretty erratic  They've just come from a womb where food was 24/7 and, if you recall those fetal kicks keeping you up while you were trying to get some shut eye, they don't know the difference between day and night. In fact, most newborns don't consolidate their sleep much at all. Naps kind of happen all over the place and night sleep is, well, often just like day sleep. {ahhhhh!}

Most people out there encourage you to just wait. Wait for baby to sleep longer. Wait for baby to want to eat more than 1 hour apart. Wait for baby to figure out his days and nights.

I completely and totally disagree.

There is so much you can do to guide baby towards more manageable sleeping and eating habits (you know, manageable enough that a parent can actually do it long term without crying for their own mommy).

I'm not in the group of people that thinks baby always knows best. I think we are here to be parents and to me, being a parent means we gently guide our children. We are here to be their advocates as well as advocates for ourselves and our family. We need to take everyone into account and do what is best for everyone. And having a baby that wakes all night long and requires moms's attention 100% of the day isn't healthy for mom, it isn't healthy for a marriage, and it isn't healthy for the other children in the family who need their mom, just like baby does.

That's where my newborn sleeping and eating methods come into play. They are gentle but effective. And they'll not only help baby eat and sleep better (which is important to his health too!) but they'll make having a newborn a more manageable, and for many, a much more enjoyable experience. They'll help make the newborn period a time that you can thrive in not just survive in! Go ahead and hop on over to the 0-3 Month Newborn Sleep Guide for more sleep specific tips.

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