Tips and Tricks
Every so often, parents ask other parents, "How did you...?" or "What do you do when...?" This section of the website is a compilation of FAQs, journalistic endeavors, and "hey, this is what worked for us." Note that each family, child, and situation is unique... so what worked for us may not work for you. But we're happy to share some things that helped us along the way.
Table of Contents
NOTE: These are my rough notes from various journal entries, so expect more thoughts than polish! [This part of the website is currently under construction.]
When I bring baby home... what do I do?
After Mommy recovered from her C-section, each parent alternated -- one would stay downstairs in the living room with baby in her bassinet, and one would get The Night of Rest in our master bedroom upstairs.
For the right-before-bed feeding, we gave our babies formula. This took longer for them to digest, and they usually slept 2-3 hours. The rule of thumb is #months + 2oz, so a newborn would at most drink 2oz of formula. Around 2.5mos, our baby was gaining weight, healthy, etc. So when she woke up at night, we started giving her a pacifier instead of a bottle. And she slept for 6-8 hours. It was lovely.
Babies tend to have a "happy side," where they lay down on one side of their head. If you turn the baby every so often, you can avoid her getting a flat head. No need to use a helmet, though -- I hear that those things can hurt if the baby bonks Mama on the head.
We put baby#2 in a crib in our room when she was about four months old.
For baby #1, I had a pretty intense delivery, and wasn't really able to produce much milk afterwards. (My pump also wasn't particularly great -- the Ameda came with our Insurance at the time, and the parts quickly lost their suction.) So baby #1 had mostly formula.
For baby #2, the nurse put her on the breast within an hour after the C-section. We let her suck, then I'd pump. We gave her formula in the hospital to make sure she was hydrated and gaining weight, and I worked on the pumping at home. I opted to not get up during the night to pump, so there would be twice as much in the morning. I pumped for 11 months and nursed baby for about 13 months. We still gave baby formula right before bed and sometimes when we were out, since it's so much easier to open a bottle of instant / ready-made formula (or pour a set amount of formula into a bottle that had a pre-poured volume of water). I breastfed in public a few times when I didn't have time to pump (e.g., a play house at Dutch Wonderland), but I always found it to be somewhat awkward.
TROUBLESHOOTING the Pumping
Getting enough water / staying hydrated also made a huge difference.
Make sure your flanges actually fit. (See your pump instructions on how to fit them.)
Frequency is more important than duration.
For our own sanity, we adopted a schedule as soon as possible. More details (i.e., rough notes) in the Schedule section.
I started tummy time a little before baby was 1 month old. I found it really helped to prop her up with a Breast Friends breastfeeding pillow, so that her arms were resting on the pillow, and she only had to raise her head a little bit to look around. (This is safest when baby is on the floor, preferably on a blanket.)
When baby cries, it's usually for the following reasons:
Is she hungry?
Is she wet?
Does she want to be carried and walked around or danced?
Does she want her pacifier?
Is she cold?
Is she tired?
Does she just want company?
Songs to Sing to Your Baby
At two months, ours loved:
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
ABC (in English and Spanish)
I have two hands (the left and the right...)
Baa Baa Black Sheep
Any nursery rhymes
How do I help my child learn how to read (and count)?
Start with letters. Then start with sounds.
We just got our 4-year-old daughter the bob books from Costco. It’s $60 for like 100 ten page books, with one sentence per page, like "Sam sat. Mat sat. Sam sat on Mat." But it groups the sound families together, making it very intuitive for kiddos to use, and our daughter is so proud that she’s starting to blend words together and read like her older sister. I will say that they’re not quite ready for these until they know the letters and the sounds that go with them.
Another suggestion is magnetic letters that you can stick onto your fridge and let them play around with words. You can have them group the big letters and small letters together, make "art" out of the letters, etc. We have something like this, foam letters with full magnetic backing, which means you can also use them on a Magna Doodle. The main thing at an early age is to use solid color ones (don’t use the ones with polka dots), to keep it simple. Ours are rainbow but have all of the vowels in blue. Some of the newer kits come with a whiteboard to practice writing, etc. we have a few “trace and learn” books, as well.
You can also put post-it notes on items around the house (e.g., chair, table, wall), to let your child get used to seeing words in the context of what they physically mean. It sometimes helps to start seeing the beginning letter and letting you know what sound the word starts with.
I'm a big fan of writing, too, on different types of media. Markers on whiteboards. Pencils on aluminum foil. Finger paint. Anything on old cardboard boxes. Sidewalk chalk.
And we also let them write with glass markers on their bathroom mirror. Or I’d write “the red fox is mad” or “the dog sat in the sun” or “ball call fall hall wall” on the mirror and they’d sound out the words, then we’d erase them after a few days. I’ve also written the numbers 1-10 in one row then 11-20 in the next row below it, lining them up so they can see the patterns of the 1s, 10s, 20s. Our 4 y/o can count to 100. We also count while brushing teeth, or I ask her “if you have 3 and you want 4, how many more do you need?”