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Parenting an infant: The ultimate guide

Our daughter, Mila, is 8 weeks old so obviously, we are expert parents by now and more than ready to offer every secret to good parenting in a single post.

Of course not.

By no means are we experts by now. In this post, I just wanted to share some of the tools, tips and tricks that have worked for us. Maybe they can help you as well.

General tips

Several people told us to trust our gut. However, Kim and I went for the almost complete opposite approach; we soaked in any advice we could find and tested it. If it worked, it got added to our toolkit — sometimes with some tweaks. Otherwise, it got tanked.

We’re huge fans of the books by Meg Faure. Baby Sense and Sleep Sense are two of the books we open regularly, when Mila is fussy or when we’re not sure if she’s getting enough (or too much) sleep. Based on our experiences so far, I think we’ll keep using the tips in these books for years to come. Also, the books are easy to digest, which you want if you’re using them as reference works when your baby doesn’t stop crying.

Two of the things that are recommended regularly in the books are offering structure and limiting sensory overload. Before 3-4 months, this apparently doesn’t affect infants too much but we’ve tried to offer a structured day to Mila as much as possible, and she’s been receptive to it. I realise that a good portion of that is sheer luck, but who knows, maybe the structure helped a little bit. Regarding the sensory overload, Covid-19 has made the decision for us. We don’t meet many other people, and if we do, it’s only for short times. So far, Mila hasn’t had sensory overloads apart from a few occasions.

Baby outings can be tough

We took an antenatal class (online of course, because pandemic). While the classes themselves were useful, we’re getting most out of the WhatsApp groups we’re part of (one for moms and one for partners). It’s a bunch of people who are trying to make it work with whatever means available. A lot of tips in this post are suggestions we’ve heard through these groups. They are also great for sharing concerns and finding out that you’re not the only ones who are struggling with small things like wondering if your baby is the only one grunting at night.

One of my colleagues recommended keeping a diary because the time goes so fast. (I can’t believe she’s already two months.) I’ve tried keeping a diary a few times in my life, but never successfully. However, I do like photography and so far, we’ve taken a photo each week to capture her growth.

Mila’s first 6 weeks – emojis match actual facial expressions

Bathing

While bathing, we extensively make use of a hairdryer. No matter how cranky Mila is, the sound and the air of the hairdryer makes the bath time enjoyable. It’s also a lot easier to dry her hair that way than use towels.

We had read in a few books that massaging infants is something they find enjoyable. For Mila, it seems that the big decider is whether the hairdryer is on or not. That said, I personally enjoy the massaging; Mila responds pretty directly to the pressure on her tummy, arms, and legs, and I experience it as a quite unique bonding moment.

Feeding and burping

Kim swears by the My Brest Friend nursing pillow for breastfeeding. More than anything else she’s tried, it allows her to feed Mila while being comfortable herself.

Burping took a lot of time until someone in the above-mentioned WhatsApp groups shared this video with us. In 7 out of 10 times, Mila will burp within 20 seconds when using this method.

Kim did extensive research on the topic, and for pumping, the Medela ones get the best grades. However, when we bought it, we could not find a single shop that had a double pump in stock. We didn’t have a choice, but if you can get a hold of a double pump, go for that one. It’ll cut the pumping time in half.

Calming and sleeping

Cot death or SIDS is a scary thing, and for peace of mind, we use a Snuza Hero; a clip on the nappy that monitors Mila’s breathing. I have no idea if this actually makes a difference for SIDS, but it does for her parents’ nerves. We tried the Angelcare Sensor Pad, but next to being extremely inconvenient for night-time feeds and nappy changes, it also gave several false alarms, so we got rid of that almost instantly.

For sleeping, white noise is a miracle tool. Already in the hospital, we started using this, and now we have white noise on whenever she sleeps or needs to sleep. (Technically, we use “grey noise” when we’re sleeping in the same room because we prefer the sound of that.) When she’s by herself, we use the Womb to World playlist via Apple Music.

I don’t think any method for calming Mila down is as effective as a wrap carrier. Even when she’s been fussing for a while, when we put her in the wrap, she’ll calm down and sleep within 5 minutes most of the time. We use the Noo Noo Pie one, but I doubt this makes a huge difference. We did not like the newborn position a lot – it wasn’t comfortable for us and didn’t seem comfortable for Mila either. Now that she’s bigger though, it’s very easy to use.

One of the things that Sleep Sense keeps repeating for the first months, is to swaddle swaddle swaddle. We use a swaddle blanket during the day, but at night we’re lazy and we use sleeping bags that can have closed off arms. They work amazingly. We use the Baby Sense Cuddlewrap. Swaddling with this one is a lot easier than with other blankets. At night, we use the Grosnug. Both of these are fairly pricy for a piece of fabric, but if you time your laundry well, you may not need more than one of each (we’ve not needed more).

We also use something called Telament drops. I had never heard of it before, but both the baby clinic and the paediatrician recommended it; apparently it helps with settling the stomach. Be it what it may, because they are quite sweet, adding a few drops to the dummy makes it easier for Mila to it rather than spitting it out straight away.

Finally, Kim’s dad made us a rocking chair. Of course, you don’t need a handmade one, but the rocking motion helps Mila calm down and even sleep whenever that is not the case. Since it’s nice for Mila to be able to experience a rocking motion without us holding her, get yourself a bouncer. My family members swear by the Baby Björn one, but I think pretty much any bouncer will help. We got one that also fold down and Mila sleeps in that often.

Things that we found useless

As mentioned above, the Angelcare Sensor Mat was a pointless purchase.

We had also bought a fabric cover for our changing mat. Babies love peeing (or worse) while you’re changing them so we stopped using that cover after the first day already.

Make this guide even more “ultimater”

What are the recommendations you would add to this list?

Credits: Cover Photo by Daniel Cheung on Unsplash

By Job

Hallo! I'm a Belgian living in Cape Town with a passion for education, training and WordPress, trying to combine the three at the WooCommerce team of Automattic. In my spare time I run an e-zine called CULTURESHOCK, and enjoy movies, music, photography, reading, travelling, good food and (Belgian) beer.

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