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BFBN: Bringing home baby: Goals for the first four months- Guest Post

It’s a BFBN Day!  Today I am lucky to have Stephanie from Giving it Grace posting here.  She talks about her plan and goals for bringing home her second baby.  I am all about prepping for the girls to arrive, and I love that she has weekly goals to focus on.  This post has really helped me.  I’m going to work on my own goals for the girls as well!  I’m over at Wiley Adventures today talking about the basic Babywise principles I make sure to follow on holidays.  Be sure to check out all the BFBN ladies for some great information and tips!

Kim

Bringing Home Baby
When I was preparing to bring my second baby home, I sat down and wrote out a list of goals to help me get through the first four months (and beyond). The goals below are what I focused on, and having these decided ahead of time was very helpful! So if you’re planning on bringing a baby home soon I think you’ll find this helpful. Enjoy!

{ WEEK 1 }
goal: full feedings
Every baby is a sleepy nurser to some degree, so keeping a baby awake enough for a full feeding can be a real chore. Be prepared to really put in work. Ideas for keeping awake: change diaper, undress baby, gentle tickle, something cold briefly against their foot, sit them up. Once baby wakes from nap, start feeding right away as that is when they are the most rested and have energy to feed. If you have older kids, plan ahead for a family member to take over the bulk of your responsibilities with the older kids for several days (even a week!) so you can put all the energy you can find into full feedings. I focused on this from the first feeding with both my babies and they naturally fell into a 2.5-3 hour feeding routine within 24 hours.
goal: full naps
This is really easy at first, because baby spends something like 20 hours a day asleep. If baby is awake he will most likely want to feed, so try to respect baby’s nap needs. Put baby down to sleep in a safe place for his nap, or if you’re planning to nap with baby or wear baby in a carrier for their nap get into position at the start of the nap and don’t disrupt them until it’s time for another feeding (or they wake and want to feed).
{ WEEKS 2 – 4 }
By now your milk should be in (if you’re breastfeeding), and baby has likely fallen into a 2.5-3 hour feeding schedule with 8-9 feedings within 24 hours. Baby may have even condensed night feedings as they start to take more milk during the day. So the next goals are:
 
goal: eat wake sleep
As baby starts to spend a little more time awake toward the end of the first month, start to implement eating, wake time, and then nap – in that order. These are called “cycles”. It’s ok if every cycle doesn’t go in that order, but make this the goal. Avoid nursing to sleep unless it’s a middle of the night feeding. Start keeping notes of when your baby eats, is awake, and sleeps. This will come in handy when looking for changes in eating habits, assessing wake time needs, and keeping track of how many total hours of sleep baby is getting within a 24 hour period.
goal: day vs. night
Babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. Make sure daytime feedings are done with the lights on and/or in a room with natural light coming in. The more daylight exposure during wake time, the better. At night time, keep feedings dark and boring. Dim lights, no chit-chat, minimal eye-contact. Just a snuggly feeding, and then back to bed. Put baby to bed for the night after the feeding that falls around 7-8pm; any feedings after that time should be considered nighttime feedings and should be boring. A word about nighttime feedings: some people put their baby to bed after the 7-8pm feeding and then don’t feed again until baby wakes for a feeding. Others sneak in and offer baby a “dream feed” between 10-11pm. A dream feed is done in the dark and the baby is woken just enough to take a feeding and then placed directly back in the crib after the feeding. Then they let baby sleep until he wakes naturally in the middle of the night for a feeding.
goal: pause
At this age, consider pausing a moment when baby cries during sleep. If you’ve given baby a sufficient feeding, changed diaper, burped, and put baby down to sleep in a safe place – chances are baby is just making some normal noises during sleep. Pause – and listen. Get to know the different cries your baby makes. Pausing will be super easy if you have older kids – most of the time you will have to pause before responding to baby because you’ll need a moment to secure your other kid(s) before ducking into baby’s room to assess his needs.
{ WEEKS 4 – 12 }
goal: work toward progressing through newborn sleep hierarchy
The newborn sleep hierarchy is: baby sleeping when she should, in her own bed (or swing or rock n’ play is okay too), and falling asleep on her own. Start out with baby sleeping when she should, and fight to get and keep baby sleeping during desired nap times. Then work on baby sleeping in her own bed for most of her sleeps. Then work on her falling asleep on her own (put her down drowsy but not asleep). Don’t worry about moving on to the next stage until the previous stage is the norm. It’s a work in progress, so don’t expect it to happen quickly or remain the norm. Two steps forward, one step back. Keep trying.

goal: sleep routine
Consider transitioning baby to sleep most naps and nighttime sleep in their room (per the newborn sleep hierarchy above). Implement a routine that is done before each sleep. It can be very simple: dim the bedroom lights, close the curtains, diaper change, sleep sack or swaddle, sing baby a song while gently rocking to the point of drowsiness, and then place baby in their preferred sleeping place (crib, swing, rock n’ play, etc) and then leave the room. Even if baby wakes a few moments later and refuses to sleep anywhere but your arms, all is not lost. Every time you do the sleep routine is one more chance you give baby to understand how the sleep routine works.  Side note: we always start black out curtains at this time – and our black out curtains are just an extra sheet hung over the blinds behind the curtains to block out light.
{ WEEKS 12+ }
goal: get through 4 month sleep regression
After the 3 month mark I just work on maintaining the status quo until the 4 month sleep regression has passed. My only goal for the 4 month sleep regression is to not introduce new sleep props. I do not try to break baby of any “bad” habits during the 4 month sleep regression. So – if at 3 months baby will only nap or sleep in the swing, but baby is taking full naps and sleeping well in the swing – then the swing stays until the 4 month sleep regression is over! After the 4 month sleep regression, begin working on getting rid of sleep issues that will not work long term.
Two articles I like that have to do with 4 month sleep regression:
goal: wean from “dream feed”
If you are doing a dream feed (the 10-11pm feeding), you’ll want to think about weaning baby from this around this time if your baby has dropped all other nighttime feedings. My preferred method for weaning is offering only one side for a week, and then dropping cold turkey. If bottle feeding, just reduce the bottle size.
goal: transition out of swaddle
Somewhere around 4 months old you’ll likely want to stop swaddling. Baby is probably working on rolling over soon, and the startle reflex is mostly gone. Even if baby loves the swaddle, once they start rolling you’ll have to ditch it anyway so might as well start now and be done with it by the time baby starts rolling.
{ MOM GOALS }
These are the priorities I focus on for myself the first 3 months after bringing baby home:
  • milk supply: extra pumping session, managing oversupply, nursing issues, etc
  • health diet: lack of sleep and poor diet is a lethal combo for your emotional stability
  • water: if breastfeeding, 8 ounces with every nursing session
  • physical healing: let those birth wounds heal!
  • say “no” to literally everything: ignore texts, don’t return calls, maybe don’t even check your email…there is nothing more important during this time than getting yourself, your baby, and your family stabilized
  • no additional chores: if you have older kids, this will almost take care of itself because you will literally have zero time for anything extra and will care 0% about doing any chores
  • rest whenever you can: duh – but seriously, do it
  • establish routines and rhythms: as dad prepares to go back to work, do a practice day where you see what it will be like without his help, and if you have older kids try to sit down and map out what your day will look like so there is some semblance of routine and calm for all the kids and you know where the trouble points will be (maybe the kids watch a little extra TV during this season so you can work on those full feedings with baby)
 
{ A FEW OF MY FAV PRODUCTS }
Hudson Baby Swaddle Blankets (way cheaper than aden + anais!)
Soothies (for sore nipples during early breastfeeding)
For a complete list of what you need to welcome baby home, I recommend checking out Lucie’s List.
This post contains affiliate links.


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