New Parents Share Their Middle-of-the-Night Google Searches
Every new parent knows the feeling: It’s 2 a.m. You’re bleary-eyed, and you want nothing more than for everyone to get some sleep. But you’re up. And so is your new baby.
Though it would be amazing if your little one could tell you what’s keeping them awake, all you can do is try your best to figure it out. Sometimes, there’s no clear answer. But at least you’ve got Google.
Right now, a lot of parents in America are up in the middle of the night. According to birth data from the U.S. Social Security Administration, more babies are born between September 9 and September 20 than any other time of year.
At KinderCare, we’ve been caring for new babies for almost 50 years, and there’s no question we haven’t heard before. What parents are concerned about, it turns out, is universal. Just try Googling “baby won’t sleep” and see how many results you get (472 million, more or less).
Read on for the questions that keep all new parents awake, including poop, sleep, and that elusive practice—tummy time!
1. Why is my baby’s poop a weird color?
Flashback to before your baby was born: You probably never imagined you’d be Googling questions about poop. Yet here you are. And all new parents know how you feel.
“I Googled so many questions about poop the first few months I had my baby,” a 33-year-old mom from Gig Harbor, Washington shared with us. “Who knew it could be so many colors?”
Luckily, when you have questions about poop, there’s an app for that.
Some of parents’ favorites are Baby Connect, Feedbaby, Eat Sleep, and Sprout. Bonus: Many of them also track sleep, feeding, pumping, weight, and more—it’s a great tool to add to your new-baby starter kit.
If you see a change in your baby’s poop, track it. It might be no big deal, but it’s easier to remember what happened a week or even a day ago when you have all the data right at your fingertips.
And remember, if you see anything out of the ordinary, it’s always worth a quick call to your doctor’s on-call nurse hotline to make sure it’s nothing to worry about.
2. What’s the big deal about tummy time?
Ah, tummy time—you’ve read how important it is for developing your baby’s muscles to get ready for all of the crawling, rolling, scooting, sitting, and walking ahead. While your baby’s back is still the safest place for them to sleep, awake and supervised tummy time is important too. So how can you help your baby love their time on the floor?
“My baby hated tummy time,” a mom from Portland, Oregon told us. “I felt like I was doing something wrong because I could tell she wasn’t happy. It took her a long time to warm up to it.”
Tummy time doesn’t have to be long to be effective: Talk to your doctor to see what’s recommended for your baby. Though tummy time can be any time, you might have an easier go at it right after a nap or a diaper change when your baby is well-rested and comfortable.
If your baby just won’t take to tummy time, try making it fun and exciting with toys to play with—and make sure you’re getting down on the floor to play, too!
Don’t feel down if tummy time goes belly-up. You can always try again tomorrow!
3. What if my baby just won’t go to sleep?
It’s never easy to hear your baby cry, especially when you know you’re just steps away to comfort them. That’s why we talked to Dr. Elizabeth Super, a pediatrician and children’s sleep specialist with the Pediatric Sleep Medicine program at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, to ask her advice for sleep-deprived parents.
According to Dr. Super, by around six months, many babies no longer need a middle-of-the-night feeding and are ready to start learning how to self-soothe. However, about 25 percent of one-year-olds still have problems waking up in the middle of the night. “They should be sleeping through the night and can be doing it, but it’s very common that they’re not,” Dr. Super says.
In other words, if your baby has trouble sleeping, you’re definitely not alone. “Know that lots of kids have sleep issues, and that sleep issues will come and go as they grow,” Dr. Super says.
The sleep struggle for new parents is very real. “I turned to my community of friends and family, books, blogs, mom groups, and my doctor for support and advice,” shared a 33-year-old mom from the Bronx. “I did as much as I could, because I really wanted to find an approach that worked and was doable for us.”
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and it’s important to choose an approach that fits your family. That might mean adjusting your schedule to accommodate an earlier baby bedtime (Dr. Super recommends 7–8 p.m.) or coming up with a simple bedtime routine like taking a bath, brushing teeth, reading a book, and going to bed. You can check out more of Dr. Super’s ideas here.
No matter what, make sure you’re taking care of yourself too, even if that’s as simple as making time for a quick meal or a hot shower.
Being a parent, especially a new parent, is one of the hardest and best jobs in the world. Just remember that you are everything your baby needs—and that’s more than enough.