I consider myself to be a pretty laid-back person in general. I mean, why sweat the small stuff, right? At the same time, though, I am a perfectionist and a stickler for rules. Knowing this, I expect you can imagine that these two sides clashed upon the arrival of my first child. I tried hard to be that perfect by-the-book mama, but it didn’t always work out that way. And why should it? I mean, I am just human (and besides, how can you be by-the-book with the myriad of parenting approaches that exist) and my baby was only just human (and obviously hadn’t read any books on parenting).
Now that our family has grown again, I have made some changes to my newborn parenting style:
- I let my newborn daughter sleep on her tummy…And on her side…and on her back. I know that the safest position for a baby to sleep in is on their back and that’s exactly how I put my daughter down for sleep at nighttime. But during the day, I alternate between putting her down on her tummy, side and back. I do this because she is more comfortable and sleeps better on her side and tummy than on her back. Besides, alternating between these positions help contribute to reduce her risk of having flat head syndrome.
- Despite having a 50 week maternity leave, my partner and I still send our toddler to daycare from Monday to Friday. We do this for three reasons. Primo, had we pulled our son out, we would have lost our daycare spot (and we love his daycare spot). Secundo, he’s a very social little guy and needs to play wit his friends. Tertio, I need my bonding time with my newborn.
- I don’t wait for my daughter to be asleep before putting her down in her moses basket during the day. Sometimes, she’ll manage to fall asleep on her own in her basket in the middle of the living room (with or without the presence of a playful toddler) as I tidy up or sit down to eat. Sometimes, she’ll end up crying because sheMs overtired and unable to fall asleep and I’ll pick her right back up.
- I don’t pick my daughter up at the slightest squeak. Sometimes, she’ll start squeaking about in her sleep. If I pick her up, I’ll wake her (and, lets face it, who wants to wake a sleeping baby?). Sometimes, she’ll start squeaking about in her basket when I put her down awake, but can still manage to fall asleep on her own.
- I (sometimes) sleep when the baby sleeps (instead of looking adoringly upon my sleeping baby as she sleeps). I can do this because my son attends daycare. I need to do this because I believe that my children and partner shouldn’t need to suffer through sleep-deprived induced impatience if I can do something about it.
- I nurse on demand…except when I don’t. I make sure my daughter nurses at least every 3 hours…but don’t beat myself up if she goes longer between feeds at night. I will happily nurse on demand (ie: nurse even if she ate an hour before when she asks for the breast)…but when I’m home with both my newborn and toddler, I’ll tweak her nursing hours to try to get her down for a nap during my son’s afternoon nap.
- I bed-shared with my newborn daughter a couple of times. I knew from experience that a baby’s second night was generally hellish because they want to nurse all the time. It turns out that this was what happened for Amélie’s first two nights. So, at 2am, after two hours of cluster nursing and a mama that kept being on the verge of falling asleep while holding her baby (not a good idea!), I got in bed and nursed my daughter lying down. It allowed both of us to get some much needed rest and it was safer (in my opinion) than risking falling asleep with my baby in my arms.
I feel much more confident about this parenting thing two weeks in my second time around. I find myself less stressed over the little things. I’m happy to not live by the nursing clock this time around and I don’t get as stressed when my baby cries (’cause that’s how they communicate). Of course, this time around I was armed with knowledge that I didn’t have the first time around. I know that just because she’s nursing like mad, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have enough milk, but that she is likely going through a growth spurt. I know that she doesn’t just cry because she’s hungry; sometimes she’s uncomfortable (like the time I swaddled her too tightly for her tastes), wants her diaper changed or has a tummy ache from gas.
What did you do differently with the arrival of you second (or third, or fourth…) child?