This article talks about some tips I learnt through the 1.5 months of parenting, but wasn’t mentioned in any book or videos that I encountered. Hopefully this is helpful for other expecting parents. I will talk about three things

  1. How to mentally prepare for newborn caring
  2. Diaper changing station setup
  3. Burping techniques

Mental Preparation for Newborn Caring

First I have to admit: taking care of a newborn during the first month sucks. Maybe you saw some Facebook post and your friends are sharing these amazing photos, or saying they had the best time of their life. The truth is most people don’t post anything during the first month, because they are probably serious sleep deprived. I don’t have any solution, just dig deep into your mental strength reserve and endure.

The second point is that you need to stay calm all the time, even if the baby is screaming at 110 decibels. Biologically we are wired so that when the baby cries our heart starts racing, and blood pressure goes up. We feel the urge to resolve whatever issues as fast as possible, but sometimes it just clogs our mind and prevents us from identifying the real cause. Take a deep breath, calm down, don’t shake the baby, and try your best.

The third point is to log everything. Because the baby will go into a rhythm pretty soon for their daily routine, logging their eat, diaper and sleep schedule helps you predict what they are crying about. We used Baby Tracker because it’s dead simple, but you can choose whatever suits you.

The fourth point is that what the book says or the doctor tells you is only a starting point to solve your baby’s issue. You will need to experiment further. Our baby had some cradle cap explosion at the beginning and the doctor kept telling us it’s fine just moisturizing it. Turns out washing his face daily dissolved all the caps.

Diaper Changing Station Setup

You will need to do this > 8 times each day, any optimization that shaves 1 minute off is going to save you 10 minutes a day. Although my setup probably won’t work for you, I hope this can inspire your own exploration. The key is to keep everything you will need on the same level, so you never have to step away or bend your waist to reach for something.

During a diaper change, any of the following events is going to prolong the time spent on diaper change. At first I tried to prevent these events from happening, needless to say my efforts were futile. So I focused on mitigation rather than prevention, and that actually leads to much better results.

  1. Baby pooped/peed half way, that make their cloth dirty (might be specific to boys)
    1. Keep a washcloth on his penis at all times. Some articles mentioned using a new diaper for cover, but diapers are too large and rigid, won’t stay in place. Some youtube video just tells you to change it very fast, but obvious you still have to clean the bottom, so this doesn’t work either. Washcloth absorbs moisture very fast and with practice you can catch most of the pee on it.
    2. The changing pad should have a slope towards his leg, so when he does pee it flows away from him.
  2. Spit up
    1. Put burp cloth under baby’s head so even if he spit up, burp cloth gets wet but not his cloth.
  3. Butt drying and diaper cream application.
    1. I used a rechargeable fan to quickly dry the bottom after wipe, but this does increase the probability of peeing, so maybe this won’t help you.
    2. If you need diaper cream, place it near the diaper station with loose lid.

Efficient Burping

Other than feeding burping probably takes the longest. All burping instructions I shave saw emphasize on the positions of burping. But none talks about the timing and mechanism of it, which I think are more critical than the position itself.

Think about the last time an adult had to burp, patting only speed up the process if you already have the urge to burp. This is the same with baby. They usually burp within 15 minutes after feeding, and only when the urge comes you help is effective. So don’t spend 15 minutes pounding their back. Observe your baby and look for burping cues, which usually involves loud noises or trying to clear their throat. If you want to speed up the process, change your baby through lying down, upright, and on their belly. The change of position will speed up the bursting of bubbles.

As for the motion for burping, most instructions say to pat their back. If you think of your baby as a rigid container, then patting the back is like shaking a bottle. But if you think your baby is more like a water sack, the more effective way is to squeeze the back from the bottom the top, just like squeezing a toothpaste. I found the second method more effective.

I have found a more effective sequence, though baby is already 4 months old so I am not sure if these works at an earlier point

  1. Hold the baby upright for ~5 minutes, but avoid putting pressure on the belly. If you press, baby might spit out.
  2. If the baby seemed happy then move on to the next phase: a 1 minute horizontal lie down on their back. This should dislodge whatever gas there is.
  3. Pick them up and face behind your shoulder, support baby’s belly with your upper chest and gently pat their back. At this point they should burp loudly.

Nail Trimming

Only trim their nails when they are asleep, otherwise they move too much. Otherwise, use a nail file.

Breast Pump

Wife finally rented a (Medela Symphony Breast Pump)[], and she claimed it’s night and day differences with the Spectra. Medela is more comfortable, pulls the same amount of milk in half of the time, and makes the nipple less sour.

I looked into the pumping mechanism. The Spectra uses a rotating vacuum generator, each additional level means one additional rotation. So say you are at level 3, the vacuum is generated by three separate suctions. This creates turbulance in the air flow, and likely resulted in nipple sourness. On the contrary, the Symphony uses one continuous piston and the level is adjusted by how deep the piston retracts, so the vacuum can be generated by one continuous motion, which means the profile is more smooth. I don’t have a pressure gauge to measure but I believe this pressure profile is what brings the Symphony an upper hand.