Baby Time

A few weeks ago, I talked about “Mommy Time” and making sure to take time to relax and re-charge when you can, so that you can be a better mom and do all the things for your family. Today, I’d like to talk to all the new moms out there about enjoying life in the moment with your new baby.

I have several first-time mom friends, and as someone who is past the baby stage and not planning for any more little ones, I want to pass along some advice.

My first baby, on the day we left the hospital.

Friends, I know it’s hard to just get through the day to day when you have this new life you are 100% responsible for. That baby needs you for everything. Feedings, diapers, naps…and the bottles, blankets, clothes, laundry…the list goes on and on.

Just remember, the baby stage may seem like an eternity while you’re living it. But, it’s really so, so short!

My second baby…I love to watch them sleep!

We buy all kinds of paraphernalia for our babies – and they are done with most of it after six months! (Maybe a year). Not to mention toys. Toys!

The toys add up fast!

Every stage of our children’s lives is amazing. Watching them learn – from babbling to talking, rolling over to crawling to walking, teething and then eating, picking up toys to learning their letters and putting words together to spelling words out. It is all so unbelievably amazing!

There are so many things to cherish about that first year of your child’s life. The snuggles. The quiet time during nighttime feedings. The baby falling asleep in your arms – which is so rewarding by itself and makes it so hard to put them down for a nap so you can get other things done!

My third (and last!) baby.

I loved watching my babies sleep. They are so peaceful, and beautiful.

Parenting is hard. I’m not going to lie. Every stage has its challenges. And sleep depravation in those first months is really the worst.

But, it is also such a short time. Once those kiddos are walking and talking, making friends at preschool and expressing their own personalities, they no longer want to be held all the time and snuggle in with mom (or dad) all day long. So, embrace that short time you have with them in your arms. Cherish the moments to just have quiet baby time – even in the middle of the night.

Bright-eyed baby!

Each of my three kids started sleeping through the night at different times. Our oldest was the easiest baby – she slept 10 hours for the first time when she was almost 4 months. Our middle didn’t sleep through until he was more than 7 months old, and I think I was a zombie that whole first year of his life. And I think our little was in between the other two.

Do you co-sleep with your kids? We did not. We always had the babies in their own rooms from the start. Which makes it harder on mom – especially when feedings involved bottles and formula and having to go all the way down to the kitchen to warm them up – but we thought it was better to have our kids in their own space.

Which brings me to breastfeeding. I absolutely advocate for breastfeeding, if you can. I tried. I just didn’t have the milk supply to keep it up for the duration, with any of my kids. I did the fenugreek tea, drank beer (which I don’t especially like), and all the rest. I lasted two months with my first, four with my second, and six months with the third…mostly because she refused to take a bottle until then and I’m convinced she was starving! Ladies – breastfeeding is sometimes easier (you don’t have to carry bottles or formula or anything other than a blanket to cover), and sometimes harder (you literally are the only food source for that baby…and you have no freedom to go anywhere independent of the baby for very long, or you have to pump all day long if you’re working), but fed is best! Formula today is very healthy and feeding the baby is the only thing that matters. If you don’t want to breastfeed, or just don’t have the milk, it’s okay. The important thing is feeding the baby!

What about starting food? Obviously, listen to your pediatrician and follow the basic guidelines that they set for you. Start with cereal (mixed with formula or breast milk). See how it goes, and add a new food every 3-4 days or once a week.

My son (the middle), at age 2.

If your baby hasn’t already been sleeping through the night, they usually start to do so after starting cereal. Sometimes – as with our oldest – the hardest thing to break is the habit of that 4 am wake up. Our pediatrician recommended at the time that we just give her a pacifier and walk away. The problem with that? She would lose the paci and wake up again. So, one night, we let her cry. It was painful, and took 45 minutes. And she slept through the night from then on. And she was pretty well done with the paci after that!

As I said, parenting is hard. Our youngest had a pretty traumatic medical issue (as I highlighted a couple weeks ago in “Adventures”) when she was just shy of one. She had never really been tied to a paci before that, but after the first MRI – and especially after the second – she wouldn’t go anywhere without one. Or two. She used to keep several pacifiers in her crib at nighttime within reach. It took us until after she was three before we got her to agree to send the last of her paci’s to her new baby cousin in Boston. And that was okay!

One of the last times my baby fell asleep on my lap in public with her paci – she was 3.

Sometimes, our babies need those little things for some comfort. If it is soothing and helps them get to sleep, I’m all for it. For my son – our middle – it was all about his “dee,” which was a very special blanket gifted to him by my aunt and uncle. A blue cashmere baby blanket that was so well loved I had to sew it back together several times, and finally had to hide in order to keep it from disintegrating forever.

Each child is unique and will need something different to comfort them – whether it’s a special blanket or a paci or favorite stuffy – and you will have to search the house, car, or hotel room for that special thing if it’s not right there at bed time! (Or make a Target run for a replacement if you’re on a trip and it got left at home – I’ve done it!).

These are the crises of the moment when those sweet babies start to talk. So cherish the moments when they cry only because they are wet or hungry. Take the time to give them the snuggles while you can. Enjoy every second, because that time will pass before you know it!

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