Baby’s New Year’s Resolutions

As we start a new year, you might be making some resolutions for the coming year. Maybe you are trying to break bad habits, improve your health, or pick up a new hobby. Your baby might also be making some of the same resolutions you are this year. Check out some of the new skills, habits, and health changes your baby is going to make this year.

Improve Sleep Habbits

As your baby grows, their need for sleep changes. When your baby goes through developmental changes (sometimes called Leaps or Wonder Weeks) you might find your baby sleeps more than usual or less than usual (mine usually would sleep less). Luckily, these sleep changes are usually short lived, and your baby will likely go back to their usual sleep patterns after a week or so.

A father cradles his sleeping infant

As your baby gets older, their sleep patterns will also change. Newborns spend most of their time sleeping, typically 16-17 hours in two to four hour spurts. This sleep tends to be lighter and more active than the way adults sleep. After about three months, most babies will develop more regular napping times (usually 3 times a day) and sleep 14 to 15 hours a day. After about six months, your baby’s sleep cycles will be more like an adults, with longer periods of deep sleep. At about a year, your baby will start to only take one nap, and usually sleep around 13 hours per day.

All babies, however, are different, and will wake up different number of times per night, and change to fewer naps at different ages. The best thing you can do is learn your child’s sleep cues like rubbing their eyes, getting fussy, or getting heavy eyes. Establish a sleep routine, but also keep in mind that you may need to tweak your routine as your baby’s sleep needs change.

Read More Books

Reading to your child is an important part of your baby’s language development. Reading to your child, even if it seems they aren’t listening, helps your child hear different sounds, words, and language patterns and has been proven to increase the amount of spoken words a child has by the age of 2.

And your baby may want to read the same new book everyday for the whole year! Babies love repetition. Repetition helps your child learn about how the world works and can be very stimulating to their developing brain, even though you might be over Brown Bear (yes, we know the red bird is looking at you!). You may notice your child becomes especially interested in a particular book because of the pictures or the word sounds, and you might even see your child pick a favorite book or character. 

A parent reads a book to a child on it’s lap.

The way you incorporate reading time to your child will likely evolve as your child gets older. Newborns tend to like simple books with bright colors and distinct patterns. You can have simple books around to pick up and read during a quick cuddle. Follow your child’s lead for how much time they remain interested. It’s ok if you only get through a page or two before your child wants to move on to another book or activity. You might think about incorporating reading time into some of your daily routines, like bed or nap time. Many libraries also have baby story times, so you can connect with other parents with similar aged babies. 

Learn a New Language

A newborn primarily communicates through nonverbal cues and crying, but they are also laying the ground work for language acquisition throughout the first year. Your baby begins listening to you and the world before they are even born and knows and prefers the voice of his mother from birth. Around four months, babies will move on from single vowel sounds (aaaa, oooo) practicing different consent/vowel combinations an eventually get to repetitive syllable babbling. While you may hear your child’s first uttering of mama or dada around six months, your baby probably won’t connect these sounds to meaning until after 10 months and tend to know (both say and understand the meaning) of 3 words by their first birthday.  This progression is the important foundation for their understanding of language for their entire life.

A mother holds her child, about to describe the world around them.

There are many things you can do to help your child with language learning. Reading to your child helps you child hear new and different words and can connect meaning with pictures. Many people constantly talk and narrate life to their infant as they are going around their day. You can also hold conversations with your child, pausing for their end of the conversation. Eventually, you child might come to babble during their part of the conversation as they learn the verbal cues for taking turns in conversation.

Eat more adventurous foods

For the first year, milk (either breastmilk or formula) is the main  form of nutrition for your child. As your child gets older, however, they’ll want to begin practicing eating other forms of foods. Look for signs your child is ready for solid foods like your child can hold their head upright, sit with minimal support, and the disappearance of the tongue-thrust reflex. These signs usually appear between four and six months.

A baby eating a slice of watermelon bigger than it’s head

There are many different ways you can begin to introduce solids. Some people begin with baby cereal mixed with breastmilk while others go straight to pureed baby foods. Other people begin directly with table foods, letting babies explore holding food and feeding themselves right from the beginning (often called baby led weaning). Whatever the method, remember that all of this is new for your baby and may take some practice to get right. Your child might spit out or refuse to eat this new food for awhile. In the case of baby led weaning, your child might play with the food more than eat it for weeks.  You may need to offer the same kind of food several times before your child decides that they like it or not. You may want to consult your child’s doctor when introducing certain kinds of foods, especially if allergies are common in your family, but the newest research suggest introducing common allergens earlier rather than later is best.

Get More Active

Many newborn milestones revolve around your child learning new ways to move around. It’s exciting watching your child grow from unable to support their own head to crawling and maybe even walking within a single year. You can expect your child to begin rolling by six months, crawling by ten months, and taking their first unassisted steps around a year old. Keep in mind, there are HUGE variations between children, so don’t worry if your child seems on the earlier end or later end of things. Crawling is an especially tricky milestone, as some children might develop their own version of crawling, like side-winding, or prefer to go backwards rather than forwards. Some children never crawl at all. Do consult your child’s care provider, though, if you are at all concerned about your child’s development.

You can support your child’s development by making sure they have ample opportunity to develop their muscles. When your child is very young, tummy time or time upright in a baby carrier helps your child develop their back and neck muscles so they can support their head. As your child grows and moves, give them time and space to explore their world and figure out their next move forward.

A child crawls around in an impressive tutu!

You’ll be amazed at the progress and changes you’ll see in your child in just a few short months with a lot of time for practice and your support cheering your baby on! If you want more ideas for how to set-up your newborn for success, contact me and we can give you and your baby all the tools they’ll need to be successful.

How to Make Your First Day Back to Work Less Stressful

Having a baby is stressful. Having a job is stressful. The first time you combine working after you have a baby can compound these stressors into one of the most worrying transitions in a person’s life that can cast a shadow over your precious maternity leave. But the return back to work doesn’t have to be so stressful with some prenatal preparation and a plan in place. Below are some of my top tips for returning to work.

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Be confident in your childcare choices

There are so many different childcare options, it can be hard to know what is the right choice for you and your family.  Exploring your options before you give birth and having a solid plan can really put your mind at ease as your return to work draws near. There are many different ways to make sure your baby is loved and well cared for such as working off hours from your partner, have family watch your child, home-based daycare, or center-based daycare. You can also hire a nanny to come to your home to watch your child or send your child with a fellow parent to watch while you work.  Exploring several options through interviews or tours of different facilities may take a lot of time and effort, but you’ll likely feel much better about your choice if you’ve seen many options before making your final choice.

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Take the extras to your chosen childcare

If you’re childcare is outside your home, you’ll have a lot of extras things to make your baby’s transition as smooth as possible. Dropping these things off ahead of time will make that first day feel less rushed and more smooth.  The following items can easily be taken to your care provider a few days before you begin care:

  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Diaper cream
  • Crib sheet
  • Extra formula or frozen milk (check your care provider’s policy on how much and how long they can store consumables)
  • Finger food and snacks (if you’re starting with an older baby who is already eating solids)
  • Extra clothes (at least 2 sets)
  • Weather appropriate outside clothes (sun hat, sunscreen, winter hat, mittens…)
  • Any other comfort item for your child (pacifyer, favorite toy, blanket, etc).

Bringing these items in advanced also gives you a buffer day in case you forgot an item or realize you need to buy extras to stay with your care provider. This extra time will also help you talk to your care provider about any policies or procedures you may want more information about regarding the care of your child.

Finally, don’t forget to label all items before sending them to a care facility that may have many children with the same or similar items. Permanent marker is easy for consumable products like wipes or disposable diaper packages. Marking clothing tags or using stick-on labels can make less permanent marks for items that may be used if you have multiple children or wish to preserve resale value of some items.

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Ease your way into a routine

A day or two before your actual first work day, a practice half day, can be a perfect way to ease yourself and your child into your new routine. Practice getting up and seeing how much extra time it takes to get ready and out the door. If possible, take your child for a half day with your childcare provider. Your practice day can gives you time to say goodbye to your child without feeling rushed or distracted by work start times. If you realize there are extra things you still need for childcare, you have some time to run to the store to pick up these last minute items. If you are planning to pump at work, this can also give you some practice with your pump to see how long set up, pump time, and clean up takes. I’d also suggest wearing your work and pump gear so you can work through potential problems without feeling guilty for missing work time.

Other possibilities to make the transition back to work less abrupt can be actually working half-days for the first week or two. It’s much easier to manage being away from your child for four or five hours and work your way up to eight or nine hours instead of starting with the nine hours right away. It can also be helpful to start back to work on a Thursday or Friday (or whatever day comes before your day/s off). It’s much easier to manage a few days knowing you’re going to have a weekend to reconnect with your child than to start off with a long, full week of work.

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For pumping at work: have a pumping plan and practice

Nothing is worse than needing to pump, fumbling trying to get all the parts together, and working to figure out how to your new, unfamiliar pump turns on. Your breasts are swollen, heavy, and tender, but you just can’t seem to get it right.

Before you return to work, you should look through your pump’s manual and follow any cleaning instructions necessary prior to first use (many require sterilizing some parts before first use). You should also check that your flanges fit your breasts correctly.  Most breastpumps come with medium sized flanges, but small and large sizes are available with most models, and having the right size can make a HUGE difference on milk output.

Practicing actually using your pump a few times at home when your baby is close can also help you find and correct any issues without being separated from your baby for hours at a time. This practice will also help you build up a stash of milk to ease the pressure to pump enough while you’re getting the hang of your routine. Wear your usual work attire (at least tops), so you can see how easily accessible the clothes you have are with pumping as well as practice using any hands-free pumping bras you might have. There are many options to when is the best time to practice. You can try pumping both breasts directly after any (or many) feeds. Or, after a feed, when you baby is napping, pump using just the last breast your baby nursed on (aim for a time you think will be a longer nap). When baby wakes up, use your unpumped breast to feed first. If building your supply and stash is your main need and concern, milk production is highest in the early morning hours, especially middle of the night, so adding an extra pumping session in the morning will give you more than an evening pumping session. I wouldn’t, however, recommend you make 3AM your first practice pump! Remember that the amount of milk you get pumping is not the same as the amount of milk your baby is taking in, especially if your added extra pumps in if your baby is still feeding 100% from you. It is very common to pump less than an ounce until you are actually replacing meals with pumping sessions.

For pumping while you are working, plan to pump at least as often as your baby will be eating while you are away, especially as you are just getting your pumping rhythm going. You will likely want to pump every two to four hours, depending on how old your baby is and how responsive you are to your pump. You should attempt to have a plan for where to pump before you return to work. If you don’t know where you can go, talk to your boss or other people in the office that might have recently been pumping for their baby. There might be secret work spaces that you aren’t aware of that will be a nice private place to pump.

Depending on the flexibility of your work, you might need to get creative with pumping times. Pump during your lunchtime and any other breaks you have. If you can pump at your workspace, you might only need to pause briefly to set up and clean up in between continuing to work. If you are having difficulty keeping up with your child’s needs, you can try pumping on your commute if your pump has a battery option or car adapter. If you still can’t keep up, you could try extra pump sessions at home or during the weekend or supplement with formula (breastfeeding and pumping doesn’t have to be all or nothing).  

You’ll also need a storage and cleanup plan for your milk. Using a community fridge or mini fridge works well for storing milk pumped while at work. You can also get small coolers made specifically for breastmilk (many fit your pump bottle perfectly) with ice packs, which can safely store milk for up to 24 hours before needing to be transferred to a fridge or freezer.

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With some preparation and planning, your return to work can go smoother than you ever imagined. If you’re still worried about your specific circumstances, schedule a free consultation or look into the back to work planning and support package.