Updated: Sep 13, 2019
There is nothing like the first moment the Doctor places your new baby in your arms. It's a moment of instant, unconditional and overwhelming LOVE. Enough to make your heart explode, am I right? My daughter is 3 1/2 now, but I still remember those first few months like it was yesterday. The foggy first few days full of lots of kisses and cuddles, learning to breastfeed, endless diaper changes and feedings and sometimes crying and lots of soothing and learning how to function on no sleep. I would do it again in a heartbeat. It's such a special time.
As a first time mom at 39, I wanted to make sure I was educated. I am not one to just wing it in any area of my life. I'm a type A personality all the way. I love to read books in general, but when I was pregnant, I read ALL the books! What to expect when you're expecting & The Art of Breastfeeding were two of my favorites, but then I found two other books that literally saved my life in those first three months and beyond. I know that seems like a pretty dramatic statement, but really, those early months are all about survival, and these books gave me the tools I needed to help my baby thrive and gave me confidence as a new mother.
Now as a Newborn Photographer, I get to re-live those early moments over and over again, only through my clients eyes. And I find myself, showing them the techniques that helped me survive the first three months at home with baby and suggesting these books again and again during our sessions, so I decided to write this blog. My blog isn't just for sharing images from my sessions, but also about educating my clients too. Since these books had such a huge impact on me, I thought I would share the with you all.
*Everything is subjective and what works for some may not work for others. Also, when it comes to sleeping babies, everyone has their own opinions and views on the subject, so some of the ideas discussed in these books may not align with your parenting style. Please do your research before purchasing these books to make sure they are a good fit. I'm not a doctor or expert, just a mom sharing what worked for me. Obviously, you should consult your child's pediatrician if you have any questions about what is discussed in these books.
The first book was The Happiest Baby On the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D. The book explains four basic principles of your Newborn baby in the first three months of life.
1. The Fourth Trimester: Why babies still yearn for a womblike atmosphere . . . even after birth 2. The Calming Reflex: An “off switch” all babies are born with 3. The 5 S’s: Five easy steps to turn on your baby’s amazing calming reflex 4. The Cuddle Cure: How to combine the 5 S’s to calm even colicky babies
While I found all of the information to be helpful in understanding what my tiny daughter was experiencing in the first few weeks and months of life, my favorite principle and the one I used religiously, was The 5 S's.
The 5 S's are swaddle, sucking, shushing, swaying/swing, and side/stomach (Only when holding the baby- NOT for sleeping!). These techniques are used to soothe your baby and create a womb-like experience for them which calms their moro reflex (the startle reflex) and helps them relax. If you have hired me as a newborn photographer, you will see me use these techniques on your baby during our session.
I used the 5 S's religiously over the first three months and for my daughter, they worked every time. Between applying the principles I learned in this book, and creating a consistent bed time routine (dim lights, soothing music, bath, breastfeeding and bed) my daughter was sleeping through the night at a few weeks old. As with anything though, consistency is KEY! Our routine looked exactly the same every night, in the same room with a little assembly line happening between my husband and I.
I'm laughing as I type this, because I vividly remember that assembly line. Everything was laid out on the bed- her diaper, then PJ's then swaddle. My daughter would cry (a lot) as soon as we took the towel off to dress her and so we learned to move as fast as we possibly could to minimize her discomfort. I'm sure it would've been comical to watch, but in time, we were pros at it! When she woke up in the middle of the night, we immediately activated the 5 S's to soothe her. It worked amazingly well for us. It's worth a read if this intrigues you.
The second book came as a recommendation from a friend on Facebook actually. I had never heard of it, or come across it on Amazon in all of my baby book searching, and what a little gem it turned out to be!
The Second book is The Wonder Weeks by Frans X. Plooij , PhD. Here's is an excerpt from the Amazon page.
How to stimulate your baby's mental development and help him turn his 10 predictable, great, fussy phases into magical leaps forward describes the incredible mental developmental changes (leaps) and regression periods that all babies go through. Understanding the real reason behind crying, eating and sleeping problems is the only real solution every parent needs.
If you're a parent, you probably know about things like the Four Month Sleep Regression, when your little angel goes from sleeping through the night to waking up at all hours or sleeping a lot less. This is what I was experiencing when my friend recommended this book to me.
There is a developmental reason for this sleep regression, and many other regressions during the first year of life. Those times when your baby seems to be 'out of sorts' and you don't know why. It's called a Wonder Week in this book (which often lasts more than a week by the way-Sorry!). When your baby comes out of it, they will have made a developmental leap forward. They will have acquired new skills, essentially.
The book breaks it down so you know when to expect a Wonder Week, which is often accompanied by sleep issues, fussiness, clinging to mommy more, etc. You will know how long it should last, how your baby is developing at that specific time and what new skills to look out for when they have come through it. There are some quotes from mothers in the book, who were followed for a year as they went through these wonder weeks, kind of like a diary. Some of them could have been me, saying exactly what I was feeling at the time, others were a bit off putting and frankly not very nice. So you may not relate to all of the mothers who are discussed in the book, but I still felt the information in the book itself was invaluable to me.
I remember feeling sad I no longer had a road map when I reach the end of the book. My husband even came to recognize an impending Wonder Week (brace yourselves!) But the book gave us insight into why it was happening, instead of just saying our daughter was being "fussy". Now we knew what was happening, what to expect, how long it could last, and how she would grow at the end of it. That knowledge alone made us a lot more understanding and patient during those times.
So there you have it. Not all parents are "book" parents. But if you are one of those moms or dads who likes to read and wants to arm yourself with some info you may not otherwise know, I think there is good information in both of these books. They are not perfect by any means, but I feel these books helped us get through that first year with a little more grace.
I hope this helps some new mama looking for a little guidance. :)