Did you hear about those moms, whose children sleep well? In a stroller, in a car seat, in a bed? When can you take them to the mall and sit with a big cup of coffee or even a small shopping? Or take them to park and enjoy reading your favorite book in peace and quietness? I have heard about them. Moreover, I am familiar with such moms and I envy them so much because I was not so lucky. Frankly speaking, I was not lucky at all in everything related to my baby’s sleep. From the day one, we have struggled for every additional minute of sleep. Sleeping became a central issue of our first year. I have tried so many things, got so many pieces of advice, read so many articles but very few of them were really helpful. Therefore, I want to share some stuff that worked hoping it will save your time and help you to get through.
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Not Over Warm Your Baby
I was obsessed with a keeping my newborn warm. Since she was born in December while we lived in Israel, where there is no central heating, I was afraid that she would get cold. That is why I put two layers of clothes and a swaddle! In addition, I used her a baby cocoon which enfolds her and keeps her warm. It was my mistake, it was too hot for her, uncomfortable and prevented her from sleeping well. Conclusion: two layers maximum for a newborn, make sure that underwear is 100% cotton.
This is not a necessity but a nice thing to have for a newborn. I used Red Castle Baby Cocoon for first several months and enjoyed it a lot! Pros: compact and ergonomic mobile bed for your newborn. Absolutely safe for baby, unlike many other cheaper versions of different shapes and materials which increase a risk of suffocation for newborns. You can take a baby cocoon with you wherever you go: to the kitchen, to the living room, to visit your parents, to stay at the hotel. Babies like it a lot, it embraces them and gives them a feeling of boundaries as if they are still in a womb, keep them warm and safe. Cons: if you have a big baby, you will use it for three or four months maximum. It is quite a pricey thing.
I will not talk about health advantages of breastfeeding and its huge contribution to the immune system of your child, as well as an invaluable impact on bonding with your baby. I support breastfeeding and believe it is the best food for your baby. But, to the practical side: breastfeeding saves you a lot of energy. There is a joke about breastfeeding is for lazy moms. Indeed. You do not need to wake up beforehand, to clean and sterilize bottles, to heat water… nothing out of this. No bags, no bottles to carry. Breastfeeding saves you energy, time and money. I have to admit, I had some difficulties with breastfeeding such as sore nipples and I hired a consultant who solved this problem. Now I can say it was my best investment.
I began to practice co-sleeping with my baby from three months. I would like to start earlier, but I simply was afraid to hurt my baby in a sleep. The moment I learned how to breastfeed lying tummy-to-tummy with my her, I didn’t get up at night at all. Since then I did not know what the “sleepless nights” were. I breastfed her sleeping and woke up just to switch sides.
Nice and ergonomic sling or backpack can be a lifesaver if your baby doesn’t like a stroller, it is a very convenient thing to carry your baby in malls and airports. You do not need an apron or cover to have intimacy with your baby while breastfeeding. It keeps your little one close to you, warm and safe, soothes and comforts her. I used an ergonomic backpack and a wrap first six months almost every day.
Every time I bathed my baby, I added herbal decoctions to her bath: Bidens, Chamomile, Calendula. They are extremely helpful if a baby has rash or inflamed skin, especially in summer when little babies usually suffer from “sweat rush”. These herbs soothe and dry sore and inflamed skin. At the same time, if your baby suffers from atopic eczema, herbs are not good.
I swaddled my daughter during day naps till she turned eight months old. Unfortunately, it did not help to prolong her sleep but it helped her to fall asleep and not to wake up herself with chaotic moves of her hands or legs. I adore swaddles of Aden & Anais, though they are a bit pricey. However, since they are multifunctional you will use them at least for several years as a swaddle, as a towel, as a cover.
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My first year as a mom was a disaster. I did not expect my life will be so impacted and changed so dramatically after giving a birth. I thought it will never get better again, I will never have time for myself but eventually, slowly you adapt to the new pace and learn to prioritize so it’s getting better.
Another thing that helped me a lot (surprisingly!) was a military service of my husband. Actually, not a service itself of course, but experience my husband had. If he had to wake up and get up at night, he did; if he slept only three hours through the night, he did not complain telling me funny stories about his night shifts in the army.
But, of course, the most helpful things were not things. Support of my family, patience, joy, amazement, hugs, and kisses, awareness of the fact that you are raising a new human helped me to survive and to enjoy such a stressful and difficult time in a new role of being a mom.