1 June 2010

New Baby Advice

This is a photograph of Andy with a five-day-old Presley.

When we had him we were both pretty green.

Well, I say that. We had read countless books and attended NCT classes, active birth classes and NHS ante-natal classes. In fact no one could have been more prepared than us, but it still wasn't enough.


I suppose it is difficult to see beyond the birth, but I had no idea what to do with my darling baby.

On the day that we came home from the hospital, I gingerly lifted Presley out of his car seat. I stood in the middle of the lounge, with my tiny baby in my arms, and said 'what do we do now?'

Over the following days, weeks and months we worked it out.

Andy's sister had her long-awaited baby last month. He new daughter is a beautiful bundle of joy. I don't like to wade in and tell my sister-in-law what to do, but I can share my new baby advice here, on Baby Baby.

When your baby cries check the following:
Is he/she hungry? How long since his/her last feed?
Is he/she tired?
Does his/her nappy need changing?
Does he/she need winding?
Is he/she too hot or too cold? In a centrally heated house you really don't need four blankets!
Are his/her clothes uncomfortable? Check labels in particular as these can rub.
That hopefully covers most eventualities. By the time you've checked all of these he or she will probably be hungry again!

Babies really shouldn't cry all the time. In my experience they aren't exercising their lungs. This isn't what babies do. They are crying for a reason. If you have checked all of the above and your baby regularly cries take him or her to your GP. Cash had reflux and screamed with pain for quite a few weeks before we saw a consultant. As soon as he was treated with Gaviscon Infant he was a different baby. Trust your instincts - you are probably right.

When your baby is tired let them sleep.
Babies need plenty of sleep, it's when they do their growing.
At the first sign of tiredness (rubbing eyes, crying) put your baby down in their moses basket or pram.
It is useful if your baby can learn to fall asleep on their own (although you can rock them to sleep as much as you like, after all who doesn't want to cuddle their baby?)!
If you are swaddling or using a dummy this will be an additional sign for them that it is nap time.
Once you have done this a few times your baby will settle very quickly.
Put the kettle on or go for a walk and show off your shiny new pram!

Establish a bedtime routine as soon as you can.
At around six to eight weeks we started a bedtime routine.
We tried to keep our babies awake from around 5pm.
At 6pm they had a baby massage, then a bath.
Once dressed they had a bedtime story and a feed.
At 7pm we put them to bed in a fairly dark room, away from any noise, but close enough so we could hear them.
If they don't settle, give them a quick cuddle and try again.
After a few days they will get used to this new routine and you can have your evenings back.
Even if you only have dinner and a quick chat with your partner or maybe watch some television (or blog!) you will have had some time to yourself.
We found that our young babies would wake around 10pm for a feed and then straight back to bed again. As they get older they will go longer and longer between feeds at night and eventually you will achieve the holy grail of parenting, your baby will sleep through the night!
Our boys still have pretty much the same bedtime routine and always go to bed at 7pm.

Teach your baby the difference between day and night.
This follows on from the bedtime routine.
It's really handy if your baby understands the difference between day and night.
You can teach them that daytime is for playing and night time is for sleeping.
If you can have them sleep in their pram during the day and their moses basket or cot at night this will help establish day and night associations.
Make night time nappy changes and feeds as low key as possible.
Keep lighting and chat to a minimum during the night.
Enjoy those late night cuddles as they don't last that long.

So that's how we did it in the Calico household.

Do you have any new baby advice? Please share your top tips in the comments.

Please note that I am not a parenting guru, neither am I medically trained. I'm just passing on what worked for us.


  1. I'd add over or understimulated to 'why is the baby crying', and also just to comment that some babies really do cry a lot, even though they are fed, clean, well rested etc, despite their parents best efforts. For parents of these "colicky" babies advice like this can be very frustrating, and can lead to parents feeling pretty isolated since they are doing everything 'right' and the baby still cries all the time. I know one baby who basically had to be held for 3 months! She was only not crying when she was in someones arms, and still grew to be a delightful, adorable toddler and is now very lovely six year old. She was a very difficult baby though, nearly drove her mother insane, then at 12 weeks old she just transformed. Classic colic.

    I loved "the happiest baby on the block" book, for new baby advice.

  2. Geekymummy, I have no first-hand experience of colic (thankfully) but it was never my intention to make any parent feel that they are doing something wrong if their baby cries. I would re-state that this advice is based on my personal experience. I stick by my suggestion that excessive crying probably has a medical reason - even if this reason is colic, although I accept there appears to be no cure for colic.
    Thanks for the book recommendation.

  3. I would add to find someone who has a bit of parenting experience that you trust and don't be afraid to ask for advice.

  4. didn't mean to sound rude, I think your post contains really good advice, as always!

    I was just hearing the voice of my poor friend in my head, so lost with her constantly crying baby. I wouldn't wish colic on anyone.

  5. Susie, my goodness, that's true. I've found blogging and Twitter invaluable for parenting advice.

    Geekymummy, I only ever try to be inoffensive! When Cash had reflux we feared it was colic so I do know how helpless you can feel when you can't comfort your crying baby.

  6. Great advice Sandy, we did a lot of things like you. On crying, I have to say my second son had colic and that really is terrible, he cried from 7pm - 1am for his first 10 weeks. It's hard to give specific advice for this as there's not a lot you can do other than make sure you get a break now and again. I think your sleep advice is great, little babies need lots of regular naps and often people don't realise that a fussing baby needs a sleep. Now I'm on number 3 I find I'm really quick to spot the signs you talk about and, as a result, she's good at having her naps in the day.

  7. One of the best tips I heard was that if your newborn has been awake for 2 hours, he's probably ready for a sleep. With my second, I pretty much stuck to this, rather than to a routine led by particular times in the day. I think it helped - it may just be I was better 2nd time round, but those early days were much easier than with my 1st.

    My other tip, which is one of my own, is, if you like using slings, at baby's bedtime feed him, pop him in the sling and with a bit of luck he'll sleep peacefully until you are ready for bed yourself. Then you can take him out, feed him again, and try and get him to sleep in his bed, or whereever it is he sleeps, for the night.

    I started this when my 1st was about 2 months, mainly because I just couldn't get her to settle in her room at bedtime and I was getting stressed out about it. I gave up, put her in the sling and found she just conked out until I went to bed. After about a month of doing this, I tried putting her down in her bed again, and it was much more successful - as though she had got used to sleeping at 7pm.

    So with my 2nd I did it from day one. I really think it helped him both know the difference between night and day, and get used to going to bed at about 7pm. After a few weeks I was able to put him down in his bed too.

    Neither of my kids slept through until they were about a year - we went through hell with my 2nd waking and screaming in the night. But we did at least have our evenings back pretty early on, give or take the odd night when he wouldn't settle!

  8. Great tips, Please remind to come back to this post when I have another. I have totally forgot what it was like and what to do. Pretty sure these upcoming toddler years will block out the baby years even more from my brain!

  9. Yes the dreaded Colic. Maxi had it and cried constantly from 3pm till about 9om no matter what. A cranial osteopath fixed him in the end, but not before I was nearly finished!

    I also would say be prepared for the unexpected!

  10. Great advice. I just posted about how 'smug' I feel sometimes to have got through all these stages and unknowns - it's flippin' hard work isn't it! Great post for new mums - I may link to it if you don't mind.

  11. Emily, oh you poor thing. Cash cried after every feed for an hour and he was feeding 10-12 times a day, I don't know what I'd have done with hours and hours of crying. You feel so sorry for them because you can't help. I'm glad your little girl is sleeping well x

    Solveig, oh yes, two hours is plenty long enough for a baby to be awake in the day. Slings! I forgot to mention slings. The only way I could help Cash when he had reflux (before we got the magic Gaviscon) was to put him in the sling. He would fall asleep within minutes. Great advice x

    Emma, thank you. You do forget, it's only because my SIL had a baby that I remembered this stuff! I hope you get Oli's sleeping sorted, then you can go through it all again with number two! x

    The Mad House, oh yes, the unexpected! I took Cash to a cranial osteopath, but she couldn't help him. I do know quite a few people who CO's have helped x

    Hot Cross Mum, I think you only get to feel smug that you have got through one stage for about five minutes before the next one comes along! x

  12. Great post and great advice where were you 3 years ago when my first was born? xx

  13. This is a great primer. We have our first baby coming home in a few months and like you I have been asking myself the question of "What do I do now?" I will bookmark this and refer back to it over the next months. Thanks!

  14. Cradle, thank you very much and good luck! :-)


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