Bringing home a baby is probably the most overwhelming thing you’ll ever do.
One of the most controversial things that happens to mamas when they’re pregnant is ALLLL the birthing and newborn parenting advice that people tell you. It’s kind of a running joke that everyone becomes a baby expert when you’re pregnant!
Some offer articles to read, classes to take, books to absorb, or their own personal advice. It can be extremely overwhelming for the new mama to know where to get started and what sources to listen to!
FINDING THE RIGHT INFO
When I was pregnant with my first baby, Jaden, some close family friends were kind enough to hand down their baby items to us! This included toys, baby accessories, his beautiful crib (Post on our baby nurseries to come!) as well as a huge stack of newborn, nursing and parenting books.
I was so overwhelmed I didn’t touch them for months. As my due date slowly crept closer, I realized I better start researching and begin to learn what the heck I’m supposed to do with that baby I was carrying!
Like I said, there were a number of books to choose from so it only made sense to start with the biggest. (It must have the most info right?!) Little did I know the newborn baby info gold mine I just stumbled upon would literally change EVERYTHING about how we cared for our sweet newborn, Jaden.
“The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems” by Tracy Hogg is basically a treasure map for parents to help care for and soothe their babies. Pure! Gold! We followed almost everything in Tracy Hogg’s book and it was the best decision for our boys (and our sanity!) we ever made as parents.
Below is a quick run down of my top 13 musts when bringing home a baby we learned from Tracy’s book.
1. GET THEM ON A ROUTINE
The BIGGEST piece of advice I can give ANY mom is get your baby on a routine! Not a schedule, but routine. (Read my NEW post on how to establish a routine with your baby!)
As Miss Tracy would say herself, “babies don’t fit in a clock” so it’s not about an exact time the baby eats or sleeps. It’s more about the rotating order of events.
GIVE THEM STRUCTURE
Babies need structure from an early age. How many times have you heard mamas say “I just don’t know what they want!” or “They just kept crying so I fed them…” If the baby is not on a routine, it is SO difficult to know what the baby is fussing about.
With a routine, you’re taking out the guesswork. You always know what they’re needing and what comes next! If it’s time to eat and they’re crying… you’ll know she is hungry!
If she’s been fed, has been up a bit and is fussy, it’s probably bed time! Knowing what comes next is critical for reading baby’s cues.
EAT, PLAY, SLEEP, REPEAT
The basic order of a newborn routine, according to Tracy, is Eat, Play, Sleep (or Eat. Activity. Sleep. Yourself Time -E.A.S.Y.). Many want to switch the routine around and play, eat (eating to sleep), sleep. But this will only teach the baby that she can ONLY sleep when fed which will never let her learn to put herself to sleep and self soothe.
Babies only need to eat every 3-4 hours (maybe every 2 during a growth spurt or in the evenings to “tank up”- more on this later) so the routine is a 3-4 hour cycle. Depending on the age of your baby, your cycle will have longer or shorter sections.
For example, if you have a 2-3 week old baby, their awake or “play” time will only be about 10-15 minutes (if that!) but a 9 month old baby’s awake play time would be around 1.5-2 hours!
(Be sure to check back often to see new posts coming soon on examples of baby schedules by the age!)
ROUTINES LEAD TO HAPPIER BABIES
Babies that are kept on a routine are more secure and less fussy because they adjust to their schedule and quickly settle in, knowing what comes next. Being on a routine also helps babies establish trust with you, making baby’s bond stronger and in turn, a calmer, happier baby.
Many parents mistakenly try to “go off” what the baby seems to be wanting or needing to do (which, like I said, can be almost impossible without knowing what should come next in their day).
This usually is a recipe for disaster. It quickly turns into the blind leading the blind situation. Don’t! Follow! The! Baby!
I’ll put it this way- the baby just came into this world. We can’t expect them to know how things work. We as parents need to gently guide them- even from the very, very beginning.
Having a routine is definitely a must when bringing home a baby!
2. BEDTIME ROUTINES CAN BE ESSENTIAL FOR SLEEP.
I’ve heard so many mamas tell me about how their baby is having a hard time sleeping only to find out when they describe their process …that they don’t have a process!
A sleep routine is SO vital when getting your little one to sleep. A sleep routine helps your baby to learn cues that will actually help your baby go to sleep faster and sleep better in the long run. It’s important to “set the stage” for sleep so your baby starts picking up the cues and starts to feel relaxed.
Here is an example of the sleep routine I followed with my boys :
- Turn on white noise machine (more on this in a minute!)
- Change diaper (if needed)
- Get pacifier and a blanket
- Read a book or two (Yes! Even babies several weeks old will enjoy and benefit from reading and looking at books!)
- Put book away and turn off the light
- Sing a song or two if you’d like
- Sit still and quietly in the dark room while the baby is settling down or drifting off (Subscribe blow to see posts coming soon on helping babies sleep at different ages!)
- Place baby in bed gently and quietly leave the nursery
Each of these steps tells the baby it is time for bed. Just as Pavlov’s dog learned to want the treat, as soon as your baby hears the white noise machine, feels his blanket on him, and sees you have a book, she will know it’s time for bed and start to feel sleepy.
Setting the stage for sleep will do wonders for your nap time and bedtime routines! Definitely a must when bringing home a baby!
3. GET A WHITE NOISE MACHINE
There’s nothing worse than trying to put a baby to sleep or just laying the baby down, only to have them hear the dog bark or someone walk down the hall and startle. You then have to start the whole bedtime routine all over again. So frustrating!
A white noise machine, we’ve found, is a must for sure when bringing home a baby!
Having a white noise machine to block out the sounds from around the house is SO helpful. I can’t tell you how much we’ve used our white noise machine. It’s gone everywhere with us and has been like an “instant” nursery everywhere we’ve set it up.
White noise is also very soothing for babies. Ever heard people say you should run the vacuum to make the baby go to sleep? That’s because in the womb, there’s a loud “vacuum like” sound. This is also why “shhhing” the baby helps and soothes. Get a white noise machine!
4. DON’T FALL INTO “ACCIDENTAL PARENTING”
OK… this is something we’ve all done… The baby is needing something or fussing about this or that, so you quickly do or hand them something that seems to help in the moment to soothe them.
Once you saw it worked, you kept giving the baby that item every time they fuss. Now you’re in a “pickle”.The baby can’t “live” without the item or they’ve established a bad behavior. Breaking them of the habit feels next to impossible.
Many times parents fall into accidental parenting in the form of a bad schedule. Like I said above, if the order of the routine is off, the baby will be off! Don’t follow the baby!
Although the first time may seem hard at that exact moment, it’s much better to “bite the bullet”, per say, and address the issue right away. Otherwise, the baby can establish bad habits that soon grow into large problems and become almost impossible to break. Better to never let them develop the habit in the first place.
5. SWADDLE, SWADDLE, SWADDLE
Babies are born with a “startle” that can be so called “activated” very easily. When they feel like they’re falling, (even if they’re just laying on the diaper table or your bed) they’ll throw their arms out to the sides, searching for something to grab on to.
The baby’s startle can last for quite a long time. My second baby, Parker James, is almost 11 months old and still has a bit of a startle! Startles bother some babies more than others, but all babies have them.
Also, when babies are born they don’t know that their hands and feet are connected to them OR what they even are! So just by moving their limbs around they can startle themselves! It almost takes nothing for a baby to startle especially if they’re very young.Their startle can make it extremely difficult for the baby to sleep soundly.
A swaddle wraps around the baby, keeping his arms and legs tightly bundled to his body helping him feel secure. They sleep so much more soundly!
Many birthing classes teach you how to use a blanket to swaddle. However, there are many different styles to choose from such as THESE that zip or THESE that wrap and velcro. Ours just were the wrap and tuck style. Both boys loved them!
6. DON’T SKIP THE BINKY!
I know, I know… the whole nipple confusion worry is a thing. But, babies will usually do better nursing or taking a bottle if they’ve been using a pacifier.
Babies are born needing to suckle (what a word right?!). There have been so many times with my boys that they have been upset and seem like they needed to nurse, but I knew it wasn’t anywhere close to time in their routine.
It turns out they usually just needed a pacifier to give them that extra bit of comfort. Giving them a binky to help soothe them, almost always did the trick.
Every time the baby uses a pacifier, the baby is getting a better and stronger suck since the binky is strengthening their “sucking” muscles. Using a binky is so, so soothing to babies. So in the long run it’s actually helping them!
There are many different pacifiers out there but we just stuck to THESE and they did wonders! (Be aware other binkys with plastic parts can be dangerous as they can come apart!)
7. DON’T LET BABY USE YOU AS A PACIFIER.
Going off my last point, although using a pacifier helps, that doesn’t YOU need to be their pacifier!
If you are nursing your sweet baby, and they have dozed off or seem like they want to nurse for more than 45 minutes to an hour, chances are you have now become a human pacifier. I’ve been there.
It’s late and you’re doing their last feed, the baby has dozed off and you want to put him to bed. You start to pull the baby away from you and he struggles to keep nursing, so you continue to let him nurse … and nurse and nurse.
Soon, you have been nursing the baby for over an hour or more and your breast is completely drained. There is no more milk but they are happy to be snuggled up with mom and have something to suckle.
DON’T DEVELOP BAD NURISNG HABITS
This leads to bad nursing habits that in the long run can make it very difficult for your body to keep up it’s milk production. I’ve seen many moms following this cycle and start to think their body can’t produce enough milk for their baby or nurse at all when really they’re just “over nursing” their baby.
Also, this can lead to the baby thinking anytime he fusses, he will get mom and get to nurse. This goes back to the blind leading the blind situation. Although it seems like he needs more, most likely he just needs a pacifier (and maybe a little snuggle from mama. Don’t we all!?).
Like I said above, keeping baby on a routine is so crucial for knowing what the baby is needing. It will help you in the long run to stop the baby and give her a pacifier.
8. DON’T NURSE TO SOOTHE
Tagging on to my last point, nursing IS soothing to the baby but shouldn’t be used TO soothe the baby. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck being a pacifier, like I said above.
Nursing is to feed the baby. It’s his meal. We as adults know that food can be SO comforting but we also know how unhealthy that pattern can be. In the long run, the baby will always need mama and learn that whenever he is “fussy” or throws a fit, he’ll get to nurse and get mama at the drop of a hat.
Again, this leads to accidental parenting with the parents following the BABY rather than parents guiding the baby. The baby will start to realize they are in control and the habit will be harder to break in the long run.
9. DON’T PUMP YOURSELF TO DEATH
First of all, I had two different pumps after delivering my boys (one with each) and I can’t TELL you the difference between the two. The first pump I used with my first baby was this Ameda breast pump.
Although it got the job done, I didn’t know what I was missing until I got my second pump after having Parker James!
Having a good pump is a HUGE must for breastfeeding mamas when bringing home a baby!
Pumping can be a great thing for so many reasons. When I had Jaden, I had NO CLUE my milk would come in so hot and heavy! It’s a running joke that I could feed all the children in Nigeria with the amount of milk I make after delivering.
Because I was so engorged, pumping just a tad to, should we say, “let the air out a bit”, helped Jaden SO much with his latch. (Just imagine trying to latch to a rock hard basketball… not. happening…)
Pumping is also great if you’re leaving the baby with someone or letting dad have a turn. It can also be great to pump for helping grow your milk supply. But ONLY if you do it just a BIT.
A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY
I have seen so many mama’s struggling to produce milk trying to nurse the baby all day and pump the other half of the time! Your body just can’t keep up with that! So of course baby will seem restless and hungry, and your breasts will always feel drained.
Just like I said at the top, you need a routine. Not only for baby but for your body too! Your body will get used to nursing/pumping at the same times each day and make enough milk for those windows. Give yourself time to recover and produce in between feedings.
If you’re going to pump to help with supply, pump for only five minutes, give or take, after only one (maybe two depending on the situation) of baby’s feedings during the day. That way you won’t be taking from your next feed. Rather, you’ll be sending a signal to your body to produce more at THAT feeding time.
A BIT OF ENCOURAGEMENT
To all you mamas that are finding it very difficult to produce milk, I send out my encouragement and love to you. I know how discouraging it can be. Please know that all bodies are different and that some just don’t produce much milk.
I can only compare to people who can eat anything they want and stay thin when I usually gain weight just trying to get in shape. (Check out my story on that here.)
If you feel like you have reached out to lactation consultants and tried to find the best support possible with no luck, please do NOT beat yourself up with that mama guilt! It is out of your control!
Your body just did an absolutely AMAZING and beautiful job of growing and carrying that sweet baby. Your job now is just to love and feed him! Whether it’s by breast or bottle, if the baby gets fed, you’ve done good, mama!
10. DON’T RUSH IN WHEN BABY CRIES
This one is a bit self explanatory. Sometimes when the baby wakes up in the middle of a nap or even throughout the night, they’re just fussing since they woke up or were startled by a dream. How many times during the night do you wake up and just turn over?
Babies obviously can’t do that yet. Waking up from such a deep slumber is shocking to the baby, so many times he is just fussing because he was alarmed. If the baby lets out a cry, give him a few minutes to see if he can settle himself back to sleep.
If your little one is very new, don’t let him cry too long. Babies are only born with one form of communication. If you don’t answer their cries when they’re only several months old or younger, it will break trust between you and the baby. He will not be as settled or as secure as he could be, which will definitely make things harder than they have to!
11. “TANK UP” YOUR BABY IN THE EVENING
If you’re going off of the Eat, Play, Sleep routine I discussed off above, “tanking up” in the evening is a great little cluster feed you can do in the evenings so ensure baby-one has the best night she can!
To do this, simply add in a feeding in the middle of your 3-4 hour cycle around dinner time (4 pm-7 pm -ish). “Tanking up” the baby in the evening will give the baby a better chance to make it longer through the night. (Be sure to check back here often for examples of baby schedules! And follow me on Instagram and Pinterest!)
Lots of babies try to do the “tank up” in the middle of the night (like my sweet Parker James did for a few nights his first week.) However, if you just adjust their routine and put the “tank up” around supper time, she will sleep so much longer!
12. DON’T FORGET THE DREAM FEED
Adding on to the “tank up” point, give your baby a dream feed before you go to bed. To do this, just get him out of bed around 10 pm or 11 pm and while they’re still sleepy or mostly asleep, nurse!
Babies can still nurse while they’re asleep so he will probably just doze right off during the feed and keep nursing! You can even keep them in their swaddle while you feed!
Because he’s asleep, he will probably take longer than a normal feed during the day. This should be your longest feed of the day. Maybe next to the first morning feed. Especially, if your baby is sleeping from about 11:30 pm after the dream feed until about 6 am- 7 am.
Once baby is done nursing (or has completely stopped nursing because he’s OUT!), gently put him in his crib and go to bed, mama!
Dream feeds are a definite must when bringing home a baby!
13. IF YOU WANT BABY TO START SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT, DON’T SET AN ALARM TO NURSE
One of the biggest questions moms are asked when they have a new baby is: “Are you getting any sleep mama? Is the baby sleeping through the night?” And so many mamas are exhausted and wishing they could just cut out that middle of the night feed. (Subscribe to see posts coming soon about baby sleep suggestions!)
Once your baby is about 3 weeks old, if they are already eating well on a fairly solid routine, it’s time to start stretching their nights out longer. At first, it is important to make sure that baby eats no sooner than 2 hours apart and no longer than 4, but around the 3-4 week mark, they can start to try to sleep longer at night.
REMEMBER TO “TANK UP” AND DREAM FEED
After you do your “tank up” or cluster feed in the evening, then the “dream feed” around 10 pm or 11 pm, head off to bed yourself and wait for baby to wake up. The first few nights or so may still be the normal 3-4 hours, but after a week or two, baby should start to stretch out his sleep patterns.
Both my first baby, Jaden and my second, Parker James, were sleeping from around 9 pm (plus dream feed at 11 pm) until 6-7 am when they were only 9 or 10 weeks old by following this plan. (And believe me, mama NEEDED this sleep!)
Once the baby is starting to sleep a bit longer through the night, if the baby wakes up, try seeing if he or she can settle with a binky first rather than rushing to nurse or grab the bottle. Babies can sometimes settle themselves with a binky and give you another half hour (sometimes more!) of sleep!
Keep following this pattern and in just a few short weeks (although, if you ask ANY mom they would say they were LONNNGGG weeks) your baby should be sleeping through the night! Just remember, when your baby wakes up in the middle of the night EARLIER than they usually do, they probably just need something other than nursing (i.e. pacifier, swaddle fixed, etc.) and nursing should be the last thing you try.
14. GIVE YOURSELF GRACE
Giving yourself grace when bringing home a baby is probably be the BIGGEST must!
Many say delivery is the hardest part about childbirth. That is FAR from the truth. Once you deliver you now have to care for yourself AND a newborn, all while trying to recover from the hardest work your body will ever do.
Babies are HARD work- but they are the BEST work. Give yourself grace. Things are not going to go perfectly. There will be tears (maybe just from hormones but it will happen!)
Be gracious with yourself and take it slow. Find the things that make you feel at peace. You’ll be out of this hard newborn chapter soon. Love on that baby all you can because he will be off to college in a wink.
THAT’S ALL, FOLKS!
Well! There you have it! This information was so life changing and helpful we can’t help but share it with others! I’ve given this book to expecting mama friends more times than I can count (and we can ALWAYS tell which moms are actually following it’s advice or not!) I sure hope this newborn baby info helps you!
Have any questions? Have you tried any of the methods above? Did they work as well for you as they have for us? Leave a comment or shoot me an email! I would love to hear from you!
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