Congratulations, momma! You’ve made it to the 4th trimester. Your baby is a real live human being and you are navigating your new normal as a new mom. Whether this is your first baby or tenth there are some things you should know to help you survive the fourth trimester. Consider the following your list of the ultimate newborn baby tips.
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Hey, DGAF mom, what’s this about a 4th trimester?
The fourth trimester is usually used to describe the time between when a newborn baby is born to when they turn three months old.
Also known as the newborn phase, or the infant phase but ultimately and not so lovingly what I like to call:
A very special snuggly hell.
Weirdly enough, a lot of pregnant moms spend tons of time reading and learning about what to do while they’re pregnant, and preparing for labor and delivery.
But lapse in preparing for how to keep a hungry, crying, peeing, and pooping baby alive.
This was me.
I was fully prepared for EVERYTHING when it came to my natural childbirth.
But I was fully unprepared for the monumental task of transitioning into things like knowing when a baby is hungry v. why a baby is crying v. how to even change a fucking diaper.
Also, for what it’s worth these newborn baby hacks are LEGIT FOR NEWBORN BABIES!!!
How often have you gone searching for intel on newborn babies and met instead with shit that you can’t do till they can hold their head up or sit up on their own?
I tried to keep the information in this post limited to what can help you in those first three months of hell, I mean pure joy, I mean somewhere in between.
These Are The Ultimate Newborn Baby Hacks:
Some hard facts here: I’m not a fan of the newborn phase or the “4th trimester.”
Okay, so I hate it.
I lived through it twice and I never found it to be particularly “cute.” And I don’t have any plans to go there again.
I’m the kind of person who loves to be doing things and feeling productive and newborn babies just sleep and eat a lot and that didn’t jive with me.
I may sound sort of spineless and cold hearted, because I know there are moms who love that cuddly little sweet and squishy phase, but I know I’m not alone in this.
Table of Contents:
Here’s What To Expect During These First Three Months Of Motherhood:
Your baby will likely not smile at you or give you any real reactions until they’re at least 5 or 6 weeks old and trust me I was working for it.
Having a newborn baby blank face staring and crying at you all day(and sometimes all night) can be really emotionally draining and exhausting and in some rare cases lead to extreme cases of detachment, anxiety, and postpartum depression .
If you’re having a hard time bonding with your baby, are feeling emotionally detached, anxious, or sad, it’s important that you seek professional help as soon as possible.
Consult with your doctor or pediatrician for referrals for a qualified psychotherapist.
Bonus if you can find one who specializes in working with postpartum mothers.
Your entire world is upside down, you’re likely recovering from your labor and delivery (even if it was no biggie) and, oh by the way, you must also keep a newborn baby alive.
A newborn baby that needs its head constantly supported, and cannot use words to express what it needs or how it’s feeling.
As a first time mom, you don’t know what you don’t know.
There’s a practically insurmountable learning curve both for what the fuck you’re supposed to do and for adjusting to a little squishy newborn’s temperament.
I do love the newborn baby smells though.
I’m convinced this smell is evolution’s way to keep mothers from completely freaking out and losing all of their ever living shit.
Since we’re here, now.
And there’s no putting baby back in your warm, safe, womb, let’s figure out some newborn baby must haves (and must knows) to get you through the 4th-trimester and help you sail into the relatively easier (ha!) temperament of a 3-month-old.
Get More Sleep by Practicing the Pause
Sleep is essential for a newborn baby.
Most newborn babies will sleep without needing much help although there are some who have their sleep all kinds of upside down.
An average newborn baby will sleep for about 16 - 17 hours but not all at the same time (you probably know this as evidenced by the waking up every two to three hours to eat or have a diaper changed).
Did you know this 4th trimester is your first (and perhaps best) opportunity to encourage them to be good sleepers?
You can encourage good sleep habits by practicing the pause.
Pamela Druckerman writes about the pause in her book “Bringing up Bebe,” which details her life as an American raising children in France.
Druckerman credits “the pause” for being the reason most newborn French babies “find their nights” or sleep through the night by the age of three months old.
What Is the Pause?
When baby stirs or wakes slightly he may just be connecting to a new sleep cycle and not need your immediate attention, help, or interaction.
Before you rush in to attend to your baby, PAUSE for a set amount of time to see if the baby is going to fall back asleep or is for sure awake.
The pause works for both co-sleeping and for newborn babies in their own beds, although co-sleepers can expect to need to practice freezing and not moving while your baby stirs and then falls back asleep.
Newborn baby crying is totally normal. But with practice, you’ll get to learn what those cries mean (and I’ve got a video you need to watch below too to help you decipher it all) and if it’s an all-the-way-awake cry, or just a connecting a sleep cycle cry.
Set a timer if you must.
Two minutes, five minutes whatever feels like long enough to test if baby will fall asleep again, but not too long to make them panic.
For me, I waited about three minutes and I’d watch the baby on our monitor and count the minutes down.
9 Times out of 10 he fell right back asleep (and so did i)
You can read more about what and how to practice THE PAUSE here at Busy Blooming Joy.
Or check out Druckerman’s book which details more tips and tricks to nail the early months of parenting, French style.
Hypnotize Your Baby to Sleep
But learn the tricks used by master hypnotists that you can use to help relax your baby and get them to drift off.
I love this tip from Hypnothoughts Live who demonstrates four different ways to position your baby to get them to doze off faster.
If you’re reading this late at night and worried about waking up your baby more, here are the bullet points:
Position your babies eyes to so that strain to look at you, or something just off in the distance and as a result, their eyes become more tired. It’s called eye fatigue, and you’ll want to have them track something up and slightly out of focus.
Pass your hand over the bridge of your newborn baby’s nose (without touching it or touching it very lightly). This is meant to calm them and encourage them to shut their eyes. That little area is very sensitive (this works with Toddlers who won’t nap too!)
Equilibrium disorientation: Which essentially means, rock a part of their body, usually their legs or bottom only.
Frequency Flowing Effect: Where you gently rub something like your newborn baby’s foot, leg, or little hand in a gentle flowing repetitive pattern.
He recommends placing a mobile or another device slightly behind where the baby is generally laid in the crib. This is meant to encourage eye fatigue when your newborn baby is in its crib and as a result, encourage your baby to fall asleep in his crib without you needing to rock him.
I love this mobile that transforms into a portable radio that your soon to be toddler will love to play with for hours (my 3 and 5 year old still listen to theirs almost every single night)
We tried to do this as much as possible — encourage our baby to fall asleep on his own and learn what that feels like (and I encourage you to do that too!)
If you’re interested in more sleep tips for down the line, check out Good Night Sleep Tight, which became a bible of sorts in our house for how to deal with sleep drama.
Store Burp Cloths and Bib Holders Every-Fucking-Where
I see this bib holder hack circulating a lot on Pinterest and it’s super helpful for when your newborn baby is able to sit up and eating solid foods (usually around 5 to 6 months old) but here’s a newborn baby hack perfect for all the burp cloths and bibs you’ll go through in a day.
Don’t limit the burp cloths to a drawer or basket in your newborn baby’s room.
Instead embrace the clutter (I would never say this any other time than during the 4th trimester) and keep burp cloths strategically placed around the house.
Wherever you usually feed your baby, you should have a minimum of two burp cloths waiting. And when it’s time, collect and wash, dry and put them back there. We used to leave one on the rocking chair in our baby’s room).
We had another small basket on the coffee table which is the room where our newborn baby would often be sleeping, playing, or be fed on the couch so having a bunch of burp cloths handy was key.
Use Prefold Cloth Diapers as Burp Cloths
Speaking of burp cloths, If you have a newborn baby who spits up a little bit and definitely if you have one that spits up a lotta bit, you’ll want to invest in some quality burp cloths.
These reusable pre-fold cloth diapers are far preferable to traditional burp cloths in that they hold way more liquid, are cheaper, and clean really easily.
I’ve taken to giving these as a baby shower gift and often get texts from the new mom wondering where I found them because she wants more.
They’re big enough to cover a large area of your shoulder or chest for big, unpredictable spit up, but small enough to store in all the places you’ll need: diaper bag, car seat, couch, and feeding areas.
Newborn Baby Bathtime Hacks
It’s not recommended to give your newborn baby a bath until their umbilical cord falls off, but doing a sponge bath in a small sink tub is fine.
We’d let the sink tub fill up about less than halfway with water, so that our baby was sort of laying in a very shallow pool of water and wouldn’t get too cold.
Newborn babies can lose heat quickly so don’t dilly dally.
Once the umbilical cord falls off, we’d lay a warm wet towel (but not too hot!) over his little body to keep him warm while we cleaned the rest of him.
Personally I fall into the category of, if they don’t know what water feels like, don’t presume they’re gonna hate it.
Which is why I fully let my babies have water go on their faces and everything (it’s very DGAF).
As it turns out they were mostly fine with this for most of their baby lives, until they weren’t.
For my youngest, he started hating water in his eyes at around 2 years old.
Prior to that he seemed to love the sensation.
Which is when we started to invest in items like this to help keep water out of your newborn baby’s eyes:
This trick is making the internet waves too for when your baby can sit up on their own (more like 4 - 6 months old)
But before your baby can sit up, it’s best to invest in some sort of bath holder contraption to keep them supported and also be able to reach all the tricky spots to clean.
We used the sink bath...in the bath!
Bottle Parts Storage Hacks
I’ve written at length about my appreciation and respect for all things bottle feeding and formula feeding (and you can check this post for more information about it:
Because I wasn’t prepared to be primarily bottle feeding until shit hit the fan and breastfeeding didn’t work for me, I had no idea WHAT THE FUCK TO DO WITH ALL THOSE BOTTLE PARTS!
We used the Playtex Ventaire bottles because it seemed to reduce the gas and colic symptoms in my baby, but I know many parents swear by Dr. Browns bottles as well.
I love this tip to store the bottles conveniently and sort them.
The little plastic drawer
Diaper Changing Newborn Hacks
Having a squirming baby who is covered in their own excrement isn’t fun (ugh. Blow outs.)
(Sidebar Story - We traveled to Florida to visit my family when my youngest was only 3 months old. During BOTH flights to and from, he had two major blowouts while we were 35,000 miles in the air.
One was so bad I had to throw away his entire outfit (it was just easier let’s face it).
The other got all over the car seat and I ended up having to take out the liner and put it in a ziplock bag to be washed later. Yikes.)
This tip about the onesie tabs has been floating around the internet for years now, but if you’re a new mom it’s possible you missed it.
The shirt is meant to pull DOWN, not up.
This helps prevent baby from getting poop (and anything else, vomit, pee) all over their precious and sensitive bodies and heads.
You can also fold up the back part of the onesie covering any explosion of poop before you pull it down further keeping the poop-plosion from spreading to every nook and cranny of your baby’s little newborn rolls.
Use Gallon Ziplock Storage Bags to Store Everything
It’s not cute, maybe, but with two kids under two who both required a change of clothes, and with the weather in Southern California being unpredictable lately, I needed to be able to see what I was working with and label things accordingly.
Use Gallon freezer ziplock bags to store the soiled clothes if you want to keep them and wash them later.
I use Ziplock gallon bags to store changes of clothes for my littles.
Each child gets their own bag, and I just label it with a sharpie. If you have more than one child still in diapers or potty training this is going to come in handy in so many ways.
The toddler would get a couple of changes of pants, underwear, and one shirt (in case of accidents or spills), and the baby would have a couple of changes of clothes, socks, shoes and a couple diapers.
I’d refresh or check the bags to make sure we had spare everything before any outing.
It’s all compact and put together and if I have an emergency changing situation I’d just pull out the bag along with the changing pad and boom, done.
Store an extra empty ziplock for soiled clothes INSIDE the original ziplock that you can toss the dirty clothes into and then throw into the washing machine when you get home.
The ziplock bag hack also works for storing diaper creams powders, and any medicine for babies.
My youngest was prone to rather bad diaper rash and had very sensitive skin/needs.
In fact, he would often get a bloody diaper rash if we left him to sit in poop for more than a few minutes. (And no, I hadn’t read this blog article about how to prevent diaper rash at the time. Sigh).
Instead I carried a ziplock bag medicine cabinet of ointments, creams, and powders to help him feel comfortable and prevent the potential of a bad situation made worse.
Keep a wiggly baby from moving during a diaper change with this affordable and multifunctional changing pad made to keep them from moving around.
Get A Really Good Quality Baby Monitor
The pause is made even easier when you can easily assess if your baby is really awake awake or merely connecting sleep cycles.
Two things to make sure you practice the pause effectively? And to keep baby on a sleep at night schedule and awake in the day schedule?
We use the Nest Cam but heads up, ours has been SUPER glitchy lately.
I’ve heard they’ve improved them dramatically from when we first got ours 5 years ago.
With a quality high definition camera with night vision capabilities that pairs seamlessly with your iPhone, tablet, or android (or computer!) you can zoom in and see if baby is crying with his eyes open, or shut.
Or if he’s just stirring, or totally awake.
Or if he’s just dropped his binky out of his mouth and needs it put back in.
My husband always recommends the Nest Cam as the only thing a parent needs to be a parent.
In fact, he jokes to this day “I don’t know how to parent without this thing,” because he still uses it to give the boys freedom to play in their rooms, but corrects them when he sees any play that can quickly evolve into injuries or chaos.
Invest in a Quality Night Light
If baby is awake and you want to encourage them to go back to sleep after a feeding or changing, consider a combo of a plug in night light and a Hatch Night light.
A regular night light, such as this one from Safety First, illuminates when the lights go off automatically.
We have these in almost every room of our house they are so useful and practical!
The goal is to have a very slight amount of ambient light in your nursery.
The hatch night light allows you to turn on a bit more light without LIGHTING UP THE WHOLE DAMN PLACE.
Studies have shown that bright lights at night interferes with the natural circadian rhythms in baboon and primate infants (and because availability to studying infant humans was limited, researchers have made a correlation to these sleep patterns in our primate cousins).
Keeping the lighting extremely dim at night helps to encourage a regular flow of sleep for your newborn baby, who will associate the night with sleep and the day with wake.
Orange or red light is recommended specifically for night feedings or diaper changes to not further wake your baby ALL the way up.
The Hatch helps with this and you can program a special light to go on just in the night, along with white noise, soothing lullabies, or even the sound of birds or trees (if that’s your thing).
You can set this for super dim light, or colored lights that coordinate with your nursery.
Whatever you need to help you get your baby to associate this time of night with sleep.
Later when your baby is older, this is a great light to help her learn to stay in her room once she’s transitioned to a big girl bed.
It’s also a great way to signal that it’s time to wind down and go to sleep when they’re older and encourage them to stay in their rooms.
It’s all controlled from an ap on your phone.
I love anything that I can connect to my phone. Are you noticing a pattern here? A camera ap, a night light, read more about my favorite ap to stay organized as a mom in everything here:
Have Multiple Places to Put Your Baby
When you’re a new mom, you’ll likely be holding your baby A LOT.
To feed. To cuddle, to just look at and study every inch of them (or is that just me?).
But sometimes you need a break from all the snuggling (it’s true I promise). Having multiple safe places to put baby while you take a shower, or eat a meal is essential.
We’d actually use our baby’s crib a lot during the day and with the help of this mobile both our boys would sit relatively content watching the show of their animals singing and dancing.
To this day, I still have an almost 5 year old and a 3 Year old who listen to their radios to fall asleep every night. It’s well worth the investment.
With our Nest cam on my phone, I could do dishes or laundry and keep an eye on the baby while he got some alone time (which babies need a bit of just like adults!).
We also used this little play mat for activities early on:
Both things got a lot of use, and even when our oldest was a toddler he loved to lay under the play mat and watch the animals with his brother.
Having a few other seat options also helped for my oldest and his acid reflux to keep him up right after feedings for a bit.
Seats like this newborn lounger.
If you’re bottle feeding this is a great little tool to use as well to help support your baby or for others who want to help feed your baby.
Understand The Secret Language Of Newborn Babies
Did you know that babies have a universal secret language that you can learn to help you understand exactly what they need?
There are subtle differences in all babies cries that indicate that they’re hungry, gassy, tired, and uncomfortable.
Check out this video from a 2007 Oprah Episode with the Secret Language of Babies:
This is how the newborn sounds are loosely translated (and thanks to a YouTube Viewer, they actually noted where you can hear examples of each cry).
1) 1:30 - NEH -Hungry
2) 2:06 - OWH - Sleepy
3) 2:53 - HEH - Discomfort
4) 3:51 - EAIR - Lower Gas
5) 4:42 - EH - Burp
Wht to Do When Your Newborn Baby has Gas or is Constipated
It can be really hard to watch your newborn baby be in pain due to gas pains. Most newborns are still developing their digestive tracks in the first few weeks after birth.
Both my boys started to experience horrible gas pains at around 4 weeks old.
Short of putting gas drops in every bottle, here are some other tips from practical parenting to help your baby pass gas naturally.
Hopefully with these tips you can adjust to your new normal with a newborn baby in its 4th trimester with ease.
What are some of your favorite tips for newborn babies in the fourth trimester? Comment below. Or share the below pin on Pinterest or Facebook to help other mommas know how they can survive the 4th trimester with ease.