I recently had a baby boy, and I picked up this book after DadVerb recommended it. The book is organized as a month-by-month guide for what to expect with your newborn.
Note, this article is a bit selfish — I’m only summarizing the parts that I found were most relevant to my experience as a new father.
Month 0 — Newborn!
Tests and Initial Health
- Baby jaundice is normal, and has a 1/4 chance of affecting a newborn
- Normally goes away after a week
- Yellowness from the eyes takes the longest to go away
- Tests are done to check bilirubin levels.
- Bilirubin is a by-product of red blood cells, which normally is processed by the liver. If the liver is having trouble processing it, the bilirubin levels go up
- Apgar tests are a rough assessment of a newborn’s general health
- Points are based on:
- Baby’s color, i.e. pink or pale
- Grimace, i.e. loud crying or no response
- Activity, i.e. movement
- Some hospitals sell your placenta to cosmetic companies
- You can ask them to pack it in a Tupperware container for you.
- Some people bury them
- Should be done at the hospital
- If caught early, audiologists can provide a hearing aid to prevent speech and language development issues
Baby can be any 6 states:
- Quiet Alert
- The baby isn’t moving much
- Energy is focused on looking at and absorbing surroundings
- May track objects
2. Active Alert
- Moving arms, body, face
- Short bursts of thrashing around
- Good state for doing physical activity with your baby
- Movement often soothes them
- Crying is also a good workout
- Eyes look dull or unfocused
- Leave baby alone to drift to sleep
5. Quiet Sleep
- Body is motionless
- Don’t wake up baby in this state unless pediatrician has told you otherwise
6. Active Sleep
- Eyes are usually closed but may flicker open
- Might make sucking movements, whimper, or twitch
- Half the time sleeping is in active sleep, and the other half is in quiet sleep
- Therefore, you should wait a while if the baby seems to wake up for a few mins before picking them up. They will likely fall back asleep
- Talk to your baby, so they can start to know the rhythm of language
- Massage your baby, by gently flexing their limbs and massaging their whole body.
- Massaged babies grew 50% more than those who didn’t.
- Babies can’t understand words, but they can understand feelings
Diapers and cleaning
- Diapers should be changed every 2 hours
- Wash baby at least 1–2 times a week
- Avoid commercial baby wipes for the first weeks. Use wet washcloths instead.
- Hang a mobile above the changing surface to distract them a bit
- Immediately cover the baby genitals when changing to avoid a golden shower
- Clean under scrotum
- Allows kids to potty-train faster
- Less chance of diaper rash
- Use a diaper service if going with reusables
- Recommendation: Use cloth diapers during the day, and disposables at night
- You’ll need to cut baby’s nails every 2–3 days
Benefits of Breastfeeding
- Less food allergies
- Less chance of obesity
- Less chance of illnesses like cancer, infections, etc.
- Less SIDS risks
How dad can help with breastfeeding
- Make sure mom has a glass of water and drinks it during every nursing session
- Do as much of the burping and diaper change as you can
- It can take 2 weeks for mom’s nipples to toughen up
- 41% of new moms breastfeed exclusively for three months. At 6 months this number drops to 19%.
- Breast milk can be stored at room temp for 4–5 hours
- Thaw breastmilk in the fridge overnight
- Never warm milk in the microwave
- Gentle patting and rubbing is just as effective as hard thumping
- Uncircumcised penis needs to be washed by retracting the foreskin. However, the foreskin doesn’t always retract right away.
- Foreskin typically retracts by age 3
- Some people will offer to help. Some are genuine and some are just being nice.
- Take the first few weeks to sleep whenever you have free time, rather than playing host to a bunch of guests.
Call a doctor if
- Your baby is unusually floppy or non-responsive
- Baby cries for a long time, or has especially high-pitched crying
- Infection at the umbilical cord side
- Not waking up every 2–3 hours
- Not enough pee/poop, i.e. at least 2–3 poops every 24 hours
- He should be able to lift his head for a few seconds
- Wants to eat every few hours, but less bowel movements
- He can now see objects a foot away or more
- He likes high-contrast black and white patterns
- Starts cooing
- Mother may get blues around this time
- Babies lose around 10 percent of their birth weight
- Read to the baby, so they get used to the language’s sounds and rhythm
- Associating reading with calm, quiet and security
- For the first few months, babies gain weight faster if breastfed, but after that, formula babies gain faster.
- Start reading to him, so he can get used to the sound and rhythm of language
- Put a soft mirror inside the crib
- Babies look at high-contrast patterns
- See what baby prefers by showing different patterns and seeing which he stares at
- Get the baby to track objects
- Put mobiles above crib and changing table
- Play with baby’s reflexes like stroking cheeks, lips, sole of feet, or putting objects in his hand
Maternal Postpartum Blues + Depression
- Affects 50–80% of new moms
- Connected to low levels of social support, especially from father
- Blues is feeling down. Depression is blues that doesn’t go away after two weeks, and changes in daily functioning
- Help by doing nighttime feeding, and giving her protein snacks throughout the day
- Dehydration and caffeine contribute to anxiety
- She will experience engorged breasts, clogged ducts (avoid tight bras), low fever, sore nipples (use Lansinoh), leaky breasts
- Check out lalecheleague.org or ilca.org
- Tired, gas, diaper, attention
- Magic baby hold, distraction, toys, story, noise, singing
- Walk, change scenery
- Colic — more than 3 hours of crying per day, for more than 3 days a week, for more than 3 months
- Warn them that a new baby is coming, and people will be giving the baby more attention
- Point out some of the big-kid actions they can take like using a fork and knife, riding a trike, putting on their own shoes and washing their face, going down a slide by themselves. Ice cream is for big kids only!
- Practice holding baby with a doll
- Take an infant CPR class
Month 2 — First Smiles
- Starting to reach for objects, appreciates more complex patterns, starting to develop understanding of cause-effect (crying = carry)
- Starting to smile for real. Prior to this, most smiles were just gas.
- Awake for about 10 hours today
- Couples can take 6 months or longer to reestablish pre-pregnancy sex life
- Asking each other what you’re willing to do, sexually, is a way to create a safe space where you can turn each other down without causing hurt feelings
- Set aside at least 15 mins a day to talk about something other than the baby.
- Partner’s period will start around 3–8 months after the birth
- Today’s good father is expected to still be a breadwinner but also be physically and emotionally involved in the kids’ lives.
- Don’t fear discussing fears with your partner about your fears. For ex. not being able to love the baby or take care of the baby.
- The Talmud describes the baby as a king, with numerous servants all around him.
- Newborns who drank sugary solution before medical procedures cry less
- Any toys that can fit through a standard roll of toilet paper are too small
- Stay far away from ammonia, bleach, paint thinner, pool or garden chemicals
- Baby focuses on objects 8–12 inches away
- Expose baby to many different textures, like kiwi, peach, coconut
- Expose baby to many different sounds, like music, piano, instruments, bells, voices, etc.
- Massage your baby every day. Looking into Tiffany Field.
- Use some baby oil and then roll the baby’s hands/arms/legs as if you were making snakes out of clay
- Firmly press your palm on the baby’s tummy moving downward
- Part the Red Sea on the baby’s tummy
- Press on the bottom of each baby’s feet using your thumbs
- Frequently put the baby down in various positions so she turns her head from one side to another
- Stop swaddling too much
- Encourage tummy time
- Hep B given at birth
- Hep B 2nd dose, first dose of RV, IPV, RPCV, DTaP, HiB given at 2 months
Safety + Sleeping
- Turn down your water heater
- Make sure the crib is painted with non-toxic paint
- No stuffed animals, pillows, blankets, etc. Use a warm sleep suit if needed.
- Babies often sleep during the day because mommy was awake rocking the baby to sleep during the daytime
- Overtired babies wake up more than well-rested ones.
- Setup a bedtime routine with nursing, reading, massage, song, bath, etc.
- Sleep training — Consider Jassey method from The Newborn Sleep Book
- Summary: feed only five times per day, 8am, noon, 4pm, 8pm midnight
- Extend time between feedings by 15 mins until you reach this schedule.
Month 3 — Let the Games Begin
- He can’t tell he has two distinct sides — instead he moves both his arms and legs together
- Should be getting better at grasping
- Prefers circular shapes to stripes and complex patterns to simple ones
- He will now begin to use distinct types of cries for different discomforts
- He’s perceptive about moods of people around him
- 90% of SIDS happens by 6 months, but can still happen up to one year
- More likely to occur to buys than girls, preterm babies, multiple-birth babies, babies from low-income homes, black and indigenous babies.
- Don’t co-sleep
- Baby should always sleep on a flat firm surface
- 1 in 2000 babies are affected
- You may start to think a lot about your own father-son experience
- Dr. Snarey found that new fathers take only the good parts from their father
- They also do an excellent job of reversing the damage their fathers did, i.e. men whose fathers were distant place an emphasis on being more caring with their children
- We are role models
Playing with baby
- Kids who play a lot with their dad have higher self-esteem
- Introduce rattles, keys, and other similar toys. Tie a helium balloon to his foot.
- Read to your baby, increase vocabulary, attention, and makes the less likely
- It doesn’t matter what you read, since it’s a fantastic opportunity for you and the baby to snuggle together and get to know the rhythm of our language
- He is not able to identify images on the page. He might just scratch the page.
- Set a regular place and time for reading. Usually just before/after nap is best.
- Babies complain loudly if they're too cold, and are seem like they are lacking energy if their too hot
- Use sunscreen after baby is 6 months old. Check EWS for safe sunscreens.
- Heat rash — anywhere where sweat builds up can cause red bumps. Use cool washcloth or cornstarch to make baby more comfortable.
- Avoid baby wearing floral pattern clothing since insects might be attracted to it.
- Disposal diapers make the baby more comfortable, but that leads them to sit in acidic poo for longer causing diaper rash
- Cloth diapered babies are toilet trained faster
- Change diaper as frequently as possible
Month 4 — Born to Be
Baby can now
- Track and grasp objects
- Can stand for a few seconds, but hips aren’t strong enough to support the weight so don’t do this for too long
- Can tell difference between real face and a picture of one
- Might respond to name
- May have sleep disturbance due to an especially busy developmental time
- Don’t focus on what you can’t do, i.e. breastfeed, focus on everything you are already doing — baths, massages, skin-to-skin, etc.
- Most new dads start to feel that so much of their identity is wrapped up in being a
Baby’s have many different types of temperament
Note: this part was incredibly detailed and is not summarized in this article.
- On average, couples start having sex again about 7 weeks after birth
- Hormones, fatigue and time are biggest obstacles
- Think like teens — grope each other, watch porn together, bang in new places
- 5–10 % of new moms get postpartum thyroiditis, causing anxiety, emotional instability, muscle fatigue, depression — which are all normal for regular postpartum. However, by 4 months she should be over most of these.
- Don’t become baby’s sleep transition object
- It’s normal for babies to fuss for 15–20 mins after being put down
- Keep nighttime activity to a minimum
- Do feeds in the dark for nighttime feeds
- Don’t change diapers unless you absolutely must
- Do a routine where you take the baby around to all the toys and say goodnight
- Can soothe babies from your side of the bars by rubbing their head
- Babies can be strangled by crib bumper strings
- Let your partner take care of nighttime feeds, since there’s not much you can do to help
- Liat Tikotzky discovered that the more that dads’ are involved in daytime care, the fewer times babies wake up at night.
- You can’t expect a baby to nap from 4pm to 6pm and then go to sleep for the night at 7pm.
Month 5: Work and Family
- Baby can now roll
- Still can’t quite sit without support
- Longer intervals between feeding and poops
- Starting to babble with consonants
- Growing number of emotions: fear, anger, disgust, satisfaction
- Worrying can lead to low self-confidence and becoming more hands-off, letting someone else do the work. This only decreases your skill-level and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Work-life balance changes over time.
- When babies hear aa recording of another baby crying, they start crying too — but not if it’s an older child crying
- Most pediatricians recommend that you delay introducing solids until baby is at least 6 months old if breastfed, and four months old if bottle-fed.
- Resist starting solids earlier than 4–6 months because of correlations to weight problems, respiratory illness, diabetes, etc.
- Holding off on introducing allergenic foods like cow milk, eggs, fish, nuts, shellfish, wheat can increase risk of food intolerances
- Can take 15 mins to get through one teaspoon of food at the beginning
- Rice, oatmeal or barley mixed with breast milk should be first foods
- Constipation can be resolved by (p for poop), pears, prunes, peaches, plums, apricots
- After 1 year, baby can eat almost any kind of food
- Food will get everywhere — on floor, clothes, carpets, etc. Consider feeding baby only in a diaper.
- Organic jarred food is expensive but convenient — make your own.
- Boil vegetables and blend them.