What to Expect During Your Baby’s First Year of Life – Part I

What to Expect During Your Baby's First Year of Life - Part I
At 1 month and 1 day
 Part I  | Part II

Last year, when the wife and I were blessed with a little bundle of joy, I decided to write all about our experiences in an article called “Baby Tips for the Hawaii Father to Be“. Since then, we’ve learned quite a bit (more) about a raising a baby, so here we are again, ready to share (a.k.a. braindump) the knowledge we’ve accumulated over the past year to help you future parents prepare for the wild ride ahead.

Month 1:
We last left off leaving the hospital and starting our adventures in home care. The first thing you’ll notice is that baby is an eating & sleeping machine. She’ll hardly do anything besides that so interacting during awake time is challenging but fun.

Awake and curious at barely 15 days old
Awake and curious at barely 15 days old

It’ll seem like baby is always scared or in shock, but it’s just because everything is so new to her. She’s just trying to figure things out and process everything. Give her time to take it all in. Also, don’t expect to get any smiles from her any time soon. She’ll have a stone cold, “World Series of Poker” face (Pa-pa-pa-poker face, Pa-pa-poker face! Sorry I had to!) and it will be like that for at least a few weeks/months. Be patient.

Unless your wife has magic boobs, she will probably have to go through a “training” period (so to speak) to properly learn how to breastfeed baby. From what I’ve heard and seen, breastfeeding is not as easy as you may think. Pain from engorgement, getting baby to actually latch on, and getting milk to flow regularly are just some of the challenges new moms face. I admire wifey for her dedication and persistence through it all. She was determined to not resort to baby formula and succeeded. If you feel the same way, keep at it, it’ll get better. Trust.

At the end of each month, I’ll attach the tweets that I actually sent out that month to give you (and me) an idea of what I was going through real-time! I’ll also post some product tips, straight from the wifey’s mouth. Here are the tips and tweets for month 1:

Wifey’s Tip Corner:

  • “Breastfeeding can be challenging! Some mothers seem to have the easiest time and make it seem so easy (like all of my mom’s stories) but if you’re anything like me, you may have every problem in the book. If you decide to stick with it, the rewards are pretty awesome! 🙂 “
  • “The Boppy makes feeding comfortable for mamas. You can rest the baby on Boppy while feeding!”
  • “Cloth Diapers = best burp cloths. They have great absorbency and are perfect for baby spit-ups.”
  • aden + anais Muslin Swaddles are perfect for swaddling baby without getting them too warm. Can also be used to cover the stroller if too sunny or windy.”

 

Tweets:

  • how can so much pee and poop come out of such a tiny human being!? (June 11, 2011)
  • sometimes I wish I could produce milk out of my boobs too… (me feeling bad for wifey going through so much) (June 14, 2011)
  • awoken by wailing bebe, fever continues from tetanus/pertussis shot… great start to the weekend I must say… (June 18, 2011)
  • today I am officially the “father” in father’s day… holy crap i’m a dad!!! now where’s my present dammit? 😛 (June 19, 2011)

Month 2:
Much of the same during this month of baby’s life: nonstop eating, sleeping and pooping. By this time, you’ll probably start to figure out her different cries. Yep, believe it or not, they are subtle differences based on if she’s crying due to a wet/dirty diaper or because of hunger or because she’s tired/sleepy.

For us, during this time, we were challenged with trying to get her weight back “on track” (based on the national standard). Although, babies tend to lose weight after birth before gaining it back several weeks later, our doctors thought that she needed to gain back even more weight. Personally, I thought we were doing just fine (we didn’t miss a meal and baby wasn’t complaining of hunger), but the doctors kept telling us to feed her every 3 hours regardless of sleep schedules.  That meant, waking her (and us) up just to feed her (we were feeding regularly every 4 hours). This was coupled with another challenge we faced due to a bout with thrush on baby’s tongue. After every feeding, we had to apply Nystatin (antifungal medicine) with Q-tips, or risk it spreading throughout the rest of her mouth or to mom. Over time and a lot of hard work (mostly by mom), baby was practically thrush-free and back on track…

At 1 month and 1 day
At 1 month and 1 day

At her 2 month check-up (your first “official” one after birth), she weighed in at 11 lbs 6 oz (60.41%) and measured 58.4 cm (23″) (70.16%). The circumference of her head was a whoppin’ 15.98″ which was in the 87.54% range for her age group. Guess she got her big head gene from daddy! 😛

At this check-up, she also had to get three shots (two in her left leg and one in her right leg) and one dose orally. They contained diphtheria, tetanus & pertussis (DTaP), and vaccines for hepatitis b (HepB), haemophilus influenza type b (Hib), rotavirus (RV), pneumococcal conjugate (PCV), and polio (IPV). Not a fun experience for baby, but a mandatory part of the process. (Click here for the 2012 Recommended Immunization Schedule for Babies – PDF).

On the days following her shots, I would try to avoid planning anything major. Babies sometimes get a reaction (fever) from the shots they receive, so I would try to stay close to home in case baby needs to rest.

Wifey’s Tip Corner:

  • “The Summer Snuzzler fits baby snug in her car seat. Infant necks are scary. This makes you have some peace-of-mind when you go for drives. Baby’s head & neck looked comfy the majority of the time.”
  • “A baby car mirror comes in handy (so you can see baby’s face while driving)!”
  • “The Fisher Price Precious Planet Whale of a Tub is by far one of my fave baby products – makes bath time easier and baby looks comfortable! If your baby has hair, it makes washing & rinsing easier since baby is tilted back.”
  • “I highly recommend picking up a baby thermometer and Acetaminophen, or some sort of infant fever medication (sometimes referred to as Baby Tylenol). For those times when she comes down with a fever (from the shots or otherwise), the thermometer will tell you right away if it is indeed a fever. The medication will help baby cope with the pain.” (Ed’s tip)

Baby comfy in her Snuzzler and having fun in her Whale of a Tub bath
Baby comfy in her Snuzzler and having fun in her Whale of a Tub bath

Tweets:

  • oh there wuz fireworks tonight? the only exploding thing I saw all night was poop… (July 4, 2011)

Month 3:
Here’s when things start getting fun. Baby will start to smile and react to certain things, while cooing will become a regular occurrence. She’ll finally become more than just a moving, breathing doll. You’ll start to see more personality out of her.

Hooray!
Hooray!

Hate to be a downer, but this is also about the time when SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) starts rearing its ugly head. Statistically it tends to take place around the 2-4 month mark. Be sure to keep a careful eye on your little one(s)!

One way to minimize the risk of SIDS is to do what my wife did. It’s pure genius. Every day, she would put baby on her tummy to get her used to using her arm, back and neck muscles to maneuver her head from that position. Baby training if you will. The more baby strengthens those muscles and can control her head, the less likely it will be for her to suffocate. (Note: Be sure this is a supervised activity. Babies are too young at this age to be left alone in this position).

Baby practices lifting her head
Baby practices lifting her head

This is also probably a good time to start training baby on how to drink from the bottle. Yes, there is actually a difference. The end of mom’s maternity leave is quickly approaching so replacing a meal or two with a feeding from the bottle for practice is a good idea. This way, when mom goes back to work, baby will already know how to feed without her actually being there.

Wifey’s Tip Corner:

  • “Trust me, I was NOT a fan of hubby spending $$$ on a baby monitor esp since I can hear baby from the next room, right?! But, once you have one of these bad boys you can’t turn back! Perfect for worrisome mamas and papas that like to spy on baby 24/7! Haha. Now we know when we actually need to get out of bed when she is *really* crying. Other times, she may just be re-adjusting herself and not really “crying”… This makes me sound like a bad parent huh?! 😛 “ (Ed’s Tip: Be careful because these types of monitoring systems use public airwaves to transmit their signals. In other words, people may be able to pick up your signal if they are in close proximity. Do what we do and turn it off when not in use.)

 

Tweets:

  • when is this bebe gonna fall asleep? one handed facebooking ain’t easy. 8) (August 2, 2011)
  • baby cooing is the cutest sound ever! that is all. (August 13, 2011)
  • came home for lunch and got burped on and peed on already. chee, what’s next? (August 29, 2011)

Month 4:
For us, this is when wifey had to go back to work. Be sure you’re ready to take on the responsibility of infant care all by your lonesome. No joke, this is one of the first pictures I took of baby/daddy alone time. Looks like baby didn’t have much faith in daddy’s abilities.

Baby is worried about my parental skills
Baby is worried about my parental skills

I was nervous as all heck, but, really, it was much easier than expected. Duck soup. In fact, I had it down to a science:

  1. 5:30am – Mom feeds baby before heading to work.
  2. 6am – Baby is still sleepy so I rock her to bed.
  3. 7-8am-ish – Baby wakes up and I play with her, read to her, etc.
  4. 9:30am – First feeding from bottle.
  5. 10am – Field trip to the grocery store and to pick up lunch. Baby often sleeps during the field trip. If you’re the type who likes attention, you’ll definitely get it from all the young and old aunties who see the baby in the stroller. 😛
  6. 11am – Get home and if baby is still sleeping, scarf down lunch as fast as possible. If she wakes up, play with her until she inevitably gets sleepy. When she sleeps, scarf down lunch. 🙂
  7. 1:30pm – Second bottle feeding of the day.
  8. 2pm – Play it by ear. Sometimes baby is sleepy (yes, again!) or, if up, play/read with her.
  9. 4pm – Take baby for a stroll around the neighborhood.
  10. 5pm – Mom gets home to feed baby breastmilk.

So really, I was just responsible for two feedings. Not too bad. Manageable. It’s when baby gets fussy that the entire day’s schedule gets thrown off. Once, she couldn’t latch on to the bottle’s nipple so she just kept wailing and wailing. I didn’t know what to do. Eventually, she got exhausted and fell asleep. *sigh*

Typical pose
Typical pose

Oftentimes, it is not easy for moms to pry themselves away from baby after spending the last 3 months bonding together. I’ve heard stories of moms randomly crying throughout the day because of detachment issues. My wife wasn’t too bad (at least from what she’ll care to admit to me 😛 ), but we made the transition a little smoother by me taking two weeks of vacation time the very day she went back to work. I would email pictures of baby to her throughout the day and tell her what we were up to and what baby was doing, and that seemed to be enough to get her through the day. Wifey even admitted that she would look at the pictures while she pumped because it actually helped her bring down more milk. Strange right? Don’t ask.

I still remember both of their faces after wifey came home after her first day back at work. The second the door opened, baby jumped a little in my arms (from excitement) and wifey started to tear up. Priceless! If you’re able to do the same (take off from work to ease the transition), I would highly recommend it. It’s probably easier on baby too as she’ll at least see one familiar face during the day.

We were also super fortunate to have both moms willingly volunteer their valuable time to help watch baby. In fact, we actually had to create a weekly schedule or they would’ve been vying for even more time with baby! 😛

Two amazing grandmas
Two amazing grandmas

We realize that many do not have this luxury so we were definitely very grateful and appreciative of the fact that we had one less thing to worry about (baby care). When my two weeks of vacay were up, we had the peace of mind knowing that our precious child would be in the most loving hands.

The 4th month marks the time for another doctor visit and another round of shots. She was given the same immunization as the 2 month visit, minus the HepB: diphtheria, tetanus & pertussis (DTaP), and vaccines for haemophilus influenza type b (Hib), rotavirus (RV), pneumococcal conjugate (PCV), and polio (IPV). (Click here for the 2012 Recommended Immunization Schedule for Babies – PDF). Statistically speaking, our baby was growing fast. She was in the 80.75 percentile for height (25.25″), 81.89 percentile for weight (15 lb, 6 oz), and 93.35 percentile for head circumference (17.01″). Oh yeah!

Product-wise, our friends Jaymie and Chad gave us an Avent Bottle Warmer, which was a HUGE life saver. All the wife had to do was pump her milk into the bottles and throw them in the fridge (with dates attached). When it was feeding time, I would just grab one of the bottles (the oldest, non-expired one), throw it into the warmer (filled with water) for 4-5 minutes and poof, it was ready. Not sure what we would’ve done without it. Heating up a pot of water on the stove would’ve taken waaaay too long for a crying, hungry baby.

Avent Bottle Warmer
Avent Bottle Warmer

Be sure to also invest in a bottle sterilizing system. Washing the bottles alone won’t always kill all the bacteria that babies aren’t yet immune to. This sterilizing system uses water, heat and steam to clean your bottles, nipples, etc., via the microwave or A/C power.

Aside from feeding and sleeping (and pooping), there’s other bonding time to experience with each other. This is an ideal time to read to her for a couple reasons. One, it’s good for her educational/cognitive development, and two, baby won’t move. Good luck trying to get her to keep still once she learns how to roll over or sit up. LOL!

Speaking of sitting, this is also a good time to practice propping her up (while supervised) for short periods of time. This will help train her sitting up muscles. Be sure you are on a soft surface (bed) or have a pillow behind her. The worst thing to happen is her falling backwards onto her head.

And finally, this is likely the time you’ll start getting cabin fever. Whereas before, you were afraid to go out and “expose” your fragile infant to the elements of the world, this is when you’ll start wanting to explore and go out as a family. Do it. You/wife/baby can handles (Randall)!

Family outing [Photo Credit: Minna Sugimoto]
Family outing [Photo Credit: Minna Sugimoto]

Wifey’s Tip Corner:

  • “Carriers are very convenient for short trips or crowded places or when you need to use both hands to carry groceries plus a heavy baby at the same time.”
  • “You have to just go out and try as many baby strollers as you can as it all comes down to personal preference. Some want to pimp out with the super expensive, luxurious kine, while others just want the el-cheapo umbrella strollers from places like Walmart. We wanted something maneuverable and not so bulky. We also wanted a modular system where we could use it with or without the car seat. To each their own.” (Ed’s tip)

 

Tweets:

  • wifey back to work today. day 1 of operation “daddy day care”. wish me luck! (September 1, 2011)
  • baby nail clippings are the cutest thing ever! (September 3, 2011)
  • and there it is. got blessed with poop for the first time. dear huggies. please invent leakless diapers one day. love, ed. (September 3, 2011)
  • forget p90x! rocking a baby to sleep is the new workout of the decade. biceps from dead weight holds, quads from bouncing side to side, and yoga-esque sweating from holding that bag of hot coals… summer beach body here i come! (September 5, 2011)
  • new baby daddy tip: don’t play fantasy football. you’re team(s) will be badly ignored. (September 18, 2011)
  • new baby daddy-ism: after a while, you won’t care when your nice work clothes gets drenched in a pool of drool. (September 20, 2011)
  • [new baby daddy truism]: enjoy that smiling happy bebe cause she’ll turn on you and get all nuts real quick! (September 22, 2011)
  • [new baby daddy truism]: keep your distance when putting bebe to sleep or your face will be slashed by errant flailing claws. (September 24, 2011)
  • [new baby daddy truism]: the very second you put bebe down to sleep, a loud car will zoom by outside causing you to have to start over again. (September 27, 2011)

Month 5:
By this time, you should be getting used to the daily routine you folks created for yourselves. For us, it was a nonstop feeding, sleeping, pooping frenzy (as mentioned above), although our baby would sometimes go days without pooping before dropping the bomb! (Future daughter, I apologize for embarrassing you just now 😛 ).

She may also be drooling up a storm and starting to suck on fingers (hers or anyones). Our daughter never really got into the thumb, but that index finger gets a lot of action. Baby may possibly start to teethe as well. Some babies get fevers when they start teething so be cognizant of that. Be also on the lookout for various growth spurts. When they go through this, they will have a hard time sleeping and will cry for hours on end.

Baby will be more active, trying her best to move around and roll over. This is the month when our baby turned over on her own, whereas before, she would get stuck in one position and we would have to help her.

Baby rolling over
Baby rolling over

Opinions differ, but they say that you are supposed to be able to start feeding babies some soft “solids” at this age. We were already part way through the month so we just decided to wait until the 6 month mark for this.

At this point, you’ve probably also realized that your life will never be the same again. Those spontaneous nights out with the boys? A distant memory. For those, you’ll have to plan for weeks in advance. Haha! All those TV shows you used to watch religiously? You’ll end up recording it on your DVR, thinking you’ll have time to watch it later. Nice try. You’ll never end up watching it. It pained me to delete an entire season of “The Ultimate Fighter” without ever watching a single episode. And travel? Fuhgedaboudit! Outside of a rare trip to Vegas (special trip for my Brother-In-Law’s bachelor party), this boy has been stranded on Oahu for the last several years (pre and post birth). Not easy for someone whose main passion is traveling. But if you think about the reason why, there’s no comparison. I’d much rather be with my family than anywhere else in the world.

My world
My world

Wifey’s Tip Corner:

  • “Babies can be very drooly. You may get a ton of bibs as baby gifts. Keep them! What did we know? I decided to return some, only to find out a few months later that we need to buy more bibs! On very drooly days we can go through 5-6 soaked bibs a day!”
  • “Babies love putting things in their mouth. If you’re outside, baby may eat a rock so you better watch closely! Or, if you’re inside, baby will find random objects to put in their mouth to scare you. Baby tells me when it is time to vacuum. She will pick up a strand of hair on the ground and lift it up to show me that our carpet needs cleaning.”
  • “I was telling my neighbor Justin how I hardly watch TV nowadays and he suggested that I pick up a set of wireless headphones. I haven’t had the chance to do that yet, but I anticipate that that will help me catch up with some of my favorite shows since the volume control (while baby slept) was the main reason why I stopped watching TV.” (Ed’s tip)
  • “Daddy who? If you haven’t noticed by now, daddy takes a back seat to everything and everyone. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be perfectly fine with this. In fact, it’s what I expected to happen. I’ve heard of stories about dads however who actually get depressed from not getting the amount of attention he used to. Just be aware of this, and if you feel this happening I have two words of advice: MAN UP! 😛 “ (Ed’s tip)

 

Tweets:

  • [new baby daddy truism]: you know a massive poop is coming when bebe starts grunting like an old man. (October 1, 2011)
  • bebe rolled over to her tummy on her own for the first time today! jiji and baba were amazed… (October 4, 2011)
  • my bebe is in the 80 percentile for height and weight and 90 percentile for head size. oh yeah. whatchu got, other babies of the world!? 😛 (October 7, 2011)
  • made bebe lhfao singing lmfao’s party rock… the part that goes “everyday i’m shufflin'” lmfao! 😉 (October 8, 2011)
  • [new baby daddy truism]: forget your favorite shows and what you have recorded on your dvr. you’ll never have time to watch it ever again… (October 9, 2011)
  • [new baby daddy truism]: the a/c in your car ain’t just for driving anymore… it’s also for emergency feeding sessions. (October 15, 2011)
  • spending quality time with the family at moanalua gardens instead of worrying about my fantasy football team. i’d say that’s a good trade-off. (October 16, 2011)
  • suppositories rock! (October 19, 2011)
  • [baby daddy truism]: take the time you think you’re gonna eat your dinner and add 1 & a 1/2 hours to it! (October 19, 2011)

Month 6:
Congratulations! You made it to the 6 month mark. Halfway to 1 year! Things continue to get interesting during this time as you will start introducing solid foods to baby’s diet. This not only means more involvement from dad (more than just breastmilk), but it also means smellier poop! Enjoy! 🙂

I'm too cute to have smelly poop!
I’m too cute to have smelly poop!

To prevent the development of allergies, it is recommended to stay away from feeding baby dairy products (milk, cheese, etc.), nuts, chocolates, and honey.

Our little squirt seemed to get constipated here and there, which, from what we understand, happens when you start feeding solids. One helpful tip we got was to feed baby the “P” fruits to combat constipation: Pears, Peaches, & Prunes. If they still don’t poop, you may have to turn to suppositories to assist in that department.

Month 6 also means yet another doctor’s appointment and another round of shots. She got the same shots that she did at the 2 month mark: diphtheria, tetanus & pertussis (DTaP), and vaccines for hepatitis b (HepB), haemophilus influenza type b (Hib), rotavirus (RV), pneumococcal conjugate (PCV), and polio (IPV). The good news is that this is the last round of shots until the 1 year appointment. (Click here for the 2012 Recommended Immunization Schedule for Babies – PDF). I don’t have the exact measurements, but I do remember that baby’s head circumference at this appointment was off the charts (over 100%)! Thaaaat’s mah girl! 😛

Wifey’s Tip Corner:

  • Last year, we mentioned the Diaper Genie. Not sure if you really need one as we’ve honestly never used ours at all. We just toss the dirty diapers in our regular trash. Anyone wanna buy ours? 😛 “ (Ed’s tip)
  • “Over time, you’ll learn where all the good places around town are to feed (nurse). Ask friends where they suggest as well. Nordstom and Nieman Marcus at Ala Moana are a couple good (clean & private) places. Target let us use one of the changing rooms once. You’ll start to be very aware of this soon enough. I’m surprised there isn’t an app for this by now! LOL! We’ve even run into situations when we didn’t have time to go home. No sweat, we just found a shady tree, parked the car and left the engine and A/C running. Baby was just fine.” (Ed’s tip)

 

Tweets:

  • baby finally pooped today! what a relief! (November 1, 2011)
  • watching the little munchkin like a hawk while I surf. is this normal? (November 14, 2011)
  • [new baby daddy truism]: you have never had to do so much cleaning in your life! laundry, dishes, breast pump gadgets, bottles, poop & more! (November 17, 2011)
  • [baby daddy truism]: you will pack (and carry) numerous bags as if you were going on a 10 day trip… every day! (November 22, 2011)
  • [new baby daddy truism]: you can never have enough of the b’s: bibs, burp cloths and baby wipes. parents, am I missing any more? (November 26, 2011)

That’s it for part 1 (the first 6 months). Sorry, it’s soooo long, but I want to make sure I cover everything for when that time comes for you or your friend(s). If you have any tips to add, feel free to message me or leave them in the comment area below and I’ll add them to Part II.

 Part I  | Part II

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6fspcsRH8U&w=500&h=400&rel=0] Tarp Surfing in Hawaii – VH07V Style (Click to Play!)

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