If you’re anything like us (and a fair number of our new-parent buddies), you spent nine months obsessively checking pregnancy symptoms, dietary and lifestyle advice online and…sort of forgot that at the end of the process there would be a tiny human with all sorts of different needs now he or she is on the outside. Research alone can’t prepare anyone for the physical and emotional whirlwind that a newborn brings – but reading up on these essentials now will stop you having to Google them one-handed on your phone with a screaming infant in the other hand when the trying times strike. I’ve included a link for each item so you won’t need to yell search terms to your other half over the racket. Don’t say I’m not good to you.
1. Cluster Feeding
To understand what evenings with a newborn are like, Google this faintly tawdry-sounding term. You may have heard something manageable-sounding about 2-3 hour feeding intervals; and for most new babies, most of the time, that’s the rough sort of pattern they’ll fall into left to their own devices. Come the evening, however, you may need to adjust your expectations and find a really, really comfy seat, because you’re likely to be on it for several hours. Plan to eat dinner between hourly feeds, and expect ‘hourly’ to manifest as ‘every forty minutes’ sometimes (especially during growth spurts).
kellymom.com/parenting/parenting-faq/fussy-evening is a good page on how to deal with the evening cluster.
2. Witching Hour (aka ‘fussy evenings’)
Closely related to the above, the witching hour is the time each evening your otherwise peaceful, happy baby goes a bit mental and cries at the drop of a hat (or the slam of a bin lid, or the smell of your dinner, or absolutely nothing at all, she was just fine literally ten seconds ago). If you’re lucky, this will take place at a predictable time each evening and last an hour or thereabouts. If you’re unlucky, you may need to Google ‘coping with colic’ as well. Cluster feeding (above) may help.
www.bellybelly.com.au/baby/tips-to-help-you-cope-with-your-babys-witching-hour has some good advice.
3. How to hand express milk
Even if you’re planning to bottle-feed you’ll need to know this for when your milk comes in; if you continue breastfeeding then this is a good thing to know for dealing with pre-feed engorgement. You probably won’t be able to practise ahead of time unless you have large amounts of colostrum unusually early, but check out the theory before the big day and get ready to hand pump.
See www.babycentre.co.uk/x552877/how-can-i-express-breastmilk-by-hand for useful tips. Here’s how to store milk once you’ve expressed it: theabsoluteparent.com/how-to-store-breast-milk/
4. What a good latch looks like
I mentioned here that it’s difficult to really get a feel for how to feed an actual real live infant before coming into the possession of an actual real live infant (those dolls really just don’t cut it), but forewarned is forearmed and it’s good to to be aware of some of the dos and don’ts before somebody hands you one that’s expecting to be fed.
There are bajillions of videos online, but for the pure mechanics of the thing see www.bestbeginnings.org.uk/fbtb-attaching-graphic
5. The different baby cries
In truth, a very young baby has one cry, the cry that says ‘I’m a newborn!’ loudly and urgently at all times of day and night (newborns don’t know what day or night are). But after a few weeks, you’ll find it useful to know the difference between the tired cry, the hungry cry, the wet-nappy cry and the ‘miscellaneous – other’ cry (we’re still working out what to do about that one).
6. The Cuddle Cure (aka The Five Ss)
We’ve found Dr Harvey Kemp’s five-step cure for evening fussiness really useful – although obviously do all the basics, like feed and change the nappy, before rushing in with a swaddle-swing-shush combo.
7. Pampers Baby Dry nappies
I’m not going to lie to you, these 12-hour miracles will not get your week-old baby sleeping through the night, but they will give you one fewer task at 4am. And one fewer task at 4am is bliss.
I’m not working on commission for Pampers, honest. Other brands are almost certainly available. www.pampers.co.uk/product/baby-dry
Parents – what had you a-Googling in the early days? Link us in below!