When it comes to the first months with a newborn, new moms try more tricks than a card-carrying magician. I know this for a fact because my son – born in the middle of Hurricane Harvey last year – sent me full throttle into the longest love affair with a Pinterest board I’ve ever known.
Yes, taking care of my little bundle of joy and gas requires countless hours of reading the “best,” “greatest,” and most “sanity-saving,” tips written by other mommy bloggers. Some of these newborn hacks worked beautifully; others turned into classic Pinterest Fails. What I find easier than putting my faith and my son’s happiness (and my sanity) in the hands of Pinterest is polling the collective wisdom of friends. In November, we asked the Tanglewood Moms Facebook group to chime in with their favorite newborn hacks. As we have come to expect from this amazing community, many women heeded the call, sharing the best advice they’ve received – and a little humor along the way. I’d reckon to say that Fort Worth mothers are like no others, and having tried so many new recommendations, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites.
Hold My Finger
After one-too-many nights of sleep deprivation, I read somewhere that newborns relax into a sleepy state with greater ease when their grip reflexes are satisfied. I let my son hold my finger the next time he needed a nap. Sure enough, he started to drift off. I worried he might grip my finger too tightly, and I wouldn’t be able to move him to the Rock-and-Play, but his grip strength has never overpowered his fatigue.
Swaddled, Sacked, and Suited
My son has the startle reflex of a meerkat. His hands fly over his head at every miniscule sensory perception, such as the creaks in the floorboards or the cooling breeze of a person passing by. We started with swaddling blankets, but those didn’t last long. Then we tried HALO SleepSacks, which helped us get some shuteye from weeks two to eight.
Somewhere around the second-month mark, I’d wake up in the middle of the night to the sweetest, creepiest smile ever seen on an infant, one arm out of his microfleece cocoon, waving wildly. He wasn’t having the SleepSacks anymore. That’s when I learned of Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit. Picture the little brother from A Christmas Story saying, “I can’t put my arms down!” That’s what my son’s sleepsuit looks like. It’s thick enough to disable any sudden movements, and I’m pretty sure he appreciates getting the extra rest, too. Worth. Every. Penny.
Warming Up to Baths
Those first few baths at home filled our tub with more tears than water until we tried this tip from a friend: soak a towel in warm bath water and lay it over our Summer Infant Baby Bather. As soon as we started doing this, our little guy stopped screaming and fussing. You can also put a warm, wet hand towel over your baby’s belly if she or he starts shivering.
Talk Baby to Me
The Dunstan Baby Language system comes with the Oprah Seal of Approval, so you know it’s worth trying. According to parenting expert Priscilla Dunstan, infants aged zero to three months make only a few noises, which are easily decoded. Here’s the breakdown: “Neh” means hungry, “Ow” means sleepy, “Heh” means uncomfortable, “Earih” means gassy, and “Eh” means burpy. Knowing about these sounds helped so much. When my son approached the three-month mark, all these sounds started to blend together, and he made new sounds, but I was grateful to know
this system early on.
And it’s not my Diaper Genie. For baby gas, I tried the gripe water and the gas relief drops, and both seemed to work temporarily. I’ve heard that they work wonders for other little ones, but my little man needed more help. I spent almost all of the first two months gently pressing his knees into his chest. In yoga, it’s called apanasana, or wind relief pose. In Mommy Speak, it’s known as running legs or bicycle crunches. I hate when he winces a little from painful gas relief, but the smiles that follow make me feel like I helped.
Baby en Vogue
When I’m not standing on my feet lecturing at Texas Christian University, I’m at home with my little one trying to grade papers. I say “trying” because the grading is slow going, but my baby carrier helps me multitask. You’ll find me sporting a purple-and-grey Líllébaby 6-in-1 Airflow Carrier, bouncing and gyrating to keep the baby sleeping soundly. I almost lost hope early on when wraps didn’t work well for us, and he seemed unsure of the more ergonomic carrier, but I read that hating the latter was normal for infants under four months of age. We kept trying, and – wouldn’t you know it – he loves the carrier now.
There are dozens of other newborn hacks I’ve tried, but what I’ve shared in this list are the tips and tricks that worked best for me. And of course, every baby is different. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for newborns, so you will have to experiment. Don’t give up! You’re doing a great job!
This article originally appeared in the January/February issue of Madeworthy magazine.
Jackie Hoermann-Elliott is the Assistant Director of TCU’s New Media Writing Studio, where she teaches digital composing to Horned Frogs needing to create videos, infographics, blogs, and much more. She wrote for newspapers and magazines around the Midwest before settling down in the Lone Star State. Since she moved here in 2013, she’s written for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Indulge, K Magazine, The Dallas Morning News, and GuideLive. Currently, she writes for those fun guys running The Fort Worth Weekly and is a valuable member of the TanglewoodMoms.com team. When she’s not writing, she’s procrasti-cleaning to avoid her dissertation or reading up on new trends in health and psychology research. For fun, she cheers on her husband, Mansfield ISD football coach Buck Elliott, teaches yoga at Yogali off E. Lancaster, practices poses with her amazing bonus daughter, “E,“ and enjoys the newest addition to the Elliot family, “Baby B.“