Often times it happens in life that you read something in passing and store it in your sub-conscious for later use without thinking much about it. Or you make a purchase without giving much thought to it. But when the time comes to apply what you had read or use what you had bought, you are amazed at its unexpected capabilities. You are surprised by how indispensable that piece of information is or how you would have managed without a certain thing. This blog post is about a few such unsung heroes, which I am quite likely to ignore when talking about essentials, when in fact, they got me through my early days of motherhood.
Halo SleepSack Swaddle – I am a big believer in swaddling babies to sleep. It makes sense to me that a newborn would be scared of suddenly being pushed out of his tiny home and the poor thing might be terrified of having all this extra room around him. Moreover, my mother is a huge advocate of swaddling. Over the years, we have heard her insist on the magic that is swaddling when anyone talks about a baby not sleeping well. So it was quite natural that my sisters and I inherit her strong feelings towards it.
I bought the Halo SleepSack during my baby shopping because I saw it in Pottery Barn Kids and loved the colors. I had no real intention of using it, it was just pretty and looked good in photos. I also had a few simple soft swaddle cloths from Mamas and Papas which I was actually planning to use. But when I started swaddling babyZ in these, she took all of two minutes to push out her arms, punch herself in the head with her tiny fists, get startled and wake up. I kept trying and getting frustrated with the regular swaddle cloths until I remembered the Halo one. I used it a couple of times and I really saw an improvement in babyZ’s sleep. It wasn’t as easy for her to push her arms out of this one, and all the trying made her tired and she went to sleep very easily. She slept longer and more soundly. I used the Halo SleepSack for six months, with both arms swaddled, one arm swaddled and finally both arms free. I had three of these and their condition in the end was proof enough of how well-loved and extensively used they were. Any parent who intends to swaddle their baby, should invest in these. They saved my sanity when I discovered them. http://www.halosleep.com/sleepsack-swaddle/
White Noise App – I don’t remember from experience but I have read that the fetus is surrounded by continuous sounds in his environment. And since the baby starts hearing when he is a mere 18 weeks old inside his mother and he keeps hearing these vacuum cleaner noises for another 20 to 25 weeks, imagine how it would be for him when he suddenly doesn’t hear these sounds around him anymore? We are continuously shushing everyone and everything around us when the baby comes home and then complain that he is erratic! I had read about white noise apps in my pregnancy and decided to try one out. It is, in one word, Amazing! I don’t know if it works for all babies but it definitely worked for babyZ. I downloaded it on my phone and left it running near her crib. I felt that she was quite comfortable with these sounds around her. It also worked well for us because the white noise drowned out Tutu’s noise to some extent. There are many free white noise apps out there so I guess there is no harm in trying one out. And in my opinion, anything with the slightest chance of relaxing your new born, is worth a shot. (This is the one I used https://play.google.com/store/apps/details id=com.tmsoft.whitenoise.baby&hl=en)
The Shhhhh technique – I have seen my sisters singing to their newborns and as idyllic the picture is, I would not subject my baby to this torture. You see, I don’t sing very well. My baby wouldn’t know any better, but I have a hyper active conscience that wouldn’t let me do that to her. So when she was in my arms and I was rocking her to sleep, I felt a bit weird not making any sounds. Once again, my brain spat out a titbit it had stored. I remembered reading that a long Shhhhh helps calm down a baby. This is once again related to the sounds the baby hears inside his mother. I tried it and let me tell you, a nice long Shhhhh settles an agitated baby, helps her focus when feeding and quiets her when she’s crying. And for a good 7 months, when I was putting babyZ to sleep myself, I was using the Shhhhh while patting her and it really worked like a charm. Moreover, the Shhhhh was less offensive than my singing when I was trying to calm my baby in public, not that I care what people think. Try to read all this aloud, it’s really funny!
Massages – This, once again, is something my mother swears by for newborns. She believes that it strengthens and straightens the bones in their arms and legs. I honestly don’t know if there is any medical evidence supporting her statement or if it is merely an old wives’ tale, but the idea of a massage for a newborn makes sense to me. Who doesn’t like a good massage? If you do, then why wouldn’t a baby? The tiny things are constantly pushing their arms and legs and are bound to get tired. I massaged my daughter every day for almost 5 months after her bath. It feels really nice to get a sense of your child in this manner and it was a good bonding time for us. She usually took her first nap after her bath and I felt that she slept more soundly in this nap. So in my opinion, if you have the time, massage your baby every day and enjoy a few minutes of extreme closeness to your child. I still want to massage her but now our baths are followed by me running after her with a diaper. (Any natural oil will do but I loved this one http://www.mustelausa.com/shop/massage-oil.html.)
Baby Bullet – I weaned my baby when she was four months old. I am very happy with my decision now but at the time, it wasn’t easy. One day, I was talking to my sister and I was moaning about my lack of creativity in preparing food for my baby. She mentioned that she has some ideas in a book that came with a food making system she had bought for her daughter. She took some pictures of recipes in this book and sent them to me. I liked the recipes but I loved the system even more. It is called the Baby Bullet. I ordered it online immediately and I have used it every single day since then. I am not saying that you can’t prepare baby food without this system. Any blender will work in the same way. But the system in its entirety is great. The small containers with the date dial, the different blades, the batch trays for freezing food and the books included are what make this system so special. The pocket nutritionist gives you an exact idea of how much your baby should be eating, which was great for me because I was never satisfied with babyZ’s food intake. Moreover, knowing that these blending bowls are used exclusively for babyZ’s meals gave me some peace of mind that no traces of allergens were unknowingly being added to her food. Now that she can tolerate some texture in her meals, the Baby Bullet still comes in very handy as it can be used to pulse food as well. I love the Baby Bullet and it is one the most used equipments in my kitchen right now. (I bought mine from http://www.mumzworld.com/en/baby-bullet-22pc-set).
The Contented Little Baby Book – My friend, whose baby is two months older than mine, told me about this book before babyZ was born. She had managed to put her son on a good sleeping routine based on the recommendations given in this book, and since I was on the lookout for something similar, I thought I will give it a read. It is written by Gina Ford who is a former maternity nurse and best-selling author of many baby books. She has years of experience in childcare and sleep training and if you read it, you will discover how sensible everything she says is. Few pages into the book, I decided I will follow her routines when my baby arrives. The best part is that she tells you exactly how to divide your day constructively and what you should be doing every minute of every day to get your baby into a good sleeping routine. I tailored the routine to suit my own household and it worked immensely well for us. BabyZ slept, woke and fed like clockwork within six weeks of her birth. Maybe other parents do not agree with putting a newborn on such a strict timetable but it really worked for me, which is why I cannot recommend this book enough. Her book is a lot more than sleeping routines, but that is the portion I followed. The book also includes great advice on feeding, weaning and essentials. Do give it a read if you are expecting a new baby or are planning to sleep train your child. (https://www.amazon.com/Contented-Little-Baby-Confident-Parentting/dp/0451202430)
At the end of this post, I want to say that a lot of my recommendations reflect my personality. Maybe not everyone wants to raise their child with military precision but that’s how I am. I have turned into a much more disciplined person as I have grown older and I feel a lot better when I am following rules. And they genuinely help me get through my day a lot more smoothly, as opposed to doing things according to my baby’s moods. So follow what works for your personality and tune out the rest. Whatever floats your boat!