Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mommy F.A.Q.s

I get a lot of questions about things that aren't really in depth enough to warrant individual posts but together would make a decent New Mommy FAQ. So, in no particular order: here are those questions answered!

Disclaimer: I wrote a lot of this while playing peek-a-boo, so I was kind of distracted. I apologize ahead of time for any typos or jumping around. I'll try to proof read and edit after baby bed time.

1.) When will baby start sleeping through the night?
This depends heavily on whether you are breastfeeding or not.

Breastfed baby: 6-9 months.
Formula fed baby: birth-3 months.

Early on hunger will be the number one reason your baby will wake from an otherwise comfortable sleep. Because breast milk is indefinitely easier to digest than formula, breastfed babies can be expected to wake frequently during the night for sustenance. How often? About every 2-3 hours all night long. It may even seem like less because you time feedings the same way you time contractions -- from the moment they start. So if your baby begins to nurse at 12:00am and nurses for 30 minutes or more, you should expect baby to rouse again to nurse not at 3:30am but at 3:00am or earlier. I refer to this period of time, lasting anywhere from 4-6 months as The Gauntlet. Even after the 6 month mark your baby will likely wake at least once during the night to nurse, but it will be such an improvement to what you'd been used to, you won't care. Once breastfed babies start eating more solids they begin sleeping all the way through the night like their forumla fed friends. This is typically around the 7-9 month mark depending on how well your little one adjusts to solids.

Formula fed babies on the other hand may sleep as many as 4-6 hours right from the start.Often when you hear a new Mom bragging to her deshelved friend about how her baby sleeps super great so young -- this is why. The sleep deprived woman is breastfeeding, the other woman is formula feeding. This difference is commonly over-looked causing breastfeeding Mommies to feel like something is wrong with them or their baby. Nope, totally normal! Fret not.

2. When will baby sit up on its own?

Assisted sitting: 4-5 months.
Independent sitting: 6-9 months.

This depends on the baby and how much exercise it gets each day. I know, you're sitting there right now staring at that squishy bundle of human in your lap going, "Exercise? What exercise?" Tummy time! It is imperative, even if your baby hates every second of it, to lay your baby on its tummy on a firm but padded surface each and every day starting once you get home from the hospital. A lot of babies don't care for it much at first because they don't feel as safe or warm on their own, but it encourages them to try to find you -- kicking little legs, pushing with their floppy arms, and even lifting their over-sized heads to try to look around and find you. All of this is building key muscles!

You don't have to tolerate the crying long, just a few minutes each day is fine. Eventually they will actually start to move a little, pushing or pulling themselves in various directions and rolling over. As they learn how better to control their bodies and realize you're right there, they will even tolerate longer periods of tummy time. It'll probably be later rather than sooner, but it will happen eventually I promise.

With enough exercise and encouragement, baby will probably be able to sit up assisted (stay sitting up once you sit it up) at around 5-6 months and able to sit themselves up at around 7-9 months. Keep in mind every baby is different and some simply have no interest in sitting themselves up right away. It's okay if they don't do it for a while but if they haven't even tried by 9 months, you should talk to your pediatrician.

3. When will baby be able to move on its own?

Scooting, shuffling, rolling: 6-9 months.
Crawling: 8-9 months.
Cruising: 9-12 months.
Walking: 12-18 months.

I know you are probably getting tired of having to take baby from point A to point B every time it wants to move, but enjoy it while you can. With continued Tummy Time baby will eventually go from sitting on their own to trying to move to where they want to go on their own too. This will be slow going, and both you and baby's patience will be tried. There will be a lot of thuds and bumps and possibly even little bruises as your squirmy bundle of human begins trying to get mobile.

Some start off early by scooting, shuffling, or rolling around, but even this usually isn't reliable transportation until around the 6 month mark. Most babies start crawling by the 2nd week of their 9th month, but if they're an eager mover who started shuffling beforehand they may do it even earlier. Once they've mastered the art of crawling you'll notice them pulling themselves up into a stand using nearby objects, and cruising around them while standing. This is pre-walking! Walking meanwhile is much harder to master and won't happen until after 12 months, sometimes even a little after 18 months.

Babies in households with other children tend to move sooner than their single child friends. So keep that in mind also!

4. When does baby start self feeding?

Finger foods: 7-8 months.
Spoon feeding: 12-18 months.

This depends entirely on how often you encourage them to do so and when they first started solids. If we go by the average 6 month mark for solids, baby's pincer grasp is usually pretty good around 7 months. If your eater is confident and hasn't had any problems you can introduce finger foods around this time so they can practice putting them into their mouth on their own. I suggest Puff its, as they dissolve on contact with water and are an easy first that present no choking hazard. Once they master those, try other things like Cheerios which are a little harder and require more actual chewing. You may also present baby cookies and Graham Crackers, both of which are larger and harder to hold while still basically dissolving on contact with water.

Using utensils is a lot harder though and even if your baby is trying to use them early on, they probably won't be able to eat enough successfully until after a year of age. Possibly even longer. That's okay. Toddlers don't need to worry about table manners just yet and eating with their hands is acceptable until they get the hang of it. Start off with familiar, easy to clean foods like sweetened baby oatmeal. It'll be something baby recognizes and wants to eat while not staining everything in a 3 foot radius when they inevitably drop or get frustrated and throw the spoon. Stick with it, they'll figure it out.

5. What do diapers become more... reliable?

Less diaper failures: 4-5 months.
Little to no diaper failures: 6+ months.

Haha! Hahaha! Sorry, it's just that I know exactly how frustrating and choresome it is. Liquid poop is scarcely contained by diapers and will inevitably get on pretty much anything the baby frequents for a while. I know you are tired of scrubbing feces off of things by now and the good news is as baby's tummy matures, even though their still on a liquid diet, their poops get a little less explosive around 4 months.

The liquid pooping won't be over until baby begins solids though around 6-7 months. Once solids have begun diapers will scarcely ever fail -- good news for you and your clothing/carpets! If your baby's bowel movements are still extremely runny after starting solids, or aren't then suddenly are again, it may be a sign of illness or food allergy and you should see your pediatrician. In the meanwhile a little dish soap on an old toothbrush scrubbed with cold water will prevent stains. The water has to be cold though, hot water sets the proteins which encourages staining.

6. When will my baby start talking? Like, actual words?

Mama, Daddy: 7-9 months.
Other basic words: 12+ months.
ASL: 8+ months.

Babies begin to babble around 2-3 months but won't actually start trying to say or imitate words they hear until much older, generally 12+ months. Sometimes simple, frequently repeated words like "Mama" or "Daddy" might be said pretty early 7-9 months. But you might find they call everything Daddy, not just their father. Or they may only scream out a "Mama" when they're hungry or sleepy because they associate those needs as being most frequently tended by their Mom.

However baby's are capable fo communicating their needs much earlier than they can speak. If you teach them sign language, they can begin requesting milk, sleep, wanting, and other basic needs as early as 8 months.

7. When will my baby smile for real?

Social smiling typically begins in the 2nd month. Sleep smiles and "gas" smiles before that are basically just practice. But after month 2 when you do something funny or make baby happy it will reward you with a genuine smile.

8. My baby has a cut/eye infection is there anything I can do at home for this? Especially the cuts, baby nails are sharp!

If you're breastfeeding, use a little breast milk on the cut or dropped into the eye to alleviate infection and speed healing. Breast milk is antibacterial and pretty great at its job! If there's no improvement by the next day however, go see your pediatrician. If you're not breastfeeding, just see your pediatrician.

Baby nails ARE really sharp and can be next to impossible to trim sometimes. They make little mittens for infants for exactly this reason. I swear by them. Baby isn't yet using its fingers anyway so bundling them up isn't going to delay developments or anything. They also make many infant pajamas and gown with little fold-over hand protectors. Great for bed time if you're worried baby might pull little mittens off.

9. When will my baby get teeth?

Eye teeth: 4-6 months.
Others: 6+ months.
Molars: 12+ months.

Babies can begin teething as early as 4 months and they continue to teeth beyond 18 months. Most however don't cut their first tooth until about 6 months. Once they get their first, they tend to come quickly after that. Molars are always last and usually don't spring up until after 12 months. Even without them though baby can still chew most foods really well just by mashing it with their gums, so don't hold off on solids until baby has molars -- s/he doesn't need them!

10. When will baby be potty trained?

Girls: 1.5-3 years.
Boys: 2-4 years.

Girls and boys potty train differently. Boys are more adverse to it, for whatever reason -- possibly because its not quite as uncomfortable for boys as it is for girls. Both genders usually poop in the potty over the diaper once they know how pretty reliably but breaking the habit of peeing in a diaper can be hard because it happens several times a day and at night and unlike with poop, sometimes babies don't even realize they need to do it until they're doing it.

You can help make this transition easier by not forcing the issue and making sure your child has accomplished certain prerequisites before trying, such as: being able to remove articles of clothing, going #2 around the same time each day, and being able to control the associated muscles (a sign of this is no pooping during the night and waking up after naps without having peed while asleep for several days in a row). If your child has yet to develop these skills, you can encourage them, but trying to potty train may be something you want to put off for a few more weeks.

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