Bringing home your first baby is something you can't possibly forget. Paz is 3 now, but I remember her arrival home like it was yesterday. And, I'm sure the moment will be just as vivid 10 years from now.
We had a plan. First, Mike would go upstairs with Paz so I didn't have to carry her. Then, he could herd the dogs outside before I got up the stairs. And that my friends, was literally the entire plan for our newborn.
I'll never forget the scene as I reached the top of our stairs. Mike standing in the middle of the kitchen with Paz still in her carseat. We stood there staring at each other. After about 30 seconds, Mike spoke first. The only thing he could muster up was, "So what do we do now?"
I guess you could say we were ready, if ready meant having every toy, swing, cute outfit, bassinet, and baby book there was to buy. Don't get me wrong those shopping sprees and showers were fun, but they definitely gave me a false sense of being "ready" for what was ahead of us.
So I'm here to share with you 4 things I wish I had know before bringing home Paz.
Newborn Sleep is Chaotic
I think I had a very skewed idea of what was normal when it came to sleep habits for newborns because I work in a NICU. I thought every baby got up fed and went right back to sleep every 3 hours on the dot. Wrong. When Paz would sleep 20 minutes during the night and then bust out a four hour nap during the day I thought something was seriously wrong.
Q: What is normal for newborn sleep?
A: Complete chaos.
Newborn sleep is chaotic because they don't have circadian rhythms driving their sleep. Luckily, you don't have to passively wait around for this to happen. You can help your newborn along by exposing them to daylight and including them in your daily activities during the day. At night, turn the lights down and create a calm, peaceful environment before bedtime.
You Don't Need Much
As I mentioned above those shopping sprees, showers, and nursery planning days are fun. However, I recommend seeking out a mom that has 3 plus kids, and asking her exactly what you need. Chances are she is going to tell you diapers, clothes, and somewhere for them to sleep.
I know this sounds cliche, but they just grow so dang fast. Before you know it you'll be packing up clothes and shoes that were never worn and forcing your once used baby carrier on your first time mom friend that, surprise, isn't going to take it because she already has a new one on her baby registry.
When I talk about baby gear I'm usually speaking specifically about baby containers. Equipment like swings, seats, jumpers, and carseats should have limited use. Instead give your baby lots of time on the floor or in a playard to practice and develop.
Lots of supervised tummy time starting as soon as you come home
Out of the container and onto the floor
If you need some motivation to keep this up, remember most kids love sleeping on their belly and it is safe for them to do so as long as they are rolling on their own. The more they practice the faster that will happen.
Newborns Can't Hang
It doesn't take long to figure that newborns need a lot of sleep. Usually about 18 hours worth per day, which leaves about 6 hours left in your day. Each of those hours are just long enough to do a diaper change, feed, and soothe them back to sleep.
Keeping in mind that newborns usually can't stay up for much longer than 45 minutes to an hour can save your sanity down the road. The last thing you want is an overtired newborn. So, watch for those sleepy cues which are eye rubbing, yawning, ear tugging, and glazed over looks. As soon as they cue you, return the favor and cue them to sleep with your soothing routine.
Newborns are Insanely Noisy Sleepers
Newborn sleep is radically different from adult sleep in many ways. You don't have to know them all, but know this. Newborns are noisy sleepers. What does that mean? Well, newborns will twitch, jerk, move, kick, punch, grunt, and even cry out when they are asleep. If you want to get science-y it's because they lack the temporary paralysis that adults have when they are in REM sleep. And to confuse you further, newborns spend half of their sleeping time in this noisy stage.
Knowing this can be helpful when determining rather your baby is asleep or awake. The number one action you can take to decipher asleep vs. awake is - take a pause. Meaning once you think your baby is awake give them a minute or 2 before you tend to them. You never know, they may just surprise you and fall back asleep.
If you're looking for more on newborn sleep or a useful gift for that first time mom friend contact me here.