Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My #1 Tip For New Moms: Master The Swaddle!

The first couple of weeks after your baby is born, she is a delicious-smelling adorable little bundle of sleepiness.  You go around telling people, "oh, she is such a good baby!  She never cries unless she is hungry!  Must be because we have such gentle temperaments and stellar genes!  Best.parents.ever!"
Sleepy newborn goodness.
It isn't your gestation skills.
Being born is exhausting.
And then?  She turns, like, three or four weeks old.  And suddenly she is a delicious-smelling adorable bundle of intermittent screaming and pooping and you are all, "my genes are tainted and my temperament is obviously flawed and woe! Copious amounts of woe!"
Please, go on about how you had a calm baby
because you are a calm person.
I've had the pleasure of nurturing three adorable yet stubborn bundles of joy, and the key to calming all of them was a perfectly executed swaddle.  I am a swaddle master at this point.  I swaddled by reflux grouch, my trach/vent dependent drama queen, and my colicky scream queen.
Sure, there are lots of useful tips for new moms.  People love to cram "useful" tips down your throat in the final weeks of lugging around your watermelon uterus.  (Sleep when the baby sleeps!  Worst.advice.ever.)  
My favorite thing to cram down the new mom throat is this:  Master the art of the swaddle.  
Take care of every need that you can think of: feed that baby!  Diaper that baby!  Burp and give that baby some gas drops!  If you are new to using gas drops, you should try St. Joseph Infants' Gas Relief drops.  They help to break down gas bubbles that add to the cryfest extravaganza, and you can use them at every feeding. (Want a $3 coupon? Click here!)
Once you feel confident that you've done all that you can do to make your baby happy, then wrap that little glob of nomable fatness up as tight as you can. 
Now.  I know that swaddling can be hard, especially if you gestate tiny little swaddle ninjas.  All of my babies have been little escape artists who could undo the most magnificent swaddle using magic and sheer will to scream.  If the traditional swaddle doesn't work for you because you give birth to swaddle escape ninjas, there are a bunch of swaddle blankets out there. 
Here are my top three tips for a good swaddle:
1. Make sure that your baby's arms are straight when you start the swaddle. 
You want the blanket to be tightly wrapped!  If the baby can wiggle those arms, the baby can get out of the swaddle, and the baby will scream, and then there is a good chance that you will scream too.  You will feel like you are being mean as your baby screams and wiggles and fights the swaddle but DO NOT GIVE UP.  Your baby craves the security of the swaddle as much as you crave the silence of a calm baby.
2. Legs in or legs out - it doesn't matter!
If your swaddle ninja appears to use her legs to push the swaddle off, leave her legs unwrapped.  The arms matter the most because of the super fun startle reflex that takes your baby from peacefully sleeping to scared out of their mind screaming. 
3. Don't let temperature freak you out.
Usually, overheating isn't a concern in the winter since it is chilly anyway.  But in the summer, you may worry that your baby will overheat.  If you need to, swaddle your baby in only a diaper to keep her cool.  Or you can swaddle with a lightweight blanket.  I used muslin swaddling blankets for my summer baby and she was always cool and comfortable, even when it was hotter than hades outside.

Tell me, friends, what is your #1 tip for new moms? Answer this question in the comment section below for a chance to win 3 packages of St. Joseph Infants' Gas Relief Drops. That's one for you and two to share with friends!
Also, you can follow this link to print a $3.00 coupon.

Sweepstakes Rules
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: "#SweepstakesEntry"; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 2/6-2/28.
Be sure to visit the sponsor's brand page on where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!


Meg B. said...

My #1 one tip would be to not be quiet while baby sleeps. My 1st would wake up at the drop of a hat because I kept the house silent and dared anyone to make a noise. What a mistake! With my second, she will be asleep in her swing and I will vacuum under the swing and it doesn't bother her at all. I also allowed our first in our bed.....he's almost 3 and still in our bed. My second has never spent a night in our bed and never will. NEVER let them in your bed.....they never leave.

Anonymous said...

You will need far more burp cloths and bibs than you would imagine. We've made a habit of giving them as baby gifts now, instead of clothes or other things.

And if you like to travel, start traveling with your child early, so they get used to it. Gwen did 13 countries in her first 13 months. It was tough, but awesome.

Erin said...

Loved the Woombie zip sack--tight but stretchy, a dream for swaddling in an escape-proof system.

Samantha said...

I agree with PP, the Woombie was even better than the swaddle. Loved that for my girls!

Terralhill said...

The use of white noise and light-blocking blinds can do wonders for getting your kids to sleep and helping them stay asleep! Our kids are light sleepers and the noise helps them to not hear every little noise going on outside of their room. In addition, if you have a video monitor you can see them breathing/moving and it helps you resist the urge to go in and look at them, which also helps them sleep longer!

Terralhill said...

Why is it calling me "unknown"? Hi jen, this is Terra Hill

Emily said...

My #1 tip is to relax. I don't mean that ironically. I mean don't worry about dusting or whatever. It doesn't matter.

Erin said...

I will always remember a nurse at the hospital nine years ago telling me before we took the baby home that, "No baby ever died from crying in its crib". What she meant by that was that if we are ever feeling stressed from all the crying and needed a few minutes to gather ourselves, to just put the baby in the crib, the safest place for it in those moments. I have to say, I used that advice a few times and it worked. I returned to the nursey with a clear head, ready to handle the challenges of the day. Sometimes I even got lucky and the baby had stopped crying!

Maddie said...

Place a disliked blanket, towel or a dark washable shield on one side of the changing table and point your baby's keister at it. Babies have excellent timing for their explosive mustard poo, once the diaper comes off. This makes for quicker clean up, and it works better than your hand (which you instantly regret trying). For those with boys, use a washcloth to cover their unruly member, because if you don't both you and baby boy will sure get a fountain of pee in your eyes, mouth and who knows where else. Don't tempt fate!

Denise said...

Remember that just because it worked with baby #1, or baby #2 or even baby #3, it will not necessarily work with baby #4. Follow your little ones cues, go with the flow, be prepared to be running late, about to rush out the door and have spit up projected on you by the cutest thing you've ever seen. It will pass. They will soon learn to sleep through the night, they will go longer between feedings, the crying stages will pass and by the time you've blinked, they will be too big to carry, too old to think your kisses fix owies and too smart to believe any wisdom you have to share.

polyhex said...

Once ours get big enough to escape from 36x36 swaddle blankets, we switch to the miracle blanket. I love that thing.

Lyndsay said...

My number 1 advice for new moms is not to worry so much about SIDS. It's all the rage right now and so in your face that you can't help but worry, but try to keep it in check or you might lose your mind even more than necessary!

Unknown said...

My favorite tip had to do with the #1 reason to breastfeed - you can sleep as your child feeds! I had to pump/bottle feed my premmie for the first several months. Being up and alert every 2-3 hours was sleep deprivation torture. But once graduated to the breast I could actually nod off while he ate, giving me hours more sleep per night. (only applicable to the light sleepers)

RM said...

I agree with the swaddle and those that said white noise. I had a colicky baby, who is now almost 6 months old, and going through another fussy stage, and I have had to put her safely in her crib many times for just 5 or 10 minutes to gather my sanity. I also have to remind myself that she won't remember this, and we are both going to be OK.

HereWeGoAJen said...

My best new mom advice is all babies are different, so feel free to kick people who tell you what to do.

Mrs. Higrens said...

Doesn't anyone but me wish the swaddle would still work on their refusing to nap 2.5 year olds? No?

I don't need the drops...unless they will also knock out said 2.5 year old.

Brittany said...

My #1 tip would be to ask people you trust for advice, and if you think said advice is totally nutty and not for you, don't do it! Let's face it, as a new mom you pretty much feel like you have absolutely no idea what you are doing (PS: every one feels that way, but not every one will admit it. "I just stare at them and it's pure joy 24 hours a day now!" is BS. You'll have minutes of the day that are totally like it but then they scream at 2am and you suddenly understand why some people shake their babies (although you wouldn't do it... usually).) but if the advice seems like something that doesn't jive with you don't do it! Even though you have no idea what you're doing, you do have a little idea what you're doing, so trust yourself!

Michelle said...

Best advice ever. Never ask for parenting advice on Facebook. Oh the drama.

EmilyGrover911 said...

My #1 Tip: Point the penis down!!! Why the hell did no one tell me this!? Wasn't in any book I read, and I read them all. Then after weeks of constant leakage and laundry from 7 wardrobe changes a day someone pointed out the obvious to me.... Point it down then close the diaper. Duh!!!!

Dr. Alfaro said...

My tip is a self-created tip...perhaps that's why I pander it the most. Glory whore. When you have a particularly explosive diaper that threatens to leak out the back when you lay the kiddo down, tuck wipes down the back of the diaper first. It catches any thing that threatens to come up the back, and you can use the diaper stuffed with wipes as an initial clean-up when you remove it. Saves a LOT of mess...and maybe even a(nother) midday bath!

Mrs. 5C said...

haha... yes! I totally agree! Except... how do you get them *out* of the swaddle? Because my 7 month old won't sleep without it, and I'm starting to worry she'll be 18, going off to college, and I'll have to show her dorm-mate how to swaddle her?

Stacey said...

Top tip: Hire a maid. Even if you feel like you can't afford it. Having someone else clean and sanitize every nook and cranny of your house while your sleep-deprived self feeds the baby is LIBERATING.

Also, carry a disposable changing pad instead of a cutesy-poo one in your bag. When the sh!t overflows, you can just get rid of it. Plus it takes much less room in your bag. No, you don't need to carry a thermometer and antibiotic cream in your diaper bag. Most diaper bag accessories are unnecessary and cumbersome. Buy a nice tote and use ziplock bags for organization.

eeny meeny said...

Yoga ball for bouncing said screaming baby. Put the kid in a Baby Bjorn or some such thing, sit on the ball and bounce until your thighs burn. And, then keep bouncing. Also, swaddling and holding the screamer also works well.

Steph said...

Aiden and Anais swaddle blankets. The real ones, not the Target ones. They are obscenely expensive - and worth every penny for swaddling. Whatever you do, do NOT try to swaddle with a receiving blanket. They will find you in the corner rocking back and forth without a rocking chair or a baby.

My #1 tip: Get a Rock 'n Play. My kid slept in that for his first 7-8 months of life (can't remember exactly, it was a blur). I wish we had started there, would have saved a ton of money on the swing, the portable swing, the bouncer, the other bouncer because maybe he'll like that one better, etc.

Unknown said...

Great topic, thanks for raising it! Check out our best tips for raising a newborn here:

Erica best said...

amazon mom has some of the best deals on diapers

Erica best said...

jenn said...

Two words... Moby Wrap. I didn't have one with my son. I thought it was a bit weird to put your baby in a giant piece of twisted fabric and put what I thought was way too much faith in my knot tying abilities. Boy was I wrong! My daughter was born at 32 weeks and the nursery nurse told me to go out and get one. My little drama queen won't sleep with out being swaddled, and you couldn't put her down during the day when we were first home. it tricks the baby into thinking its still in the womb, all snuggled in and warm and listing to your heart beat., When you have a fussy needs to be cuddled new baby and a crazy toddler running around you also need a spare hand. Get one early, and practice on a doll or a bear before trying to put your new wiggling fussy baby in it though.

Linds102 said...

So many of these tips are so good! One I didn't see here, and I've given a few times myself is to get involved in SOMETHING, especially if you are a stay at home mom. My first few months with my first child, I felt so isolated. I didn't know any other Mom's yet, and I was lonely, and had no idea what to do. Once I started going to baby story times, and things like that I started to meet other moms like me. I put my son in preschool at 2 (if you can find a program-do it!) That is where I met most of my mom friends, and we are now good friends, who do things without kids too. You HAVE to find these women! PS, I am not a joiner, and I'm not super outgoing-but I was able to manage this feat, and I am so glad I did.

Unknown said...

This is so funny! I am a new dad of hmmmm...week 2. I am about to lose my mind! My son cannot get comfortable in my arms; no matter what position I try. He is a swaddle ninja FOR SURE! I try to keep his arms down, and he stays quite, until...he moves his hands around and they reach his face. As soon as that happens...WAAAAAAAA!!!!! I will try to use the methods described here. They are only a little different from what I have been doing. But, it's all in the details.

Thank you,
-Dad losing his mind-