I started jotting down important tidbits, tearing sheets from the magazines, compiling all of the information I thought pertinent to raising a wee one. And being a list-maker and an organizer, I made these "fact sheets" by age, so that when my baby reached the target age I could pull it out and re-read all the information that I had collected relevant to that age.
By no means am I an expert on parenting, but much of this came from experts through my reading/research. Take it or leave it, but I thought since I'd compiled it I'd share it. On that note - if anyone has information they feel is important, I'd love for you to share it in the comments section!
I am copying this from a word document - if you decide to use it, you could simply paste it back into one and print it (plus the following sheets for various ages).
- Babies can sleep through noise – it helps them sleep more soundly later.
- Should nap about every 2 hours. Naps are VERY important!
- Avoid prolonged, animated eye contact when trying to put baby down.
- Keep the bedroom between 65-70 degrees (decreases SIDS).
- Keep the room dark whenever it is sleep time (nap or night) and open windows/light it up when it’s time to wake up – this will help baby distinguish nights and days.
- Give a 15 minute bedtime massage to relax.
- Snuggle before bedtime.
- Use a fan – circulating air reduces SIDS, and provides background noise.
- Teach baby to fall asleep on his/her own. Don’t rock or nurse all the way to sleep – put in bed sleepy but allow baby to fall asleep on own.
- Don’t allow baby to get overtired before putting to bed.
- In the morning when baby wakes, stimulate with eye contact and steady conversation – signal “the day has begun!”
- Don’t leave baby in the crib too long in morning when wide awake – want baby to associate crib with sleep, not play.
- If baby is sleeping for a longer period during the day than night, start waking from long daytime nap sooner and sooner in an attempt to reverse baby’s schedule.
- Turn baby 180 degrees in crib regularly and use mobiles and hanging objects to try to get baby to lay on all sides of head so not consistently sleeping on 1 side.
- Make a minimum of 1 nap/day a quiet nap in the crib – the others can be while out and about if needed.
- Strive for this pattern in each day: EASY – Eat, Activity, Sleep, You time (may go through this routine several times within a day when this age).
Notes on baby massage-
- Find a warm quiet room. Make sure your hands are warm. Optional – oil and background music.
- Start with baby lying on stomach. Gently rub your hands back and forth on each of the following areas for 1 minute/area:
1) top of head to neck
2) neck across shoulders
3) upper back to waist
4) thigh to foot on each leg
5) shoulder to hand on each arm
- Turn baby over onto back. Gently flex and straighten each arm and each leg while rubbing each.
- Turn baby back over to stomach and repeat first sequence.
- Only do as long as baby is enjoying – once baby seems irritable or frustrated, stop.
- Practice “kangaroo care” – naked skin-on-skin snuggles a minimum of 1 hour/day, multiple times/week:
1) remove bra and wear a shirt that opens in front
2) put baby in a diaper only
3) place baby on your bare chest in an upright position, cover with shirt
4) lay back and relax! (don’t engage baby – this is rest time)
5) Dad should do too!
- Carry baby for 3 hours/day in your arms or a sling/carrier.
- Respond consistently and warmly to baby when he/she cries – this helps build a strong, secure attachment and independence and social skills.
- The first 3 months of life have been referred to as “the 4th trimester” (Dr. Karp). To soothe baby, recreate the sensations, rhythms and sounds of the uterus with the 5 S’s:
2) sucking (breastfeeding or pacifier) – try to wean off pacifier by 4-5 months
3) side-lying – hold baby so laying on his/her side, with their belly/back to your belly
4) “shushing” noise
FEEDING (FOCUS ON BREASTFEEDING)
- Put baby to the breast ASAP.
- Nurse every 2-3 hours, or 10-12 times in 24 hours.
- Milk comes in at 3-5 days, then every 24 hours baby should have about 6-8 wet and 3-5 dirty diapers.
- Allow to drain a breast – the foremilk satisfies thirst but the hindmilk is dense with calories.
- It is best to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months. Starting solids too early has been linked to increased weight gain.
- Once breastfeeding is established (if you are), giving baby a pacifier when he/she sleeps can reduce SIDS.
- Newborns can only see 8-15” in front of them – make lots of eye contact and arch your eyebrows.
- Use bright primary colors to get baby’s interest, or contrasting black and white.
- Chit-chat to baby! ALOT! It builds language skills. Think out loud, and involve baby in every topic/thought.
- Begin reading to baby right away! Read books slowly, be animated, and reread favorites often. Choose simple books with word repetition.
- Turn conversations into “songs” (melodic, sing-song talk)- make them up as you go.
- Carry baby in your arms and walk around the house/yard, pointing out objects, sounds, smells, textures, etc.
- Sing to baby – lullabies, melodies, your favorite song off the radio – whatever!
- Speak another language to baby if you know it – this helps cognitive skills.
- Playtime is very important to baby’s development.
- Hold baby upright, your chest and belly touching with baby’s head over your shoulder, and dance to music! Or dance with baby while you sing/hum.
- Allow playtime in nothing but the diaper, with gentle roughhousing.
- Give baby some tummy-time each day – be involved for some of it, and let baby play independently (under your supervision) for others.
- Playing Mozart/classical music to baby (even for 10 minutes/day) is relaxing.
- Children under 2 years of age should not watch TV according to the AAP – it significantly decreases language skills and negatively affects brain development.
- The first year is THE MOST IMPORTANT for brain development.
- Give baby a daily wipedown with a wet cloth, but only needs a bath twice/week.
- Keep kids out of the pool until after first birthday to decrease the risk of ear/respiratory infections and diarrhea. A rare swim is okay, but not regularly – keep from swallowing/inhaling water).
- Don’t put shoes on baby until walking outside.
- Use a stroller in which baby faces towards you rather than away from you – reduces anxiety.
- Up until 3 months of age, if baby has a temperature of 100.4 or more, call the doctor.
- From 3-6 months, call if fever is 101 or more.
- Once over 6 months, call if fever is 103 or more.
- Treat the baby, not the fever. If baby is acting okay, let the fever run its course. At 3 months of age, can treat with acetamenophin/ibuprofen. Push fluids and use cool cloths if it doesn’t make baby cold/shiver. Do not bundle baby, as this traps heat.
- Don’t medicate a cold in babies/kids under 4 years old – keep the nose clear with a bulb syringe/nasal suction, steam, saline solution, honey (once 1 year old), and vapor rub.
- Keep baby updated on vaccinations! Much more harmful to avoid.
- Ask your pediatrician about giving baby vitamin D drops (the AAP recommends 400 IU/day; start at 2 months) and omega-3s.
- Wash your hands often.
- Dust and vacuum the house often (dust, then once it settles vacuum with a HEPA vacuum).
- Air out house regularly.
- House plants help clean/filter the air indoors.
- Be obsessive about germs for the first 2 months (have people wash their hands before holding, use hand sanitizers and sanitize public objects baby contacts), then relax! Beware of sick people, but otherwise around the house no need to sanitize everything!
- At 4 mo. well-baby visit, ask: Breastfed babies should be given 1 mg or iron/day for every 2 pounds baby weighs.
- Move baby’s limbs through a gentle, passive workout each day – beneficial for their bones. Once the cord falls off, start doing tummy time (may not tolerate for long at first, just do as baby will allow).
Note on vaccines-
- Do not medicate after gets vaccinations – it has been found that babies produce fewer antibodies post-vaccine when taking acetaminophen.
- Avoid thimerosal – still used in some flu shots.
- Some vaccines contain preservative aluminum – may want to limit these vaccines to 1/month and delay a bit after birth.
- If you use a delayed schedule, get the most important ones on schedule (whooping cough, meningitis, rotavirus) and delay others (hepatitis A/B, chicken pox, polio, flu).
- Parents make sure you’re updated on your vaccines! Get the Dtap vaccine before baby is born or soon after.
- Avoid ProQuad (4-in-1 for MMR and varicella) and instead get them separate: 1 MMR and 1 pox.
Note on doctor visits-
- Avoid Monday appointments (or the first day of the week the office is open) and choose the first appointment of the day or after lunch for the shortest wait times.
- If need more than a quick in-and-out with doc, schedule a consult or extra time.
- If there are lots of sick kids in the waiting room, wait in the hall/outside.
- Bring your own toys and antiseptic wipes to avoid germy ones in the office.
By 2 months may follow a brightly colored object. Should give you a fully alert, happy smile. By the end of month 2 baby may lift head while lying on stomach. By 6th week may sleep 6 straight hours. Start working on introducing a nighttime routine in 7th week. Gets a well-baby exam this month. Should get a hearing screening if hasn’t already had one.
By 3 months may swipe at objects. The head is less wobbly, baby can maintain a semi-seated position with help, and if you stand baby up he/she may start pushing their feet out like they are trying to bounce. Baby can push up on his/her arms and hold her head up, and should be able to follow a moving object with his eyes. A loud noise should startle baby. By the end of month 3 may sleep up to 10 hours at night with occasional periods of waking. Don’t rush in every time baby wakes – let baby learn to put self back to sleep. Start teaching body parts and playing “This little piggy” and “Peekaboo”. Will start chewing/biting – get teething toys! Should have established a consistent nighttime routine by 3 months – perform it in the room where baby will sleep, and put to bed by 6:30-7:30 pm. This should be a fixed, established bedtime until baby is 1 year of age. If a bath is part of the bedtime routine, make it warm and soothing, and keep voices and activity low. Should take 3-4 naps/day, 2 hours apart. When put down for a nap, shoot for a minimum of an hour nap – if wakes before then, try to leave in crib for at least 1 hour before retrieve. If won’t go to sleep, still try to leave for 1 hour in crib. Can comfort during this hour, but keep activity/contact to a minimum in the hopes baby will go to sleep. If doesn’t sleep after 1 hour, try again 2 hours later.
By 4 months may grasp objects. By the end of the month, baby’s head may be completely under control and he/she can hold it steady. On his/her stomach can hold the head up at a 90 degree angle, and can lift the head when lying on her/his back. Baby is starting to roll over in one direction, can almost pull him/herself to a seated position by holding onto your fingers, and loves to be propped up in a seated position. Baby may sleep through the night (10-11 hours) with 2-3 naps/day. Gets a well-baby exam this month.