so, little henry valentine is not so little no mo. he’s 13 months now and we honestly can’t believe it. my bff’s brother just had a baby, and it got me thinking about the crazy newborn phase. of course, we were cursed with colic, but even without that it’s a completely nutso and completely scary time. as new parents with virtually no help, there was a lot that we had to stumble into and across in order to get through a lot of the milestones, wasting a lot of money and stress along the way. here are the things that nobody told me about (damn it!), but they are the things that totally got us through. month by month.
- the first few weeks are all about nursing, even if you are struggling with it. first and foremost a boppy is crucial, it keeps things on the level and supposedly helps your poor boobies from going ultra saggy (grumble grumble). it’s nice to have a cool cover for it too, because if you’re going to spend all of your time with a baby attached to your boob, you might as well have a pretty pillow wrapped around you. you also need to make sure you have a good nipple cream, and earth angel baby mama nipple butter is the jam. i remember that it was the only thing that made my boobs not feel like burning, swollen lumps of soreness.
- the second month is all about the “5 s’s“: sucking, singing, swinging, shushing, and whatever else. basically newborns are like little wild animals that need to sometimes be put into straightjackets aka swaddled. if you have a newborn you really should learn how to swaddle post haste, but they do make these handy swaddle sacks for quick wrapping when your baby is freaking the f out. sucking is another thing. before having a baby i was all “no pacifiers!” and then i actually had a baby. my son was all about the pacifier for the first 4 months, and then never touched them again. so don’t sweat it, go with what works for your baby. additionally somebody gave us one of these mustachifiers and they are sorta hilarious.
- part of that whole 5 s’s deal is swinging, and you’ll need a rocker-swinging thing to stick them in to try to give yourself a moment’s peace. there’s a whole gaggle of highly fancy ones out there with fancy price tags, but please keep in mind you will use the thing for a total of about 4 months. do the math. we got whatever was on display at target that didn’t make us hurl with all it’s plushy attachments (and/or swallow our living room whole), and it was okay. also you’ll need a sling or carrier for wearing the babe while you attempt to move around and function (with a baby strapped to your chest). people seem to like the ergobaby best out of all of ’em.
- month 3-4 is when they all tell you to transition the baby to the crib. i don’t really know how, but by some miracle i did it. my baby went from our bed to crib at 3 months and he’s been there ever since. check out my post on sleep training essentials here, but i’ll say that we could not have done it without baby merlin’s magic sleep suit, and elizabeth pantley’s no cry sleep solution book. the sleep suit keeps their tiny limbs from flaling about, and keeps them uber warm so you don’t have to worry about any blankies suffocating them. the book is gospel, word is born. the books all tell you to introduce a “lovey” or stuffed animal for sleep training. a friend of ours got him this little sock monkey lovey, and he used to carry it around & when he was having a screaming episode he would shout at it. it was awesome.
- 5 months is about the time when all of the teething madness begins. sophie the giraffe is perhaps the longest running favorite toy in our house. there’s lots of teethers out there and you’ll have to find the ones your babe likes best, but these “baby q ribs appeteethers” are pretty hilarious. they also have ones shaped like chicken wings and ice cream cones. as for other teething aides, we like hyland’s teething tablets, hate those terrible mouth jells, and as for those necklaces…every mother i have seen with one i have asked them if it works and they have responded either “i don’t know.” or “no.” so there you go.
- at 6 months they all say to start on the solid foods. we got a baby brezza and it was really good for making simple, one or 2 fruit/veg purees. it steams and purees all in one shot and it’s easy to work. around this time my baby also went through a big teething phase where all he wanted was baby mum-mums. i heard one mom refer to them as “crack for babies” and she was right. they did get us through a 9 hour road trip once, but i was relieved when my baby got over them. he won’t touch the stuff now.
- at 7 months most babies are scooting or crawling, but not full on crawling. i found it helpful to put little interactive toys with a few bells and whistles in little spots throughout the house that he could crawl towards. little destination toys, if you will. my baby was and still is nuts for mirrors, and this little toy has a mirror and a keyboard that plays music, so they can watch themselves boogie.
- we had this little door jumper thing and my baby super loved it. he would literally, full on jump in it while i was making dinner every night. my doctor way lectured me on walkers, and when we got him one we found it annoying anyway. the door jumper totally wins.
- at 9 months most babies are pulling themselves up and crawling hastily in order to get themselves into any and every thing that they can. this is when the baby proofing begins. baby gates came into play at 9 months. for my full low down on baby proofing see my post here.
- my baby has always been a fan of books, but around 10 months it was clear that books were really his fave rave. some of our favorites are pat the bunny (a 1940’s classic) and i am so brave!, which is really well drawn and not cheesy or annoying at all.
- around 11 months most babies are thinking about walking. our son is 13 months and still not quite there yet, but he loves to walk behind or beside a push cart. this is easily his favorite toy, for the past 3 months.
- 12 months is the big transition into toddler-hood, and when you’re supposed to wean baby from milk to food. for the full run-down on solids see my post here, but transitioning to a sippy cup is the big struggle at 12 months, and these fancy ones get raves. additionally we could not live without cheddar bunnies.