8 Tips At 8 Weeks Old
1. WAKE UP THAT SLEEPING BABY
The old adage to “never wake a sleeping baby” is wrong. Babies are sleepy. And if you let them, they’ll sometimes sleep right through their feed times. For the first two weeks if he isn’t waking up on his own he needs to be woken up every three hours. By Week 3 you can let him sleep for as long as he wants to at night, but he still needs to be on the 3-hour schedule during the day.
I struggled with this during weeks 2-5. They were our hardest weeks. Baby George was crying A LOT so when he finally was sleeping I hated the idea of waking him up. It seemed wrong.
But the schedule is everything.
Two books serve as great references. According to On Becoming Babywise, “Routine feedings encourage Baby’s hunger metabolism to organize into predictable cycles. ... Consistency leads to predictability.”
Cherish The First Six Weeks also encourages parents and caregivers to establish consistency because “children intuitively know what to expect from certain routines, which in turn decreases the chance of fussiness or difficulty with transitions.”
And it works. By Week 8 my baby would feed at 10:30pm and wouldn’t feed again until 5am. It was glorious.
2. INVEST IN A SOUND MACHINE. A LOUD ONE.
We were late to the game on this one. First discovered how much George settled when the vacuum cleaner was on so we’d play this YouTube video. But using our phones or my laptop got old.
We had a sound machine but it wasn’t loud enough, so we got this one that sounds like a jet engine. Not only did it immediately soothe George, it drowned out his other nighttime noises. I could always hear his real cry over the sound machine, but it was nice to not hear all his other noises (because by the way, babies make SO MANY of noises).
Blackout curtains are a good idea, too.
3. NOT ALL BABIES TAKE A PACIFIER. BUT KEEP TRYING.
Ah, the great pacifier debate. Should a pacifier be used? Which type? When to introduce it? And for how long?
For anyone worried about nipple confusion, as long as breastfeeding is established it shouldn’t be an issue. Besides that, my husband and I held off because we wanted him to be able to self-soothe. But George was crying so much that we only made it until Day 9.
Unfortunately he wouldn’t take it. We were using a MAM which is supposed to be good for dental development and George would gag on it. Our neighbor then gave us a whole bag of different kinds of pacifiers and after much persistence and trying different pacifiers every day he finally took a Nuk.
So now we love the pacifier. It might not be good for him to rely on it to soothe himself, and it might not be the best for his dental development, but it's wonderful for our sanity in a pinch.
4. ENCOURAGE FULL FEEDINGS
I thought that if the baby stops eating it means he’s had enough, but that’s not necessarily true.
On Becoming Babywise explains that newborns are prone to doze off while feeding, thereby only taking a partial meal:
“When that happens the child is not taking enough to satisfy his nutritional needs. When Mom consistently works with her baby to take a full feeding, it eventually leads to productive waketimes. A good wake time impacts nap time and a good napper is a better feeder. As the quality of each activity deepens, it facilitates healthy nighttime sleep.”
So tickle his feet, wipe him with a wet washcloth, and wake that baby up because he needs to eat more!
5. LEARN HOW TO BURP YOUR BABY
People don’t talk about this enough but it’s imperative for a happy baby. If he’s screaming his head off and he’s been fed and has a clean diaper, there’s a good chance he needs to burp.
Most people are too gentle, but you certainly don’t want to hit your baby too hard so how are you supposed to know?? I look at his face as I’m burping him. If he’s in pain or uncomfortable he’ll let me know.
Sometimes he just needs to change positions. Stand up and bounce him. Or put him in the car seat and the gas might eventually come up on its own.
This was the most helpful video in learning how to burp our baby.
6. SWADDLE THEM UP
Right after your baby is born the nurses will swaddle him up and swaddle him tight. It looks like a straight jacket, but he likes it.
You can be like my husband and learn how to swaddle with blankets (we snagged about a dozen from the hospital) or make your life easier and buy a few sleep sacks.
For every nap, Little Babe needs to be swaddled up. We made the mistake of only swaddling him at night and he would not go down for naps. Even if he’s crying, you swaddle him up. It’s comforting to him, like he’s back in the womb.
Some say their baby didn’t like being swaddled. Not sure I believe them.
7. FOOTED ONESIES ALL DAY
Not just pajamas! Snaps, zippers, magnetic closures. Get them all. They are the easiest thing to put on and take off and you will be changing A LOT of diapers.
I thought they were only for nighttime, but no. Putting clothes over my infant’s head was not his idea of a good time.
Besides, they’re adorable.
8. BE KIND TO YOUR PARTNER
This might be the hardest one. Know that you and your partner will argue. You’ll both be operating on minimal sleep and caring for an infant will be the most challenging thing either of you have ever done in your lives.
You will have a lot of ups and downs in the first eight weeks. When you’re having a down it will feel like the moment will last forever. Other parents will tell you that it gets better by month 4 and you’ll think, “How in the world are we supposed to make it to month 4?!” But your baby will grow and change so fast. Nothing is permanent.
Things do get better. Infinitely better. So show your partner grace. Apologize and love them because being on the same page with your partner makes the downs more bearable and the ups more joyful.
You got this. George is 2-months-old and he’s looking right at us and smiling and laughing and sleeping through the night. The first eight weeks felt like forever, but they went by in a blink.