From sleeping and feeding to ‘new parent’ anxiety and relationship changes with your partner, the newborn challenges parents face come in thick and fast during those first few months.
And Jen Hamilton has tackled them all. As a parenting author, mum of three and a mothercraft nurse with over 27 years’ experience helping new mums, Jen acknowledges that every baby and every parent is different. She also understands that parents need help navigating their way through those tricky challenges. That’s why she created the personalised app, WOTBaby, which supports parents and caregivers from newborn to six months by providing real-time guidance in their baby-raising journey.
“The app is based on the principal of building confidence in parents and acknowledges that there is no single or right way to parent,” explains Jen. “There are some key fundamentals that result in a successful bond between parent and baby, and I wanted to share my knowledge enabling parents to get the most out of these special times. I also wanted to make the resource easily accessible and affordable at a time when parents needed it most – and that’s usually at 3am when no professionals are around and everyone in the family is exhausted.”
Here, Jen shares seven common newborn challenges parents face and some clever solutions even weary-eyed mums and dads can adopt to make those first months happier…
1. An Unsettled Baby
Any parent who’s tried rocking their over-tired screaming baby to sleep for 45 minutes – multiple times during the day – understands the challenges of an unsettled baby.
“Newborns can be extremely unsettled at times, and though they are ready for bed, they can’t seem to stop crying and have difficulty settling down,” explains Jen. “I suggest firm wrapping of the baby to tackle this issue. Apart from wrapping, parents can prime the environment for sleep by playing soft music and darkening the room. Whatever the chosen techniques, consistency and pattern is key. By creating the same environment and going through the same steps each time prior to settling, the baby recognises a pattern and knows what ‘Window Of Time’ is next. For example, ‘sleep time’.”
2. Cluster Feeds
Feel like a human milk bar? Your baby could be a cluster feeder. “Cluster feeding is a behavioural characteristic that some babies develop,” explains Jen. “This means feeding often, very close together, at a certain time during the day for 4–6 hours. Often a long sleep follows a cluster feed.” Of course you can’t just shut up shop, so how do you handle it? “Tackle the cluster-feeding by following the ‘Windows of Time’ in the WOTBaby app, which encourages feeds at the right time and for certain lengths of time. Then allow baby to settle and sleep.”
3. Refusing The Bottle
If you’re expressing and sharing the feed-time love with your partner, returning to work or just need to give your boobs a break, don’t be afraid to introduce the bottle, says Jen. “You can introduce the bottle to your baby from 3–4 weeks,” she says. “This can be done by offering the baby the bottle consistently once every two days. Sometimes it helps to offer the baby a bottle with a teat that is specially designed to replicate the breast in shape and texture.”
4. Nerve-wracking Baby Outings
Driving with a newborn can be harrowing – you’ve probably noticed the cars exiting the maternity ward and holding up the traffic with their ‘10kph’ driving style. But for many new parents, even leaving the house can feel like a momentous mission – what with all that ‘baby gear’ and timing everything around sleep and feeds.
“Some new parents experience anxiety or fear when it comes to taking the baby out of the home,” says Jen. “Sometimes this fear of leaving the home with your precious newborn can develop into feeling trapped. Overcoming this fear comes with confidence and you can build your confidence with practice, short trips out and about and arming yourself with some support. Ask you mum, mother-in-law, sister, friend or a fellow-mum to join you for a short walk. You can still follow a routine whilst including outings with you baby. Remember that bub needs to get used to the outdoors at some point! Don’t overdo it and make sure to re-boot once you are home again. That goes for baby and mum! Apart from confidence and creating and sticking to a pattern, balance is another key word that needs to be related to parenting.”
5. Dads Feeling Left Out
Newborns can quickly show favouritism towards mums if they’re the primary carer, so it’s important to include dad in activities too. “Introduce a bottle early so dad can do a feed every couple of days, or give him a job,” suggests Jen. “Bath time can be great dad time! Also, get dad involved with settling and alternate nights with mum, so he too can settle baby until to sleep.” As well as the opportunity for baby and daddy bonding, it will give mum a break too.
6. Relationship Changes
“Make sure that when two become three (or three become four), that you as the parents continue to have one-on-one time and open communication,” Jen advises. “Take a break from the baby and spend quality time together. Parents need to communicate and understand what their significant other is dealing with and feeling. How does one partner feel when the baby cries? Are you working as a team, discussing topics? Do you like the baby sleeping in the room with you? Mila Kunis recently came out and mentioned the importance of booking a restaurant for two to six weeks after the birth of her daughter, and how much she can recommends it for all new parents. I could not agree more!”
7. Feeling Like You’re Not Good Enough
“You are good enough!” says Jen. “New parents can feel the stress of not feeling good enough. As new parents (or parents to be), you read a lot, you get a lot of opinions, you get compared, you compare, your baby gets compared… Too much information can bombard you and make you feel vulnerable. Remember: you are your own person, and you baby is his or her own person. You are a unique team together. Arm yourself with the right information and right amount of information. You don’t want to get overloaded. But you do need to make informed decisions that are right for you and your baby in this unique situation. No baby and parent duo is the same and every new relationship needs to get tackled in its own way. WOTBaby does not prescribe one method but provides recommendations based off those unique needs and desires that bub and mum have. Providing just the right amount of information, video, advice and tips, the app is the perfect midwife in your pocket.”
ABOUT: WOTBaby is a new Australian-first technology personalised app for parents and caregivers
Tailored to the child’s name and age, the WOTBaby app provides the caregiver or parent with week-by-week development milestones and tackles the myriad of challenges parents might be navigating through at that particular stage such as feeding and settling. What sets the app apart from anything else on the market, is that it acknowledges that every baby and every parent is different, and so offers an instant step-by-step flow of tips and tricks parents or carers can try to find what works for them as well instructional videos.
The app is based on the ‘Windows Of Time’ a baby follows – sleeping, feeding, play and settling – helping parents to understand the general guide of time for each of these phases relating to their baby’s age. WOTBaby is available for purchase at the App Store for $2.99