She Says… After the 4th Trimester

I love the concept of the 4th trimester. I think it originated with Dr. Karp, the author of “Happiest Baby on the Block” (one of the BEST resources I have found for soothing newborns!). The idea is that babies in today’s world are born too early. That they really should have one more trimester in the womb. That’s why we do things like swaddle and rock and shhh and feed on demand and carry them around in wraps and slings close to our bodies. Since trimesters in pregnancy are roughly 3 months, I believe the 4th trimester covers the baby’s first three months outside of Mom’s body, and Dr. Karp and many others believe you cannot spoil a baby by mimicking a womb-like environment. In fact, creating this type of environment may be the best thing we can do to ease the transition into the world.

Owen was three months old a few weeks ago. We are officially out of the 4th trimester. So, where does that put us? The real world, apparently. All of the baby books say that you can’t spoil a baby for the first three months, but that somewhere around 4 months habits are set and we as parents should make an effort to set the “right” ones for us.

I try my best not to set habits that I’m going to need to change in the future. For me, that meant getting Owen to sleep in his crib as soon as possible, not popping a pacifier in his mouth very often to soothe him, and getting an early bedtime ritual into our routine. So far so good on those fronts. But there are little decisions that I make every day that certainly aren’t perfect, and are sometimes necessary just to get him to sleep or five minutes of quiet or a free hand. As Owen is getting older, I’m realizing just how impressionable his little mind is! In the morning I like to watch the Today Show while I give him his first bottle. But recently he’s been craning his neck to see the TV screen. Of course I don’t want to expose him to extensive amounts of TV at such a young age, so I curl and tuck myself into strange positions to keep him from looking at the screen. Finally this morning I just turned it off, and he still stared at the black screen, mouth agape, not eating. Grrr!

In other news, Owen is going bald (his fabulous rockstar hair is falling out in clumps!). And I am breaking out like a hormonal teenager (seriously… enough with the acne… I’m a mom). Perhaps these are also the result of leaving the comfort of the 4th tri? Real world, here we come!

9 responses to “She Says… After the 4th Trimester

  1. The fourth month definitely seems to be a serious transition time for babies. Eli lost most of his hair by month 2 except for this awesome patch in the back – we called it the baby mullet. Then, at 4 months, he started getting hair all over his head and lost the baby mullet… which is now a bald spot 🙂

  2. The Laundry Lady

    When to comes to affection, you can’t spoil a child ever. I don’t think it’s ever a mistake to hold and cuddle your baby. I worried that I would spoil my daughter with cuddles, but once she got mobile she was in the hurry to move and didn’t want to be held as much. I also developed the habit of watching TV while feeding my daughter (she nursed every two hours for the first 3 months so there wasn’t a whole lot else I could do). It hasn’t been a huge issue. Mostly because adult TV is boring as heck to most kids. It’s the kid themed commercials and children’s shows that tend to attract the attention. Those producers really know what catch a child’s attention. But she is definitely aware of when it’s on, so I try to limit most of my TV time to when she’s napping or in bed. Though sometimes when she was little I would watch TV shows on from my laptop with my headphones in while we nursed. With no noise she mostly ignored it and focused on eating. As far as spoiling goes, I’ve read that it’s pretty hard to spoil a child under 9 months of age. As always, parenting is a balancing act not an exact science. Try not to stress too much. Wanting to be a great mom is half the battle.

  3. Around 4 months, my baby got so distracted while eating that I had to feed her in a quiet, dark room.

    You really can’t spoil a baby under a 18months of age (if you consider spoiling to be replacing affection with products like candy or toys or creating a monster by giving into tantrums). Yes, they will be demanding, but that’s their job. It’s not like he’s borrowing the car and ignoring curfew, but he’ll go through stages of being clingy and you don’t want to be too rigid about “rules” that you’ve established.

    My baby went completely bald and it’s just now coming back (at 5months) and it’s coming back a different color than before!

    My baby didn’t get the memo about the 4th trimester being over at 3 months and it wasn’t really until she was 4 months old that she seemed to shift. Babies are good at keeping us on our toes, huh?

    Also, my baby’s favorite thing is to watch college football. I’m pretty sure it won’t make her grow up to be a serial killer, so I let it slide 🙂

  4. The Laundry Lady – see our daughter is complete opposite. I watch no kid-themed TV shows & she, too, stares at the TV (especially in the morning during the Today Show when I feed her the first bottle :D). However, I don’t really think 10-15 minutes of apathetically looking at the TV is going to harm her so I just try to keep her attention but let her glance and take breaks if she wants. *shrugs*

    🙂 I like the real world a lot better. Do you, Kate?

  5. I think the 4th trimester thing is really interesting, too…sounds like you’re doing what you need to do for Owen!

    Can’t wait for some acne AND the postpartum hair loss (for me!) that I hear so much about. Also, did you have night sweats after giving birth? Tell me those eventually fade away….so nasty.

  6. Haha, I mus have the same baby as Laundry lady, although Amber STILL nurses every two hours. And I watch TV on my laptop all the time. I agree with the 4th trimester, but personally don’t think you can spoil them so soon afterwards. I am enjoying the new sort-of settlednes we have now – I know Amber so much better and playtime etc is so much more fun! Aww poor bald Owen!

  7. The Laundry Lady, I’m definitely not stressing over the TV stuff! Just something I’ve noticed.

    Kara, I love it! A college football fan already!

    kalen, I totally agree. The few minutes of tv time are not going to kill him. I’m beginning to come out of our fourth trimester haze, and yes, I think I like the real world a lot better 🙂

    BethT, I’ve heard horror stories of the postpartum hair loss too. Haven’t experienced that one myself yet, but I also never got the amazingly thick and gorgeous pregnant hair that so many do, so maybe I’ll skip that lovely symptom. As for the night sweats, they TOTALLY go away (although mine took several weeks longer than people said they would). Apparently it’s a hormone balancing thing. Hang in!

  8. My daughter was born with quite the head of hair and by 4-5 months had some sort of a crazy mohawk, then it all fell out! Even still (2 years later) looking at pictures of that makes laugh at the crazy hair!

  9. I was wondering when it was that babies lose their hair! Good to know. My little man is only two months old and has the bald spot on the back of his head but I couldn’t figure out when the rest of the hair goes!

    I’m going to stop watching tv as soon as he stops night feedings! It’s the only way I can stay awake! He’s down to one feeding and it’s moving later and later (about 5:30 am now) so it shouldn’t be too long.

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