During pregnancy I was the Organic hippy chick, who never dyed her hair, who rarely shaved her legs, who didn't like to wear make up and I was always checking labels...why!? Because I wanted to be the healthiest I could be for our new baby and I couldn't reach the bottom of my legs very well to shave them. We didn't figure out the sex of our baby. We actually only wanted to get one ultra-sound done and that was it. We read that Ultrasounds can interfere with brain development and growth.
We skipped the first ultrasound and did the 18-20 week one. Our babies head circumference was a bit smaller then average so we had to get a couple more done, which I wasn't too pleased about. I think I got a bit stressed-out over it and that wasn't good for babes either. I also had placental previa. The placenta moved just in time for our in home birth. When Kyrsten was born she was perfect. She was a long, 6 lb 7 oz baby. Pooping on her daddy's chest half an hour after she was born.
Here are a couple things that I have learnt about our new baby. These tips might not relate to your family at all. Each baby is different and special in their own way. Thanks for reading.
DIAPERS: We used natural disposable diapers until she was 2 weeks old and then switched to Bum Genius All-in-one cloth diapers. We love them. I got 24 of them so they last about 3 days, then we wash them. We bought a garbage pale with a bucket inside for keeping the dirty ones in. The bucket helps us move them to the washing machine. No smell at all. We also have a baby wipe warmer. So we just put the clean baby clothes in the warmer and Kyri loves having her diaper changed. We also use a jelly on her bum to prevent diaper rash. It works wonders. At three months we put a hazel wood necklace on her to help prevent teething pain and diaper rash. In the summer it was nice to hang the diapers outside to dry.
BONDING: It is so important that the parents bond with their babies regularly. If it's skin-to-skin time (with mommy or daddy), breastfeeding, or just being held infants need to feel loved 100% of the time. When infants cry you should be at their beckon call. Newborns don't know how to tell you that they need you so they cry. As they get older their cry might mean 'pick me up cuz I'm bored' so now is the time to decide if you are going to let them 'cry it out' or not. Now some parents agree with this and others do not. Which ever way you decide will be the right way for you and your family. After two children later Tod and I have found that letting your baby "self soothe" is a good way to let your baby know that they need to calm down before they get their way. Day by day the cry time decreases and before you know it they don't use crying as a form of communication. If your child has been fed, is happy, clean and safe there is no harm in letting your baby cry it out.
SLEEPING: Newborns will wake up every 2 hours during the night. They wake up (mostly) because of gas or because they are hungry. What mothers eat for dinner and in the evening will effect your babies sleep. Babies get bad gas from garlic, onion, red pepper, cucumber, broccoli, tomatoes, all dairy, wheat, oranges, pineapple, and certain spices. Chocolate, sugar, chocolate ice cream, green tea and coffee will keep them awake at night. Our little Kyri had gas before bed so she would calm down by laying on her tummy and then would fall asleep. Now she loves to sleep on her tummy and is a great sleeper.
Day by day, week by week, their routine will change until they are 6 months old. At 2 months don't be afraid to let your baby cry before bed. To help them calm down before bed, lullabies and reading books are great. Make sure they aren't around a TV for the last half hour before bed. TVs stimulate children's/babies brains. At six months old babies should be at the point where they are sleeping 6 hours straight. The best advice I ever got was to dream feed my baby. Dream feeding is: When your baby is sleeping, you gently pick them up and feed them and gently put them back in their bed. They never wake up and they sleep for longer with a full tummy. We have gotten into the (summer) routine putting her to bed at 8:30PM, dream feeding at 11PM and then again at 6AM and then she wakes up for the day at 8:30AM. Shortly after waking I feed her once more and then get ready for the day.
New born babies will nap all day. As time goes by they will nap less and less. Babies need to grow so if they show signs of being tired, such as rubbing their eyes or yawning, make sure you put them in a quite enviroment so they are able to calm down and get a good rest.
Parents should never feel pressured to move their babies into a crib. If your baby likes their bassinet or cradle don't feel like you have to move them into a bigger crib asap. Once your baby gets too big for their current bed it is time to move them into a larger one.
BATHING: The most amazing thing was the first month of bathing Kyri. I would get into the tub with her and I would hold her head up and she would float in the water. She was so relaxed that she would fall asleep. It was like she was back in the warm womb again. She loved it more then anything and I am so grateful I got to experience that with her.
POTTY TRAINING: Potty training can start at as early as 3 weeks old. While holding your babies head you can gently place your babies bum over a bowl or in the sink with their knees bent. It is called elimination communication. Your baby doesn't necessarily have to pee or poo, it's just to help them get used to the idea of being on the toilet. Kyri was put on the potty at 3 months old. I sit behind her and we go pee together or I just hold her and wait for her to go. Every baby has their own signals to let you know when they need to go. I help her by making grunting noises and always give her lots of kisses and praise when she goes. Sometimes we have to sit on the toilet for 5 minutes before she goes and some times she doesn't go at all.
At six months she is going on the toilet 3-4 times during the day and poos during one of those times, almost everyday. I can tell she has to poo because she gets a lot of gas before she poops, so I rush her to the toilet.
CLOTHING AND LAUNDRY: Cloth diapers only require a 1/4 of the normal amount of natural detergent to be used. We use a natural detergent anyway so that was nice that we didn't need to change brands. No fabric softeners, dryer sheets or bleaches are ever used. It is the safest way to do laundry. If you would like a scent on your laundry there are natural ways of doing it. Like adding essential oils to dryer balls that are made out of wool. Scents like orange, rose or lavender are nice.
My advice is to do a load of laundry every morning. I find that if I don't it gets piled up a mountain high and I run out of my favourite clothes. I changed my top 3-4 times a day when Kyri was 0-4 months. Lots of baby barf!
FOOD: Read Pregnancy, Childbirth and Children's Diets by Dr. Joel Robbins. It is a quick read by a nutritionist who has great advice on what you should be eating during pregnancy, what your babies first solids food should be and when, and how to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your children's diets.
GAS AND CRAMPS: Wheat, corn, fish, eggs, citrus fruits, veggies and dairy will all give your baby gas. Natural lotions can be massaged into babies tummies to help get rid of cramps. Baths help and are to be given to babies prior to cramping time.
BABY CARE: Finding natural/organic brands online is easiest. Your local health food store should carry some good brands of baby shampoos and washes. We like Seventh Generation for our soaps, shampoos, detergents, and washes.
Her baby bum Jelly by Cayborn Comforts is our favourite to prevent diaper rashes. It works great.
Eco-friendly toys are best. Toys made out of cloth, untreated wood and 100% silicone are said to be the safest.
Always wash new clothes before using. Same with baby blankets, bedding and fabric toys.
ROUTINE: Routines are very important for babies and they make mommy's life much easier. It takes a couple months to get in to a routine that the both of you like. Don't worry if your routine changes. Ours did, often! As long as you try to keep it going as much as possible you will find your days go by smoother and your baby will be happy. At 6 months old your baby will know that nap time comes after play and food, or that bath time comes after dinner time. They will know that if you take them into a quite, calm room to feed them that bed time is next. Baby's feel safe knowing what is going to happen through out the day and they will grow to trust you.
BABY SITTERS: It is important for mommy and daddy to have some time alone once in a while, to bond and to keep their relationship alive. We had our first baby sitter when Kyri was 2 months old. We choose someone that we trust, my parents.
Being prepared: I pumped 6 oz. of milk for Kyri, brought a diaper bag full of disposable diapers and wipes, extra clothes and toys, her baby blanket and her play pen. When your baby is in an unfamiliar place and going to sleep in an different bed it is nice for them to have something that they recognise, like a blanket from their bed at home or music that they know.
Now Chloe, our oldest daughter who is 12, watches Kyri for us so we can go to a movie. Chloe watches Kyri during the day sometimes so I can take a nap, do some cleaning or just relax and take a bath. She took the baby sitting course and received her certificate. She knows not to open the door for anyone and to call us or 911 in case of emergencies. She knows how to give Kyri a bottle, change her diaper, put her to bed, and what to do if she chokes. We trust her and we leave all the emergency phone numbers on the white bored in the kitchen, visible for her to see at all times.
BREASTFEEDING: Breast feeding is a great bonding time for mommy and baby, but not all mothers are able to breast feed. That doesn't meant that they can't still bond with their babies. Babies will always grow a bond with who ever is feeding them, whether it be from the breast or bottle. Doctors say that breast feeding until the age of 2 is best.
I ran out of milk with my son at 3 months. I found out later that it wasn't that I ran out but that I had clogged milk ducts and should have continued to feed him until they unclogged. With Kyri, breast feeding has been great. I get to pump milk for her so I can get out of the house to work out. My husband gets bonding time with her by feeding her with a bottle which she doesn't mind. Kyri first used a bottle at 6 weeks old. She got used to it fast.
At 5.5 months my milk supply was low for 48 hours. Kyri was hungry every hour. It was completely natural and it went back to normal after two days. She was going through a growth spurt. The milk ducts have been clogged twice in my right breast. I just feed and feed and feed, until they are soft again. It took 2 hours of straight feeding to unclog them.
ACCESSORIES: Kyri has a B.O.B. stroller that we bought used online. Her cradle that she is still using, since birth, was made by my Opa. We are currently looking into buying her a used crib and high chair. This high chair looks awesome. We feel good about spending less and buying things second hand, but that is just our own opinion. Even her car seat was used. Bought off a lady in town for $20. We made sure it wasn't expired.
Advice - Babies don't care if you buy a stroller that is $40 or $600. If you feel like you need to buy new please treat it well so you are able to resell it or lend it out to a friend. Thanks!
PARENTS: Talking in a calm, soothing voice is the best when communicating with your little one. Gentle hands must always be used to help gain your babies trust. Your baby must always feel safe and secure.
Parents always need time for themselves. To relax, play or just have some romantic time together. Being away from your children helps you really appreciate what you have. Getting time away from them will help you miss them and be grateful for what you have. Parents who feel lonely, overwhelmed, afraid or sad will have a harder time taking care of their children. There are always people to help, listen and encourage you, like your mid-wife/doctor, friends and family.
Remember that no one is perfect. Parents will disagree with things at times and the best way to work is out is to love and respect each others thoughts and concerns. Never put your spouse down. Think about the long term effects on your children when making big decisions. Love and cherish your partner, always forgive each other and the more you work together the easier taking care of your baby will be.