Avoid Stimulating Your Baby during Night-time Feedings
As your newborn baby grows, it is slowly acclimating to sleeping at night and being awake during the day. Also, as baby's stomach is growing and holding more breast milk or formula, it will be able to go for longer periods between feedings at night. At approximately three months of age your baby will likely sleep about 15 hours out of each 24-hour period, and two thirds of that sleep will take place during the night. Most babies will have settled into a daily sleep routine of two or three sleep periods during the day, followed by "sleeping through the night" for 6 to 7 hours after a late-night feeding.
You can help adjust your baby's body clock toward sleeping at night by avoiding stimulation during nighttime feedings and diaper changes. The act of breastfeeding itself provides frequent eye and voice contact, so try to keep the lights low and resist the urge to play or talk with your baby. This will reinforce the message that nighttime is for sleeping. Keeping the door closed to keep out well-meaning but vocal older children, spouses and pet will also keep reduce stimulating your infant. Avoid the use of musical mobiles or toys as a way to lull your infant back to sleep after night-time feedings. This will also help to reinforce that nighttime is for sleeping.
And, as with adults, overly tired infants often have more trouble sleeping than those who've had an appropriate amount of sleep during the day. So, keeping your baby up thinking that he or she will sleep better at night may not work. You may find that when your infant sleeps at regular intervals during the day, it will be easier to put them back down to sleep after night-time feedings.
Background Noise for Bedtime
A fussy or crying baby can make for a fussy and often frustrated parent. There are many reasons a baby could be fussy or unable to sleep, including illness, colic, or something as simple as either too much noise or too little noise. Before altering your baby’s sleeping environment, take a moment to evaluate just why your baby has been fussy or upset at bedtime. Things like changes in the weather, a neighbor’s new puppy continually barking, a loud car stereo blaring, or a bright street light can all contribute to changing a baby’s otherwise familiar and comfortable sleeping environment. If after evaluating, you discover that there has been an environmental change that has occurred, but are out of your control, you might consider creating some ‘white noise’ in your baby’s environment to help drown out these unpleasant and loud sleep disruptors.
Noises that are repetitive and almost monotonous sounding are known as ‘white noise’ – noise that is occurring constantly, and, as a result, we’ve ‘tuned it out.’ There are many items in our house that create white noise that we might not even realize – our air conditioners, vacuum cleaners, clothes dryers, or fans all create white noise as they operate. Other things such as running water, an analog clock with a ticking second hand, or a fish aquarium also create white noise. These noises might actually help ‘drown out’ the disruptive external noises that are keeping your baby, and thereby you, from a good night’s sleep.
Another option might be to run a favorite lullaby on continuous play in your baby’s room. There are many options out there for newborns and toddlers alike in the music department of your favorite store. You could even put together a special mix just from mommy and daddy on your personal computer. Better yet, put together a recording of mommy and daddy’s soft, soothing and gentle voices, and baby will be back in dreamland before you know it – and so will you!
Swaddling your Baby is Sweet
The practice of baby-swaddling dates back centuries and is still common in many cultures. Swaddling involves wrapping a baby securely from shoulders to feet with a small blanket. American Indians and people from the Middle East use bands and more sophisticated swaddling techniques, but more traditional swaddling techniques are still practiced in such countries as Turkey, Afghanistan and Albania.
Not only can swaddling be a great way to calm and sooth a fussy infant, it’s also been shown to lower the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). At the age of three months, when the risk for SIDS is greatest, traditional American swaddling techniques allow a baby to escape. It allows the baby to stay in a more stable position while sleeping, thereby lowering the SIDS risk. In addition, swaddling has been shown to help babies sleep longer and more restfully by preventing the sudden movements that can cause them to wake up, thereby improving mom and dad’s sleep quality and quantity also. Babies who are swaddled are said to feel secure, similar to how they felt while in utero. It can also assist in temperature regulation, keeping baby nice and toasty warm while sleeping.
A couple of additional perks to swaddling come during waking hours, too. A swaddled baby is easy to carry and hold ¾ an adorable, compact little package. It can also help baby focus on breast or bottle feeding by keeping little hands out of the way.
Swaddling usually works best from newborn to approximately four months, but if baby is used to being swaddled, and then it might be utilized even longer. Babies just being introduced to swaddling may require an adjustment period. Modified swaddling, such as leaving arms free while swaddling the rest of baby’s body, might be needed when first introducing the practice to your baby. The blanket should always feel snug but not tight. Take special care to ensure baby’s circulation is not compromised in any way or that baby is not uncomfortable. Ask a nurse, physician, midwife or other knowledgeable healthcare practitioner to demonstrate the correct technique for swaddling your baby.
Teething Can Really Bite
Teething is theprocess during which an infant’s teeth start to sequentially grow in. Teething can start as early as three months or as late, in some cases, as twelve months. It can take up to several years for all 20 deciduous (more commonly referred to as ‘baby’ or ‘milk’) teeth to emerge. Since the teeth literally cut through or erupt through the soft, fleshy gums of the infant, it’s sometimes referred to as "cutting teeth".
Signs of teething may include irritability, loss of appetite, chewing and gnawing on objects, swollen or bruised gums, excessive salivation, a raised temperature, and sometimes even earaches and diaper rash. Teething symptoms will usually start to rear their ugly head approximately six months into your baby's development.
During this process, you’ll discover your baby loves to chew – on just about anything and everything they can get their little hands on! This can be dangerous if the baby is allowed to chew on objects which are small enough to be swallowed or which could break while being chewed, creating a choking risk. Teething rings and other toys are often designed with textures that massage a baby’s tender gums.
In cases where the infant is in obvious pain, some doctors recommend the use of anti-inflammatory or child-safe pain-relief treatments containing benzocaine, such as Baby Orajel. Some infants gain relief from chewing on cold objects such as a cool washcloth or a specially-designed teething ring that can be frozen. You might also want to massage baby’s gums with a clean finger. Your baby might find it uncomfortable initially, but will probably find it comforting after a few gentle rubs.
Pediatric dentists suggest brushing baby’s teeth as soon as they begin to appear, and not to wait for all teeth to come in before introducing an oral hygiene routine. However, the use of toothpaste during this process is generally discouraged.
What to Expect Your First Year as a Parent
America's bestselling guide to caring for a baby is now better than ever since authors Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg and Sandee Hathaway, B.S.N. have released their two-years-in-the-making, cover-to-cover, line-by-line revision and update of the 6.9-million-copy “What to Expect the First Year,” considered the parent’s bible for taking care of a newborn through their first year of life.
This daughter/mother/sister team has included the most recent developments in pediatric medicine. Every question and answer has been revisited, and in response to letters from readers, dozens of new questions and answers have been added. The book is more reader-friendly than ever, with updated cultural references, and the new material brings more in-depth coverage to issues such as newborn screening, home births and the resulting at-home newborn care, vitamins and vaccines, milk allergies, causes of colic, sleep problems, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), returning to work, dealing with siblings, weaning, sippy cups, the expanded role of the father, and much more. Chapters focus on month-by-month development, and there are additional chapters that focus on other broader subjects, such as health issues, special needs children, and postpartum recovery. The authors also ingeniously include comprehensive information on developmental milestones. Information empowers a new parent, the authors surmise, and though too much information or conflicting information can cause confusion and frustration, having a reference book such as theirs to consult whenever the need arises alleviates insecurity and worry.
The authors encourage parents to utilize their most valuable resource – their instincts – and learn to trust in them, and remind readers that there is no such thing as a “perfect parent” and that we will all continue to make mistakes through our journey as parents. The trick is to learn from them, thereby coming ever closer to the ideal of the perfect parent.