19 August 2011, by Mandy Loh
It’s amazing how a tiny baby can turn a person’s world totally upside down and inside out! And although Tim and I are now at this little person’s beck and call – feeding, burping, changing diapers, cleaning up diaper accidents – and repeating this again and again in 3-hourly cycles, it’s actually really fun, rewarding and awesome! Nobody else could make me wake up early in the morning, day after day, and not be grumpy about it!
We’ve learnt so much about how to take care of Cristan in these past 2 months, and one thing we’ve realised while fumbling along: despite the wealth of parenting resources out there, there’s just no straight answer to anything. For every parenting philosophy, there will be an opposing camp that disagrees and advocates an entirely different approach. One just has to take a deep breath, trust one’s own instincts, and decide on what’s best. That being said, I thought I’ll just share our personal experience and what has worked well for us so far, and who knows, it might be helpful for other new parents out there! This is by no means the Holy Grail to parenting, and I’m definitely not an expert, so don’t come knocking down my door if it doesn’t work for you!
First of all, I suppose we’ve been blessed with a really easygoing baby, and Cristan was able to establish a pretty regular 3-hourly feeding schedule within his first week of life! There was quite a straightforward method we used to achieve this- we just had to ensure that he had a full feed each time, and if he fell asleep at the boob (which he did all the time as a sleepy newborn) we’d wake him up by unswaddling him, cajoling him, and even changing his diaper midway through the feed. It worked like a charm, and this predictable feeding schedule has been so invaluable in allowing us to make plans for each day. Not only that, it makes Cristan a happier baby because we know when he’s hungry, which makes him cry less, which makes everybody happier all round.
Getting him to sleep at bedtime (which, by the way, is a HUGE challenge for all new moms and dads) was a little tougher. He would fall asleep fine when cuddled in our arms, but we had to teach him how to fall asleep on his own. (Otherwise we’d be in trouble when he grows bigger and heavier!) We read books and googled like crazy, and my gosh, talk about information overload! The question was, which of those methods was the “right” one for Cristan?
It seemed hopeless at first, and each evening, Cristan would cry for 1 to 2 hours at a stretch when we tried to put him in his cot, until we relented and went back to cuddling him to sleep. We tried to “ferberize” him once (a method of letting the baby cry it out until he falls asleep) but quickly abandoned it – our hearts broke when Cristan cried until he choked.
Thankfully, after quite a bit of trial and error, we hit upon a secret formula for a successful bedtime routine: After the evening feed (around 7-ish or 8pm), we would give Cristan a bath, followed by a massage, then storytime and a bit of a cuddle, before putting him down into his cot at around 9.30pm. Somehow, with this sequence of events, and at that particular time of night, he’d be calm, drowsy, and entranced by his cot mobile – which eventually lulls him into dreamland! The timing seemed to make all the difference -when we tried to put him to bed at 7pm, he put up a real fierce fight, and eventually slept only at 9pm anyway!
In the last few days, Cristan has even progressed to dropping his middle-of-the-night feed, which means he is effectively sleeping through the night! After putting him to bed at 9.30pm, I would do a “dream feed” at around 11.30pm (aptly named because the baby’s actually asleep while he suckles. Pretty neat huh?). And the next time he stirs for milk would be at 6am! Which means he sleeps through for 9 hours, and I have at least 6 straight hours of shut-eye! 🙂 This of course results in a rested and happy baby, and not to mention, very delighted mommy and daddy!
Avoiding poopie disasters was something I learnt the hard way. Cristan has an extraordinarily explosive poop force, which would shoot the offensive substances halfway across the room, splattering indiscriminately upon floor, bed, and any unfortunate person in the direct line of fire. So I learnt quite quickly to stand at his SIDE, rather than in front of his bum, for obvious reasons. I also closely scrutinise his facial expression each time before opening his diaper, and if there’s a poo-poo face going on, it definitely pays to wait a while. One more thing – babies poop in 4 or 5 instalments, and it could take more than 10 minutes to finish up the entire business, so don’t think the danger’s over after you hear the first blast. There’s more where that came from!
Lastly, after you finally decide its safe to take off the soiled diaper, keep it half-opened near the baby’s bottom, so that anytime some stray sprays comes out at you, you can quickly “catch” it with the used diaper, and avoid having to clean the changing table, floor, and/or furniture around the room. I’m proud to say that I’ve safely avoided open-air accidents for quite a while!
Well, that’s all I have to share for now, and do let me know if these methods work for you! Of course there’s still tons more that I need to learn as a first-time mommy. So if you’ve got some great tips for me, please drop me a line too! 🙂