Baby Bedtime Routine Ideas

Getting your baby into a bedtime routine can help you both get more sleep and is worth every effort. Although it may take time for your baby to recognize the pattern, consistency is the key to establishing a bedtime routine that truly helps your baby settle into bedtime and fall asleep. Here are some ideas to incorporate into your bedtime routine.

Bath time

A warm bath can help relax your baby and ease into bedtime. Gently massaging baby while cleaning can help calm them and using a bedtime lotion, like lavender, could also be helpful. In time baby will start to associate bathtime with bedtime and it will help him/her wind down.

Brush teeth

Long before your baby even has teeth you can prepare him/her for success by establishing a routine of gently wiping the gums. As teeth start coming in, you can use a gentle toothbrush and baby toothpaste or gel to keep them clean. Starting as young as possible will make this a regular habit your baby expects and maintains.

Story

Bedtime stories and songs become childhood memories and traditions. Choose a bedtime story with imagery that will captivate your baby but also has a sweet message. In time your baby will recognize and show excitement when shown this book, and likely continue asking for it and reading it as he/she grows. This also helps establish a positive relationship with reading that can help encourage literacy as baby grows. My babies both love the book, “I love you, stinky face”. When they were really little I would simply point out the images and colors, and maybe read or paraphrase the pages, but as they grew and I read the story to them they grew to love it and request it.

Song

Sing the same song or couple of songs every night. You will be surprised how early babies recognize songs, tunes, and patterns.

I worked as the music teacher at a child development center and sang, “This little light of mine,” to every class, every week, including the infant class. After only a few months, they would smile after only hearing a few words of the song, and by the time they were 1-year old, they would hold their fingers up, cover them, blow them out, and say “light” or other words along with me as I sang. Music is a source of comfort and familiarity so it won’t be long until those songs become a source of comfort for your baby, which they may very well remember their whole lives.

Do you still remember the songs your parents sang to you as a child? What do you incorporate into your baby’s bedtime routine?

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Ways to Keep Baby Bottles and Accessories Clean

I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit of a germaphobe. This was especially true when I had my babies, and when I needed to learn how to sanitize their bottles and binkies. So today, I’m sharing some tips straight from the CDC on ways to keep baby bottles and accessories clean. Let’s dig in…

In the Dishwasher

Check the packaging of your baby’s bottles and pacifiers to see if they are dishwasher safe. Most items tend to be dishwasher safe only on the top rack, so be aware of that when you’re loading the dishwasher. The CDC recommends that you take all of the components apart and rinse them before loading them into the dishwasher. When you load them into the dishwasher, place smaller items into a basket like this so they don’t end up at the bottom of the dishwasher. And run the dishwasher using hot water and a heated drying cycle. Wash your hands with soap and warm water before unloading the items. If they’re not completely dry, lay them on a clean, dry towel to air dry.

By Hand

If you’re washing baby bottles by hand, make sure you wash your hands well before beginning. Separate the bottle parts and rinse them individually under running water. Don’t set them down in the sink. Fill a clean container (that you’re using only to clean the bottle parts and accessories) with hot water and soap, and place items directly in the container. Scrub items using a clean brush (that is also only used to clean your baby accessories). Squeeze water through nipple holes to ensure that the holes get clean. Rinse again under running water, and allow parts to air-dry. Then clean the container and the brush by washing them by hand or putting them into the dishwasher.

When in Doubt, Sanitize

Sanitizing feeding items once a day can ensure that items stay super clean. (This is only necessary if you haven’t washed the items in a dishwasher with hot water and the heated dry setting.) Sanitize items after they’ve been washed by one of the above methods, and check with the item’s manufacturer about which of the following methods you should use to further sanitize your accessories:

1. Boil
Place items into a pot and cover with water, and bring water to a boil. Boil for five minutes and remove items with clean tongs.

2. Steam 
Place disassembled items in the microwave or a plug-in steam system (like this) and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for sanitizing, cooling and drying the items.

3. Bleach
Prepare a bleach solution of one teaspoon of unscented bleach per gallon or water in a clean wash basin. Submerge items completely, checking that the solution covers all parts and there are no air bubbles in the bottles or pacifiers. Squeeze solution through the nipple holes, and soak for at least two minutes. Remove with tongs or washed hands. Do not rinse the items; any remaining bleach will break down as it dries. Allow all items to dry completely before storing.

Store Safely

As mentioned above, let all of your bottle accessories, bottle brushes and washing containers air-dry completely before putting them away. With clean hands, put all components back together. Place all reassembled items in a protected, clean area like a closed kitchen cabinet used to store clean dishes or that has been specifically designated to hold all clean baby bottles and accessories.

 

 

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Diaper Changing Tips for New Parents

While it may seem like a basic skill to learn, I’ve been surprised to find that diaper-changing actually does take some technique and practice to master. And by master I mean tackle with confidence even under the worst circumstances, like a blowout on an airplane or all over the shopping cart at Target.

Here are some tips to remember as you begin your diaper-changing career to hopefully help you avoid having to learn some lessons the hard way.

Always use a mat

Most diaper bags come with diaper-changing mats, or you can buy them separately. But whatever you do, do not change your baby in public without one. And here’s why. I am embarrassed to admit that I was impatient and changed my 2-year old daughter in public at a movie theater without one when I didn’t want to go to my car to get it. I figured she knew the drill, I could hold her up, and it wouldn’t take long. Oh, how I regret that decision. About a week later she developed a bump in her diaper area that became infected, which we thought was just a bug bite. It tested positive for MRSA, and was extremely serious. I have never felt as guilty as when I realized it was probably from changing her diaper without a mat in public.

Position the fresh diaper before removing the dirty one

This tip has been life-changing for me, and I didn’t learn it until I had my second baby. After you take off your baby’s pants or undo the onesie, lift up their bottoms and spread out the fresh diaper behind them before you open the dirty diaper. Open the dirty diaper and clean as normal, then when you slide it out the fresh diaper will already be in position when you set the baby down. This will save you from having to juggle holding up your baby with one hand while handling the dirty diaper and grabbing the fresh diaper with the other hand. Not to mention if something goes wrong (or should I say when something goes wrong), the fresh diaper is there to catch the mess so you can easily just throw that one away without a huge mess to wipe up.

Pull out the wipes before removing the diaper

Get everything laid out and ready before taking off the dirty diaper. ESPECIALLY the wipes. I’ve found that wipes stick together, so when you’re trying to pull them out with your one free hand you’ll actually pull out a continuous rope of wipes and have to do a weird jerky-shake to get one to separate. Lay out the diaper rash ointment, and anything else you’ll need so you’re ready to go.

Use diaper rash ointment preventatively

Speaking of diaper rash ointment, it’s not a bad idea to use it preventatively rather than reactively as much as possible. Applying it even just before bed can help your little one avoid those awful, painful diaper rashes that can happen if they fill their diaper overnight without waking up. Especially if your baby is sick or on medication that can cause them to develop rashed more easily, have some handy and use it to help reduce the chances of a rash forming.

Pack a backup outfit for both of you

Baby isn’t the only one who can suffer from a blowout. Many parents also become victims when a leaky blowout strikes, and it’s usually out-and-about when it happens. Throw a lightweight shirt and pair of leggings in your diaper bag along with an extra onesie for baby in case a blowout has you both needing a change.

Hope for the best, expect the worst

The worst diaper changes always seem to happen at the most inconvenient times or at the worst places – it seems to be a law of nature. Whether you’re going on an airplane or out for a hike in the woods, plan ahead of time for the worst to occur and have a plan just in case.

What tips would you give to new parents about diaper changing?

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Life With My Rainbow Baby

Guest blog post written by Sarah from Alice and After, a mother to forever 5-month-old, Alice and rainbow Rosie Mae.

When my daughter Alice passed away from SIDS, I was crushed. My whole life had been decimated by the loss of my beautiful little girl, and my husband and I were left with no choice but to rebuild. Of course, nothing could ever fix the tremendous hole left in the heart of a parent who has lost a child. However, as we have been forced to move forward with Alice always in our hearts and minds, I have found a few things that have helped me cope. Since the grief process is different for everyone, effective coping mechanisms may vary for you; this is just my experience.

1. Talk about your child –

You have experienced an unthinkable loss, but your child’s life, no matter how short, was a blessing. Try to separate the child from the tragedy in your mind, and allow yourself to celebrate the joy they brought you. Say their name. Involve them in your life. Tell friends about them. There will be times this will be difficult, and you don’t need to force yourself, but don’t be afraid to share if you feel inclined.

2. Find a therapist – 

This is the #1 piece of advice I give to everyone who has lost a child because they can help you on a personal level rather than a “one size fits all” treatment. Particularly in the first year, coping with the loss of a child is extremely difficult. There is no need to attempt to cope on your own. A therapist can provide strategies that will help you grieve in a good way. They are professionally trained to help you overcome things come along with loss like PTSD, guilty feelings, bad dreams, and panic attacks. They are not there to help you “forget about it” or move on like nothing happened. Don’t be afraid to shop around for a therapist that is a good fit for you. I would recommend finding one who specializes in grief counseling.

3. Network with other loss parents –

Whether in person or online, connecting with other parents who have lost a child, possibly even in the same way you did, can be immensely helpful. Shortly after Alice passed, I joined a Facebook group of parents who had lost a child to SIDS in my area, and the mothers there welcomed me with open arms. We spoke openly of the day our babies passed and I was brought great comfort knowing I wasn’t alone in my loss. You can find validation, kind listening ears, and people who just get it by connecting with other parents who are familiar with infant loss, and I guarantee you will find lifelong friends.

4. Do whatever YOU need for peace of mind –

After losing a child, I can almost guarantee you will experience heightened anxiety. Do not be afraid to do whatever it takes to keep this at bay. If you find yourself extremely worried about your child’s health, find a pediatrician who will be understanding and call them or take them in as often as you need to. If you need extra ultrasounds during subsequent pregnancies, find a provider who is willing to accommodate you. If you are too anxious to sleep while your child sleeps, I would recommend purchasing something like an Owlet Smart Sock so you can keep an eye on your child at night by tracking their heart rate and oxygen. This may help you get the rest you need. I never would have been able to have more children without the promise of the peace of mind the Owlet Smart Sock brings me. Be patient with yourself. You are not crazy. You experienced the unthinkable, and of course you will never be the same. Peace of mind is invaluable, and there are people and products who can help provide it. Find them. Use them.

Losing a child brings unimaginable heartache. You will never be how you were before. Nothing can completely fix it, but if you honor their memory, prioritize your mental health, connect with other loss parents, and do whatever you need to for peace of mind, you can build a happy life where the tragedy of infant loss is just one piece of the puzzle.

 

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