The baby milestones no one tells you about
The first few years of a newborn’s life are pretty amazing. There’s a roll call of celebrated milestones: the first smile, laugh, word, roll over, crawl, and those first few steps.
But there’s a few which receive less press, but from a parent’s perspective, can be just as significant.
Who knew burping would be cause for celebration, but when my daughter brought forth her first unprovoked almighty belch, (she was a particularly windy child), I couldn’t have been happier. Before having children I had no idea how much wind babies can actually get and how much help they may need from you to pass it (in both directions).
Nights of walking the hallway jostling my three up and down and patting them on the back were the norm for my household. As was the constant fear that there was still a burp in one of their chests that would wake them up within minutes of putting them down to sleep. So when each of my children started burping and farting on their own, it was a particularly proud dad moment.
When: 3–6 months
Tip: For stomach pains, you can try gently rolling baby’s legs in a circular motion as though they’re riding a bike backwards while they are lying flat on their backs. For burping, you can try holding baby in a sitting position, one hand gently under the chin to support the neck and the other firmly rubbing their back from the base of their spine up to the neck in one smooth motion.
Sleeping through the night
Waking up after a full night of uninterrupted sleep after having a baby is probably the most magical thing a parent will experience until their child graduates from university.
My first reaction was to think something terrible had happened during the night. I ran in to check that my youngest was still breathing. Once that was confirmed, the most satisfied broad and impossible to remove smile came to my lips.
This was the beginning of the end; the end to wakeful nights, the end of walking the halls trying to settle each of them, the end of patting each of them on the bottom for hours in their cot. We’d finally got to the point where they’d all learnt to self-settle.
Of course, the odd bad night continues, but the sleepless nights have become the exception rather than the norm.
When: 6-12 months
Tip: I have three children and each of them started sleeping through at different ages and with differing degrees of encouragement. With all of them though, we started a feed, play, sleep routine early, always putting our children to bed awake (after thoroughly burping!). We always introduced a night routine early (bath, bottle, small play and bed every night at a similar time no matter how the day went).
Celebrating your child’s third birthday is momentous in and of itself. But armed with the knowledge that it also indicates the finish line for most children getting their full set of teeth just makes it all that more enjoyable.
Teething gets a pretty bad rap. I’ve heard it being blamed for a child’s tantrums, for their watery eyes and snotty noses, for their ear aches, for their sleepless nights, for them fighting amongst one another. You know what? It probably deserves it and some more.
Teething is tough. Think of how bad a toothache is for you to endure and you’ve probably hit the mark on how painful, irritating and frustrating getting teeth can be for a child. And don’t even get me started on those acidic poos. These poor little humans have to endure a lot, and for a parent, it’s tough, as we can’t make the pain go away.
All we can do is provide some age-appropriate pain relief and a lot of comfort. The worst is, no sooner do you get past the first round (usually the central bottom ones), and take a huge sigh of relief, than there is a second round, a third, a fourth – all the way through to the time your child gets their second molars sometime between the age of two and three.
When: 3 - 36 months
Tips: Tell yourself regularly and repeatedly “there is an end to this,” especially during the sleepless nights. Provide your child lots of love, comfort and understanding and plenty of things to chew during the day. Sugar-free rusks are good. We found teething toys which you can freeze water in a big help during the particularly bad days. And teething gel rubbed on the gums at night before sleep can also help.
Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.