Let me share with you a little bit of my story in 2015. You see, 2015 was the year I gave birth to my first child. Ryan.
I was super worried about my looks, perianal stitches, me and mine. Little did I know that there was more to motherhood than just my looks.
I was lucky to have my mother-in-law by my side from the hospital, but she did not stay for long. Just a week, and she was gone.
That is when the drama began.
My baby would cry, cry and cry.There was nothing like sleeping for three consecutive hours at night or during the day. And breastfeeding was almost throughout.
I hadn’t prepared for this mentally, but at least I was lucky my spouse was very supportive, and he could stay with the baby at night for me to get some rest.
But for how long was he going to do this?
I needed to get a permanent solution, and that is when the search to establish stress-free babysitting techniques began.
Here I’m walking you through what worked for me. So take heed.
1. I Started Learning About My Baby’s Cues
Since it was evident that I would be under my little master for a while, I would try and learn his language so that we could be on the same page.
They say It’s easier to change yourself than change someone, right? That’s the rule I was going to follow.
I adjusted my daily schedule to fit into my baby’s routine as I waited for him to change.
Normally, he would wake up between 6.30 am, and 7.00 am. And it will be crying while taking a bath, crying while changing diapers, breastfeeding, and then the endless soothing sessions. These sessions would probably go on forever, followed by a ten-minute nap. And then, waking up again.
It was so tedious. My baby blues were almost turning into depression.
I started paying attention to how he responded to me so that I could learn something.
I wanted to know his interests and trigger points. For instance, instead of getting him out of bed as usual when he woke up with screams, I would respond by talking to him.
I would lean beside the bed and assure him that mommy was around and watching over him. We would spend like 10 minutes gazing at each other until he gave the cue that he needed a lift out of bed.
We gained more trust and reduced the anxiety about the new environment and atmosphere.
After a while, he would wake up quietly and start cooing to alert me, hey, mom, I’m awake. I made someone a little bit patient, and he would coo at least for 10 minutes waiting for mommy to come over.
What did I learn About baby cues and body language?
Over time, I understood that babies use different techniques to communicate their feelings. Unfortunately, we adults take longer to understand their language, and we rarely attend to their needs accordingly. The importance of observing and understanding your baby’s language is that you get to know when:
- Tired and just need to relax on a mat
- Wide awake and ready to play
Why it’s important to respond to baby cues?
Each baby may have a different way of communicating. Understanding the baby’s body cues and responding to them helps your baby feel safe and secure. In return, you build a strong bond essential for his development.
Recognizing my baby cues
Accepting to learn about my baby’s language worked incredibly well. I would respond to his cooing when he wakes up by calling his name, Singing, and doing funny things.
I often did this while finishing up some stuff, and to my surprise, he would be patient and calm until I went over to pick him up.
How can I get my newborn to engage?
Newborns are born instinctively with the ability to communicate and engage with their caregivers. You only need to be patient and alert.
Here are some play ideas for newborns:
Singing, chatting, or tickling can be great ways to engage and respond to your baby
Smiling, rolling your eyes, laughing, or poking out your tongue during bath or tummy time.
Give your baby different objects to feel – soft toys, rattles, or cloth books with pages of different textures are fun. Feeling other things helps your baby learn about the sorrounding.
Give your baby different things to look at – outside, inside, different people, or different rooms.
Talk or make sounds with your baby, and wait for them to respond. You can do this during massages or during breastfeeding
Baby Cues Signs That I Learned From My Baby.
After engaging for a while, it was definite that I had almost mastered my baby language. I could tell when he was tired, sleepy, or hungry. Here are a few examples:
Baby cues that say, ‘I want to play.’
While sitting beside his bed, I gauge whether he needs time to ply by observing the following cues
I’ll then respond with a smile, ticking, and soft talk.
Baby cues that say, ‘I’m tired.’
My baby’s simple ways of telling me that he was tired included
I started looking for these signs after about 4 hours of engagement since I was almost sure he was about to nap. And true to my efforts, his engagement and sleep duration immensely improved.
2. I Started Waking Up Earlier Than My Baby
The first 6 weeks after birth were hectic. My baby was not sleeping for long hours, which affected my daily routine. I could not find time to rest. Getting ample time to do my sitz baths was just a dream leave alone finding time for house chores. I complained a lot that I felt I wasn’t going for another baby again.
Was complaining and nagging going to provide solutions for my issues?
Definitely no. I had to plan my day.
I decided to adjust my time to fit his routine and schedule. I would wake up at least one hour before my baby’s waking time.
Luckily, I had mastered some of his trends; for example, if he slept around 2.00 am, he would wake up between 5.00 am, and 6.00 am. so I made sure I woke up at least one hour earlier to sort my issues.
I will take birth, nurse my stitches and do some household chores before he wakes up. I will also prepare some breast milk-friendly meals for the day ahead.
What did I gain by waking up early?
Waking up early gave me ample time to engage with my baby without anticipating when he would nap to finish my jobs. I stopped looking at it as if babysitting was time-wasting but instead gave him my full attention knowing well that there was time for everything.
3. Ensuring That I Had Enough Breast milk Supply Throughout
Your breast milk supply will determine whether your baby will be satisfied and happy or will remain fussy the whole day.
After a long night of breastfeeding, likely, you won’t have enough milk for the day. Likewise, if your baby is sucking after 3- 4 hours, you need to up your game.
This is something I had overlooked in the earlier weeks.
Even though my son was crying for many unknown reasons, I suspected that he wasn’t getting satisfied.
I tried to do the early morning and late evening milk stimulation. I took my dark drinking chocolate tea first thing in the morning and late before bed. Together with other milk-friendly foods, my milk supply increased drastically.
I also started looking for his hunger cues before he loses his temper and it becomes hard to contain him on the breast. These were some of the cues that denoted hunger.
Baby cues that say, ‘I’m hungry.’
- His fists will be all over his mouth.
- He would turn his head towards the breast
- He will smack his lips
- His will have clenched hands.
Whenever I noticed these signs, I put him on the breast for feeding.
What was the result?
My baby will feed for about 20 minutes on one breast and be satisfied. He didn’t have to pull my breast and cry because of the frustration of not getting enough milk.
Similarly, I didn’t have to endure the long hours of breastfeeding and changing positions. Instead, we would have a wonderful eye-to-eye gauze with a bit of cooing that denotes satisfaction.
Afterward, he will also stay long enough before the next breastfeeding session. Staying for a while without breastfeeding gave my body enough time to stimulate and build up my milk supply.
But what lessons did I learn from our breastfeeding sessions?
For you to efficiently cooperate with your newborn, you must understand some factors; for instance;
How do you know when your baby is full?
- Turning away from your breast
- Starting to play, appearing easily distracted or disinterested in feeding
- Relaxing their fingers or hand
How do I know when my baby has emptied a breast?
When your breasts are full, they are hard and tight. As the baby continues to suckle, you may feel some relief as your breast softens and relaxes.
If your breast still feels hard or very firm, your baby may need to spend more time suckling; otherwise, you can suffer breast engorgement symptoms.
How do you know when your baby is not getting enough breastmilk?
Your baby might not be eating enough if they:
Related: 9 Basic Tips for Increasing Breast milk Supply
4. Warm Bath and Baby Massage
Since my mother-in-law had introduced my baby to taking a bath in the morning, I didn’t want to change that routine.
I would bathe him in the morning a few hours after waking up. A bath temperature of between 37°C and 38°C was right for him. It was neither too hot nor cold for a newborn.
Bathing my baby’s correct water temperature prevented burns and helped him feel calmer and relaxed during and after bath. It probably reminded him about life in the womb.
Likewise, I ensured that he remained warm after his birth to avoid unnecessary sneezing and cries. I ensured that I bathed him in an enclosed room with no possibility of a draft. Also, I had his supplies ready, including a towel and changing clothes before bath sessions.
A short Baby massage session
After a bath, I’ll follow through with a baby massage that proved to be relaxing and created a bonding time between us.
Why should you do a daily Baby massage?
Baby massage can enhance the bonding between the baby and the mother. Additionally, it enhances a healthy digestive system, reduces colic symptoms, and promotes relaxation, helping your baby have a restful nap.
While on it, I would sing or whisper to my son. The bathing time and the 5-minute massage therapy created a stronger bond between us. He would throw his little legs and hands in the air, directly gazing into my eyes with a sweet-heavenly smile.
I got my baby active and relaxed. Ready to tackle any obstacle ahead of the day. Not even colic will weigh him down.
But, you may be interested to know;
How do you massage a newborn?
Feel free to steal my secrets here on how I did a daily Baby massage
- Use soft, gentle strokes to massage the baby’s thighs, legs, and feet.
- Move to the arms, making sure to massage the baby’s hands gently while pulling them outward.
- Massage the stomach clockwise, following the digestive system’s direction.
- Massage the baby’s chest carefully, avoiding the delicate head and neck area.
- Lay the baby on the belly and massage the back with gentle strokes
- The critical factor is to target the right body parts so that you do not injure your newborn.
Do I Need Baby Massage Oil?
Not all the time, mama, but using massage oil can aid in reducing the friction between the skin, making your baby experience more comfortable massage sessions.
Going by a recent study, the type of massage oil you use can affect the health and growth of your baby. I chose to stick to pure coconut oil s opposed to olive or sunflower oil which seemed to break down babies’ skin.
5. I Tried Sunbathing
Sunbathing is something that I had never had time for since I was always engaged for the longest time after childbirth.
But after I started walking up a little bit earlier than my baby, I could get so much accomplished, especially in my self-care activities. And after he woke up, I had no reason to worry about anything. Thus, I started giving him undivided attention.
We will have our morning sun doze between 8.00 am, and 10.00 am, depending on the weather.
My baby’s sleeping duration increased significantly. I also noticed that he became less fussy and more open to interaction,
Why should you sunbathe a newborn?
According to a study, Sunlight exposure enhances vitamin D production in your baby’s body. The production of vitamin D is essential in helping the body absorb calcium.
In the end, your baby will have strong bones, thereby preventing rickets.
- Morning sunlight can help Manage jaundice or yellowing of the skin.
- The morning sun also enhances the baby’s energy levels through melatonin synthesis. High melatonin levels in the baby can impact his sleep patterns, which are essential in the newborn’s early years.
- Sunlight can enhance better serotonin levels – Serotonin, a ‘happy hormone,’ is known to enhance happiness and a feeling of security in newborns.
How do you sunbathe a baby?
During the first week after childbirth, you may do the sunbathing inside the house. You only need to put the baby in a bassinet or on a blanket near a window with direct sunlight, which might be enough for the day. Always ensure that the room is warm before undressing the baby. You want to stick indoors to limit exposure to wind and draft.
But, If you feel that the weather is favorable, you may proceed to sunbathe your baby outdoors. You should take off your baby’s heavy clothes to expose them slightly. Then you can stay in the morning sun for about 30 minutes.
How many minutes should you expose a baby to sunlight?
According to a study, it’s crucial to sunbathe your baby for about 30minutes to 60 minutes depending on the weather. A mild and soft morning or evening sunlight will not cause sunburns per se. Let your baby enjoy the sun even as his body absorbs vitamin D.
Can 2-week-old babies go outside?
Yes. A two-week baby is old enough to go out for sunbathing. Be sure to observe the weather and timing of the day. Early sunlight between 8.00 am, and 10.00 am is the best for your two-week-old baby. If you have concerns about damaging his skin, you may start by shielding him from direct sunlight until they get used to the sun.
What time should I expose my baby to sunlight?
The best time to expose your baby to the sun is either in the morning between 8.00 am and 10.00 am or in the evening when the sun is about to set. During this time of the day, the rays are mild, and your baby can draw maximum benefits without sunburns. Likewise, due to the sensitive nature of a baby’s skin, try not to exceed 30- 45 minutes in the sun.
6. I Introduced Tummy Time Into Our Routine
I introduced tummy time within the first month after my delivery. I first had to ensure that the code had fallen off and the possibility of bleeding was minimal. Our tummy time simply involved laying my baby on his tummy for about 10 -20 mins.
I would lie him across my lap for a while. This helped him remove excess gas after breastfeeding and got him in the activity mood before placing him on the mat. I’ll then Place safe objects and toys close to him, and then I will keep moving them from side to side to encourage him to move, lift and turn his head.
Bit by bit, my baby started enjoying tummy time. After tummy exercises, it was evident that my baby got worked out and would for long hours. The activities also enhanced his motor skills development.
But you may want to know;
Why is tummy time necessary for a baby?
Tummy time is crucial in developing a baby’s motor skills. Putting your baby on their tummy for a while can help them build core strength, coordination, and balance. By lifting their head, your baby strengthens the neck and shoulder muscles, essential for development milestones like crawling.
When should you start tummy time?
You can start tummy time as soon as the baby’s umbilical code is healed. At first, you may consider short sessions for about 3-5 minutes a day using your chest or laps. Afterward, you may Start practicing tummy time 2-3 times a day on nursery rugs or play mats as the baby gets older and stronger.
When should we stop tummy time?
Tummy time is an exercise that helps a baby to develop motor skills. Once the baby becomes strong enough at about 6 months old, you can stop or reduce tummy times. This is because, at that age, your baby will be able to roll over and crawl on his tummy independently; thus, you can stop dedicated tummy time sessions.
How long should my baby do tummy time each day?
15-20 minutes of tummy time a day is enough for your baby. If the baby becomes fussy and you can not sustain the 15 minutes, it would be best to do at least two to three sessions a day, lasting three to five minutes each.
7. I Did a Little Bit of Swaddling
I noticed that my baby would wake up when I tried putting him to bed. And by the way, it did not matter how tactical I would lay him down. The moment he heard or felt a slight movement, his hands would be all over in the air, which would be the end of the napping session.
Did I tell you how I felt at that moment?
All my 1 to 2-hour efforts of soothing someone to sleep went down the drain in a minute.
So how was I to tackle the startle reflex?
The answer was in baby swaddling. I swaddled my baby to reduce the startle reflex. The startle reflex occurs when the baby is disrupted by movement or noise.
The baby may extend out his arms and legs or cry as he curls his hands and legs in response to the trigger.
Swaddling babies serves to protect them against their natural startle reflex. Baby swaddling can help eliminate anxiety, especially when the baby feels like they are falling off.
It is also a mechanism that imitates a mother’s touch and thus can produce a self-soothing effect.
This means prolonged and better sleep for the baby. If your baby’s startle reflex is keeping them from sleeping properly, try these tips:
Hold your baby close to your chest when laying them down to minimize the falling effect. Lean towards the bed and gently put your baby down before releasing him.
Swaddle your baby to make them feel safe and secure. Sometimes Swaddling can make your baby feel cozy as though they are in the womb. It usually does help your baby sleep longer.
The first few months after childbirth can be hectic.But, you must find the inner strength and guts to sail through. It took me a few weeks to master the routine and tactics that worked best for my baby, but I’m glad I tried out something.
Kindly let me know about your tactics in the comment below. Also do not forget to share this post, who knows, maybe one of these points might give a new-mom some additional sleeping hours ha!
Related: How Best Can You Care For Your Newborn’s Umbilical Stump Cord After Birth?
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