Meet our Lovely Neighborhood blogger: Christine from Hello Fashion Christine has an edgy, laid back style. She is a new mommy to a boy named Beckam and he is too cute! Beckam and my son Hunter are only a few weeks apart, so it has been fun to see the posts where she features him! Her new "mommy style" has inspired me!
Check out her blog, follow her cute family, and say HELLO FASHION by clicking HERE !
When baby is brand new, it seems like all they do is eat, sleep and poo! But as they transition from a newborn to a baby, they need stimulation as they get to know their new world. I was kind of at a loss when it came to this concept, I was not sure what to do with a 4 week old baby when they were awake besides feeding/snuggling. How do I stimulate baby's mind and body without OVER stimulating?
There are a few things I started doing around 4 weeks when Hunter's awake times grew longer. As a newborn he was only really awake/alert long enough for his feedings/diaper change (that is when he was sleeping and not fighting it!). But as he became more aware of his little world, it gave me an opportunity to actually "play" with him.
"Wake Time" activities we did from weeks 4 - 12
1) Daily exposure to natural light.
This is a necessity so that baby learns the difference between night and day. Taking baby out in the direct sunlight to get some vitamin D is a bad idea (especially in AZ in the summer, YUCK) unless there is shade. So I opted for indoor, natural light. First thing in the morning once baby wakes up and is ready for the first feeding, I bring him to a bright room filled with natural light. He has his first feeding, then I burp him, and prop him up in front of a window. He loves looking out the window, and he gets exposure to the natural light (just make sure the sun isn't shining directly on baby). Believe it or not, that is stimulation for baby! Its the perfect way for them to observe their surroundings without getting overwhelmed. I use this time to read a devotion to him, he obviously doesn't understand but he loves the sound of mommy's voice so this is a great opportunity for that.
2) Tummy Time
Hunter HATES tummy time! He lasts about 2-3 minutes before he gets fussy and wants to be done. So I have to break up tummy time in little short segments. We do this on a blanket on the floor (it should be a hard surface so baby can push up). I will put him on his tummy for 2-3 minutes, trying to distract him if possible with a toy, or laying down so he can see my face, or a mirror. Then I flip him back to his back to get some rest. We repeat this a few times until I can tell Hunter is getting tired. This is a great wake time activity and is really required in order for baby to get the strength to hold up his little head, and eventually be able to roll over and crawl.
We LOVE our walks/jogs. Hunter hated his carseat for awhile but he is fine with it now, and the walks/jogs are great for both of us (especially when trying to loose that stubborn baby weight we get from our little ones... #worthit) Just make sure baby is not in the direct sun during walks, a blanket to cover the stroller is perfect. I love the muslin swaddle blankets for this since its so lightweight and airy…they come in cute prints, find them HERE!
4) Activity Mat
This is one of Hunters FAVORITE things! My mother in law bought it for us and at 4 weeks she mentioned I should start using it, but I was doubtful that he would even like it at such a young age. But she was so right, Hunter LOVED it, and STILL loves it! He kicks and bats at the dangling toys. (This is the one she got us: CLICK HERE) Its the perfect thing for him to get his wiggles out!
Once baby's umbilical falls off, bath times can (and should) become a daily routine! (sometimes we have to go every other day if Hunter's skin is dry) but usually every day works. Hunter loves bath time! We talk and sing, and he loves the running water. This is honestly what I used to bathe Hunter until he was 6 months old, just propped up in the sink so you don't have to bend over a tub! OUCH! View the sling HERE! Its the best $12 to save your back!
Hunter did not like the swing until he was about 6 weeks old, but some baby's LOVE them! He still only can do about 20 minutes in it until he gets bored. I love to prop him up in the sing in the kitchen so that I can do some cleaning/cooking and he can watch.
7) Errands/Mommy musts
Of course we cannot always be in the house for the awake times with baby, so errands are another wake time activity. Car rides (if baby doesn't fall asleep), and stroller time out and about in the world can be stimulating for baby! Just be sure it does not drag on so baby misses naps regularly...I know Hunter gets overtired very easily so I have to be mindful of how long our outings last. If I am desperate I will put Hunter in my Ergo baby carrier while I am doing my big grocery shop of the week or something that is going to take longer, that way he can nap while I am shopping. I'm sure some baby's nap fine in the cart in their carseat, but my guy is way to easily distracted for that, so the Ergo is a MUST!
8) Independent Play
Don't freak out, I don't mean leave the baby alone in the other room to play. I like to think of independent play as something that is monitored at a distance. Meaning you are still with baby, but you are not entertaining baby. Baby is left to kick, squirm, coo, and learn by himself. I started this with Hunter at 4 weeks, I really did not want to have a kid who needs to constantly be entertained by me, or feel insecure if he was alone. So this was one thing I implemented to give him confidence. He loves his independent play time. We usually do this with him before his last nap of the day, when mommy and daddy are eating dinner, he is right next to us on his activity mat so we can watch him play but still have mommy/daddy time!
Here are some signs that baby is done "playing", which means its time to stop so that they do not get overstimulated.
Avoiding your gaze
You can continue these activities (we have) as baby grows older, just know that they can handle a longer time awake so enjoy the longer play time with baby!
Let me know of any other fun activities you come up with to entertain your little one!
I am an extremely scheduled person. I mean extremely. I believe I have to be in order to fit everything in a 24 hour day that I want to. So naturally when I became pregnant I wanted to start researching how to get baby on a schedule as soon as possible. I believe it's good consistency for baby and mommy! Enter Babywise. All the teachings in the book seemed perfect for our family. It emphasizes good & full feelings, active awake time to stimulate baby's mind and body, and solid naps...along with getting baby to sleep through the night! YES PLEASE! As soon Hunter was born I breastfed him within the first 2 hours. It is when baby's are most alert and I wanted to have him get a full feeding in. The first few days he nursed every 1.5-2 hours. Sometimes having to wake him if it had been almost 4 hours between feedings. The first 2 months went really well. Hunter began sleeping through the night at 8 weeks, but his naps were a different story. His morning naps were great, but as the day progressed his naps got shorter and shorter. Babywise recommends 1.5-2 hour naps about 5 times a day at this age. WOW! He was not getting that. They also stressed the importance of a 3 hour cycle of FEED/WAKE/SLEEP, in that order. Which meant when Hunter woke up "early" from his naps (at about an hour or so) then he was supposed to eat within 20 minutes while he was alert enough to have a nice, full feeding. Unfortunately if that was the case, it may have not been 3 hours since he last ate, so he would just have go hang out and play until next feeding time. For example: Feed time: 9:00am - 9:30am Wake/play time: 9:30am-10:00am Sleep time: 10:05am - 11:00 am His next feed time is around 12:00 (could be 11:30 to 12:30 depending on his hunger) so there was a big gap of time I needed to fill where he was "supposed to be sleeping"... This led to a few weeks of cry-filled naps. It. Was. Torture. I had terrible anxiety at each nap that he was going to wake up early and I would have to go in and out of his room every 10-15 minutes to try to comfort him back to sleep, so about 5 times per nap. Multiple that by 5 naps and you get a very frustrated baby and tired momma. So how did I fix this? How did I get my sweet boy to be the perfect babywise baby who slept 16 hours in a day while having 7 perfect feedings, great awake times and sleep through the night???? I didn't. I had to just LET. IT. GO!!!! (cue frozen theme song)
Hunter has never been a great sleeper. Truth is he doesn't require that much sleep in a day. 16-17 hours was too much for him. He functioned great with 13-14 hours a day. He was still happy with that much sleep, still healthy. So WHY was I trying to force him to do this if he clearly didn't NEED it. Now, don't get me wrong, I tried for weeks to get him to adhere to this much sleep because I wanted to do what was best for him, and I know how important sleep is. But it's all about priorities. My first priority was making sure Hunter was healthy and safe. Once I knew he was at this revised 13-14 hours a day sleep schedule then we can move on to the next priority: sleeping through the night. Hunter mastered that, so I knew it was safe to deviate from the rigid plan I originally made and tailor one to fit my baby. Hunter does take 1.5-2 hour naps at least once a day, the other 4 naps are usually 45 min- 1 hour. And that's OK!! Just because it's not perfectly aligned with the book doesn't mean I am a "bad mommy" or he is a "bad baby". Now, I do agree with so much of what babywise has to suggest, which I'll share in another post because I think it is all fabulous advice. But the most important thing is to remember that every baby is different and as long as you have your baby's best interest in mind along with their health and safety (and moms sanity), then you are doing perfectly fine! I'm speaking to myself too, it's hard to not feel like a failure when things to go as planned...but such is life with babies! I wouldn't have it any other way. Stay tuned for my babywise post on all the good tips and tricks I've learned from the book! Xoxo-B
Unfortunately at about 2 weeks we noticed Hunter was really uncomfortable at feedings and anytime he was awake. He would even wake up suddenly from a deep sleep and he was visibly in pain. He would pull his little legs to his chest and turn red and scream. It was so hard to watch. We tried EVERYTHING to help him, I even eliminated dairy, chocolate, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, spicy foods, gassy foods etc from my diet for over a week and he was still having issues. Our doctor suggested we give him gas drops before each feeding. I was reluctant to do so because I don't like to "mask" the problems with medicine, I'd rather find the cause and help eliminate it. Unfortunately we didn't have any luck finding the cause, so the gas drops became a regular part of his diet. Thank God we agreed to do that because it has helped him tremendously! He rarely has gas pains any more and if he does they are short lived.
At around 4-5 weeks, Hunter started to have some trouble nursing. At first he would just seem uncomfortable, but that progressed as the days passed and he was in pain. Then the spit up started. At first it was a "normal" amount, that did not alarm me. And a few days later the spit up became more frequent, and finally he was spitting up on average 60 times per day. There was a good amount of spit up that came up each time too, it was not just little dribbles here and there. As the discomfort and spit up became more frequent, the nursing became more difficult. Hunter would nurse fine for the first few minutes and then like clock work around 7-8 minutes into nursing he would pull off the breast and start fussing. The fussing turned into screaming. He would frantically try to nurse again, pull off, and then start screaming. Getting a full feeding was so difficult. It would take about 45 minutes for me to get 15-20 minutes of actual feeding time done. Poor little guy. I knew something was not right and I suspected it was reflux.
We tried a few different soothing methods that our pediatrician suggested before automatically assuming it was reflux and getting him on medicine. First we tried to feed while I was laying down. This was to decrease the intensity of my flow and hopefully help Hunter not take in so much so quickly. We also tried to keep him upright for about 20 minutes after each feeding, while burping as frequently as possible. Trying to not let him get too hungry and also not over feeding him was suggested as well. We had been using the Gas drops which was another tip the pediatrician gave us, but all in all these things were not fixing the problem. That's when our pediatrician started Hunter on Zantac.
Zantac blocks acid production in the stomach. It was supposed to take 1.5 - 2 weeks to start working, which seemed like forever. The dosage was small, but we had to give to him twice a day. He HATES the taste of the medicine and tries to spit it out every time. He screams and spits every time! Why would they make such a gross tasting medicine for baby I mean come on there has to be a better way! We had the pharmacist add some grape flavoring to it, but it did not help he still hates it. So we have to give him very small drops each time and I try to drop them at the back of his throat so he doesn't have to taste it as much. Well, a few days later praise God we started seeing positive results! His spitting up started to lessen (though did not go away completely) and he started to be able to nurse without being uncomfortable. 2 weeks after we started the medicine, Hunter was like a new baby. We thought he might have colic before, but now he was such a happy little guy! What a blessing this was.
At about 9.5 weeks we started noticing some reflux signs popping up again. The doctor said that with his weight gain, we may have to increase his dosage as time passes if we start noticing he is going the wrong way. Well that was the case for Hunter. I first noticed that he would eat fine, but after when I was burping him in a seated position, he started straightening up and pushing back like he was uncomfortable. He would start fussing after mostly all his feedings. A couple days later the spit up started increasing with a good amount of force. The worst day was when he was inconsolable during one of his feedings, he just didn't even want to eat. So I called the doctor and we increased the dosage a tiny bit. It took about 36 hours and we started to see improvement again.
I am happy that this medicine is working so well for Hunter, but a little sad that we had to increase the dosage, as I thought by keeping that same low dose we would be essentially weaning him off of it! But I'd rather have a happy and healthy baby that is not in pain so at this point that means taking the medicine.
Ill post an update in a few weeks to let you all know if we had to increase again (hopefully not).
Thanks & keep the emails comin' with questions! xoxo-B
Now that Hunter has turned 8 weeks, we wanted to start the next transition to eventually getting him to sleep straight through 10-12 hours a night. The first step began at 8 weeks. Hunter had a feeding at about 8:30pm, and was put down after that around 9:15pm and would sleep until about 2:30am, which was great!! But since he was getting older and was able to go 7-8 hours straight without a feeding, we decided to change his schedule up a bit. The early evening feeding stayed about the same, around 8:30pm. He would go down around 9:15pm and then I would wake him up again for the "Dream feed" around 11:00pm. It is called a dream feed because baby is practically asleep while he is eating. Then he would go back down after that feeding around 11:45pm and (hopefully) sleep until our morning wake time of 6:30am. His 8-10 week schedule goes as follows:
I was really hesitant at first because I was getting such great sleep! Two long stretches of sleep for me felt like HEAVEN! But just because I was afraid of having a few rough nights, doesn't mean I should skip the sleep training. So I prepared for what I thought would be some long nights. Luckily it was only ONE rough night before the little guy got the hang of it! I figured out that on the first night I woke him up for his dream feed too late, at midnight. My logic here was that the later I fed him, the longer he would sleep. But it totally backfired because it ended up interrupting his night time sleep cycle by waking him up while he was already a few hours into his night time sleep. He nursed very poorly because he was sooo tired, so it took a long time to get him eat. So that night I put him back down around 1:00 am, and he woke again at 5am ready to eat! I knew he was not hungry because he had been able to go the 6-7 hours of sleep before without eating, he was just waking up out of habit and because his sleep cycle was off since I woke him too late for his dream feed. I ended up having to rock him back to sleep a few times until he fell asleep at 6am, and then I had to wake him for his normal morning wake time at 6:30am. This was pretty discouraging but I knew it was necessary for his wellbeing and mine! The next night I woke him earlier for his dream feed at 11:00pm. He ate soooo much better this night, was much more alert! He was put down just before midnight and slept until 6:30am! WOO WOO! Success! It has been a little over a week now and he has been sleeping from 11:45pm-6:30am each night, what a blessing! Hard work and consistency does for sure pay off. Now we only have a couple weeks more and we will be getting rid of the "dream feed" so that he can begin sleeping from around 9pm-6:30am....Stay tuned & email with any questions! xoxo-B
Meet our Lovely Neighborhood blogger: Pink Peonies by Rach Parcell. Rachel is one of the reasons I got in to blogging! Her blog is so inspiring for fashion wanna-bees like me! She has cute style, that is always CLASSIC. A lot of her looks are inspired by JCrew and Nordstrom. Visit her blog by clicking HERE to get more details on her wonderful style as seen below!