Inside: Everything from breastfeeding to bottle feeding to weaning to potty training and routines. A collection of the best tips to help new parents get through the first year.
‘Before you do anything else, sign Up for Babycenter.com’, my best friend was telling me. I had just informed her that I was pregnant. ‘All first time moms need advice’, she was saying.
‘You’ll need advice every time you are pregnant actually; We moms tend to forget everything as soon as the baby is placed in their hands’ she added with a chuckle.
Oh yes. As soon as you hold your baby, all those pains, struggles and previous experiences (if any) just… poof! It is called Mommy brains, I guess.
Stepping into motherhood is scary!!
The first time I brought my child home, I remember the chaos that was that day. We couldn’t sleep the whole night because the baby kept wailing. I wasn’t sure if he was hungry or if he was colic. ‘Do babies even get colic that early?’
I was so adamant that I’d breastfeed him that we hadn’t bought any bottles at all. I didn’t know that I could express and give the bottle too.
Then there was sleeping. A few months later, it was starting solids. Just when I thought I had him eating well, he totally stopped taking in any amount of food. Was he teething? Did he want to try more textures? Oh no.. could it be an infection?!
When he was two years old, we had another child. She was totally different since birth. We had no problem with getting her to breastfeed exclusively. How is it that one child can be so different from the other?
Four kids later, I have learnt that there are a few things that every new mom should know. The advice I got from experienced moms around me was really the best!.
It doesn’t matter if you are a first time mom or if you have had a child or two before. If you are struggling with your baby or toddler, these tips may help you.
The Best Advice for New Moms from Moms who Have Been There!
Whether it’s your first child or you are an experienced mother, a little reminder about feeding is always good. It is your choice and your life circumstance will dictate whether and how long you can continue to breastfeed your child. However, if you are totally not up to it or your child is not taking to the breast, don’t beat yourself over it. Remember: Your emotional and mental health is important too.
- Breastfeeding should start the day you give birth and it doesn’t matter if you have milk or not or whether your baby is really is hungry. In the initial days, your child will not be hungry but you need the baby to help you increase your supply. So offer him your breast and let him take the pre-milk that is good for him. After that just feed the baby every 3hours between 6am and 12am. That is from the book by Gina Ford and I swear by it.
- If you have low milk supply, express milk during the day. Also a teaspoon of fenugreek in a cup of water, boiled and cooled, spoonful morning and night works.
- If you experience fever, discomfort, body aches, get yourself checked for mastitis and you are probably having wrong breastfeeding positions and improper latching on. Get help or read up on the ‘right’ way.
- If you feel a clogged duct or engorgement, soak half a cup of rice in water for an hour. Grind to a smooth paste and apply. Wait for it to dry and then step into the shower. You’ll be surprised by what a miracle cure it is!
- Every time you feed the baby, remember to drink a glass of water before you start feeding. Yes, every time and after it too, because you will feel thirsty and even if you aren’t, you’ll save yourself from dehydration and constipation.
- Tell the nurses at the hospital that you are breastfeeding your child. If they start on the bottle, you will have trouble bringing the baby to latch on to you.
- If you intend to use a bottle, use the nipples or teats especially designed for breastfed babies. They really do make a lot of difference.
- Keep at it. Yes, you can breastfeed your child. No, you are not less than them. You are the best mom your child could get!
- If you intend to breastfeed along with formula then tell the nurses at the hospital that you are breastfeeding your kid. If the baby gets used to a bottle of formula then it will be too difficult to breastfeed. For moms who have delivered normally, it will mean only a day at the hospital but for those who have had c-sections, five days of bottle feeding can really put your baby on the wrong track for breastfeeding. Even if you are planning to bottle feed, remember that it is always better to start on the breastfeeding first.
- Consult the doctor before starting on or switching a formula brand. No, they are not all the same thing and every baby is different and has his/her own preferences.
- Babies who are formula fed sleep longer (due to the sugars) so make sure that you wake the baby up for his feed or playtime and don’t let him over sleep.
- Bottle fed babies will need a feed every 4hours the first week. Each feed should last 15-20minutes. I didn’t know this the first time and I suffered so badly.
- Some babies are sleepy babies. They need to be woken up to feed and you will have to work hard on getting them to feed.
- Some babies love to feed. They will just want to keep feeding. Consult your doctor and stick to a schedule.
- Monitor your child’s weight when you are bottle feeding your baby because bottle fed babies gain weight faster. My son was 4 times heavier than normal children and bigger too. That is not a sign that the child is healthier, it only means that they gain weight faster.
- If your child is taking antibiotics or has diarrhea, switch to Lactose free or Anti Diarrhea Formula. Check with your pediatrician as to what he recommends but definitely do change for a week or two. The diarrhea worsens and the antibiotics will make your baby lactose intolerant temporarily resulting in tummy troubles and nappy rash.
- Some brands of Formula make babies and toddlers hyperactive. I had read about it in a report but didn’t believe so until I was faced with a hyperactive baby (and then toddler) myself. If your baby is excessively cranky, throws up after a feed and/or develops a rash, it could be an allergy. See your doctor ASAP. Try to get tests done to find out exactly what he/she is allergic to.
- Starting at 4months look for signs of your baby being ready. Babies who start early love food and those who have been made to wait until they are six months – even if they are ready, lose interest in food.
- Never give your baby eggs and fish till they are over 12months of age. You can read more about allergies, weaning and a workable plan to give your baby solids here.
- Taste the food before you give it to your baby. If you don’t like it, they won’t either! 🙂 No, you can’t fool them.
- Introduce a new food with a four day gap in between. What to do is to give something for a day and then wait for a day. Give it twice, the next day and if it works continue for four days. If all is safe, introduce something else.
- Babies from 6months on will need 3meals a day. They need solids. Don’t feed them milk thinking it will fill them up or that you can help them in the weight department. You need to let them have their solids before they have a feed.
- Most babies are interested in textured foods from 8months on. If you don’t give them texture, they start losing interest.
- 12month olds want to feed themselves. Give them finger foods and encourage their independence.
- 12months on babies should be eating your family’s food. Yes, bring the strong tastes on, they can stomach it.
You can read more tips to feeding your baby here.
Sleep and Routines Tips:
All parents whether they are parenting for the first time or experienced struggle with helping their baby establish good sleep time routines. These tips may help you get started on healthy sleep habits.
- Babies, toddlers and preschoolers thrive on routines. They need a definite plan for the day and they don’t like changes. The faster you realize that, the easier your life will be.
- From the first week of birth onwards wake the baby at 6am. It has to be fed every 2-3hours from 6am to 12am. Only then will it sleep through the night and fall into the pattern of feeding through the day and not night. Wake the baby up if it isn’t wide awake. They should have a definite feed, play sleep routine for the day.
- Toddlers and Preschoolers need a 7am to 7pm schedule with a nap or two in between depending on age of child. It may feel like torture for the mother when you are first starting out after a routine-less life, true; but in the long run it works and it gives mum the me-time and the rest she needs to juggle home and kids. (would you like to see my baby and toddler routines? Click here)
- I swear by Bed time routines. Bath, book, cuddle and sleep. In that order.
- Keep the room dark during nap times and don’t talk if you want him/her to sleep. The more you answer the more you will have to answer.
- If you give in once or if you agree to give another kiss to the Teddy, tomorrow it will be part of the routine. Before you know it you may have ‘Kiss Teddy, Hug the Bugaboo, Three stories, I love you 20 times, a glass of water, a pee, sleep with me for 10minutes, name that shadow, talk about the day’…. and you have wasted two hours and still no sign of sleep.
- Inspite of it all, there may still be bedtime battles. Live with it or find a sensory solution!
Need help with sleep issues. Read this in depth post about all the possible causes of sleep problems and how to solve them gently.
Potty Training Tips
- Start at age 3. That is when they are really REALLY ready. Get them on to pull ups when they start undoing their diapers. ( Why not earlier? More tips on Potty training here and learn about what to do when your child has constipation during potty training here.)
- The starter Potty Training Kit must haves: cotton underwear, Potty or trainer seat and easy to pull on and off shorts or pants.
- When you decide to start training them just hide the diapers or just throw them away. If they as much as get an idea that they may still be around they will not let go of them. Tell them clearly that you are giving them cotton washable underwear to wear under their shorts. Underwear really makes it easier. Most mums miss out on the underwear, thinking that what difference it will make, but the truth is that they are so used to their bum being so cozy in their diapers that they feel so ‘open’ and uneasy without the diapers. The underwear makes them less anxious.
- Talk to the child. Tell them that they are big now and they cannot wear the diapers anymore. They usually worry about accidents and nights. Tell them that you will give them pull ups for the night and that they need to not worry about accidents.Mummy and daddy love them and have faith in them. Give then confidence and praise. As often as possible and the more the better.
- Make a chart. I wasn’t so sure of it working but was shocked when my son was trained in a week. All credit goes to Gina Ford. The chart doesn’t have to be fancy or anything. you can decorate it if you like and buy stickers or pins but all you need is something to mark their success. I took a piece of colored paper, ran seven lines on it for each day of the week and gave him one red dot to stick on it for every time he used his potty to pee and two for pooping. It worked like a charm! He was so eager to use the potty or at least just go sit on it to please me. See the star chart we used here.
- When you go to the bathroom put the potty outside the door. 🙂 They always want to go the same time you go!
- Play down the accidents. Ignore them, if possible. They just didn’t happen! If you give the accidents more attention, the more they will happen.
- You can remove the night time diaper or pull up when he or she has had a few weeks of dry nights. Always make them go to the potty before they go to sleep at night or nap during the day and first thing after they wake up.
- Make them sit on the potty an hour after breakfast in the morning. Don’t stand on them… they need their privacy. Treat them like grown ups.
- HAVE CONFIDENCE in them. They will… they will.
These are a few child care tips to help you the early years. It is one of my best advice for new moms. Would you like to add something to this? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.