Postpartum and Beyond

Ditching the Swaddle and Sleeping Through the Night

A Guide on How I Did It In A Week

When my daughter was 11 weeks old I had managed to convince myself that Little P would roll over in her sleep and suffocate. It was an irrational fear, I knew that then and I still know it now. She wasn’t anywhere near close to being able to roll herself over. But what if? I thought I’d give myself some peace of mind and help Little P stop using the swaddle. We’d have to do it sometime eventually right? Plus, this way I got to use all the cute sleepers people gave us. (I also didn’t have her in sleepers and the swaddle, I thought she might get too hot.)

Now, here is my experience on the week to ditch the swaddle and sleep through the night.

My Experience

Night zero

I swaddled Little P with one arm out and had her laid down at mostly sleeping at 10:45. I couldn’t get her to calm down and 30 minutes later I gave up because I needed to get up early the next day and I honestly just wanted us (okay, me) to get enough rest. So, I fully swaddled her, gave her back her binky, and she slept much better.
Bonus, I did as well.

night one

Today Little P woke up at 6:30 am. Throughout the day she had three short naps and one longer one during lunchtime.
I gave Little P a bath at 6:00 pm and had her laid down at 7 pm. She was swaddled with one arm out.
With her swaddled with one arm out early, I was able to help give Little P her binky when she knocked it out (or ripped it out, I swear she does it on purpose) and help her calm down if she happened to get fussy.
At 10 pm I woke her up, unswaddled her and gave her a bottle.
After the feeding and diaper change, I reswaddled Little P (still one arm out) and put her back down to bed.
There was some fussing throughout the night, usually, after she managed to knock her binky out. I was able to give the binky back and she went back to sleep.
At 3 am, I did get a little frustrated every few minutes she was knocking her binky out. I got tired of getting up and putting the binky back, so I disconnected her bassinet from the stand, put her and it in my bed, and it went much better. I was able to get her back to sleep (I had my hand gently on her) and I didn’t have to stand up any time she needed her binky back.

night two

Our day started at 7 am today. She ended up staying the day at her grandfather’s house, so I’m not too sure on exact specifics for her day.
I got her back in time to give her a bath at 6 pm.
She was again swaddled with one arm out and put down to bed at 7pm.
Again, she was woken up at 10 pm to bed fed and changed.
Today was a hard day throughout the night. Little P woke up fussy around 2:45 am. She kept knocking her binky out and was really fussy until about 4 am. From there she fell back asleep and didn’t wake up until 6 am.

Night three

Our day officially started at 7 am. (She started waking up at 6, but she was ready to go and eat at 7)
Today Little P spent the day at her grandmother’s house.
I got her back in time to get her her bath at 6 pm.
I had her swaddled with one arm out again. She was down and sleeping by 7 pm.
Tonight, I only woke Little P up to change her and not feed her. It was a bad decision as she woke up at 2 am for a feeding. After her feeding, her diaper was changed, and she was put back to bed.
She went down surprisingly easy. I like to think she also likes sleeping throughout the night.
The rest of the night she slept fine. She knocked her binky out once but went back to sleep right after she had it back.

night four

Our day again started at 7 am.
She had another long nap around lunchtime and only short ones in the morning and closer to 4 pm.
Little P was bathed at 6 pm and put down at 7 pm.
Tonight, I fully swaddled her (my husband had come back from his military work and I wanted to make sure that sleep happened for everyone).
At 10 pm I still fed Little P, but again, she was fully swaddled.
There was some fussing around 3 am. When I went to check on her, she had actually managed to get both arms out of her swaddle. I gave her her binky back and left her arms out.

Night five

We woke up at 7 am again.
6 pm she got her bath and at 7 pm she was put to bed with both of her arms unswaddled.
She was woken up to be fed and changed at 10 pm.
Tonight was a really good night overall. She fussed a little bit around 5 am, but once she got her binky back she went back to sleep.

night six

Today we mixed it up and woke up at 6:45 am.
We were back on schedule at 6 pm when she had her bath. Today after her bath she was changed into a sleeper (those baby clothes basically with built in socks and long sleeved). Today was the big day of not having a swaddle.
At 7 pm she was put to bed and, once again, at 10 pm Little P was woken up for a bottle as well as a diaper change.
The evening was uneventful. She only woke up once, around 3 am, she took her binky back and once again went to sleep.

night seven

We woke up at 7 am.
Again at 6 pm she was bathed and changed her into a sleeper.
7 pm she was put to sleep and at 10 pm fed and changed before being put back to bed.
This day there was no fussing throughout the night! There wasn’t any fussing. We managed to ditch the swaddle and get her sleeping all the way until 7 am.

How You Can Do It

Get a bedtime routine
The bedtime routine is really important. Get your baby recognizing when it’s time to sleep. I personally start mine off with the bath, but you can do whatever works for you.

Don’t skip that 10 pm feeding
If you don’t want to wake up throughout the night, then don’t skip the feeding. I learned it through experience. There’s no way your baby is going to sleep until morning without that feeding. Don’t be like me and think for some reason your baby now has an adult tummy and can go that long of a stretch with no food.

Go at your own pace
You don’t have to do both of these at the same time if you’re not comfortable. The logic works if you want your baby to sleep throughout the night first and then work on getting them out the swaddle.
You can also go slower with having your baby’s arm out. If you want to take a couple more days with one arm out, that’s totally okay.

Nap times
Keep the longest nap time around lunchtime. You don’t want a long, deep nap, closer to 7 pm. That means you’re going to have a wide awake baby who refuses to go to sleep.

Keep at it
I was complacent a couple of times throughout this. You need to keep up with it! Stay consistent and things will start working out.

Some thoughts

Remember it’s not a race! The goal isn’t to do it as quickly as possible. It doesn’t matter if you’re not ready to ditch the swaddle. It’s okay if you don’t mind waking up  throughout the night to feed your baby right now.
I did this when I did and how I did because my baby was mainly sleeping throughout the night anyway. She’d been waking up anytime from 3 am until 5 am for a feeding and then still waking up at 7 am to start the day.
I thought that it would be great if I could eliminate that feeding and just have our day start at 7 am. I felt my baby could handle the transition. If you feel your baby isn’t ready, it’s okay. You don’t have to push them into growing up too soon.

Also, keep track of how much your baby is eating (I formula feed, so that makes it easier). You want to make sure that your baby is still getting enough to eat.

Let me know what you think. Would you ever make the transition to no swaddling and trying to sleep through the night at the same time? Would you have waited longer or started sooner? 

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Postpartum and Beyond

Bringing Home Baby

You want me to take this home?

So, you’ve done it. You’re leaving the hospital with your baby in the back seat, and it finally hits you. You have a baby in the backseat. You are going home. With a baby.  Of course, you’re excited, but also slightly terrifying. This person is completely dependent on you. What’s going to happen? What if I totally mess up and ruin this little person forever?
Well, all of us with kids have been in your spot at one point. Here are some of the things you can expect in the first couple of weeks with your brand new baby and some ways you can make it easier.

1. Sleep

Babies sleep. A lot. They just don’t do it how you would like them too. They’ll get a few hours here and there and then need to be fed or changed.
This is one of the reasons it’s good to try and sleep when your baby does. You’re not going to be able to get a full night’s sleep all at once, so try to get a couple of naps throughout the day. You might not feel completely refreshed, but any sort of sleep will be helpful.

2. Visitors

What is it about a brand new baby that people love so much? I have no idea, but I can almost guarantee that family is coming out of the woodworks to see your little human.
How you handle guests is completely up to you. Do you want to have people over? Bring them on. Have them do a couple of chores while you’re at it or bring the family food. Not too into having guests? Then, that’s fine too. They’re your baby. You’re the parent. You set the rules. Just stay strong. Do not let anyone bully you into a visit that you don’t want. A simple, “Hey, we’re using this time to figure out our baby. We appreciate you want to visit and will let you know when we’re ready to see you.” Let’s be honest here, the baby isn’t going to know either way.

3. Schedule

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get your baby onto a schedule? Well, you can eventually, but in these early days, I’m talking about you for now. If you’re lucky enough to be raising your child with a partner, section out your day so you know who’s responsible for baby at what time.
Repeat after me: do not keep score.
You don’t want to be listening to the baby cry at 2 in the morning, running on no sleep, and arguing with your significant other about who got up last. No one wins there.
Schedule your day out in chunks. Try to make them shorter time periods. Maybe four-hour chunks until you both get used to things, then you can adjust the timings later. This helps you take breaks throughout the day and should hopefully clear up any disagreements about who’s turn it is to change the diaper.

4. Help Each Other

You should try to stick to your schedule on who’s taking care of the baby at what times, but if you see your partner is struggling, help them! If the baby has been crying for an hour (or maybe more, it’s hard to tell sometimes) don’t just sit there and do nothing. You are a team. Offer to try to help calm the baby for a little while. It’s highly possible that your partner is stressed, the baby can tell there’s stress, and that’s why they’re freaking out.
Give each other an opportunity to recollect and regroup.

5. They Don’t Do Much

Honestly, they’re pretty boring right now. Why’s the baby crying? Well, they probably need to eat or be changed. Or they’re really tired and now they don’t know what to do other than cry.
I know. I don’t get it either, but the world is confusing when you’re brand new.
Try not to stress out as much as you can. It’s an emotional time. You’re low on sleep and again, this little person is completely dependent on you. That’s insane to think about. Right now, you’re all (you, baby, and partner) just figuring things out. Your baby is figuring out life and parents are figuring out what to do. Take those first few weeks as a time to just learn. Soon you’ll be a pro at changing diapers and feeding the baby.

Some Thoughts

Don’t freak out. Your baby really isn’t doing all that much. The scariest part of your first few days and weeks is that it’s new. It’s a brand new experience and you have to make an adjustment in your life.
Enjoy this time as much as you can. Babies grow so, so fast. Soon they’ll be smiling, babbling, and walking and you’ll wonder why you were so worried in those beginning days.

Postpartum and Beyond

No Motivation

How about YOU make ME some food?

It’s Monday (or whatever day, parenting don’t stop for the weekend) you’re feeling drained and you want to just take some extra time for yourself. What happens? All of a sudden your baby is up early and demanding attention. Unfortunately, you can’t call in sick. You also can’t just ignore the crying and hope it stops. So, here are some tips for when you just can’t seem to get going as a parent.

1. Breathe

Of course. Take a deep breath in, inhale some positivity and big old breath out, get rid of those negative thoughts. Repeat a couple more times.

2. Just do it

Just like how you drag yourself into work or that family gathering that you really didn’t want to go to, just get up and go. You are a parent and you are a good one. So, let’s get up and take care of that baby. You love that baby and they love you. So let’s go.

3. Take a break during the day

So, you’re up and convincing yourself to keep going, that’s great. Now take some time to yourself when you can. Baby is asleep? Sweet, set up your baby monitor or just put Baby in the same room as you. Take some time to take care of yourself. Paint your nails, play a video game (probably a bit on the quieter side so you don’t spoil your you time), take a bath. Whatever it is that makes you feel better, do it.
If you can have someone else watch Baby for a little while, this works even better. Get out of the house by yourself. Feels weird right? Enjoy your you time.

4. Take Baby outside

Nature is great, it really is. If you let it it can really help mellow you out and feel better. Get Baby ready and take a walk around the block. Walking around seem like too much? Sit outside. It’s too cold, too hot, or maybe you just don’t have enough in you to even make it outside. That’s fine. Open up those blinds. Show you and Baby stuff out in the world. Where do you think that car is going little one? Oh, there goes our loud neighbor again. You can make it fun and silly. Baby will like it and congrats, you weren’t beating yourself up about something that needed to be done but you weren’t doing.

5. Prioritize

I’m sure there’s something that needs to be done. Dishes, laundry, whatever. Relax. If you’re struggling just to take care of Baby then do the bare minimum. Maybe just take care of the dishes right now (you and Baby need something to use to eat). Are the clean clothes really bothering you that much? Then, put away what you can, but don’t freak out if you can’t get to all of it. If you have a washer and dryer, dirty clothes are easiest to take care of. You can leave clean clothes in the drier, just get around to putting it away eventually.

6. Remind yourself you’re doing it

There’s no way this is the first time you’ve felt a little burnt out or struggled to get your day going. It’s not going to be your last. One day I felt so burnt out, felt fine the next day, and then my motivation left me again the day after. It’s frustrating, it’s annoying, but it’s okay. Don’t bring yourself down because you didn’t get everything you wanted done and definitely don’t bring yourself down because you’re having a hard time getting motivated.
Remind yourself that you are doing it. You’ve gotten through times in your life before when you had no motivation and you’re going to get through this one. Be kind to yourself. You don’t need anyone bringing you down right now. Be a friend to yourself.

7. Tackle as a team

If you are lucky enough to be raising Baby with a partner ask them to take care of the baby. There have been a few times where I just couldn’t get up at that exact moment (five more minutes, please child), I poked my husband and said, “Can you please take her?” He would take her, feed her and change her and put her back to bed. This gave me those precious extra minutes that I needed to prepare myself for the day.
If you’re a solo parent, then see if you can get someone to come over for a little bit so you can (tip three) take time to yourself.

Some thoughts

If you frequently: have trouble getting motivated, feel down, think about harming self, Baby, or other loved ones, or have extreme anxiety then talk to someone. If possible, go into a doctor’s office and let them know how you’re feeling. If not possible (money should be the main reason here), then call a friend or a family member. Let someone know how you’re feeling.
A new baby can bring on a bunch of overwhelming feelings for both mom and dad. Don’t put on a brave face and just ignore what’s happening to you. You are not weak or a lesser person if you need a little extra help.
Remember, be kind to yourself but stay strong. You’re an adult so you still have responsibilities, but if it takes you a little bit longer to get to some stuff, don’t sweat it.

Let me know what you think! Do you have any ways that help keep you going when you just can’t seem to parent?

Postpartum and Beyond

Crying Fits

Please Stop Crying

Sometimes mom-ing (dad-ing, parenting) is hard.
Your baby has a new diaper, has eaten, and is in your arms. Why is it crying?! Him/her you mean, of course, not it. But seriously, what could be wrong? There’s no way they’re hungry, they don’t want the bottle (or boob). You’re not wasting another diaper, you just changed them. I swear I’ll hold you for the rest of my life if you please just stop screaming at me or at least tell me what I can do.
Well, mom (or dad) I wish I haven’t been there, but I have.  Here are some things you can try when your lovely child just won’t quit.

1. Remember to breathe

It seems obvious, but it needs to be said. Take a couple of deep breaths. I know the crying sucks (the baby, not you). But being all wound up isn’t going to help anything. I swear they know when we’re freaking out. Your baby will not calm down if you’re having a freak out while trying to comfort them. Control your breathing and you can control the situation. Now that we’ve regrouped, let’s move on.

2. Walk Around/Bounce/Rock/Hold still/Change Positions

Pick one and try it for a few minutes. Did that one work? Yes? Good, personally I would keep going for a few more minutes just to be safe. Let them fall asleep, attempt to put them down or if you’re not feeling brave enough for that, just get yourself sitting down.
If it did not work, try a different method. Rinse and repeat.
Also, it may help to change how you’re holding Baby.
I either cradle Baby or do the pressed up against shoulder thing (like you’re going to burp them). I couldn’t get Baby to calm down. I kept going back and forth with no luck. My husband comes in, puts Baby with her chest and belly on his forearm, like a little superhero, and silence.
My point here is, try something different, something weird. You’ve got a baby, sometimes they don’t make sense.

3. Let Someone Else Try

Continuing from my last tip: give Baby to someone else. You’re not a superhero (even if you are, you’re here so you obviously need some kind of help) and you can’t think of everything.
I never would’ve held the baby like that. It never even occurred to me, but it worked. Maybe it was the positioning that helped or maybe Baby was just tired of me. Let the other parent, Baby’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, close friends, whatever, have some quality baby time. I’m sure family and friends have been asking to see Baby anyway.

4. Sing/Silence

Try singing to Baby. It doesn’t have to be a real song or sound good. Think musicals. They’re always singing about what’s happening around them.
Singing not working? Being quiet would be the next thing to try. Maybe Baby is overwhelmed and that’s why they’re crying. Try slowing things down, making the area you’re in quieter (mute TV, no radio).

5. Dim the lights

Again, maybe Baby is overwhelmed. I’m sure it’s hard learning about life. There’s a lot going on for someone who was born such a short time ago. Make the room as relaxing as possible, maybe it’ll calm your nerves too. Dim the lights, hell, turn them all the way off if you want.
Is it daytime? Go into a closet if you have to. You can find a dark place somewhere, I promise.

6. Too hot/Too Cold

Is your baby wearing a bunch of clothes? Maybe they’re not wearing enough clothes? If it’s cooler in your house try removing an article of clothing that isn’t really necessary. Like socks. Maybe your baby is perfectly fine with everything but their feet aren’t comfortable.

7. Regroup

Nothing working? Maybe you don’t have anyone else to try and hand Baby too. That’s okay. Put Baby in a safe place (crib, bassinet, what have you), close door if possible, and walk away for a few minutes. Go back to step one, breathe. Now is the time to cry if you need to cry. Let it out for a couple minutes. As long as your positive Baby’s basic needs are being met you’re not being a bad person by giving yourself five.
Done crying? Never needed to cry? Go to a mirror, look yourself right in the eye and tell yourself that you’ve got this. You are confident. You are strong. What’s this baby’s problem? You don’t need to know, because you’re going to go back in there and make it all okay.
Now go on back to that baby and own being a parent. Maybe take some headphones with you this time, music might help you remain calm.

Notes

If your baby has colic I’m sorry and I’m not sure this will work for you.
You’re not a bad parent or person if you can’t get your baby to stop crying. Sometimes babies cry, they will stop crying again, I promise.

What are your tips and tricks for helping your baby calm down? What did you think of this list? Let me know!