Tag Archive for: new parents

It’s that dreaded time of year again. Goodbye to standard time. Daylight savings time begins. Every time shift can be challenging, though “springing ahead” is thought to be the easier of the two. But that’s little consolation when the sun is still shining bright at your little one’s bedtime!

For parents of newborns and most babies under six months old – rejoice! Younger babies hardly notice the change and it has little effect on their sleep patterns. It’s not often that you get good news about newborn babies and their sleep! Of course many of you are still working on predictable and consistent sleep. And you and your partner will be affected by the time change so try to adjust your own sleep routine to minimize this impact.

For parents of older infants and toddlers (and older kids too!), your child’s circadian rhythm will be affected by this jump ahead and we know of no parents who look forward to this biannual scourge…er, um, event!

Four tips of helping your child adjust to the daylight savings time change:

1. Lots of outside time and sunshine

Good for everyone, everyday. And even more so when our circadian rhythm and sleep patterns need adjusting. Morning sunshine is especially helpful!

2. Blackout curtains and dim lights

Honestly? We recommend blackout curtains for everyone! A consistent sleep routine is easier to accomplish when you control the light. An hour ahead of bedtime, pull the blinds and dim the lights. This shift stimulates the production of melatonin and helps set your little one up for a better night’s sleep.

3. Gradual sleep schedule adjustment

You can gradually adjust the sleep schedule ahead of time or start the morning after. You can use 15- or 30-minute increments, mostly dependent on the age of temperament of your little one. Kim West, aka The Sleep Lady, has some great tips on schedule adjustment for “springing ahead” (and she is an overall fantastic resource for all things related to sleep for babies and children!). 

4. Nothing

That’s right. You can opt for doing nothing ahead of time or any specific adjustments afterwards. This works better for babies and children with “easy to adapt” temperaments. If this does not describe your child, your whole family may do better overall with some proactive strategies to work with your child’s temperament and minimize the stress.

Bonus Tip: Patience

Regardless of what approach you end up taking, the adjustment to daylight savings time takes about a week. Offering some patience to your little one, your partner, yourself, and anyone else you interact with is never a bad approach, especially the week after daylight savings time begins! In a few short weeks, you’ll be enjoying some time to yourself with the later setting sun after your little one is asleep – hopefully with some gardening, walking with a friend, reading a good book, or any other activity you enjoy! 

As we all know, sleep is a topic of interest for all parents, especially new parents. Read on to get more information on:

Understanding and shaping newborn sleep habits.

How our overnight newborn care can help you rest while setting a foundation of healthy sleep habits with your little one.


Nearly every parent can recall a moment during those early weeks of their baby’s life, when their sweet, innocent little bundle of joy seemed more like a terrifying little monster. This scary time is often referred to as the “Witching Hour”, derived from folklore to mean the time of day when the ghosts, monsters, and demons were said to have appeared. 

Like the term ‘morning sickness’ (which frequently happens far more often than just the morning), the phrase ‘witching hour’ is also a misnomer. Your newborn may spend well more than 60 minutes in this seemingly inconsolable state. Particularly during this time of year, when the sun sets earlier, it is not uncommon for the witching hour to include the hours leading up to and immediately following sunset. 

So what then IS the witching hour?  

The witching hour is a period of excessive fussiness, crying, irritability, and/or sleeplessness, sometimes spanning several hours, often occurring during the late afternoon into evening. It is extremely common for newborns, particularly in weeks 2-4 of their lives, to exhibit this behavior but can (unfortunately) extend for weeks. 

What causes the witching hour in newborns?


It’s the end of another long and grueling day; you’ve been bombarded by noises, lights, sounds, textures, smells, and other external stimuli for hours on end. It’s enough to make adults want to retreat to their happy place! Now, consider a newborn, only weeks into this journey that is life, experiencing all of these same stimuli. This is why the number one cause of the ‘witching hour’ can be attributed simply to overstimulation. As humans, when we are overwhelmed by external stimuli, it is difficult for our mind and body to rest – overstimulation leads to being overtired too.

Gastrointestinal Discomforts

Your baby’s GI system is also brand new, working hard to learn how to suck, swallow, and digest milk, absorb nutrients, and pass gas and stool. It can be expected that this immaturity can contribute to increased gas (and the ensuing fussiness and discomfort), particularly after a full day of feedings. It’s also not unusual for excess gas and discomfort to compound throughout the day. 


A baby’s nutritional needs change throughout the course of the day. It is not uncommon for babies to appear more hungry during the late afternoon and evening hours. This is partially a biological response for breastfed babies in that breastmilk production and supply tends to be at the lowest during this time of day. Babies who are bottle fed may exhibit hunger cues even after finishing their usual portion of milk. 

Tricks & Treats: What can we do to help our baby through the witching hour?

Reduce stimulus 

If you have taken DOB’s Baby 101 workshop, you have likely learned about Dr. Harvey Karp and his 5 S’s; Swaddle, Sway, Side-lying, Suck, and Shhh (or Sound). Combining these five activities can help to reduce external stimuli and, hopefully, encourage baby to close their eyes. A favorite trick for our postpartum doulas is taking baby, swaddled and with a pacifier, into the bathroom, turning off the lights and turning on the exhaust fan! And baby-wearing can be a treat for the whole family. Putting baby in an inward-facing wrap or carrier is a great tool to get through this time, too.

Encourage burps and toots

Encouraging baby to burp and pass gas frequently throughout the day can help alleviate fussiness and bloating in the evenings. Whether breast or bottle feeding, burping baby mid-feeding is always a good idea. Giving baby time to lay and move their limbs can also aid in teaching them how to release gas as well. Ultimately, time and maturity are the only true ‘fix’. 

Feed frequently

While we can’t eliminate baby’s desire to feed frequently in the evenings, sometimes preemptively increasing afternoon feedings can help. This may mean waking more frequently for shorter durations between feedings (2-2.5 hours maximum would be our recommendation). Or increasing the amount or duration at the last feeding session prior to the anticipated witching hour time frame. Cluster feeding, especially in the evenings, is very normal for breastfed babies in anticipation of a growth spurt. Again, this is an instance where time may be the only solution.

Is there a way to eliminate the witching hour?

While it can be difficult to accommodate for every family, one of the benefits of this time of year is the earlier sunsets.  If their witching hour is around 5 pm, ensuring they have a quality late afternoon nap may help. Take advantage of the darkness to push baby’s bedtime back a bit. If baby seems cranky, irritable or inconsolable by 7:30 pm every night, aiming to have them settled and to sleep by 7 pm could help (and mean you might get a few minutes of peace!).

While we can not guarantee that these tips and tricks will work every time with every baby, we can assure you that you are not alone, and ultimately, this time will pass. 

Welcoming a baby into your family is a joy, but a joy that can come with worry. If you’re expecting baby number two, you might be worried about how your older child will adjust to a new sibling. Jealousy is a natural emotion for kids, especially during the ages when they are particularly attached to their parents. They’ll notice you are taking time to care for baby and that people are excited about baby. But, there are still ways that you can help your older child adjust. 

How can I help my older child adjust to a new baby? 

One of the ways that parents can help older children adjust to a new baby is by involving siblings in newborn care, to the extent that they want to be involved. If they are a little older, they might want to help with feeding or bathing. If they’re younger, you can have them get a pacifier and put it in baby’s mouth (gently) or get a diaper. 

Especially for toddlers, it can be helpful for parents to acknowledge the difference between them and the baby. You might find yourself telling the older child to wait while you feed baby or change a diaper. On occasion, you can tell baby that they have to wait while you do something with your older child. You can also remind your older child that they are a big kid and doing something or have something that baby can’t. Emphasizing that they are special can help with feelings of jealousy. 

How do I keep my older child from feeling overwhelmed when baby comes?

 Having a baby can throw everyone’s schedules off, from sleep to meals. One tip to help your older child adjust to a new baby is by keeping their schedule as consistent as possible. If they go to daycare three days a week, keep them at daycare even if you or your partner are home with baby. 

Babies do need a lot of attention, which can create feelings of jealousy in your older child or that there is a certain level of unpredictability. When you feed your baby and do need to devote attention solely to baby, it can help to find something calm and special that the older child can do. While you are trying to have a calm moment for feeding, you can let your older child watch a special show or read a book. 

How can friends and relatives help my older child adjust to a new baby? 

One of the easiest things friends and relatives can do to help your older child or children adjust to baby is acknowledge the sibling first. When they come over to meet baby, have visitors prioritize the sibling. It is so easy for everyone to get excited about the new baby, and your other child can notice this excitement. Have friends and family ask the older sibling if they want to introduce baby or share something special about their new sibling. 

If you have someone who can help you during the postpartum period–whether it is a doula, a family member or friend–you have a great opportunity to prioritize each child on their own. They can take care of baby so that you have quality time with the older sibling. Or, they can take care of the older sibling so you can either rest or take care of baby. 

When Valentine’s Day approaches and spring is on the horizon, romance is in the air and on the mind. But what happens when you have a new baby and your body is not the body you’ve been accustomed to using for romantic pursuits, or when you’re bone-tired and out of sorts and not exactly thrilled with your partner, or when you really, really want it but can’t figure out how to get it? When the thought of a Valentine’s celebration or a tryst with your partner leaves you panicked rather than thrilled, it’s time to rethink your approach, recreate patterns of engagement, and reopen lines of communication that might have been waylaid following the birth of your new tiny family member.

Let’s take a look at the obstacles that may block you from a satisfying encounter. First, and obviously, there’s the matter of physical healing and changes. Whether you’ve given birth vaginally or via cesarean section, your body has gone through an elemental and dramatic event, and healing takes time. Share with your partner everything your medical provider has told you about recovery from labor and delivery, and be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling and what you need. While textbooks might say you need 6 weeks to recover, many birthing people find it takes them longer to feel like ‘themselves’ again.

Is my body even mine anymore?

Parents of young children often express feeling that they’re “touched out” by the constant contact with little bodies, and so by the time a partner comes looking for some action, the looming possibility of one more touch is enough to send the primary caregiver hiding in a dark closet. If this sounds familiar, the solution is often as simple as some alone time before you attempt to engage with your partner. Don’t take pity on your partner and give in to something you’re not physically ready for; instead, use this opportunity to advocate for yourself and talk openly about your concerns and possible solutions. Intimacy after childbirth often requires a bit more flexibility in your routines as well. You may find that what worked pre-baby, isn’t quite right any longer, and your new postpartum body requires a bit more patience. Take the changes as an exciting cue to learn as a couple, just like you did when you were first together!

Lack of time and space

The logistics of time and space can also interfere with romance, even if you feel physically ready. You and your partner may be exhausted, particularly if one or both of you have returned to work. There’s so much to do around the house, always! And the baby needs to be fed, and older children need so much, so it’s natural to assume that dating and sex will have to be shelved indefinitely. If you are a room-sharing family, you may need to be creative about where nighttime fun time will happen (and there’s nothing wrong with a little creativity!) if it’s going to happen at all. Couples who manage to set up a routine of connection, no matter how quick or simple, will find that they have paved the road for further intimacy when things settle down around the home. A morning kiss, a two-minute hug, a sexy text, a shared weekly podcast to listen to—find something that works for both of you and has nothing to do with babies or household concerns, and stick with it.

Sex and Romance After a Baby? How??

The tips our clients have thanked us for:

  • If you are breastfeeding, introducing a bottle when you feel that your nursing routine is secure can free you up to escape the house for a date night. (A postpartum doula is happy to help with that!)
  • And if you are not in a position to leave baby behind, find a new and interesting outing for the three of you and call it a date.
  • If you’ve been living without a shower or your normal beauty routine since your new one arrived, take a little time to find an outfit and accessories that make you feel great, and remind you of how it felt to be yourself before you became a parent. You may want to hit some sales and find a new outfit to fit your new post-baby body!
  • Compliment your mate on what a great parent they are, and remind them of your last amazing date. Your goal is to set the stage for both of you to feel like two people who remember that they love and miss each other, and who want to make each other a priority.

Communication is the key

Couples who have made their relationships last for decades will tell you that the backbone for success is having open lines of communications. Many partners fear asking for what they want, and may dread criticism or fear rejection, so end up avoiding difficult conversations. It’s particularly common to feel vulnerable when emotions are high, hormones are out of whack, and sleep is a distant memory, but this is precisely the time when asking for what you need is essential.

There are professionals for this??

Don’t discount the benefits of professional help either- if you’re struggling to get your groove back after baby, seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist, talk with a counselor, or reach out to your care provider if you feel your hormones are playing a more significant role than some minor lack in libido. Setting aside some couple time to check in with each other and support each other will pay rewards both short term and long term. Whether that couple time means a fancy dinner, or sitting on a bench in a park with cups of espresso and watching the setting sun together, is up to you.

You may find that taking the lead and asking for what you want is precisely what your partner is hoping for; your new role as parent may have them walking on eggshells around you, and they may not know how or when you want to be touched or how best they can take care of you. With some advanced planning, patience, humor, and grace, you will find that you can reclaim romance, and that it can be deeper and more meaningful than ever. Happy loving!

Who among us doesn’t treasure a great night’s sleep? And how many new or expectant parents have heard the horror stories of newborn sleep skills (or lack thereof!) and their parents who can’t recall the last time they woke up in the morning feeling refreshed? There’s no denying that finding a way to get some good rest is a challenge in the early months of new parenthood, so let’s talk about it!

Babies Sleep, Just Not the Way We’d Like!

First, let’s explore what to expect from your baby at night, and why they do what they do. The first three months of an infant’s life are commonly referred to as the “Fourth Trimester”. During this time their physical and emotional development that began in the womb are completed. Their brains begin the process of learning by association and are busy sorting out the world. Their bodies are learning to eat and sleep with purpose, and they need their parents’ help to develop patterns which will help their systems regulate.

With their tiny tummies, newborns need to eat every three to four hours at night. Parents might wish for a great night’s sleep, the health and survival of their baby is likely to demand otherwise for a while. Day and night are still meaningless to them, and their circadian rhythm has yet to develop, so their bodies aren’t giving them cues to sleep just because night has come.

If you’ve done any research or talked to other parents, you have seen and heard lots of advice on how to get your baby to sleep, some of which directly contradicts other recommendations. You may be left confused and anxious. And wondering how you are supposed to know the best way to get it right from the beginning. While the task at hand can seem monumental and overwhelming, some simple steps can get you and your babies on the right track for excellent rest. 

Basics of Safe, Comfortable Newborn Sleep

Start with the basics – a safe sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with no additional blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, bumpers, or cushions. Next, decide where in the home baby will be sleeping. Will you be rooming in for a few weeks, or starting from day 1 in the nursery? Both have their pros and cons, and only you can make the choice about what will get your family the best rest possible! Some families find having baby close at hand makes responding to their needs at night quicker and less overall distracting from peaceful sleep. Others find they hear every little noise, and thus need the distance of a wall between them and baby so they can actually fall asleep in between feeding and soothing sessions.

Sleep Associations – use them!

Next, let’s talk about comfort and routine. Building healthy sleep associations from day 1 can actually help mitigate the need for intense sleep training months later. All babies are born with a biological need to feel safe, secure, and soothed whether it’s day or night. How do we meet those needs while we rest? 

  1. Womb Service. During the day, babies are often happy to sleep anywhere, through any amount of noise and light. But when it comes to nighttime sleep, it really helps to think about recreating the environment your baby just left. What about it can be translated into a safe and soothing aid for sleeping in your home? Baby’s room should be dark (think black out curtains!). Set a comfortable temperature without drafts (68-72 degrees, though cooler is better than warmer for babies). Lastly, add ambient white noise to muffle the minor disruptions from the rest of the household.
  2. Swaddle. Babies sleep better when swaddled in their first weeks! Why? They’ve been swaddled their whole lives in the cushy, cozy environment of the womb before birth. The trick is getting a snug, secure swaddle that baby can’t easily wriggle out of. Hell hath no fury like a baby who got their arm out of a swaddle before they were really ready to wake up! Velcro and snap swaddle pods are appealing, but if your newborn is particularly tiny, they often don’t get tight enough. Stick to the tried and true large, muslin swaddle blankets and a good old fashioned baby-burrito-wrap. Check out the video demo on our YouTube channel, or let us teach you in person. Our postpartum doulas are often deemed magical when we show parents how we swaddle during a night shift! 
  3. Soothe. Babies are born with a biological need to suck for comfort and as a prevention from SIDS. Sucking actually helps them regulate their breathing! If you don’t want to or can’t nurse an infant 24/7, they’re going to have to fulfill this need elsewhere. Pacifiers are an indispensable tool in healthy newborn sleep in this regard! A well-fed infant who is steadily gaining weight can safely be offered a pacifier for sleep soothing without concern it will impact their feeding relationship. 

Don’t Try to Keep Them Up!

While at first it might seem counterintuitive, sleep begets sleep. Set a consistent nap routine as soon as you are able during the day. Overtired infants are actually harder to get to sleep. Newborns should generally not stay awake between naps more than 45 minutes to 1 hour (for more on periods of wakefulness as baby ages, see Precious Little Sleep). Watching for signs and signals your newborn is ready for rest is just as key as setting the right tone for their sleep environment. Avoiding meltdowns from exhaustion means noticing your baby’s sleep cues. Do they start to rub their eyes, ears, neck, or head? Do they give you a ‘thousand yard stare’ with half-drooping eyelids? Are they yawning repeatedly? Don’t wait for your baby to start crying to get them ready for sleep. Instead, pay attention to the signs and jump right into their sleep routine.

Sleep When Baby Sleeps??

While the old adage ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ still rings true to a point, often it’s easier said than done. Sometimes your brain just isn’t wired for rest when your baby lies down. To the best of your ability, at least practice periods of quiet when your baby naps during the day. If you can’t actually sleep, definitely don’t take that precious naptime as an opportunity to catch up on every household chore you’ve been missing. Lie down, read a book, or watch a show. On another day go sit outside in the sunshine for a bit. Take a shower. And always make sure to grab something nutritious to snack on and rehydrate. Even small periods of wakeful rest can do wonders for your outlook when a tiny baby has your schedule out of whack.

Prioritize Nighttime Sleep

When it comes to night sleep, getting your own rest becomes even more important than during the day. Your postpartum recovery and mental health depend on getting adequate rest. Even the most well-adjusted babies wake multiple times a night with needs to be met. Prioritize the help of a partner swapping off changing duties if you’re the primary feeding parent, if possible. Doulas of Baltimore can step in to give expert and compassionate care to your newborn while you sleep the night away, and without interrupting your feeding relationship or bonding experience. A professional postpartum doula or Newborn Care Specialist is there to make sure that you wake feeling as rested and refreshed as possible.

Keep the faith! Long winter nights eventually give way to sunny spring mornings. And your tiny, sleepless offspring develop into a more mature and settled creature who can tell night from day. Like the countless families who came before you and will follow in your footsteps, you will become a rested, confident parent who will grow to treasure your nighttime time with your child, whether it’s a bath, an evening stroll around the neighborhood, or the 900th reading of Goodnight Moon.