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You’re a Mom, Now What? (your new baby and the importance of developing routines…)

Date: July 10, 2015 Author: Angela Nettuno Categories: Child Development Education, Parenting, Tips for Moms 0

You’re finally home with your new baby and are overjoyed, yet overwhelmed and exhausted at the same time.  So what’s next?  What do you do with this little helpless bundle of lung power?

Take this time to rest and get into a rhythm with your little miracle.  Don’t pressure yourself to do too much this first month.  Outside of establishing a feeding routine, the first month should simply be a time of quiet recuperation for mother and baby.  A newborn sleeps most of the time, therefore, aside from loving and talking to him, there is not a strong need to encourage his curiosity in the outside world until the next stage.  At home, however, we recommend providing an occasional change of scenery by moving baby from room to room.

In addition, your newborn’s eyesight is still immature and needs to be stimulated.  Since newborns focus best on objects 8-12 inches from their eyes and see contrasting colors best (especially black, white, and red) crib bumper products and mobiles are great products to help strengthen  their developing eyes.   Mobiles help infants develop visual tracking skills as their eyes follow the objects around.  The mobile should be hung about 12 inches above mattress level with the items facing baby (somewhat horizontal if possible).

Finally, babies are particularly attracted to human faces, especially the part between the nose and the forehead; consequently, a mirror will completely captivate your infant.  It should be attached to the side of the crib at mattress level so that your baby can delight in looking at his own face while lying on his back.  Many of the developmental activity mats also include mirrors that hang low for baby to look at his reflection as well as stimulating objects (many with contrasting colors and bold eyes) that hang above, similar to a mobile.  Activity mats are excellent products because they can transform to provide different stimulation as the baby grows.

For more info and newborn product recommendations please see Stimulate and Captivate Your Newborn

Now, my thoughts about feeding routines…

It’s best to try to get your newborn started into a feeding routine as early as possible.  Although there is much controversy about whether demand feeding or schedule feeding is best, I have done it both ways and had more success with schedule feeding.  Let me explain the theory behind it and why…

According to the well known book On Becoming Baby Wise  they believe that if a baby is fed on a schedule he has a chance to get hungry because more time passes between feedings; therefore, he eats more and stays satisfied for longer.  This allows him to sleep for longer stretches, etc.  The chicken or the egg concept.  If he is demand fed then he literally “snacks” at every feeding, eats more frequently and never takes in a complete meal.  As a result, he is never quite satisfied which affects his ability to sleep longer stretches, etc.   Please see Baby Wise for more information on this subject.  Despite this research and the fact that most delivery units (including neonatal units) schedule feed their newborns, many nurses advise new moms to demand feed.  This can be very confusing to a new mom.  I believe that sometimes when a baby is small doctors feel like demand feeding is a safer bet to make sure he is getting as much as he will take.  Other than that, I can say from experience, that my schedule fed baby was definitely a better sleeper than my demand fed baby from the very beginning.  Of course, personality may have played into this as well.  I guess I will never know for sure…

Bedtime Routines

Moms should begin to establish a bedtime routine at about the 4th week. This usually includes a soothing bath, story, and final feeding for the day.  Starting a bedtime routine this soon will help the baby sort out his days and nights.  Having a predictable routine before bed helps the baby understand that this is night time and he is expected to sleep the majority of this time.  In addition, when the baby awakens for a nighttime feeding keep the lights dim, speak softly to him (if at all), change him, feed him, and immediately put him back to bed.  These simple strategies will help him understand that night time is sleep time!

An example of a bedtime routine is…                  shutterstock_21436459

1.  8:00 P.M. – prepare a luke warm bath in the baby bath in the kitchen sink.  Check the water to make sure it’s not too hot before placing baby into it.

2.  Dim the lights a bit and speak to baby in a soft but happy voice as you undress him and place him into the bath.  For example, say “It’s time for your bath now!  I know how you just love your bath!”

3.  Bathe the baby while talking to him happily.  Let him play with the water if he desires.

4.  Dry him off and dress him quickly so that he is not cold (if he is uncomfortable at any time it may create negative feelings toward bath time).

5.  Cuddle with our baby in the rocking chair or on the couch placing him into your lap facing out looking at a book.

6.  Read the story to him with a soft happy voice.

7.  Finally, give the baby his last feeding of the day, gently rocking him if desired in a dim room.  after he’s finished, gently place him into the crib while he is drowsy, but not totally asleep.  Turn off the lights, pat him on the back for a minute or two saying something like “It’s time to go night-night now.  Mommy loves you.”  (Choose words that you will use consistently night after night so that baby will learn to understand that it’s time to sleep).

8.  Leave the room allowing baby to cry briefly as he learns to put himself to sleep.  If crying becomes excessive, check on him, pat him on the back again and say “It’s time to go night, night now.  Mommy loves you.”  If you are consistent and do this for both naps and night time, your baby will learn how to put himself to sleep (which positively effects night time sleep as well – see Baby Wise for more info).

In conclusion…

Routines are very important because they make life predictable for both mother and baby.  Babies and children thrive on routine, whether they realize it or not.  When events are predictable, the baby learns what is expected of him.  And when baby is predictable you eliminate the guessing game and can focus your energy on enjoying your little bundle of joy.

A quick note..  If your baby continues to resist sleep we recommend discussing this with your pediatrician to see if there may be some other underlying issue causing him to be unsettled (Explore possible sensory integration sensitivities:  for more information see Sensory Processing Disorder in our article Childhood Learning Disabilities).

I truly wish you the best of luck with your new bundle of joy!  Happy parenting…  Enjoy the journey…

Angela

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angie

Meet Angela-our founder, former teacher, wife, mom, consultant.

Welcome!  My wish for you …  for your parenting journey to be filled with joy, inspiration, laughter and captivating moments…

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