Happy 1-Month to my perfect little girl! I’m not sure if it feels more surreal that she’s already a month old, or that she’s only 1 month old. At times when I’m cuddling her on the couch and just enjoying how sweet and perfect she is, I feel like I just stepped out of the hospital… but then there are moments when it feels like I’ve been ostracized from both of our extended families and from the rest of the outside world forever and I have to take a breath and remind myself that this is just the season we’re in and that we will get our vaccinations and be able to enjoy a wider variety of people soon.
When Babyface was first born, we tried breastfeeding, and it was a non-starter. We couldn’t get her to latch, my supply was low, and when we pumped and bottle-fed her, she would scream for hours—a reaction that she didn’t have when we fed her formula. Ginger Snaps and I have had a “fed is best” mentality since the beginning, and though a part of me was sad to give up on breastfeeding, I also recognized that figuring out what in my diet she was reacting so poorly to could take a lot of time and frustration on both of our parts, and since we had an option that she reacted well to—formula—I didn’t want to put her through that pain and agitation. So, we have officially become a formula-only family. We use the Similac Pro-Advance, which was first given to us in sample packs at her pediatrician’s office and which she responds great to.
I mentioned this in my Top 10 Items for Baby’s First Week Home post, but Babyface actually had a really hard time feeding when we first brought her home: She would barely eat, she wasn’t gaining as much weight as the doctors wanted her to, and we found ourselves putting a lot more focus on food in our family than we ever planned to. We switched her to the Nuk bottles—medium flow—and the difference in her eating habits was instantaneous. She’s now an amazing eater, and we’ve been able to make the switch to cue feeding, which we always felt was a better choice for our family than schedule feeding. While we don’t have her on a strict feeding schedule for this reason, and while we let her eat what she wants—whether its one ounce or five—she tends to eat 4 ounces in any given feeding (which is a lot, but we’ve discussed it with her pediatrician and everyone’s happy with how she’s doing). She eats about every 3-4 hours during the day, and at night she usually gives us a great 6-8 hour stretch.
We worked really early on getting Babyface’s day/night cycle on track. Starting in the hospital, we kept the lights on and bright during the day and didn’t keep our voices down even if she was sleeping, and we turned all the lights off at night and kept our voices quieter. At home, we started a predictable bedtime routine at a predictable time every night. For now, the routine is pretty simple: We start between 8:30-9PM. We change her, we swaddle her, we feed her, we burp her, and then we put her in her crib with her pacifier while she’s drowsy but still awake.
Typically, that’s all she needs to go down. Sometimes she fusses, especially if she loses her pacifier. We have a “fuss it out” philosophy, which means that we don’t immediately go back into her room if she’s fussing, but let her try to soothe herself for a few minutes first. I would say 90% of the time, she does, and then she sleeps anywhere from 6-8 hours, waking up between 3-6AM (which means that sometimes, she sleeps until the alarm goes off!) Every once in a while, the fussing will turn to crying, and we’ll pick her back up, offer her a little more bottle if she didn’t drink much, cuddle her for a few minutes, and then put her back down—again, drowsy but awake. We rarely have to do that more than once.
We had her in a Pack ‘n Play in our room for the first few weeks, and we just transitioned her to the crib in her room. While that may seem early to some, it was a very good decision for our family. Her room is just across the hall from ours, so she’s really no further away than before, but it allows us to keep her room a little warmer and our room a little cooler, which allows us all to have a better night’s sleep.
Ginger Snaps and I both realize that we’re fortunate to have a baby who’s such an easy sleeper, and are hoping to keep that success going as long as possible. Some of the things we do to encourage that include:
- Keeping bedtime sacred: It’s about the only thing in our home that we put on a strict schedule
- Not putting her bink back in her mouth in every time she fusses that it falls out. We offer it to her to start with, and we put it back in her mouth after her middle of the night feeding, but otherwise if it falls out we leave it out. That way, she can sleep without it.
- Having a predictable bedtime routine that we do the same every night and that includes steps not included during the day. Right now, that’s mostly putting her in her swaddler, which we don’t do at any other point during the day, turning the lights off, and turning on a sound machine for her.
- Not giving her bedtime crutches. Sometimes if she’s having a fussy night, I’m tempted to put her in her Rock ‘n Play because I know she loves that vibrating motion and that she’ll go down easily. But I know that the minute I give in and do that for a night, she’ll start needing that every night, and that’s not what we want, so we resist the urge. We also don’t rock her all the way to sleep and we try not to have her fall asleep while still sucking on the bottle. The idea is that if she wakes up in the middle of the night, she doesn’t need anything—her bink, motion, etc–to soothe herself back to sleep. (Obviously she’s little, so sometimes she needs a bottle because she’s hungry, but our goal is for her to only cry for a bottle if she’s hungry, not just if she wakes up for a moment).
We hear a rumor that a terrible thing called a Sleep Regression is just around the corner for us. While we know that sleep regressions can be an important part of her development, we’re hoping that by keeping these tenants in mind, we can prevent them from taking over our life entirely and help her get back to being a good sleeper when the regression is over with. We also plan to increase her bedtime routine—maybe include a bath or a story—when she gets a little older and her simple routine isn’t enough to soothe her anymore. But it’s impossible to make predictions about whether that will be enough or not, so I’ll keep you posted!
All right, real talk for a second: Infants are boring. I mean, adorable and lovable and all that stuff, but they don’t do much. Still, we have seen a pretty big difference in Babyface from when we brought her home until now. She’s alert a lot more of the time and is starting to be curious about the world around her. As far as skills go, we do a lot of tummy time with her to help her build her muscles, and we make funny faces at her to work on her mimicking skills, but her most exciting development this month is that she has learned to track objects with her eyes. So she looks at us when we’re talking to her now, or if we shake her stuffed dragon rattle toy, she’ll look for it.
I dedicated a whole blog post to our must-haves for Babyface’s first week home, and all of those items are still on our must-have list, so I’m not going to go over them all again. Instead, I’m going to just mention a few things that we’ve come to rely on in addition to those items in the week since, which will make this a fairly short must-haves list.
Around the time Babyface started getting to be more alert during the day, she also got to be a little fussier and harder to settle during the daytime. The Rock ‘n Play has become a godsend: Something about the vibrating motions soothes her and she settles right down.
Babies can absolutely be picky about formula, in case you were wondering. Not only does Babyface scream if I try to give her breast milk, but she also screams if we give her a certain colic-friendly formula, as well as if we give her a formula for sensitive tummies. Somehow, though, she gobbles up this Similac formula.
Ginger Snaps and I are both incredibly sensitive to scents and chemicals and stuff like that, so it was important to me that we find a line of household cleaners that was safe for our baby that we could stand the smell of. Babyganics has a very light, fresh smell—enough to make the couch not smell like baby vomit when Babyface projectile vomits on it, but not so strong as to make our couch smell like anything else either. I also love that this comes in a spray bottle variety or a surface wipes variety as the different options are good for different things.
Now that her cord stump has fallen off, we can give Babyface baths on a regular basis. We actually got the one we have hand-me-down from a friend, but I am really happy with it. It fits in our sink perfectly and securely, it keeps Babyface at a really nice angle, it has a drain in the bottom so you can get the water out really easily, and it’s plastic so it’s a cinch to clean and keep mildew/mold off of.