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My #1 piece of advice for new parents (and it’s not get enough sleep!)

The thing I tell friends who are about to become a new mom or dad is to log your new baby’s activities.  A regular 99-cent school notebook will do or you can make your own version on a computer.

You want to pay attention to when your baby:

1.     eats and how much or how long

2.     sleeps –when does baby fall asleep and wake up

3.     poops & pees– when does baby have a wet and/or soiled diaper.

 

So why is it important to keep tabs on this? Several reasons:

1. You can anticipate your baby’s needs

For new parents it may be hard to distinguish your baby’s cry. Is it for food? Because she’s tired? Or because she wants to be held?

Consider also you’re sleep-deprived and suddenly living in the world of the 24-hour clock (so that’s what’s on ABC at 3am in the morning?)  It may be hard to remember if it was two hours since she last fed or three hours or if she last napped for 45 minutes or only 15 minutes.   Writing it down helps.

You may also have your significant other, your parents or friends helping you care for your new baby.   It’s a lot easier to hand off baby if you know when was the last time she fed and when she will need to feed again.

2. You can see patterns emerging

Babies love consistency and routine.  At first baby’s routine is going to be all over the map.  One day she wakes up every 2 hours….the next day every 3 hours…. the next day every hour and half.  Write it all down as best as you can. Don’t try to make sense of it at first.  It’s not to put a newborn on a schedule.  It’s to see over time what your baby’s natural rhythms are and then try to follow it.  If baby likes to eat every 3 hours then you can start planning around this and make sure you’re in a place to feed.  Your baby might like taking a long afternoon nap and only catnaps in the morning.  Or maybe it’s the opposite.  Reviewing your log helps you identify patterns.

 3.     So you can troubleshoot and identify issues early on.

If you notice your baby is not having many wet diapers it’s possible she’s not getting enough milk.  This is important for breastfeeding moms because it’s hard to know just how much milk a baby gets during a feeding.

Don’t expect to do everything perfectly, particularly at night.  I avoided turning on lights to change my little ones’ diapers.

I used a little hand-held nightlight.  Sometimes I was so exhausted I didn’t write down everything.  That’s ok. Just do it as best you can

So what does it look like?  Here’s a sample from my daughter’s log book.  I’ve used so many different versions depending on the age of my baby and what works.  Make up your own. Just do what works for you.

This version has 4 columns with the headers and rows for time of day

==============

Date:

EAT     DIAPER CHANGE      NAPS        NOTES

12a

1am

2am

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Category: Health and Safety, Parenting

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