Google is a repository of our most burning questions, from “What are brunch spots near me” to “Should I have a baby?” And while most of our search engine queries are closer to meal planning than life-changing decisions, the answers we do find their shape our lives in very real ways, little and big. A time you might find the questions feeling a little bigger? When you’re a new parent.
Even with doctor’s appointments, baby books, and friend and family to help out, you will likely still find yourself tapping questions into your iPhone. Maybe it’s because its the middle of the night, you forgot where the baby book is, or you’re too embarrassed to let anyone else know you forgot a seemingly basic baby fact. But whatever the reason for that anonymous query, you’re not alone. Using autocomplete, we found some of the most common search terms around the first few months of a new baby’s life. Plenty of other moms are trying to figure out what that Vitamin K shot is for, too.
“How soon can you or should get pregnant are really two different questions,” says Sherry Ross, MD, OB/GYN and Women’s Health Expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica. “If you are not breastfeeding your period can return within 6 to 8 weeks and you can get pregnant again but it’s definitely not a good idea,” she explains. The current recommendation is waiting at least 18 months for both maternal and baby health. If you’re more curious about when you have to resume using contraception, the answer is as soon as you start having sex again. It’s possible to get pregnant even if you’re breastfeeding. You also will be fertile two weeks before your first post-pregnancy period.
There is no cut-and-dry answer to this one. Ross says factors like your physical and mental condition, as well as how traumatic the birth was, will affect the answer. Women with C-sections or episiotomy stitches may have to wait six weeks or more. Experts will generally recommend starting slow with short walks only once a doctor give you the go-ahead.
If you’re not breastfeeding, your period can return in six to eight weeks. If you are breastfeeding, you’ll likely see it return some time after you start introducing your baby to other foods. “Once the baby starts to eat cereal or drink juice there is less breastfeeding being done which can increase your chance of having your period return,” says Ross.
The current recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics is to keep your newborn in the room with you in a separate bassinet or crib. Even if you don’t plan to cosleep, this will keep you close by for feedings and help reduce the risk of SIDS. The AAP also recommends keeping your baby in the room with you to six months, while some studies have found babies who sleep alone starting at four months sleep better. Regardless, the experts agree that, at least when the baby is a newborn, the best spot is in your room.
Letting babies “cry it out” is an oft-debated method of sleep training. However, most experts recommend sleep training, which may include some amount of crying it out, around 4 months. Generally, parents of newborns are instructed to think of the various reasons for crying and trying to soothe the baby, whether with food, cuddling, or something else. But healthy newborns can cry up to two hours a day, according to the Mayo Clinic. Sometimes, you can try everything in your repertoire and the baby will keep crying. Then, they will recommend letting the baby cry. If you need to, you can calmly put the baby down and leave the room, make yourself some tea, or even wear earplugs to reduce the stress of the crying on you. But if your newborn is crying for more than 3 hours a day, it may be colic and is definitely time to talk to a pediatrician.
While crying is an important tool of communication for newborns, there are other signs to watch for. For example, a baby that is too hot will be restless and uncomfortable writes Dr. Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby On The Block. Babies are more likely to cry when they’re hungry than hot, but there are other things to watch for, like rooting, sucking on hands, or even clenched hands.
Wrapping a newborn tightly is called swaddling. It helps soothe babies, and, Ross says, “Swaddling has been shown to help babies sleep longer than babies who are not being swaddled.” But, done incorrectly, there are risks. New parents will likely get a lot of instruction on swaddling methods before leaving the hospital, but if they need some review, Youtube is a great resource for quick review.
It almost seems cruel that, after leaving their home for the last nine months, babies are welcomed with a shot. But Vitamin K serves an important purpose: it helps the blood clot. Babies are born with low levels of the vitamin and can be at risk for Vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB) for months after birth.
While not all babies are born with blue eyes, many babies with lower melanin may be born with blue eyes that darken later. As they develop more melanin in the eyes because of things like light exposure, their eyes may darken. Babies born with darker skin have already developed more melanin, making them more likely to be born with darker eyes.
There are tons on the market, and many work very similarly. You can read about some of SheKnow’s picks to get started. Sadly, the most important factor is whether or not your baby likes it. Some babies love carriers, some never take to them. And, unfortunately, you can’t really ask them what they think before biting the bullet. But real parents, who can leave Amazon reviews, love the LILLEBaby six-position carrier. What is the best baby sleeping position?
Back is best. You can read more about why the AAP strongly recommends this.
This one was a bit surprising but may have to do with the fact that some women believe that coconut water has helped boost their milk production because it is so hydrating. While we couldn’t find any official recommendations or studies on how much it helps, it is nevertheless perfectly safe to drink coconut water, according to Ross. It is, at the very least, a delicious alternative to water if you need more motivation to stay hydrated.
A healthy, or secure, attachment is a “confidence and trust in the goodness of me, you, us,” according to the authors of Raising a Secure Child. It is not the same thing as attachment parenting, although many of the philosophies of attachment parenting are rooted in building secure attachments with children. But you don’t have to breastfeed for an extended time or wear your baby constantly to form a secure attachment. Many of the ways parents can form a secure attachment may come naturally, like making eye contact with your baby and using soothing tones when you comfort them. Establishing a secure attachment is a daily practice of gestures, big and small, that will help your baby grow into a confident child. Read more about small ways to strengthen your connection.
It is rare for an exclusively breastfed baby to become constipated. If your newborn isn’t having around five bright yellow poops by their fifthy day, the problem could be lack of food, not constipation. When it does happen, it may be due to reactions to milk proteins in formula or even a reaction to milk proteins in the mother’s diet. Babies transitioning to solid foods are more likely to get constipated, especially if they eat too much rice cereal. If introducing foods like bananas and broccoli or more fruit juice and liquid doesn’t help relieve things, talk to your pediatrician before trying other remedies.
Babies are actually able to breathe and swallow at the same time during the first few months of life due to the position of their larynx. After a few months, however, it lowers, and babies swallow like we do: between breaths.
Bathtubs for babies range from sink inserts that allow parents to bath the baby standing up for the first year or so, to tub inserts that can accommodate babies much longer. Sink inserts are generally more comfortable for parents but are used for less time. Whichever you pick, make sure there’s no-slip grips for both baby and the tub itself. The First Years baby bathtub is a parent favorite, with over 3,100 positive reviews on Amazon.
Babies can start eating solids around six months, although there are other signs parents should look for, like head control and ability to sit up. While breast milk or formula should be your baby’s main source of nutrition up to ten months, the first food can be a rice cereal mixed with breast milk or formula or mashed vegetables with no sugar or salt added. Read our complete guide to introducing solid foods here.
Babies who are “born long” may be more likely to grow up to be tall. But the biggest indicator will be the height of the baby’s birth parents. A popular formula involves finding a sort of average between the mother and father. Add up the height of both parents, then add five for a boy and subtract five for a girl and divide by two. You can also double a boy’s height at 2, or a girl’s height at 18 months. Neither method is precise, and of course, often people defy the averages and wind up taller than both parents, for example. The only way to know for sure is, like so many things with babies, wait and see.
The short answer is we don’t know. But babies do spend more time in REM sleep than adults, and REM is where dreaming happen for us. But that doesn’t mean they dream. “Infants are not tiny adults, they don’t have the same abilities or experiences we have,” writes neuroscientist Fabian van den Berg on Quora. “It’s comparing a human to a cat, monkey, or alien. They do become like us, eventually, but they aren’t like us yet.” That said, some believe that babies have their own versions of dreams, and may use it to process all the information they take in while awake. But because what van den Berg describes as the experience of “just pure sensory information” that babies live in, their dreams, if they have them, likely won’t involve dreams about themself. Self-awareness, and sense of self, comes later.
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