Top 11 things that you should know about babies! From cluster feeding to perfecting the latch, four-month sleep regressions and more – I’m covering all the things that I bet you weren’t aware of before becoming a parent!
New parent overwhelm is a real thing. If you’re about to embark on this journey and have no idea where to start – don’t worry! All of this was a total shock to us too, and we knew almost nothing going into it. Unlike an undergrad, or getting your driving licence, there is no exam that you have to pass to become a parent. Basically, you spent nine long months being pregnant, have the baby and then boom! All of a sudden you’re parents haha.
Now that I have 6 months (and counting!) under my belt, I thought I would share some fun things that you may want to know as well as you progress into the wonderful journey that is parenthood. From cluster feeding to perfecting the latch, four-month sleep regressions and more, I hope these tips will help you to navigate them with ease.
Whether you’re new parents, expecting parents or even on baby number two – I think you will find this post helpful wherever you are in your journey!
Let’s get into it, shall we?
The first thing that came as a surprise as a new parent was cluster feeding. I realize now that the term is pretty self-explanatory, but I didn’t know this was a “thing” with newborns until I experienced it first hand. Basically, “cluster feeding” is back-to-back breastfeeding that your baby can demand every 20 minutes to 2 hours. It sounds exhausting (because it is haha) but I promise there’s a purpose to it! Cluster feeding can help boost your milk supply after the initial stages of colostrum – which is like liquid gold for babies. From there, the hope is that you will have a solid milk supply that will be readily available for baby whenever they demand.
Swaddling is a term we’ve all heard of it before, or can at least envision. What I didn’t know prior to being a parent though, was the reasoning behind it. Now, I know some babies prefer not to be swaddled, but in our experience, it was essential for our daughter Sage.
Babies have a natural reflex that often startles them and wakes them up when they’re sleeping. So by swaddling them, you are essentially preventing them from waking up and getting them back to sleep. I like to think of swaddling as a little hug that mimics what it was like for a baby in the womb.
We swaddled Sage with her arms tucked in for the first 3 months, until she could roll over on her own. Then from there, it was safe to swaddle her with her arms out. Swaddling has been amazing, and we still do it in some capacity to this day! We’ve noticed it calms her down, relaxes her and improves her sleep – which let’s be honest is a win for both parents and baby!
Did you know that babies can’t regulate their body temperature like we can? This is something that was completely off my radar prior to becoming a mom, but I have been super-mindful about it ever since. After bathtime, I always make sure to warm Sage up very quickly. Whether it be with a towel or cozy blanket, breastfeeding or even doing skin-to-skin is a great technique to help them stay cozy. I keep this in mind for when I’m dressing her too, especially in the colder months. A good rule of thumb that I find helpful is to make sure they are always wearing one extra layer than you. Of course, I will always bring extra blankets, hats or whatever it is to ensure that she’s extra cozy and comfortable.
I now understand why some parents have their babies sleeping in the crib at a young age. And no, it’s not because they are terrible people haha, it’s simply because newborns are so noisy when they sleep! Before becoming a parent, I always thought newborns were these peaceful little nuggets that slept silently through the night. But man, was I ever wrong! In fact, they make so much noise that you think they could wake up at any moment, but they don’t.
I learned early on that when I heard Sage make grunting noises in her sleep, I wouldn’t anticipate her waking up. Instead, I would ignore the grunts, and if she cries, that’s when I know she’s awake. This way I wasn’t compromising my sleep and had enough energy for when she was ready to wake up.
Ever heard of “babywearing”? It’s okay, I didn’t either. But as time went on, I realized that this was such a useful practice to help keep baby happy, reduce crying and promote “calm alertness”. In the first few months, I had a hard time putting Sage down without her getting fussy or upset. Babywearing, soothed her almost immediately and kept her relaxed while I stayed busy around the house.
If you have a fussy baby and are struggling to get things done, I encourage you to try wearing them! This has been such a great “mom hack” that I didn’t realize was important in the beginning stages. Not to mention, it’s such a nice way to bond with your baby, too!
When it comes to breastfeeding, who knew that it’s not just the nipple that they have to latch onto?! Basically, what I learned is that you want to get as much boob in their mouth as possible. Not only will this help to perfect your latch, but it will also prevent nipple soreness, dryness and yes… scabs. Trust me when I say, no butter or cream will help with the amount of pain you will experience if you are breastfeeding solely from the nipple!
If you’re worried about your precious newborn sneezing as much I was, rest assured that this is normal! I remember when we first brought Sage home, I was freaking out that my 10-day old baby had a cold. But my midwives reassured me that sneezing is a good thing because it means that they are clearing out the mucous from being in the womb.
As new parents, keeping track of baby’s pee and poop schedules is essential! There’s a ton of resources that you can use to help you track their diaper schedule, but our favourite is this Baby Tracker. One thing that I found particularly helpful in the first week was to count their peeps and poops in conjunction with the day. This was a good rule of thumb make sure that they are eating and eliminating properly. Of course, I’m not an expert and you should always consult with your doctor, but we felt this was the easiest method to remember and make sure things were running smoothly – literally. 😉
A baby’s anatomy is much different than adults, which can feel alarming and worrisome as a new parent. Of course, you always want to consult with your doctor to make sure that your baby is growing and developing properly, but what you might be noticing as “odd” is often normal and very common!
There were a few things that I was initially worried about with Sage. The first one being that her legs were very bowed when she was firstborn. I later realized that was simple from being squished up in the womb – duh! Also, her cute little belly was puffed out on the sides. I later realized it’s essentially because they have no abs, so they haven’t yet developed the muscles to hold all of their tiny little organs in one place. Last but not least, we noticed that she had swelling underneath her breast tissues. My doctor mentioned that this was a result of hormones from mom, but I just wanted to mention it in case any of you were experiencing the same.
At the end of the day, use your mommy intuition! If you ever feel like something is off or wrong with your baby, always check with your doctor or your midwives. Not only will this give you clarity and peace of mind, but it will also help you learn as a new parent and getting to know your baby.
“Leaps” are something that I am still navigating as a new parent, and probably will be until Sage continues to grow and develop. In my 3-6 Month Baby Must-Haves and Essentials post, I mentioned a book called “The Wonder Weeks”. It’s a great resource for new parents that talks all about different developmental milestones, also known as “leaps” that your baby experiences. The book also offers an App as an easy and accessible way to track your baby’s progress right from your smartphone. Not only has it been insanely accurate, but it’s also been helpful to learn so I can make sure that I’m supporting baby’s growth and development as a parent.
Last but certainly not least are sleep regressions. Before becoming a parent, you might hear terms like this come up in conversation. But you don’t have a full understanding of them until you experience it first hand. For us, this was the dreaded fourth-month sleep regression.
I always knew babies had trouble sleeping in the newborn stage, but I just assumed that as time went on, they would eventually learn and sleep through the night. Little did I know, babies sleeping patterns ebb and flow as they continue to grow and develop. Then, around the four month mark is when you’ll be up multiple times throughout the night. Luckily it’s been getting better, and we’ve been doing sleep training (which I’ll be sharing in an upcoming video!). But, yes sleep regressions are a real thing! When your baby is sleeping well, enjoy it. But if they’re not, just rest assured that there is light at the end of the tunnel. At least that’s what I tell myself haha.
There you have it, HealthNuts! My top 11 things that I think every parent or soon-to-be parents should know about babies. We certainly did not know these things before embarking on parenthood, and we are still learning every day. Babies are full of surprises and the important thing to remember is not to stress. Just do your research, learn as you go and pay attention to your little one because trust me, they will teach you a lot!
If you liked this post, be sure to check out my motherhood section on the blog. From Newborn Must Haves and Essentials, How To Prepare for a Natural Unmedicated Birth, Top 11 Tips and Hacks for Postpartum and more – I’ve covered it all!
What’s one thing you didn’t know about babies before becoming a parent? Share them in the comments below!