How to have a Happy, Healthy Baby
Here is my list of how to have a happy, healthy baby. As a disclaimer, I only have ONE baby, so this is by no means a scientific study. :) I may simply have a happy baby by disposition. However, these are the things we have done or continue to do that I believe contribute to a happy baby.
- Swaddle. Swaddling a newborn keeps them content. Now, we weren't able to swaddle Castiel fully for very long - he just really wanted his arms free. However, we did keep him wrapped as much and as long as we could.
- Breastfeed – on demand. For the first 6 weeks of his life (maybe longer), Castiel could barely start crying before I'd nurse him. This meant I nursed ALL THE TIME! However, it was well worth it to have a peaceful, happy baby. At 9 months, I still nurse on demand, but it's a lot less often than it used to be!
- Make your own baby food. This one may seem silly, but by making my own baby food, I know what Castiel is eating, and I know he isn't getting unnecessary preservatives. I think making healthy, natural choices contributes to a happy baby.
- Do not circumcise your baby boy. I really believe this helped to set the tone for a happy baby. Castiel did not have to recuperate when he came home from the hospital, and the beginning of his life was not marked by a painful experience.
- Do not vaccinate. Castiel has not been vaccinated, and this has contributed to a happy baby in several ways (in my opinion). First of all, doctor visits are pleasant experiences. Secondly, he experiences none of the unpleasant side effects of vaccinations such as fever, irritability, etc. Finally, he has NEVER been sick. However, this may be related to the following --
- Keep baby at home. I know this is not possible for everyone, but this I think contributes the MOST to a happy baby. Castiel is at home all day with his dad. In addition to being with a parent, he is at home in a safe and familiar environment. We don't take him all over creation, and when we are doing any type of marathon grocery shopping, he stays with Nana and Grandpa where he can relax!
- Read, read, read to your baby! I have read to Castiel since I brought him home from the hospital, and he now LOVES to be read to and play with books. He has his favorites that always calm him down, and it is nice to have a go-to activity that will make him happy. Plus he's learning to love books!
- Follow routines. Although we aren't strict schedule followers, Castiel generally knows what to expect throughout the day (thanks to Daddy). We have a bedtime routine that we do follow pretty strictly, and usually he is good about going to sleep quickly and peacefully.
- Play music in the background. Background music sets the mood. Ever since he was born, Carlos has made sure that there has always been music playing in the background - when the baby sleeps, when he plays, when he's riding in the car. We have different playlists according to what "mood" we want to set - Daytime Classical, Nighttime Classical, Playtime Music.
- Sing, sing, sing! We sing all the time, and Castiel definitely has his favorites. He's now started "singing" along with us, and sometimes by himself. We have a bath time song, a diaper-changing song, a turning-off-the-light song. :) We make up songs (although Daddy is much better at it) and also sing well-known songs. He loves "You are my Sunshine" and "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt."
- Celebrate everything! Everything is a celebration (and usually comes with a made-up song!) -- We celebrate the "last bite" of food, waking up, even pooping gets celebrated around here (at least when the baby does it!)
- Know your baby's developmental stage. This makes for a happy baby AND parent! At 7 months when the baby continually throws his bottle or sippy cup onto the floor, it isn't to test or annoy you, it's simply developmental. It's also teaching him about cause and effect (don't let the effect be your over-reaction). At 9 months, Castiel would much rather me read his favorite book to him three times than have me read three different books. We are in the developmental stage of REPETITION around here, and everyone is happier when we acknowledge and accept it. :)