When I was pregnant, my friend said
I ended up with the exact same regrets because I didn’t know where to start.
First child – where to start:
Here is where I would start now:
- Becoming Mum Book and Podcast episode by Dr Koa Whittingham
- Parenting for beginners workshop and Podcast episode by Laura Alfred and Erla Marx-Newhouse
- The Discontented Little Baby Book by Dr Pamela Douglas
The biggest learning curve for me after having a child wasn’t the physical elements I had prepared for. Changing a nappy, bathing, dressing… I had Nurse and Google support for those things and within a few days I’d done them enough times to be fairly comfortable.
It was the psychological journey. The fact that I could no longer leave the house without tending to the needs (and preparing for potential future needs) of my new baby. It was the fact that sometimes I felt I didn’t know this needy creature who was taking up every moment of my life. I missed my freedom, my rock-climbing, and my friends who suddenly seemed so distant, and didn’t know when or whether I’d ever get those things back.
These resources will help you to think through life with a baby so that your expectations are more likely to match reality. You will also be better equipped to build a fulfilling new life with baby.
Want a child who sleeps well?
Part of that is luck, part is management, and part is expectations. Here is where I would start:
- Read The Discontented Little Baby Book by Dr Pamela Douglas.
- Read the blog post Sleep Solutions from Birth.
- Expect broken sleep. Babies need to feed at night. Most children wake about 3 times a night, some less, some more. Babies wake even more frequently. As they get older they get better at settling themselves back to sleep from more of those night wakings, but still expect to be woken at least occasionally for a couple of years. For details, check out Baby Sleep (or lack of). Research findings for normal 0-12 month olds, and Baby Sleep and Night Wakings.
I found trying for great sleep habits especially in the early months extremely stressful. So in those early months (definitely up to 3 months, possibly up to 6 or even 9 months), I recommend providing opportunities to self-settle, but never expecting or pushing it. A take home message from Dr Pamela Douglas’ book is that even if Baby is feeding, and getting 6 wet nappies a day, inefficient feeding can still be causing sleep disruptions. If you are getting woken more frequently than seems normal within the first 6 months, especially if Baby is taking ages to feed, fussing on the breast, needing feeds frequently during day and night, or crying a lot in the late afternoon, it is worth seeing a lactation consultant.