The first six months with a baby (before I forget) - Late 2018 edition

Before you start reading this, please remember that every baby (and Mumma) is different. I will write from my experience. Use my advice alongside other resources. Think of this as another instrument in your Toolkit to help you validate your own intuition, or to give you ideas for those times when you are confused and at wits end and don’t know where to begin. You’re the one getting to know your baby and vice-versa, so you know what’s best. For information specifically on development, I highly recommend your local government health resources website.

I’m going to cover a few topics, so either read it all, or jump to the section you need at the moment:

  • Before baby arrives

  • Labour and childbirth

  • First day

  • First two weeks

  • The next eight weeks

  • Four to six months

  • The stuff

  • Useful apps

Now, sit back and picture you are sitting down with me for a cuppa, and we are just going to chat about all things first six months of motherhood. No pressure, just take or leave whatever sounds right to you. Feel free to contact me on amyjeanspringer@gmail.com if you would like to dig deeper on any topics.

Before baby arrives

“Alright Amy, I’ve still got some pregnancy ahead of me, what should I know?”

Don’t beat yourself up if you are tired and can only handle doing one thing a day. Every pregnancy is different, “stay in your lane”, don’t look at how other people are coping and how their bodies are responding. Your body is doing what it needs to do. My pregnancy was fairly smooth. Sixteen weeks of nausea but no vomiting. Then I hit third trimester and had pregnancy gingivitis, and incredible lower back and pelvic pain. It got so bad that I had to get pushed in a wheelchair when I went to the Zoo.

There are so many resources out there so hunt online or at your local library for all things pregnancy. I really enjoyed Bec Judd's Baby Bible. She was very candid and made me laugh a lot.

With so much information already out there, I will focus on three things you are unlikely to read in a book:

  • Pregnancy multivitamins are not confirmed in their effectiveness. Before going out and buying the big bottle of the one that’s well marketed, speak with your healthcare provider about the best options for your needs.

  • Wear men’s underwear in a large size. It's a comfortable alternative, especially when you transition into post-birth mumma care (tip thanks to Zoe Foster-Blake [http://www.zotheysay.com]). I got mine from Target.

  • Spend time learning about breastfeeding before the baby arrives. While you are still pregnant, watch YouTube videos and read articles on breastfeeding. You need to put together a “breastfeeding Toolkit” to help you through this journey. You are likely to need to try every position and strategy out there until you find the one that works for you both.

  • Edit since published: Make that four. Take a photo of your vagina and get familiar with it. Depending on how things go, you may end up with a tear to varying degrees. It will help you keep track on how your healing is going to be familiar with how you were before.

Labour and childbirth

“I love being pregnant, and I can’t wait to be a parent, but labour and birth terrify me”

I would like to share the birth mindset (not birth plan) that I’m thankful to have been introduced to. Ultimately, no matter how the birth goes, you will get to the other end and be thankful to have your baby and your birth experience no matter what method you’ve chosen, or how it turns out on the day. So please have an open mind, but choose the birthing method that works best for your health and personal values.

My childbirth experience started when I was a little girl. Whenever my mum saw a birth scene in a movie or on  TV with the mother laying on her back, she would yell "Why aren't you upright and using gravity". Therefore, the one option that stood out in my mind when I found out I was pregnant was to sign up for the local birth centre and start reading up on Active Birth techniques. We are very lucky to have a Birth Centre near us with qualified midwives that support active birth methods. It had the added advantage of being adjacent to a women’s hospital in case of emergency.

Active Birth is about using our human physiology to its greatest advantage for giving birth.  Part of the Active Birth philosophy is its approach to labour pain. Birth pain is not like breaking a bone or suffering through cancer treatment (pain that needs to be managed), but rather it is pain that is working towards a goal, like muscles tiring during a marathon or other intense physical activity. If you would like to know more, a good starting point is to learn I recommend starting by learning about the physiology of our bodies and birth in New Active Birth. Next, read about the psychology of pain and birth, and finally, for practical tips to manage the contractions during childbirth follow the wisdom of JuJu. The winning method for me was smashing stress balls against whatever was near me while sitting on a fit ball leaning against the bed. Ultimately, no matter which birth approach you take, your aim is to find a way to dissipate the Adrenalin and keep controlled. This will help to make it as smooth as possible.

You can find lots of information and lists that suggest what you to take to the hospital in your “go-bag”, but I would reiterate the importance of having snacks. You never know how long your labour will last and if your labour/ birth times will fit around hospital meal times, so be prepared. And if you’re partner is with you, they will need sustenance too.

Our story? In the end, the hospital doctors weren’t happy with the rate the baby was growing and wanted me to have an induction at 38 weeks. Even though I wasn't able to be in the Family Birth Centre, I still had the knowledge and a supportive midwife (who came up from the Birth Centre) to have an Active Birth in the labour ward of the hospital. All under the watchful eye of people that could intervene in case anything went wrong. I’m grateful to have a supportive and safe place to have my babies.

The first day

“We don’t know what we are doing, how do you survive day one?”

You may be tired from labour and birth, but you are gifted with the most beautiful Adrenalin rush to help you get through the first couple days.

When it comes time to discharge from the hospital, it will feel like you are trying to leave a demilitarised zone: checkpoint alpha will be check ups with the doctors, checkpoint bravo will be a hearing test, and so on.  By this point, with all the different staff coming in regularly to tell you this or that, you will just want to be home. However, learning about your baby starts at day one and pay attention to what you can.  I’m grateful for one thing I caught during one of the check-ups with the doctor. When Isaac got fussy during the examination, she gave him her little finger (bent upwards, pad of finger to roof of mouth), and he sucked on it and settled immediately. I used that little trick often for the next 5 months before he started to refuse it. It saved my nipples during those early day cluster feeds, when I would take a break by letting him suck on my finger (or his Dad’s).

Get your partner to practice taking the baby capsule out of the car. They are notoriously difficult to learn how to work them properly, especially when you are tired. If you have a fixed car seat, get a doll (or a friend’s baby) and practice putting them in and taking them out. No kidding, I really think the hospital should have someone on-duty to help tired, confused parents parked out front trying clumsily to get the capsule out of the car for the first time.

The first two weeks

“I’ve heard the first six weeks of having a baby are “survived”, how do we survive it?”

Don’t forget about you. You need to spend this time on mumma care as well as getting to know your baby. I recommend TOMS maternity pads, they are a fluffy pillow cloud for your sore bits. Drink electrolytes once a day for energy. You can buy hydration popsicles, tablets, or fluids from your local pharmacy or chemist. Try and be horizontal as much as possible. You will find yourself getting hungry during the night feeds. I would often ask Kyle to bring me a muesli bar during the night feeds. I prepared and froze some nourishing snacks we could warm up quickly in the microwave. I found this recipe later but wish I had a batch of JS Health banana muffins on hand during the first couple weeks.

You will have so many questions about the baby in the first couple weeks. You won’t have the brain capacity or energy to remember them, so note them down on your phone or on a notepad so you remember to ask them with your next doctor or nurse visit. No matter how well your baby latches on, your nipples will hurt in the beginning. Like the first few times back on a bike seat, or going barefoot the first few days of summer. I used the Rite Aid nipple hydrogel pads. If you have the privacy, try sunbathing topless with some expressed milk on your nipples, and massage them in the shower. They will settle in a few days. This worked well for me. In the early days of milk coming in you will have lots extra and it’s worth collecting. Tuck some Breast Milk Collection Shells into your bra during the day, but especially while feeding. I set a timer on my phone to remind me to empty them into a bottle in the fridge every couple of hours. Use a fresh bottle each time, then you can mix them all together at the end of the day when they are all the same temperature.

I hope your partner has been able to have time off for the first couple weeks. It will help you and them beyond words. Not only to allow you a chance to recover and heal your body, but for them to know the rhythm of a day with a baby. Let them be with baby as much as possible. Appreciate them. We tried to get out for a walk together with the pram once a day as soon as we were home.

For some encouragement in the early days, I loved this article shared by Medibank.

The next 8 weeks

“So is this witching hour thing for real?”

I found knowing about the concept of the fourth trimester (the period of the first three months from birth) a very useful frame of mind for helping the baby and I get through a challenging three months. Your baby needs to adjust to living in the outside world, and that's a pretty scary task after being cosy in the womb with comfort and meals on demand for the previous few months. I read a book about it with lots of scientific references. Have a search online as well, as there has recently been lots of articles published on the concept. It helped free me from the expectations I was placing on myself for how we should be going and how much sleep we should be getting. Do what you need to for a well-rested and well-fed and comfortable baby.

This time is tough for your partner. They are back at work and many (not all) babies experience a “witching hour”  between the hours of about 5 pm and bedtime, i.e. right around the time your partner is getting home from work, the baby is often screaming. My suggestions is to “re-create the womb” following the “Five S” approach to settling. It worked like a charm for us. We had to take the Swaddle step to the next level and upgraded it to "Squeeze (hug firmly)". We used a dummy for “Sucking” for the first time just before he was four weeks. In our case, he self-weaned because he wanted to suck on his fingers instead. You may want to have your partner sleep in another room if they need rest for work. Kyle always stayed in with Isaac and I (who was sleeping in a bassinet in our room), Kyle actually ended up sleeping through the night feeds. I was thankful he stayed with us in the end.

Our focus at this time was making sure Isaac was getting enough sleep. Babies less than three months are not recommended to be awake for more than an hour at a time and that includes nappy and feeds. With the second focus on introducing him to the concept of night and day. i.e. bedtime process (bath, feed and book) and to bed by 7 pm, then night feeds in the dark with no stimulation and only changing his nappy if it was desperate. Where as, day time (from 7 am to 7 pm), was about being out in the daylight, singing or a nursery rhyme during nappy changes.

Four to six months

“When does it become more than feeding, nappies and sleep?”

Four months onward is when we found we could start working on the "Eat-Play-Sleep" rhythm that is discussed in many parenting resources. Don't be too stressed about finding a routine in your day until around this time. However, if you find a routine resource that suits you, start when you feel comfortable. I found the most helpful part of the routines was teaching me about how much sleep my baby should be getting for their age.

Eat

Breastfeeding is hard and confusing, especially in the beginning. I wish I had read more about breastfeeding before he arrived. For all the resources out there, you will need to experiment and work out what works best for you and your baby. This will take time and tears, and definitely anxiety and many midnight sessions on Google/YouTube. If there isn't a physical issue that is unavoidable (sometimes mum or baby don’t have the right physicality to make it work), please persist, it's worth the effort and it gets easier.

A few things we needed to get right:

Latch - Isaac was born small, so it took us ages to get him to latch on to my nipple correctly, but in the end I would use my finger to position his mouth the right way. A good latch matters (check out some pictures online). Boy do I now love peering down and seeing his lips puckered out nicely with a good latch after all the initial frustrations.

Position - This was a game-changer for me. To understand it, try turning your head to the side and try swallowing. It's really hard, right? Same for a baby, make sure their chest is facing you and make sure their head and body are aligned. The best video I watched to help me get Isaac in a good position is this one from the Thompson method. When Isaac caught his first cold, he had a lot of trouble feeding. My mum suggested I try the “football hold” and it worked wonders. Sometimes you need to try different positions because their nose is blocked or something else is out of whack. You will find a way, just keep trying.

Amount - Sometimes they will eat from both breasts happily, sometimes they will only have one. This is fine. They will be more or less hungry across the day, so don't stress, they know when they are hungry or not. Offer both sides, but if they don't want the second, come up with a way of recording which one you need to use next. Unless you have a memory like steel. You will be tired and don’t want to be remembering which boob you used last, no kidding. Same goes with a bottle, don’t force them to finish it. They know when they are full. Just keep your eye out for the signs when they are hungry again. I found Dunstan Baby Language useful for this. “Neh” means “I’m hungry”.

What about expressing and bottles? Isaac took to the bottle and has never refused it. This is not everyone’s story. So there will be other sources to help you here. The main tip I kept in mind if you intend to ever bottle feed is to introduce a bottle by six weeks and give one at least once or twice a week to keep them get used to it. My friends had to experiment with different bottles and different kinds of nipples. Try asking around and borrow others before buying the one you know they like. We use Dr Browns Wide Neck.

For expressing, each of the brands that make the equipment have great online resources.  One thing I discovered was that you can add freshly expressed milk to frozen milk. The key is that you need to cool it in the fridge before adding it to the already frozen milk. I expressed once a day to have a supply in the freezer, by four months I only did it once in a while or when I knew I needed someone to give him a bottle. An unforgettable tip I remember from the lactation consultant at the hospital was to fill the storage bags with 50 ml of expressed milk, and freeze them lying down. They defrost in no time in warm water, plus they are easy to store in the freezer. It also reduces waste if they just need a top up rather than a full feed. I ended up buying the Medela Freestyle. The Medela Swing is a very popular model with many available secondhand. I was able to easily take mine overseas with me. For people that need to express throughout the day, get a double pump. The ladies in my mothers group who had issues with breastfeeding and were expressing many times a day recommended the Spectra brand pumps.

Information about cleaning bottles online is very confusing. Our local nurse recommended for the day-to-day to wash with hot water and soap is enough. If you can’t wash in hot water and soap immediately, then rinse off the milk/formula with cold water in the meantime. Sterilise as often as you feel comfortable. We didn’t need to use formula. We use it now that I have used up my frozen milk supply for the occasions we need a bottle and I don’t have time to express.

I've only just started solids in the couple weeks leading up to him turning six months. Starting solids overwhelmed me. I've really enjoyed the resources that http://www.candokiddo.com provides. e.g. signs of readiness to move to the next stages of solid food. I was told about getting a high chair with a footrest. Think of how hard it is to eat on bar stools with your legs dangling without support. That seems right to me when I imagined what it was like for a little baby. I initially had an IKEA high chair and I created my own footrest (Check out YouTube, lots of hacks). However, I was on Gumtree daily looking for a Stokke Tripp Trapp to pop up. This is the type of item that is well-loved and people keep them for a long time (can be used up until pre-school), so you have to be quick. I also got the baby seat attachment on Gumtree. Isaac loves it. We didn't bother with a tray, he pulls right up to the table and I use a placemat to make clean up easier.

Play

During the first three months, there really isn't much play. At most, tummy time, a bit of reading, and I sang to him from the start, either songs I love or nursery rhymes. I could never think of things to say or stories to tell, so I found singing easier. By four months it really starts to get fun. They start grasping, giggling, and smiling. Their personality begins to show. I adore the little play area we have set up for Isaac. Playmat is from Marmalade Lion, with an activity frame from Kmart and using links to attach any toys. I rotate the toys every few days to keep it interesting. Bath time is a great time to play and engage, especially for your partner. Top tip, especially if you had a baby in winter like us, wet a flannel with warm bathwater and put it on their tummy. Keep re-wetting it to make sure it’s warm. We use QV bath oil. No soap or shampoo required. Try to only use your laptop or phone to when baby is sleeping. There is research showing that mum’s increased screen time is linked to baby’s delayed smiling., especially during breastfeeding.

Sleep

“Will I ever sleep again?”

First off, sleep won’t ever be perfect constantly. Some days will go great, other days will be a total miss. Enjoy it when it’s good and know there will be good times again when it’s going bad. Sleep is essential and while getting in a routine and avoiding sleep associations is important, having a well-rested baby is your first priority. Overtired babies just get more and more overtired, making them less and less likely to sleep. For the first three-four months, you will probably have to help your baby to settle to sleep, this is one of the first steps teaching them about life. As I mentioned earlier, a benefit of getting yourself familiar with some sleep routine programs is understanding how much sleep a baby actually needs at different ages. While a baby knows if they are hungry or full, they don’t know how much sleep they need and really need our help to learn how to sleep. For Isaac, the key thing was that we established a repeatable bedtime process and always had him down by 7 pm. He slowly shifted to eating lots during the day and this set him up to sleeping for longer stretches at night (he isn’t established on solids, so still needs one or two feeds per night at 6 months). It’s only now at six months  that we are being strong about avoiding sleep associations (e.g. rocking to sleep, fed to sleep etc.). Saying that,  it helped lots to practice between four and six months as much as we could, while still making sure he got the sleep he needed.

Where should baby sleep? It's up to you and what you decide based on SIDS recommendations. We had Isaac in his own bed in our room until 5.5 months. If we were out for the evening, we found that we were better off putting him down at the normal time with a relaxed routine wherever we were using a travel cot or the pram. Rather than trying to rush home and ending up with an overtired baby that was hard to settle. We started giving Isaac a comforter toy in his cot from the day we moved him into his own room. We love ours, its from Kippins. Although, I'm already finding that he uses his bed sheet around his face for comfort instead. The baby will choose their comforter on their own.

Looking forward

I wish I had invested in getting my body back in shape before the six month mark, e.g. visiting a postnatal physiotherapist, because my headaches have become very regular. Please prioritise getting yourself feeling good. Bring a friend or family’s toddler to explore your house so you know what needs baby proofing. They’ll find the gaps in your security. I chose to keep our activities to a minimum for the first six months as most of the day-to-day of life is enough stimulation. We are looking forward to trying out swimming and other activities together as he gets more and more interactive and aware.

The stuff

“There are so many things to buy. Do I really need a wipes warmer?

Before we get into the stuff. I encourage you to look for everything second hand through websites like Gumtree/Craig’s list or social media sites like Facebook Marketplace or on your local Buy Nothing pages. I’ve provided links to the original items site for your information, but remember to hunt for them secondhand first. The only things we purchased brand new were newly released items, so they were new to the market and hadn’t yet made it into secondhand circulation.

I mentioned a few items earlier, but the following is a general summary of my recommended purchases.

Prams /Strollers

From my observation there are three types of pram/stroller, 1) a Travel system (includes clips for a car capsule, a bassinet, and regular pram seat), 2) Joggers, and 3) Compact. By 5-6 months when they are getting stronger you are likely to want a compact pram that you can keep in the car for a dash into the shops, or fold up in busy cafes etc. You will then choose between a Travel system or Jogger pram. Do your research so you know which type suits you best. Often you will choose based on what you have seen your friends or family use. We went with the travel system, because we loved being able to take our sleeping baby straight from the car in his capsule into the pram. However, in the end that is quite a small period of time for the overall use of your pram. My priorities in selection were ease of fold, weight and basket storage. Be clear on what your priorities are. We have a Redsbaby Jive2. Everything about the Redsbaby is beautifully designed, easy to use and very light for that style of pram. I know they are Australian designed because of all the options for allowing air flow in our warm climate. For compact prams, you have two options - the style we were all raised on known as umbrella style, or the more recent design using a three-way folding mechanism. I recommend the umbrella style if you will have minimal air travel as they are much cheaper and will do the trick. We have an International family and travel is always in our future. So we are currently deciding between the Babyzen YoYo and the Redsbaby SKIP. They are both light and fold so small you can take them on a plane as carry-on luggage. Both can also lie flat for nap times on the go.

Car seat

For under six months, you have two options. 1) A baby capsule (0-6 months), 2) a car seat that is from newborn to 4 years or 8 years. We borrowed a baby capsule but you can also rent them from local organisations. We have been using a MaxiCosi Mico. It was great being able to clip Isaac into the pram. We are only now starting to look into the 6 month to 4 or 8 year car seat. In Australia, all car seats are made to Australian Standards, so I’m not too worried about getting one on the cheaper end (Note: this is one item I will buy new unless I know the person I am buying second hand from and can be guaranteed of it’s quality status/age/involvement in crashes).

Nappy/Diaper bag

A nappy bag isn’t essential. Find a regular tote bag or backpack that works for you. I spent hours hunting until I found one I liked but also one Kyle would be happy to be seen carrying in public. We ended up going with the Herschel and then I've since met three other mums with it. However, I also love how great neoprene bags are as nappy bags, and there is a company out there that has them available for all price ranges, just keep looking for the one that suits you best. It’s this tote I now use for every day with the nappy bag only coming out for travel when I have lots I need to be able to zip away otherwise it would all fall out.

Nappies/Diapers/Wipes etc.

Lots of ladies in my mothers group had babies with bad nappy rash and they all talked about using water and cotton wool. It’s so simple and easy to do and nicer on their soft skin. After a couple weeks I figured out I could use these pump bottles from Priceline. They are amazing and prevent spillage. We do still always have a pack of wipes on hand for other requirements like spit up and spills around the house. (and no, there is no need for a wipes warmer, or a nappy bin). A winner for us has been to buy a packet of the old cloth terry towel style nappies. We have used them for cleaning up all sorts of spills/spit up, catching that surprise wee that happens when the nappy is off and laying over clothes for a nappy change. Ask your friends for a couple of the brand of nappy they use before buying a whole packet. Every baby/parent prefers a different brand. We love the Rascal + Friends.

Clothing 

We got lots of clothing from our local Facebook Buy Nothing page and as gifts.  When Isaac was born, he was so tiny I found the zippered onesies curled up under his chin. So I preferred the press stud onesies until he gained weight and filled out the zippered typed. I’ve preferred putting him in bodysuits rather than t-shirts, because while they are still young and you have to carry them, the t-shirts ride up. But T-shirts are super cute, so if I put him in a T-shirt I put a thin bodysuit underneath.  I also wasn't a big fan of baby shoes, until I realised what a great job they do holding socks on when it’s cold.

Nursery furniture 

Nursery furniture is where you can save a lot of money by going second hand. Our cot and change table were hand-me-downs. If you get a second-hand cot, consider buying a new mattress. I would recommend using a chest of drawers with a change mat on top rather than a specific change table. Think about getting a chair that you would love to have in your living room once you are done with it. We decorated the walls by wrapping material over art canvas and stapling it down, they have doubled nicely as a sensory toy on the floor.

Bedding

Have one good cotton mattress protector plus a 100% cotton towel to use on nights you are doing washing. We used a soft burping cloth under his head in the early days when the spit up wouldn’t stop. We follow the bedding guide by Tizzie Hall. She provides a table with recommended clothing and bedding layers based on temperature. We found it spot on especially when it’s been cold, although had to adjust based on our intuition for the really hot nights. She lost her little brother to SIDS so has done lots of research into the best bedding to minimise the risk. We also buy her sleeping bags and swaddles (a “wrap-in-a-wrap”) [https://shop.saveoursleep.com.au]. (Note: we haven't followed her sleeping routine, but I know people that it worked well). Don’t use crib bumpers - please! Major SIDS risk.

Bathing 

We have been borrowing a SkipHop Moby bath. We are slowly moving from that to the bathtub or the laundry sink as it’s easier once they are sitting up. I love suggestions like sitting your baby in the laundry basket to help with the transition to the tub. We use QV Bath Oil. We used the MooGoo scalp cream for cradle cap, which we also used on our own hands that were terribly dry from having a winter newborn and using lots of hand sanitiser. Use a tub style moisturiser rather than a pump bottle. They add water to make it “pumpable”and this reduces the quality of the moisturiser (in my opinion).

Monitor 

We didn’t use one for the first 5.5 months while Isaac was in our room. I found we naturally stirred at similar times to him. Now that he is in his own room, we use the Angelcare movement monitor (heaps available secondhand). I call it my SIDS monitor rather than my baby monitor. We don't "monitor" him, our house is small enough we can always hear him chatting himself to sleep or when he is upset. We do turn on the sound if we are out in the yard. it’s primary purpose is to alert us if he has stopped breathing. The benefit of a video monitor is checking on them without having to open the door, which risks waking them up.

Wraps/ carriers/ slings

We started out with a soft wrap (we used a Chekoh. These are really nice for a newborn, especially if you have a prem or tiny one like we did as most carriers have a minimum baby weight before you can use them. My midwife recommended going to a material store and buying strips of soft cloth to make your own. Once we switched to a carrier, I started out with one that only strapped over the shoulders and it killed my back. Look for a carrier with an adjustable hip band, it’s worth saving your back. We are using the BabyBjorn Air.

Travel cot

Travel cots are great, not only for travel, but when going to a friends for dinner or a night at the Grandparents. They have come along way since we were kids and are now light and easy to assemble. The most popular one is made by Baby Bjorn. We got ours from The Sleep Store, based in New Zealand. They have their own design.

Toys 

Keep it minimal. I've been enjoying different blogs by paediatric occupational therapists that recommend activities based on their age. Isaac's favourite toys so far has been a Skwish. I loved the suggestion by Playgroup to make your own toys with odds and ends around your house, paying attention to safety (e.g. choking hazards). My old silk scarves are also proving a winner. As he gets older I will be focusing on open-ended play style toys. Books are great, it’s amazing to watch how quickly they engage with you in the reading. I asked for favourite baby books instead of cards at my baby shower, so we already have a great selection. Second hand stores are excellent for books too. Two of my favourites so far are the Baby Puppet series and the “That’s not my” Usborne touchy-feely book series.

Health

We used a colic mix in the first three months but haven't needed it since. I'm still not sure it does anything, but it was nice to know we were trying when they poor little thing was screaming and having tummy spasms. Keep some baby “panadol” around. And when we say "panadol" we all really mean paracetamol. The baby Panadol isn't enjoyed by some babies, so you might prefer to try a different baby paracetamol e.g. Dymadon. Keep a thermometer on hand to check for fevers. We did a baby first aid course and it’s reassuring to know we have first responder skills while waiting for an ambulance if required.

Useful Apps

  • Huckleberry [https://www.huckleberrysleep.com] - spot on for telling you what time your baby should be back to sleep.

  • Kyle (my Husband) used one called Who's Your Daddy? [http://www.whosyourdaddyapp.com].  This app provides information on the baby’s development and also what the Mum is going through presented in a “guy-friendly” format.

  • Sleep Program or Routine apps if you are following their approach, e.g. Save Our Sleep or Little Ones (We are following Little Ones).

  • I used the iPhone notes app for two weeks then switched to Baby Tracker app for a about month. Now I don’t need to track anything - it gets much easier.

  • Supermarket apps. For making lists on the go. My supermarket even tells me which aisle to go to, or I can make it a delivery order instead.

  • Memes: lots of them for a good laugh, share them with people with babies a similar age [https://www.buzzfeed.com/mikespohr/100-parenting-memes-that-will-keep-you-laughing-for-hours]

  • The Wonder weeks app, it started as a book. It highlights development leaps and what to expect: everyone I know says how spot on it is [https://www.thewonderweeks.com/wonder-weeks-apps/]

  • Follow the Van Der Beeks on instagram (James Van Der Beek was Dawson in the TV show Dawsons Creek). They have five kids and are honest and hilarious about it. https://www.instaram.com/vanderjames/

Final thoughts

That was a lot of information and I wish there was a way to cut it down.

People will have something to recommend, there is endless articles online and books to be read. You are the parent of your child. You spend all (or most) of your time with them. You will naturally learn things about them and apply your own intuition. These are simply suggestions that worked for me and could work well as a starting point for you.

A last piece of advice that I will share, that was once shared with me, is that “It works for your family until it doesn’t work”. Give things a go. Use them until you decide that isn’t useful for your family anymore. e.g. if the dummy works, use it, but once it starts causing more trouble than helping, stop using it.

If you would like my travel tips (we have been to California and New Zealand by six months) or more detail about any topic - send me an email at amyjeanspringer@gmail.com

Oh, you have one last questions before we go?

How do I drink  coffee hot and not worry about spilling it all over my baby?

Get one via a drive thru and drink it while driving around in the car. The baby is at a lovely safe distance and hopefully sleeping ;)