|Newborn Tips#1: Don't Hush-A-Bye-Baby|
|You don't have to be quiet while the baby is sleeping. The womb is loud, and newborns are used to the noise. When ours first came home, we watched television and I would vacuum, wash dishes and talk on the phone around her while she slept. She got used to sleeping with noise, and I could get stuff done. I am still able to vacuum in her room while she sleeps (she is 14 months), and she is peaceful and well rested when she wakes up.|
|Newborn Tips#2: Soothe Your Wailing Newborn|
|When my baby cries, I comfort her by patting her back in a heartbeat-like rhythm. That helps her burp more quickly, and it also helps her relax if she's crying from insecurity. If this doesn’t work, I also try one or all of Dr. Harvey Karp's five calming moves: swaddling, shushing, holding her on her side, swinging her or letting her suck. Sometimes it takes all six!|
People come in all shapes and sizes and so do babies. And while that fact of life is something we all know, it is often hard for anyone, even parents, to not compare one baby's growth with another. One baby might be chubbier than another but that doesn't mean that he or she is healthier in comparison. In the same way, a smaller than average baby doesn't necessarily mean that he isn't growing as he should be. There are quite a lot of factors that can affect a baby's size and shape such as genetics, gender, and nutrition; thus, a visual examination of his size is not a reliable way of judging if his growth is normal or not. To properly assess if a baby's height and weight are “normal” and that his development is right on track, doctors use growth charts or percentile charts such as a baby weight percentile chart.
Growth charts are based on statistical data compiled from a group of babies of the same age and gender, living in an optimal environment. These babies are equally divided into 100 groups and plotted on a graph. A doctor, and even a parent, can use such a chart to not only see how the child compares with others of the same age and gender but, most importantly, to see if he or she is following the same growth pattern over time.
One of the baby growth charts used to track and evaluate growth is the Baby Weight Percentile Chart. To use the chart, a doctor will plot the baby's weight on it and look at which percentile it lands on. Baby growth percentiles are all interpreted the same way. The higher the measurement is on the chart, the bigger he is compared to others of the same age and gender. For example, a baby who places on the 50th percentile on the Baby Weight Percentile Chart weighs more than 50% of his peers and less than 50% of his peers. Being at the 10th percentile will mean that 90% of the babies of the same age and gender weigh more than him while 10% of the babies in the same group weigh less.
|Newborn Tips#3: Help Get Your Baby to Latch|
|If you are having latch-on issues while breastfeeding your baby, you can use breast shields to help the process. This was a wonderful tip that I learned from my lactation consultant. I had to use the shields for an entire month before my baby would latch onto my own nipple without them. Had it not been for the breast shields, I would not have been able to continue nursing my baby.|
|Newborn Tips#4: Get Prepped|
|At 3 weeks, babies’ days and nights become more predictable, and you can focus on yourself in addition to your newborn. One way to do that is by reducing your stress level - and having everything ready for your hungry baby and yourself is one way to do that. Start by prepping for the next feeding as soon as the previous one is over. For example, after an 11 p.m. feeding, get ready for the 2 a.m. one by prepping whatever you need for feeding and putting out fresh drinking water for yourself so you don’t have anything to think about in the middle of the night. During the day, take advantage of the baby’s naps to work out, shower or catch up on e-mail, or take a nap too.|
In using the baby weight percentile chart, or any baby growth chart for that matter, it is important to keep in mind that there is no ideal percentile to be at. A baby who measures high on the baby weight chart is not healthier than a baby who falls on a lower percentile. A baby on the 10th percentile can be just as healthy and normal as one on the 90th percentile. What is important to take note of is the growth pattern that the baby is following. Is he gaining weight at the same rate? If a child has consistently been on the 10th percentile, it doesn't mean that he hasn't been growing or is growing less than other babies. What it means is that he has been consistently growing at the same rate and that this percentile and pattern is normal for him, especially if his size is genetically inherited from his parents.
Why is the growth pattern important? Doctors keep track of a child's growth pattern in order to see if there are significant changes that might indicate health problems. Though changes in growth patterns in children do occur, they usually do so during certain points of development such as adolescence. If a child who has always been on the 50th percentile throughout his first two years suddenly drops to the 10th percentile, it may signal to the doctor that there's a health problem causing him to stop following his usual growth pattern. A huge difference in the baby weight percentile and the height percentile can also indicate a problem.
For parents, it's only natural to use tools like a baby weight percentile calculator to help keep an eye on the child's development and growth. However, it is important for any parent to keep in mind that growth charts are not diagnostic tools. They are only able to show a small piece of the overall picture of a child's health.
|Newborn Tips#5: Keeping Your Baby Awake During Feedings|
|When our baby was eating slowly and sleepily, my husband and I would massage her cheek to stimulate her to eat faster. A gentle stroke with a fingertip on her cheek was all it took, and on those long sleepless nights, this simple trick was a godsend! Our friends have found it works great with their infants too. When babies eat efficiently until they're full before going to sleep, they sleep for longer between feedings. And that means you’re both likely to be calmer!|
|Newborn Tips#6: Help Your Baby Bond with Dad|
|Make sure your baby has ample time alone with Daddy. His touch and voice are different than yours, and this will begin a bonding process and give you a break. Plus, it gets the baby used to being with someone other than you. The first few times can be hard. Make sure your baby is fed and well rested, as this will give you at least one or two hours before you're needed again. Then leave Dad and the baby alone. If you stay nearby, make sure the baby can’t see or hear you, and resist the urge to go into the room and "fix" things if she starts crying. Your baby cries with you and you experiment to find out what's wrong. Dads need time to do this too - in their own way. By allowing this time, your child will learn there is more than one way to receive comfort, which will help immensely when you leave your baby with a sitter or another family member for the first time. You could have your partner bathe her, put her to bed or just read or talk to her.|