What You Need to Know About Newborns

Everything you need to know about newborns. Hint: it's pretty simple really.

 

A doctor told a very good friend of mine that the first three months of a baby’s life is like a fourth trimester. He said that some major development is far from done but we wouldn’t be able to give birth to their giant heads if they stayed in the womb any longer (I wouldn’t say that they fit really well at 40 weeks either but I’m not going to argue with nature.)

My friend told me this when my first son was about a month old and I was trying to implement all the “well intended” (code for “shit”) advice that is often bestowed on a new mother. It was like an Oprah A-Ha moment and it made perfect sense. If I just let him live his life like he’s still in the womb my life will become way less complicated. Here’s what I did:

I stopped trying to give him a bath every night.

Someone told me a bath was essential to establishing a bedtime schedule. She also told me that this should be followed by a massage (sadly for him, not me) and a story. He hated bath time because he was naked and freezing (for the record, he loves being both now), the massage confused him just long enough to get through it and I don’t know why I thought reading “Go Dog Go” to a two-week old was logical, but then “sane” wasn’t an adjective I’d use for me in the first three months of my child’s life. I accepted that he was a newborn and not a member of the Deadliest Catch fishing crew so he wasn’t dirty and he didn’t need a bath.

I stopped dressing him in anything other than jammies.

He ate, he pooed, he slept and he cried in a one-hour, round-the-clock cycle. When you have a newborn there is no day and night. I quickly found out that newborns don’t have schedules and they are like those creepy rave kids strung out on E, they want to party at 4am AND 4pm. It was a perpetual Groundhog Day so why dress for that? Plus, you just have to undress them if they happen to fall into a blissful sleep around 8pm because IT’S BEDTIME!! (said in a high-pitched control freak shrill) and they don’t help with the undressing for a while so it’s like stripping a surly, drugged monkey. Not pretty.

 

I fed him when he wanted to eat.

I remember crying, “he can’t be hungry, I just fed him!” so I would try everything to get him to stop only to find out he did want to eat. He would promptly spit it all up but he was happy and therefore I was happy. My motto was “Pick him up. Fill his mouth. Change his bum.” If that didn’t work, I’d hand him to his father, say “I can’t take it anymore” then cry in the bathroom. It worked for us.

 

I always let him sleep.

 

Another “helpful” person told me I should never let a child sleep past 4pm because you’ll never get them to bed. This is, in fact, true FOR A TWO YEAR OLD. If your newborn is sleeping, don’t wake them. Even though it may not seem like it, they sleep about 16 hours out of 24 in a day and if you think you can roll that into 8 consecutive hours you think wrong. That’s like you sleeping one month so you can stay up for two – you’d starve and/or go bonkers. If your baby is sleeping,  sleep yourself or hit the Southern Comfort – don’t poke the bear.

 

I didn’t do any classes.

 

You know these classes that they have to “stimulate” your newborn. Let me tell you something, being awake stimulates your newborn. Jingling keys is like an effing air show to them so don’t bother with the damn classes. If you want to feel normal and a part of humanity go do something that stimulates you (in a non-porn way) and just sit the baby in the corner or have it strapped to you in a baby carrier. They don’t know where the hell they are anyway so there’s no point in you having to sit through “If You’re Happy and You Know It” clapping your baby’s hands like a newborn/E.T. puppet show because I can guarantee you that your newborn is thinking “I’m not happy and I know it. If I had a dry bum, a full tummy and was asleep on your chest while you lay on the couch watching a taped episode of your favourite show, now that would be pretty damn sweet”.

 

I stopped changing his bum constantly.

 

When I was sent home from the hospital they gave me a chart to record his peeing and pooing to make sure he was eating enough and everything was in “working order”. I was so happy. I love charts and I loved the small sliver of control I had over the situation. The problem was I got into the habit of changing him every 20 minutes or so. This included the night so if he woke up to eat, I changed him after which meant he woke up that much more which meant it was harder for him to go back to sleep which was not pretty because by the time I got him back to sleep he was hungry again. Once I figured out that if you grease up their little bums and slap a diaper on them they can pretty much make it through the night without a change unless they poo.

 

I picked him up if he cried.

 

Some people warned me that this would “spoil him” and he would manipulate me and cry every time he wanted me. Er, okay, look at me and my sneaky baby! My thinking was I would rather pick him up to find out nothing was wrong rather than leave him to cry and find out something was.

 

I let him sleep on me.

 

This was considered a big no-no by many because I was “creating a bad habit”. Even I wondered if I would have to rock him to sleep and have him sleep on my chest in his dorm room at college (which would make for some awkward roommate moments) because I didn’t establish a sleep schedule early on. Here’s the thing, even if you get something established in the beginning, they change so damn quickly that it will be out the window the next week and you’re back to square one. A wise friend once told me “whatever gets you though the day” and him sleeping on my chest while I watched a movie got me through the day. So there.

Personally, I think you have plenty of time to get all these schedules into place so just do “whatever gets you through the day” for the first little while and cut yourself a break. I like the idea of the fourth trimester. All you need for those first few months is to provide them with warmth, food and love – the nightly baths, ferberizing and Mommy and Me classes can wait a bit. I’m just grateful nature decided that it made more sense for them to be on this side of the fish tank rather than making us give birth to 18lb babies, but I’m weird like that.

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97 Comments

  • A must-read for every new parent. My fourth trimester ends today! Hurrah for me and my husband! I agree with every word in this article. Been there, done that. And yes, the best advice is "Whatever gets you through the day."

  • 6 1/2 week old…stressing myself bc I hear/read all about schedules – THANK YOU SO MUCH. I will relax now & bookmark this post as a confident friendly reminder.

  • Haha I love charts too but actually found mine to be super helpful and calming…I found a log called Duo Diary to be a lifesaver, because you can track all types of feedings (breast, bottle, formula or pumping) but there’s also a page for the mom to monitor her own wellness. So I wrote down my food in the food journal and it made me realize just how badly I was eating and how little water I was drinking. Also, it has a space to write down notes and this where I credit discovering my daughter’s tongue and lip tie, because I was jotting down her behaviors and that’s how I finally made the connection. Basically it was like a ‘hey, you, take better care of yourself!" kind of thing! Highly recommend.

  • This post is amazing! I nodded through everything you said. I have a two year old and a 2.5 month old and I have to say that I was so overworked with the first one, but soooo much more peaceful the second time around! The sleeper part is so true! I used to dress my oldest up every day and she had a ton of clothes. Now, baby #2 stays in sleepers unless I want to take some cute photos haha! And baths …. Yeah, pretty much only with a blowout or extremely greasy hair. Happy I found this post!

  • I wish I would have read this when my twins were born. We did a lot of this, because it’s what worked, but I do remember the night my husband said "maybe if we keep them up later they will sleep longer." Referring to our week old babies! It was all I could do not to laugh hysterically! They are almost four months old and still don’t sleep in their crib, but I am getting better at realizing that I am doing okay. They are growing by leaps and bounds and for the most part sleep through the night. So what if it’s usually on me that they sleep?

  • Thank you!! I am a first time mommy with a 2 month old and I am just now listening to myself and ignoring other crap. I was constantly asking all my mommy friends about when did you sleep train, how do I get her in her crib, blah blah and I wasn’t just stopping and enjoying my little girl. I was so obsessed with stuff that really doesn’t matter right now. Reading this just solidified it all for me.

  • I’m so glad you shared this. I thought I was being a bad mom, but I realized that I just gave birth after being in labor for 13 hours after creating the baby in womb for 9 months, and for all of that I was completely exhausted. The thought of doing anything more than the complete necessary was just absurd!

  • I have a 2 month old so I’m no expert, but I wish I realized earlier on that babies WILL eat more often than every 2-3 hours. I did the same as above…fed, burped, changed…why is she still crying? Since I just fed her I would burp her again, walk around, etc. And eventually come back to feeding her again.

    I agree completely with not changing pee diapers in the middle of the night as it just wakes her back up. Got easier when she stopped pooping after every nighttime feeding somewhere around 4-5 weeks, too, though.

  • Yeah amen to all of this. This is my first baby, but luckily I’m the child of a biologist and an English teacher so I feel the need to research the hell out of everything. So reading all this stuff and knowing my routine of napping whenever and pretty much living like my daughter does is what I should be doing makes me feel awesome.

  • This is the best baby advice out there! I’m expecting #5, and this is spot on. Newborns are hard on you, but their needs are simple.

  • Love this post. So funny, and just what new mom’s (including me, FTM of a 3 week old) need to here. I’m all for starting routines, at the right time, but after reading posts on other blogs that made me feel like a failure as a mother if I didn’t put my baby to bed at the same time every night from day one, it’s nice to read a more realistic and forgiving post!

  • Oh my gosh! Too funny! Love it! Thank you, I feel so much better about everything. Especially never-minding a sleep schedule. There are so many people touting a sleep schedule and I just don’t think it’ll work for my little bean.

  • This is the best advice I’ve received so far! I’m 4 months away from having my first baby and had kind of decided to just go with the flow straight from the get-go. With so much advice about all of the things you "have to do" to be a good mother, its so nice to see that its ok to not over plan everything and that it will all work out in the end. 🙂

  • Whatever got me sleep that is what I did….and all my kids slept in their own rooms by the time they were….ummm…4…the last one was 4….but she is almost 10 and goes to bed on her own and doesn’t seem to jacked up. haha

  • We’re just coming to the end of the fourth trimester and it’s been fab.

    I’ve done everything above and if we go out, we go out. No bells and whistles, just me and my girls. (My eldest is 11).
    If dad wants to come, he tags along.

    I wish I was this chilled with my eldest. But 11 years wiser, I feel I’ve nailed it.

    Here’s to the mother’s who discover this little nugget and keep their sanity 😀 xxx

  • A trimester just means a period of 3 months. So the idea of a fourth trimester doesn’t change the fact that the 3 phases of pregnancy would be trimesters.

  • Brilliant! Reading this made me feel so much better! That it’s okay to feed my baby as often as she’d like as opposed to ‘only every 4 hours’. That it’s okay to sit on the couch watching a movie while my baby sleeps on me. That it’s okay to let her sleep after 4 pm. That it’s okay to skip bathing my baby now and then, and dress her in sleepwear most of the time. That it’s okay to not have a regimented sleep routine in place. That it’s okay to pick my baby up rather than to let her cry it out! Thank you. From now on it’s all about what gets us through the day! 🙂

  • Oh my gods, this.
    Since I announced our pregnancy, I had SO MUCH dumped on me about what NOT to do. Guess what- do what works for you and your new one. Done. This article hits the nail on the head.

  • Yes on all accounts!
    I have 2 good sleepers– age 12 and 7.
    My 4 year old is another story! Enough with the "let her cry in bed", "She’ll get use to it" and other non sense! I do attempt to make her go to bed every night, with bribes of cuddles and 3, no 4, no 6 books. But all that does not make her fall asleep– and by that time, I can’t have her scream: her brothers have to go to school. SO I often let her fall asleep on the couch. Either way, she’s back in my bed around 2- 2:30am every night: but she’s not screaming anymore. 🙂
    "what ever works for YOU and your CHILD"
    🙂

  • My baby boy is almost 3 months old. I don’t necessarily keep sleepers on him all day (mainly because they’re too warm right now) but he spits up. A LOT. And due to that, I bath him every other night and have been doing so since he was 1 month old. Everything else I LOVE and have pretty much been doing. However, he will not sleep on me. He will snuggle next to me, but refuses to sleep on me.

  • yeah, my mom kept trying to wake up my daughter (first kid) to "get her on a sleeping schedule". I insisted she just let her sleep when she wanted to sleep

  • First, let me start by saying, I am OBSESSED with you blogs. Like, can’t get enough. Like trying to hold back tears of laughter in the orthodonists office. So theres that. And second, this is SO true. I did all the ‘right’ things. BUT I remember a lady telling me not to pick up my 2 month old because I would spoil him and I quickly said ‘well guess I will just have a spoiled child that you won’t have to ever deal with.’ She didn’t like that. And I didn’t really like her so… yea. I TOTALLY agree with ‘whatever gets you through the day.’ Do the best you can and let that be that.

  • I know this is a really old post but I just wanted to say THANK YOU!!

    I am very newly pregnant and I’m already getting overwhelmed by ALL THE INFORMATION from literally everyone and everywhere.

    This is, I’m pretty sure, all I need to know for the first three months.

    Consider yourself virtually hugged!!

  • Yaaaaasss. All of that is so true. I’ve heard other moms get all condescending and say, "Of course I dress my baby in day clothes during the day time and jammies at night, because he’s a person and I actually take care of him." I’m just thinking, "No, you’re doing it because you see him as your doll. If you paid attention to what he likes, you’d see that exactly all his comfortable clothes are made of the exact same cotton knit, and it doesn’t matter what he’s wearing. If he has clothes that are not suitable for sleeping, he should not be wearing them.

    It was a game-changer when I realized that the baby would be just fine without constant diaper changes, especially at night! I know other parents who were taken aback by that idea until they, too, came to realize the truth of it. Unless your baby is super-susceptible to rashes, like you say, a little coconut oil or something and they’re much happier to sleep with a wet diaper than be awake with a dry one.

    We tried baths and my daughter (first baby) hated them until I realized she hated the cold water. We switched to taking baths together in the tub–still not nearly every day; what could she possibly be doing to get that dirty? According to lots of people, newborns can’t even sweat (they should have met her as a baby)–and I would make the water pleasantly warm for me, which was exactly the temperature she liked. Totally changed the mood of bath time. The massages were a complete no-go, though. She only ever screamed. She’s not big on a lot of touch to this day.

    And yes, I really give the side-eye to a lot of warnings about bad habits. I would just ask myself, "Does anyone do this in college?" Needing me to rock them to sleep at night, no. Liking a little lullaby music, sure, but that’s okay. Pacifier, no, unless they’re ravers. Thumb sucking, yeah, I know some adult thumb-suckers and I’d rather my kids not do that. Crying to be picked up, LOL nope.

  • Great post! I’m about to have a new baby, a mere 16 years after my last one and 18 years after my first. With the first two I remember all of this craziness. Call it experience or simply being too old to care about all of the chaos that comes with trying to be "perfect," I completely envision life with this new baby to be pretty much spot on with each of these points. I haven’t bought her anything except gowns, footies, and onesies through 6 months; I could care less about classes since I’m already up to my eyeballs with the demands of being a high school parent; and I plan to let this baby have as much snuggle, coddle, laying on my chest time as she wants–the one thing I’ve learned is how quickly that goes away. There’s plenty of time to establish routines and separation habits. Love every minute with the babies. You only get that time with them once.

  • Baby 1: I freaked the freak out about her inability to nap anywhere other than in my arms for more than 30 minutes. Fretted over age-appropriate schedules, tried to force naps in her crib by sheer will. Stressed myself out until I went back to work and someone else was responsible for her naps. She was fine the whole time.

    Baby 2: Exactly like his sister, except I said eff that to all my previous nap stress. Held him for naps my entire maternity leave. Sent him to daycare, where he still only sleeps 30 minutes at a time, and honestly doesn’t seem to be affected by it at all. He’s the happiest, chillest baby ever. I was pleasantly surprised to find the sky didn’t fall without a regular nap schedule,

  • I don’t know you, I just happened to stumble upon you blog this morning and as a mother of two (2yrs and 7months), a professional comedian and speaker- I just wanted to say- I LOVE YOU! Your sense of humour, your wit and most of all your common sense. Rock on Mamma!

  • Trimester means 3 months, you could have 4 or any number if them. It’s commonly mistaken for meaning a third of a time period, but it’s not.

  • I can definitely see where first time moms might go through this. My third is three months old and to me, this list is a "duh" list. It’s amusing and frustrating to watch moms struggle with taking care of a baby. Just feed them where they’re hungry, rock them when they’re tired, and keep their butt clean! No charts and do not EVER wake them up to keep a "schedule"! Babies are really not that complicated dears!

    • I think one of the best things a friend said to me after I had my first child (she was on her third) was "All seasoned mother’s just wish we could wash the first time mom’s jitters away so we could all skip to the ‘no big deal’ part." So true.

  • I absolutely love this list and you! I think we could be best friends..Lol! Everyone told me the exact same thing when I had my little girl who is one now, and to be honest, they got inside my head so much I thought I was the most horrible mama ever! After things settled down and she got a little older, I realized how stupid I was for letting everyone get to me. Even my own close kin. Now I’m 20 weeks pregnant with my second little girl (surprise…surprise!), and I am soooo preparing myself to do this just how I think is right. They’ll only be 16 months apart so I’m kind of teetering on the edge of panic because I’m by myself most of the time, but then I try to reassure myself that it won’t be perfect, the house won’t stay spotless, and the clothes will not be washed everyday for a few weeks. I think you are awesome for the points made in this post! And this is what I will do with all my children! Thanks so much for a little more confidence!! 🙂

  • love love love this article !! we are now expecting a little brother for our 1st son… i did almost all the list you mention for our son and surely will do it again for our 2nd one. 🙂 thanks to remind me… 🙂

  • You are hilarious first of all… but I can say AMEN to all of the advice given. At minimum the first 4 weeks are a blur, and this is sound advice for any new mom. I can proudly say I disregarded all of the helpful advice I was given and did what felt right, we are three months in and she is still alive and thriving so we must be doing something right.

  • Hahaha! Completly Hilarious! "and they don’t help with the undressing for a while so it’s like stripping a surly, drugged monkey." Is the FUNNIEST phrase I heard in a while, and so true! Thanks for making me laugh, I needed it!

  • What a wonderful piece. Thank you, pretty much my thinking & reassuring that I’m not the only one & the bits I was a little unsure about confirmed by someone else, nice to see it articulated so fabulously. My husband (I know – unexpected!) sent me the link & I read it last night during a 4am feedfeed (her decision). I lay there and thought "Exactly! That is it!". That feed I hadn’t insisted on her nappy being changed first, as I had done the feed before, & she was so much more content.

    Also why would you not let them sleep on you?! It’s one of the most wonderful parts of being a parent. I savour every moment of them!

    I shall now have a read through of the rest of your blog.

  • Haha, even the sleep advice in here for a 2-year-old is an example of how parents just need to do what’s best for them and their child! My 2-year-old sometimes doesn’t get down for his nap until 3ish, and I’m sure as hell not going to wake him an hour later! And he sleeps fine at night (unless he’s sick), because apparently he’s inherited my need for sleep… although I’m sure everything I "know" about parenting will be turned around in a few months when my second child is born!!

    Also, about bathing, my mom was grossed out that we didn’t bathe him every day from the moment he was home from the hospital… we just didn’t have the energy for it with struggling to breastfeed, which was an uphill battle from square one 🙁

  • Soo glad I read this before giving birth to my first lil one. Will do what works for me and baby and see how it goes. Thank you for those advise ^^

  • The Mommy Wars have reached new heights. Stimulation classes for newborns??? Don’t let them sleep on you? Oy!

    I let my daughter sleep on my chest (usually while I was also sleeping because, well, I was tired) and I can assure you that by college (where she is now) this will no longer be necessary or desired.

  • I agree with apsolutely every single one of these statements! My baby girl is 6 months old and sometimes I think, maybe I should/could have done something different. It’s like you read my mind during those first months and took all my thoughts and feelings on the subject. Thank you for this. I knew I wasn’t crazy for thinking what I thought, but now I know for certain.

  • Did you know that it’s illegal to take someones image, crop it , add your own name to them as if you took it? I know I have seen this image somewhere and I highly doubt you are the original creator of this image. I do highly recommend that you take it down as I will be contacting some of my newborn photographer friends and letting them know you have STOLEN this image from a photographer, not to mention from the parents of this baby.

  • that is some of the most sensible advice I’ve ever read about newborns; in fact, most of it would apply to mamas too – eat when you’re hungry, sleep when you can, and worry about everything else LATER.

  • I love this!! I love your honesty and voicing that we don’t have to be PERFECT robot mums!!! Life is hard with a new born and I have a firm believer of "whatever works" Both my girls have been co-sleepers and people that are astounded and sometimes shocked can’t believe it. My now 5yr old goes to bed by herself and sleeps by herself and ANYONE will say to you how quick they grow up!! All those nights of tangled arms and legs are totally worth it me.

  • My baby’s not here yet (6 weeks to go!) and I’ll be a first time mom, but everything you say seems to make perfect sense. In regards to the bathing, our pediatrician (who meets with us prenatally–their recommendation and for once not my OCD) specifically said NOT to bathe the baby every day because her skin would dry out way too much and it’s not necessary.

  • I laughed so loud I think I woke the neighbours! I’ve been a nanny for 17 years, and you’ve really hit the nail on the head.

  • This is so incredibly true and wise. I am the mother of a 30 year old and the grandmother of a 2 year old, and I can vouch for every single point. Think about all the other stuff at 5 months or later; all they need at the beginning is warmth, comfort, food.

  • So I just found this and read it for the first time….and then noticed the date is about a week before my first son was born! I figured out most (ok….some) of this with him, but damn it would have been easier to realize it before I struggled through trying to dress him and not feed him ("but he JUST ate!"). My second son is due in a couple weeks and what perfect timing to read this — an awesome reminder of what to let go of and just let baby BE. thanks for this!!

  • I love everything you’re saying. It’s all true and I learned this as we went along with our newborn. He’s now 13 weeks old, and taking cues from him helped so much. I became more relaxed and he’s a happy boy. But wine every now and again helps, too.

  • I’m really glad I found this post, as it’s a welcome counter to the endless gung ho DO ALL THE THINGS I’ve had foisted on me as "needed" since I first told people I was pregnant three months ago. I was particularly unenthusiastic about the prospect of sitting in a class with ten other sleep deprived parents and their children, singing in harmony like we’re all in 1984. This is my first child and my cunning plan to survive the newborn period is "do whatever makes us both most relaxed and happy, and occasionally hand sleeping child to Dad with instructions not to bother me for a bit while I get stuff done (unless it’s an emergency)".

  • Wow, i did it all too. Im glad you wrote this, so sick of listening to others wanting things to be in order for their bubs and it sometimes or most times dont work. I love it , worked for me n my 4 kids
    .

  • Love this article. Reminds me of the change I went through from baby one to baby two.

    With number one I felt bewildered most of the time. He ate like a pig, but slept like an insomniac. I tried to avoid being a neurotic, read every sleep book on the shelf type of mums… though sometimes, I admit it, I fell in to the worry pit of doom. My lack of sleep made me obsess about his.

    Thankfully I had a friend who taught me three very useful mantras (the tail end of one I came up with myself):

    1. Do whatever you need to do to get through the day.
    2. All habits can be broken, changed and kicked to touch… and not just by you (see number 3).
    3. Those people with good sleepers need to remember it will turn to shit one day. The only certainty with babies is they change.

    (My addition to this is that babies are tricksy evil little treasures who like to play mean tricks to keep us tired parents on our toes. They constantly lull us into a false sense of security, make us think we have it figured them out, then BAM – they try something new).

    The best days were when he slept on me, I rested, read, watched tv. The best days were when I slowed down and tried to do nothing round the house and still managed to. The best days were when if he was asleep and I was out, I just made myself at home and didn’t disturb him. Those were the days I relaxed into motherhood.

    With baby number two I remembered that.

    There were still tears and stresses (feeding issues, growth issues) but we knew we would get through it because babies change constantly.

    She slept on me for months. I often think it saved her life because of the whole not feeding/growing thing. It worked just fine. There were painful moments, habits to break. But she’s two and a half and it’s all a memory.

    Her favourite clothes are her pjs.

  • Too true, i always went with what felt right as i figured no one knew my baby like i did. My mum was the one who told me not to worry about bathing every night, especially in winter (which was great as my first was twins) for the first few weeks my third would only settle on my stomach after the mid night feed (which makes sense as that’s the noise she was used to from the womb.) now we’re expecting our 4th in 2 months and i intend to keep just rolling with it and not take it too seriously, especially as she needs to fit into our family life which now includes school runs etc.

  • I have my first on the way in just a few week and I’m SO happy that both you and, by the looks of it, most of the people who commented on this post, have logic and common sense. Wonderful article. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

  • AMEN again! Nurses telling me to wake them up to eat? I do believe they will wake up when hungry, they won’t starve to death while asleep. You totally nailed it with this list.

  • Every new mother in America needs to read this article – we put so much guilt on ourselves and try to do everything so perfectly, but would be so much happier if we’d just throw those stupid rules out the window and go with the flow. Loved this article!

  • If you’re reading these comments, this is EXACTLY what you need to know. This is pretty much what we did, although Baby did love the baths early on. The first 3 months are, probably, never easy. I was out of my mind (crying in the bathroom) and completely exhausted just from that whole labor/delivery thing. I don’t know if it’s the waking up all hours of the night that makes being a new mommy so hard as much as it is the fact that you and your body are trying to recover without the ability to truly rest. Anyway, my baby napped on me, or someone else, all the time. I fed him when he wanted to be fed (sometimes every 45 minutes) for a week at a time. He was happy. I know I’m lucky because he has such an easy-going temperament and always has, but how much of that is his natural personality and how much of it was due to inadvertently discovering the 4th trimester, I won’t ever know for sure.

  • Excellent blog! I’m newly pregnant (in my 2nd trimester) and this helps ease some anxiety!!! Keep writing your tips!

    Shenade

  • Awesome. You are right on the money!,,,, fourth trimester (using your terminology) is so true. I am a mother of four grown kids. Wish I had your blog then. All true true true. Love it. How to make your life a whole lot easier. Listen up new moms. This girl knows her stuff. By the way if grandmas are the to help their role is to stay in the background put good meals on the table, comfort foods if required, do mounds of laundry, clean house and if mom asks you for help then give it. Your are in a support role. Wish I had this blog 35 years ago. Keep it up. Thanks

  • So, I know this post was from, um, two years ago, but I just had to add my two cents.
    First, your blog is awesome, this post is awesome. Will you be my best friend?
    Second, the idea of a fourth trimester was developed by a pediatrician named Harvey Karp. He wrote about this concept, as well as newborn soothing techniques, in his book "The Happiest Baby on the Block". There is also a video in which Dr. Karp demonstrates his methods. Now, I'm not one to jump on the "pop pediatrics" bandwagon (I'm talking to you Dr. Sears-ICK!), but the fourth trimester idea really made sense to me. I used some of these techniques with my kiddo when he was little, and they really helped.
    Anyway, great blog, great post. Get back to me about the best friend thing.

  • SO WELL SAID! I learned all these things that I was CLUELESS about going into the life of my first born… and wish I'd known BEFORE! We fell in love with the "4th trimester" concept and share it any time an expectant parent asks "what do you wish you'd known" or anything close! Yep – it took until our son was about 5 months for us to hit any sort of trying to have a routine/schedule during the day – and he's now a 20 month old who naps regularly, has a bed time with a bedtime routine, eats well, has hit all milestones, etc… and we had NO sort of routine for those first several months… if only I 'd known all this I'd have been a lot less stressed. With baby #2 on the way – I plan to do all this with a much more calm spirit! 🙂

  • It's been 7yrs since my last pregnancy and I am scared to death. Did I already forget all of this sh*t?! Thank you for making me refrain from walking down to the local dive bar and orderig some vodka and a cheap pack of smokes.

  • Thank you! Needed a good laugh, hearing so many opinions about who should do this and when you should do what etc… This put my mind at ease. whatever works, simple as that!

  • Thank you soo much for this post!!
    I am a control freak, neat freak, and OCD about everything I am able to control…consequently I am due to have a baby in about three weeks, over whom I will have NO control. This post has seriously helped me realize that things do not have to be perfect and scheduled. IT JUST HAS TO WORK. I am sure I would be one VERY stressed mama if I had not had the opportunity to read this post. I would have tried to bathe her every night and tried to schedule her little life, which obviously would create an unhappy little person. The cute outfits and schedules can wait until she's old enough to NEED all of those things.

    Plus now that I think about it babies always smell nice 🙂

  • Thankyou! I am way past the "having a baby" days but have always felt guilty for the way I treated my newborn babies feeling like I had not done a very good job. Turns out I did pretty much what you have said here in this post and that maybe I was much smarter than I thought I was! My daughter is almost at the "having a baby" season so I will pass on your URL to her. Hopefully she won't have to waste so many years feeling guilty like me! Thanks again!

  • Halle-friggin-lujah!

    I'm 8 weeks into this and thankfully have stopped screeching in that insane sleep-deprived voice. It seriously does get better the further along you go, and as soon as I dropped all of those b.s. 'must-do's' it got waaaay better for all of us.

    ie: sobbing over my baby in the crib saying 'but I'm going to kill the baby! Everything I read says that I'm going to kill the baby!' because she would only sleep on a parent for the first month was reaaaaally fun.

    As soon as I let go (and got a co-sleeper as a gift!), she relaxed/got bigger, and now sleeps in her crib, on her playmat, propped up against pillows, and anywhere else really.

    I still do want to hit the Southern Comfort some days though, that's for sure.

  • So even though I've been reading you for awhile, I'm catching up on some of your archives. This was the single most validating post I've ever read in my life. There is not a BIT of advice you gave here that I wouldn't follow up with a resounding YES. I drove myself crazy trying to get him on a schedule for feeding, changing him EVERY time he woke up in the night, trying to get him to take a nap on something other than my chest, and putting him in tiny baby polo onesies for no. damn. reason. When I stopped doing ALL of that – I finally started to enjoy myself. I stopped flipping through the stupid books which only served to confuse me more.

    I did all of these things and do you know what happened? I had a really happy baby and I became an ecstatic and enthusiastic mommy.

    You gotta do what you gotta do. This post was awesome and I am sharing it with all pregnant mommies I meet. It will save them so much trouble in the beginning. Seriously. I wish I had known about this earlier on.

  • I once had a nurse ask me if I bathed my baby every day, implying that I certainly should. I believe I gave her that special post-partum-stupor look and said, "but she's not dirty.". Luckily it didn't seem to count against me, but I always thought that was the stupidest idea. Unless they blow out the dipe or their hair is just too greasy from my near content nuzzling, they are fine.

  • We were drawn to your website as my daughter is due with her first baby any day now and we saw your boobie beanies. Anyway, I had five children and agree with everything you say. I think it is because us old folks miss having a little baby that we share our advice. You are truly filling an important role with this peaceful way of being a mom.

  • just found this post now. i have a 3 month or and wow totally agree and do evrything you do/did.

    He wears his sleepers all day, only has a bath when i think really needed, sleeps on me, changed only when needed, and the list goes on..

    thanks so much for this great post. makes me feel like i'm doing a pretty good job 🙂

  • Reading through all of your blog, linked over from RFML.

    Thank you so much for all of this. When my daughter (who is now 5) was born, I tried to encompass every piece of advice that I received from everyone. It was insanity.

    When I have another baby, I will be referring to everything here to maintain my mental health – well, to some degree anyway!

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  • I have learned (now that my oldest is 4 and the youngest is 19 months) that you can fix any 'bad' habbits later , i.e. past the fourth trimester, in 3 days or less. Getting rid of a passie? Sleeping without being rocked? no bottle before bed? Getting them back in their own bed? Whatever it is can be forgotten by a 1-2 year old faster than your sanity can come back if you instead listen to all of the 'helpful' advice givers and had to put up with a crying ALL THE TIME newborn.

  • YES! And cloth diapers also don’t need to be changed at night unless there’s poop. My small fry stopped pooping at night at about six weeks anyway.

  • I wish someone had told me ALL of these things when I had my baby. I caused myself so much undue stress. Next time, if there is one, I am going to take it much easier on myself and the baby. GREAT post!

  • AMEN to all that.
    (Even if I did try to squeeze 8 consecutive hours of sleep out of mine at about 3 months.)
    My motto was "whatever works". And frankly, some days, it still is. A special thumbs up to the pjs-all-day reco. I never did understand preemie leather jackets.

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