So you are taking home your new baby, do you know what you are in for? Sure you have prepared for this moment for a long time. You have bought all the right stuff and read everything you could get your hands on. But actually living with a baby 24/7 is a whole new experience. There is a steep learning curve when it comes to parenting. There will be many, many new experiences that you will have to learn to handle and work through. But how exactly do you cope with a new baby? What will be some of the most challenging things you will have to deal with when it comes to your new baby? Two of the most common complaints, when it comes to coping with a new baby, are the lack of sleep and colicky babies. Beyond these two complaints there are other tricks you can try to stay sane.
A common complaint among new parents is the lack of sleep. This wonderful bundle of joy you have waited for for nine months is home and he refuses to sleep through the night. It can drive parents up the wall always waking up in the middle of the night to take care of your new baby. Babies, for the most part, do not sleep through the night. Every once and a while there will be the odd baby who does but do not expect this because it is not the norm.
Babies need to sleep at least 16 hours a day. Unfortunately those 16 hours do not happen all at once to the detriment of the parents. Babies sleep in 2 to 4 hour bursts. After which babies wake up, eat and play before falling right back to sleep. This is great for baby but can drive a parent to exhaustion where you become stressed to the point of breaking. But have no fear, between 4 and 6 months babies gain the ability to sleep for 8 to 12 hours at a times. You can help your child achieve this mile stone, and save your sanity, sooner if you teach your child good sleeping habits right from the start.
There are four ways you can help you child learn good sleeping habits. The first habit you can teach your baby starts with you. Learn to tell when your baby is tired. Trying to put a baby to sleep when he is overtired is difficult. Instead of going down relatively easy, an overtired baby can have difficulties going to sleep and fuss for hours. Putting a baby down when he is just tired means less fuss. Additionally, learning to put your baby down when he is tired will teach him to go to sleep when he is tired and not push to stay awake. Pulling an ear, rubbing the eyes, being really fussy, and yawning are all signs that a baby is tired. As time goes by you will learn to read the unique signs of when your child is tired.
The second way you can help your baby establish good sleep habits is by teaching him the difference between night and day. A baby is not born able to tell the difference between night and day. He spends nine months in utero where the surroundings are always the same. There is no day or night and the baby can do whatever he wants whenever he wants. Starting at two weeks a baby can begin to learn the difference between night and day. You can do this by teaching your baby the difference. During the day play with your baby. Do not stress about keeping the house silent. Let the phone ring, run the dishwasher or vacuum, or play music. Keeping the rooms bright will help your baby know it is daytime. And try not to let him sleep through feedings. During the night keep your baby’s room dark and quiet even when he wakes up. When your baby wakes up during the night do not play with him, just take care of business (whether it is to change his diaper or to feed him) and put him back to sleep. By doing as suggested, it will teach your child the purpose of night and day. That night is for sleeping and day is for playing and being awake.
Having a regular bedtime routine is another way to teach your child good sleeping habits. A bedtime routine does not have to be elaborate. The purpose is to prepare your child mentally for bed. When you have a regular routine your child will tell himself, every time you start it, now is the time to sleep. Therefore, simple is good. A routine can simply be: putting your baby into pajamas, feeding him, and reading a bedtime story or singing a lullaby. Something as small as that can tell a baby: Okay, now it is time to sleep.
The last suggestion for how you can teach your baby good sleeping habits is: let your baby fall asleep on his own. This seems like such an easy suggestion but it can be so hard to do. For, at least, the first 5 weeks a child is incapable of falling asleep by himself. However, after 8 weeks your baby should be able to fall asleep by himself. You can help your baby do this by not spending all night rocking him in the hopes of getting him to fall asleep. And this is why it is hard. At a certain point you are going to have to lay your baby down in his crib and let him cry himself to sleep. It drives parents bonkers to do this because it goes against the very fabric of their being, to let their kid lay there and cry. But, your baby will fall asleep and if done consistently will start falling asleep on his own without the fuss. In order to not put your baby in his crib before he falls asleep, start doing your bedtime routine a little earlier.
Suggestions for teaching your baby good sleeping habits are all well and good but what about the time before your baby learns to sleep through the night. How do you cope and stop from going insane when your baby is waking you up every couple of hours? First, as impossible as it may seem, rest as much as possible. You do this by sleeping when your baby sleeps. When your baby is catching a nap in the middle of the afternoon then you catch a nap as well. Doing this will help you catch up on some of the sleep you miss at night. As well, to save your sanity, accept help from others. If there is another adult in the house, who is willing, you can share middle of the night feedings and the responsibility of watching the baby during the day. This way you have the chance at some uninterrupted rest time. If friends or family offer to watch your baby for a while take the opportunity so you can have a nap or some time to do something you love.
It can be a parents worst nightmare to have your baby scream and scream and scream at the top of his lungs and nothing is working to settle him down. You can try everything and still your baby will not stop crying. It is possible your child is colicky. Colic is a condition some babies have which results in intense bouts of crying that can last up to 4 hours. There is no rhyme nor reason for why some babies end up colicky and others do not or even why a colic episode starts.
Some symptoms of a colic episode include: intense and continuous crying, swollen or bloated stomach, flushed head, cold feet, clenched hands, legs pulled up, arched back, and passing gas. Not every baby having a colic episode will display every symptom listed above. Colic episode happen frequently and last for around 4 hours. There is nothing you can do during a colic episode to stop it. Changing a diaper, feeding, bathing, putting on more or less clothes, none of it will work. There is good news though, colic ends around the 4th month.
In the mean time, while your pulling your hair out because of a crying baby, there are some things you can try to help with the colic. First off do not feed your baby juice. Juice is not good for young babies and the sugars involved can intensify colic. If you are bound and determined to give you baby juice, watering it down can help. Along the lines of diet, there are a few other things you can try. If you are nursing try eliminating the following foods from you diet one at the time: dairy, spicy foods, and gassy foods. These three types of foods can all bring on or intensify colic. On the other hand, if you are formula feeding you can either change the brand you use or your baby may have a milk allergy. In which case, you can go to your doctor to get a prescription for hypo-allergenic formula. In both these cases, the food your baby is eating is irritating their developing digestive system and bring on a colic episode.
Moving from diet to feedings, there are a few thing to keep in mind. Do not continue to feed your child if he is not crying due to hunger. Overfeeding a baby can make his colic worse. As well, no matter how you choose to feed your child (formula or breast feeding) insure he is not swallowing air as he eats. This may cause a colic episode.
Besides diet and feedings there other things that can help you with your colicky baby. One of those thing is environment. Once your baby has started to have a colic fit keep rooms quiet and dark so as to not overstimulate him. Another approach is to play soft sounds and try gentle repetitive motions. Soft sounds include natural or white noise, things that are soothing in nature. Repetitive motions include rocking chairs, car rides, strollers, or carrying him around. Repetitive noises can also help such as vacuums, car rides, and washing machines. There is even one story of a baby finding he sound of a hair dryer soothing. These suggestion may not stop a colic episode but will help your child feel soothed.
The last two tips I have are: do not smoke around your baby. Smoking can cause a colic episode. The other tip is to swaddle your baby and hold him close. This will cause your child to be comforted.
A baby crying can bring on intense emotions (frustration, anxiousness, anger). Have a safe place to put your baby. Somewhere you can put your baby down and he won’t hurt himself and you can walk away. When you get to the end of your rope place your baby in the safe place and walk away to regroup. This in no way makes a bad mom. It is a way to keep you sane and your baby safe. Another option is to leave the house completely. Call a friend or family member to come watch the baby and leave.
Colic is tough to deal with. If you believe you need to see a doctor or believe something more than colic is going on, do not afraid to go see your doctor.
Besides dealing with sleeping problems and colic, there are other things you can do to help cope with your new baby. These things include eating smart, getting health care, spending time outside, make new friends, giving yourself a break, taking care of yourself and your family, and enjoying time with your baby.
When you have a new baby eating smart can go out the window. Days tend to blend together when taking care of a baby. You are sleep deprived and the babies needs outweigh your own. The end result is meals get forgotten. However, part of maintaining your energy levels is eating right. You are not restoring your energy levels trough sleep so you need regular meals to compensate. Besides taking the time to make your own meals, accept any offers from friend or family to bring meals or pick up groceries.
Get Health Care
Both you and your baby need regular check ups after birth. For your baby there will be check ups at 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 1 year. All of these check ups are recommended for a reason and should not be missed. There will be scheduled visits for mom as well that should not be missed. It is important that mom keeps an eye on both her physical and mental health. 1 in 10 new moms are affected by postpartum depression. If treated, postpartum depression causes few issues. However, if left untreated, it can cause serious issues. Never be afraid to call your doctor is you have question; whether it is about your baby’s health, your health, or concerns over postpartum depression do not.
Spending Time Outside
Trapped inside all day taking care of a baby can cause feelings of isolation. This can be really tough on a new mom, especially one who is used to living an active life. Take time out of your schedule to go outside each day. Whether this time is in the backyard during your baby’s nap or if you take your baby to a park to play, getting outside will help if you feel isolated.
Make New Friends
Speaking of feelings of isolation, making friends with other new parents helps fight these feelings. Having a baby can be lonely. You need to spend a lot of time taking care of your baby and some of your friends may not understand. Especially those who do not have kids of their own. Making friends with other new parents gives you people who can relate to your experiences and what you are going through. Having people around who understand helps fight feelings of isolation and loneliness. You can meet new parents at the local park or at a parenting group.
Give Yourself a Break
Babies create chaos in life. Not only are there the regular chores to be done but there are also new chores on top of things. It takes a while to learn how to balance the old chores with the new chores and still get everything done. So, give yourself a break. Do not beat yourself up over the things that do not get done during the day. Eventually you will develop new routines and the chores will get done.
Take Care of Yourself and Your Family
Even with the chaos that a new baby brings it is important to take care of yourself and your family. Take care of yourself by doing the things that you like and enjoy to do. Listen to your favorite music, make arrangements to go out and see a movie, go to an exercise class, have a massage, go to a spa, etc. You can take care of your family by spending time with older children. Any older children you have can feel jealousy over new babies. New babies get all the attention and older children can feel they are no longer loved because of this. By spending time with older children you are letting them know they are still loved and important to you. You can also include older children in taking care of their siblings.
Enjoy spending time with your new baby. A baby is wonderful to have around. Do not get so caught up in taking care of your new baby that you forget to spend time with him, playing with him, reading to him, and bonding with him. There are many rewards and joys that come with a baby.
Babies are chaos and despite spending nine months preparing for your bundle of joy you are never fully prepared for that chaos. Lots of people have different methods of coping with the chaos and insanity a baby brings. However, the two most common complaints parents tend to have is the lack of sleep and dealing with a colicky baby. Besides these two complaints there are also a list of other things (getting health care, going outside, and taking care of yourself and your family just to name a few) that can help you to cope. But despite all that your baby is unique and you are going to have to find out what works for you and for him.