Nighttime Teething Nightmare- Why Teething Makes Your Baby Cry More At Night and What May Help

by Jessica Martin-Weber

This post made possible by the generous support of Ready Rocker
Use Code: TLB-30 for 30% off your cart on readyrocker.com

 

Ever noticed that when your baby is teething their crankiness and discomfort seems to get worse at night? Or even how sometimes they seem TOTALLY fine during the day and then suddenly at night they can’t seem to settle and are fussy and cranky and you’re not even sure why only later to notice they have puffy red gums or even a brand new tooth?

It’s not your imagination, this really does happen and there’s a reasonable explanation too. Which means there’s also something you can do about it.

What’s the deal? Why are teething symptoms worse at night?


Teething babies are often at the age of exploration of the world around them. They are ready to move! Even if they aren’t very mobile, they’re rapidly taking in information, interacting socially, and physically developing new skills daily. A little bit of teething isn’t going to slow them down, they’ve got people to see, places to go, adventures to take, play to make! Even if they do have moments during the day, there’s a lot going on around them to distract them at least a little bit from what’s going on in their mouth and head.

Once regular night time and day time sleep patterns are worked out in the brain, right around 4 months, babies have the same general physiological cycles related to sleep in their bodies as adults do. During the day the build something that’s called sleep pressure in the brain which makes them ready to sleep at night (give or take… and that doesn’t mean they won’t fight sleep, just that their brain is ready for it biologically), their bodies naturally release melatonin as daylight fades and artificial light lowers, and their cortisol levels naturally drop to make it easier for them to sleep at night. Just like adults, as they get tired and ready for sleep, they can become more emotional and little challenges will suddenly seem bigger.

What does this have to do with worsening teething symptoms? Lower cortisol levels means that stressors like pain aren’t being managed as much by the brain and become more noticeable. Not only are there less distractions to take their attention off the discomfort, there is even less of the chemical cocktail the body produces that helps with coping with such discomfort.

Meaning more ouch.

That’s not all, either.

The body does most of the growing it needs to do during sleep. Sometimes our children literally do wake up bigger in the morning, their bodies having been busy during the night before. While asleep, the body can efficiently direct energy to growth and healing. Exactly why doctors have been telling us to sleep when sick, rest is essential for growth and repair. This includes teeth! It is very possible your baby’s teething symptoms get worse at night because their teeth really are moving more at night. A process that involves shifting bone and slowly cutting through gum tissue causing headaches, mouth pain, and general discomfort. No wonder there are tears!

With nothing to distract them, lower levels of chemicals that reduce pain, and more movement of the teeth at night all combine to create a perfect storm of middle of the night fussiness or downright screaming.

What can help?

While you can’t change the natural sleep patterns in the body, you can help make your baby more comfortable through teething. Nothing is a guarantee but every little bit of hope help and any of these steps may at least help reduce discomfort so there’s a bit more rest for everyone.

 

 

Respond quickly. Don’t wait for your baby’s fussing to escalate to full-fledged wailing in distress. Being responsive to their early communication that they need help will help them emotionally regulate and manage the stress of their discomfort as calmly as they possibly can.

Rule out other concerns. Just to be sure that your baby’s distress is about teething pain, check out your baby to rule out any other concerns. This will allow you to relax as much as possible that their discomfort is unfortunate but not alarming. With your anxiety lower, your baby will pick up on your calm and feel safe and secure that you are there with them even though they’re uncomfortable.

Nurse more! Breastfeeding releases chemicals in the baby’s brain that actually lower pain levels. Nurse is already co-regulating for emotional distress, the oxytocin released in calming and connecting but studies show that a baby being latched and sucking, receiving their milk from their parent, can reduce pain and even keep it from starting. Nursing more could be the ticked to getting through those nighttime teething pains.

Skin-to-skin. Easily accomplished with nursing but possible to do otherwise too, skin-to-skin as pain relief and soothing measures for pain is an incredibly effective non-pharmacological means to help your baby feel better.

Protect naps. Sleep begets sleep and lack of sleep can show up as hyperactivity at night. Protecting sleep during the day means that nap times are even more important. You may decide that more or longer nap times are worth the possible nighttime sleep shortening if teething is going on for a while and your little one just can’t seem to get enough sleep at night.

Earlier bedtime. If sleep has already been disrupted, having an earlier bedtime may help get more quality sleep in before the pain and discomfort kicks into high gear during the night. It isn’t uncommon for babies and toddlers to have difficulty sleeping after 11pm or midnight meaning you’ll easily see 1am, 2am, and 3am when they are teething if they’re really uncomfortable. Getting to bed earlier (you too!) may mean there’s more sleep happening that is better quality before the disruptions get started.

Rocking, swinging, swaying. There’s a reason most of us automatically start swaying or rocking when we hear a baby crying even if we’re not holding the baby ourselves: rocking soothes the brain! Studies show that rocking or swinging lowers stress levels, reduces pain and discomfort, and soothes emotional dysregulation. As simple as it may seem, rocking your baby at night really does help them feel better and you too!

Pain relief mediation. Liquid infant Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen may reduce your baby’s pain enough for them to get the sleep they need… and maybe you too! Be sure to use according to directions and try not to use more than 3 nights in a row and check with your child’s healthcare provider before administering.

Teething gel. There are safe, soothing teething gel options you can put directly on your baby’s gums to help reduce inflammation and pain. Be sure it doesn’t have benzocaine or other numbing agents in them as that can create a risk of choking and impair their swallowing.

Teething tablets. With a safe blend of herbs, teething tablets dissolve easily for baby and 

Have realistic expectations. Cutting teeth IS painful. It’s a lot of work and it is understandable that your baby complains about it. They want help making the pain goaway for good reason. Having realistic expectations about teething will help you stay calm even when you’re exhausted and feeling helpless and your baby will be able to draw from your calm for their own calm.

Remember this is temporary. Teething does stop at some point. Your baby isn’t going to be cutting new teeth forever. There may be long stretches of teething (my baby once cute 12 teeth one right after the other, teething for a few months straight) which makes it really difficult to remember that this is temporary but keeping that in mind can help get through those long nights.


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If this resource was helpful for you, consider helping The Leaky Boob by giving back. Help us keep our information, support, and resources free by becoming a patron and get access to exclusive content just for our supporters. Join here today.

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Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of wereallhumanhere.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 23 years.

The Leaky Boob Nourish 2022: An Infant and Toddler Feeding Summit

The Leaky Boob Nourish Summit 2022

 

Nourish 2022

Infant and Toddler Feeding Summit

presented by

  

 

The Leaky Boob Nourish Infant and Toddler Feeding Summit is a free event in 5 sessions supporting families in their infant and toddler feeding journeys.

Featuring live webinar sessions on topics related to infant and toddler feeding, Q&A’s with experts, and giveaways, Nourish meets parents and caregivers where they are with information they need to make the informed decisions necessary for reaching their baby and toddler feeding goals. The underlying theme for Nourish 2022 is “what I wish I had known” and a look at some of the aspects of infant and toddler feeding that are often neglected or ignored in typical conversations and education about infant and toddler feeding.

Nourish presenters included hospital and private practice clinicians and educators recognized for their leadership in understanding some of the more complex social-emotional and physical feeding challenges facing parents today. With practical action steps families can implement immediately, Nourish 2022 presenters share evidence based information and give parents the tools they need to feed their children with loving confidence.

Each session was recorded live and is available to view or listen to as a video on demand.

Nourish 2022 Sessions

The Leaky Boob Nourish Infant and Toddler Feeding Summit is presented by Naturepedic Organic Mattresses with sessions sponsored by the following brands:

Lily Jade Diaper Bags (Discount code: TLB10 for 10% off purchases over $125)
Ready Rocker (Discount code: TLB30 for 30% off entire site)
ezpz (Discount code: LeakyBoob10 for 10% off)
Amara Foods (Discount code: TLB15 for 15% off)
Belabumbum (Discount code: Leaky15 for 15% off)
Milkies milk savers and storage trays (Discount code: LeakyBoob15 for 15% off your entire purchase)
MiaMily (Discount code: TLBAIR20 for $20 off the HIPSTER Air – through August 18th only)
Bamboobies

The Grand Giveaway for the summit totals over $2,300 and is active through August 31st, 2022! Click here to enter. 

The following brands and products are included in the Grand Giveaway:

Naturepedic– Certified Organic Pillow and Protector Set – Retail Value of $307



Ready Rocker– Portable rocker to turn anywhere into a soothing rocker! Retail value: $149.99 – 5 winners

Amara– $100 shop credit.

 

Bamboobies hands-free pumping and nursing bra, $35 value – 5 winners

 

Belabumbum– $100 gift certificate (Enora nursing bra and matching panties pictured)

 

ezpzFirst Foods Sets in Sage at a retail value of $37.49 – 3 winners

Lily Jade

Caroline in Old English Leather, super lux leather with faux leather options. incredibly comfortable and totally packable. Retail Value: $380

MiaMily– HIPSTER Air Baby Carrier, Retail Value: $159

Milkies– 1 Milk-Saver & Milk Tray, Retail value: $47.90.

 

Boba A Boba wrap and Boba X carrier bundle. Retail Value of $200
Use code BOBABABY15 for 15% off all products

Fat Brain Toy Co Nigi-Nagi-Nogi By Moluk, Retail Value: $16.95 – 5 winners
Use code GG-3836 for 10% off 1 item

Night Weaning Gently Workshop- One Night Weaning Gently Workshop registration. Retail value: $295

Weaning Gently Workshop– One Weaning Gently Workshop registration. Retail value: $325

 

Martin-Weber Relationship and Family Coaching- 1 Free Consult and 2 Free Relationship or parenting coaching sessions with Martin-Weber Coaching. Value $350

 

What you need to know about breastfeeding and postpartum contractions

by Jessica Martin-Weber

Naturepedic

This post made possible by Naturepedic Organic Mattresses for the whole family
Use the code “TLB15” for 15% off your cart at naturepedic.com.

Lactation can save your life, help heal your body, and be good for your uterus.

This is all true.

We talk a lot about how great breastfeeding can be for baby, but did you know it can be great for your uterus too? What your uterus wishes you knew about lactation:

It can save your life.

Potentially in more ways than one. But what really makes your uterus happy is that putting your brand new baby to suckle at your breast stimulates the release of oxytocin in your brain which helps your uterus to clamp down. These postpartum contractions are often called afterbirth pains. That initial latch of your wee babe strengthens the natural contractions and if you haven’t already, helps you expel the placenta and make sure you don’t bleed to death. It can help prevent a postpartum hemorrhage. But don’t worry if your baby doesn’t want to feed right after birth (give them a break, it was an eventful occasion, being born), this continues to work for as long as it takes for your uterus to reduce to it’s normal non-gestating size.

The uterus returning to it’s not-currently-gestating size gives room to the organs that have been squished, making it easier to breathe, eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom. It also means less pressure on the pelvic floor organs and tissue. This is an important stage of early healing. Often afterbirth contractions are more intense and painful with subsequent babies but it still does the job. Hate it all you want but it is way better than hemorrhaging and it’s the body’s perfect way to make sure you’re safe and around for a long time.

Every time you put your brand new baby to your breast, even if it doesn’t last long, and you endure a wave of contractions you may curse, swear, stomp your foot, breathe through clenched teeth hissing at your partner that next time they’re having the baby but those painful afterbirth contractions that your nursing babe brings on are important as they cut off the supply of blood to where the placenta had been allowing for healing and recovery to take place. Some don’t experience these contractions as much more than some mild cramping, others find them worse than labor itself. There’s a wide range of experiences, don’t be alarmed if you find that your own varies from that of others. 

Along with signaling to the uterus it’s time to shrink back down, breastfeeding can help you rest. For many that have just had a baby, life just doesn’t let them have the time they need to really heal and that open wound in their uterus doesn’t get the rest it needs which can lead to mom becoming anemic, fatigued, sore, and taking longer to heal. While there’s always a lot to do, breastfeeding can help busy moms take a load off in those early weeks with a hungry baby forcing them to sit and be still long enough to work on a good latch and fill up that little tummy. Taking time to have skin to skin fosters the breastfeeding relationship and can reduce their healing time, leading to sustainable recovery. And because it can help reduce postpartum bleeding and menstrual bleeding both in volume and length of time, some will experience a natural rise in iron levels which will be a real energy boost.

 

Fertility can be delayed with lactation. With my last baby, my 8th full term pregnancy, I got a break from my period until 21 months postpartum. Including pregnancy, that was more than 30 months off and no ovulation. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t miss it one single bit. This isn’t a guarantee but the majority of people experience a delay in the return of their fertility after giving birth if they exclusively breastfeed/chestfeed (meaning no supplementation). When baby is fed only with nursing, the body suppresses fertility to focus on continuing to grow this little person. This would mean no period sometimes until full weaning happens though any time solid foods, supplementation, or artificial nipples are introduced it’s possible their cycle will return. Sometimes that can be thrown off, usually if artificial nipples are used (yeah, even with bottles of their own pumped milk) but sometimes even if there is only ever exclusively nursing the cycle may return early in the postpartum period. But for those that experience suppressed fertility due to breastfeeding, it can be a nice break from their regular menstrual cycle. Because there are no guarantees though, unless you are hoping to get pregnant again shortly after having your baby, some kind of birth control measures would be wise.

Lactation can help with endometriosis and may help reduce cancer risks. Because it is common for the menstrual cycle to be delayed by lactation, those that have endometriosis may experience a stabilization of the progression of their condition which may lead to some relief. This won’t necessarily cure the condition but some do find it is no longer an issue. Causation or correlation, studies show that women that breastfeed have lower incidence of developing uterine, endometrial or ovarian cancer. 

Nursing is no magic bullet that will save you, you may lactate and still get cancer, you may nurse and still experience a retained placenta or postpartum hemorrhage, you may bodyfeed and struggle with endometriosis or have your fertility return right away. But hey, a chance that you could get a break and make your uterus happy? If you can, it could be a chance worth taking.

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If this resource was helpful for you, consider helping The Leaky Boob by giving back. Help us keep our information, support, and resources free by becoming a patron and get access to exclusive content just for our supporters. Join here today.

______________________________

 

Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of wereallhumanhere.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 23 years.

How to set up a lactation space you’ll love

by Jessica Martin-Weber

This post made possible by the generous support of Ready Rocker
Use Code: TLB-30 for 30% off your cart on readyrocker.com

 

There’s something comforting about knowing you have a space just for you, all set up with your favorite comforts. When you get there, you can really relax, you feel safe, everything you need is right there, and you can focus on what is really important to you. That is even more true for breastfeeding.

While lactation and baby or toddler feeding happens where it needs to, when it needs to, it can help to have a regular comfortable space or two set up for when you’re home with everything in easy reach so you can just focus on what’s really important. Being comfortable, able to focus, and able to relax can make a difference in getting a latch that works for you and baby without pain, encourage let-down, prevent stress on your body, allow for more complete postpartum healing, and support different positions.


To set up a lactation space you’ll love, keep in mind that one-size-doesn’t-fit-all. We’re all different and that’s great! What works for one may not be what works for another. So get specific about what you like and don’t worry if you’re the only one doing it that way. Your lactation space, like your lactation journey, should be as unique as you and your baby are. Don’t pressure yourself to have the instagram ready lactation journey or breastfeeding space, let your journey unfold, seeking help and using the tools you need in the process. It may not be perfect (whatever that means) but it will be real and that is beautiful.

Some considerations:

Since nursing can be expected to happen at least 8-16 times a day (such a wide range) and be up to 30 minutes a session (and honestly, sometimes longer while you and baby are first learning), meaning 8 or more hours a day spent JUST feeding your baby, it’s important to be as comfortable as possible for those feeds. With that in mind, here are some considerations to take into account when setting up your lactation space.

Picking a spot- get comfy!

  • Quiet and away or in the middle of things?
  • Comfortable seating options? 
  • Is there room for position options and changes such as football hold or laid back positions?
  • Room for others or just you and the nursling?
  • Do you need to be near an outlet, entertainment remote controls, etc.?
  • Lighting- are you able to control the lighting to make it brighter or dimmer?

Once you’ve decided the specific space or two- it may work best for there to be multiple areas set up as a lactation space depending on the time of day or other needs of the family, it can save a lot of stress and headache to have the items you may need or will make you more comfortable within easy reach. What that is depends on each individual’s unique needs but there are some most find handy.

A basket, rolling cart, small tub, caddy, or bag nearby to contain the smaller items makes it easy to have everything you may need in addition to the seating and larger elements of your lactation space. This way you can move your lactation space as needed with easily portable items contained and elements that have multi-function or are portable can streamline the process once you’re more comfortable breastfeeding in other areas. This is why I love a charging adapter with multiple port types and the Ready Rocker for a rocking chair option I can take anywhere.

May be helpful to have…

  • Footstool
  • Water/drink (trust me, you’re going to get thirsty)
  • Snacks (nothing like breastfeeding hunger!)
  • Ready Rocker 
  • Nursing pillow or other supports
  • Cozy options (blanket, sweater, etc.)
  • Nursing pads
  • Heat/cold packs
  • Helpful tools (i.e. nipple cream, lactation massager, burp cloths, hands-free-pumping-bra, etc.)
  • Fidget or safe toy
  • Breast pump or silicone suction expression cup
  • Phone charger
  • Speaker or earbuds
  • Entertainment (phone, book, tablet, etc.)

Now all that’s needed is the baby!

Oh, and while not a part of the actual space, set-up for each lactation session by being sure you empty your bladder first and washing your hands. You don’t want to regret that step, that’s a sure way to make even the most comfortable spot miserable!

How do you have your lactation and baby feeding space set up? Is there anything you’d add to our considerations?


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If this resource was helpful for you, consider helping The Leaky Boob by giving back. Help us keep our information, support, and resources free by becoming a patron and get access to exclusive content just for our supporters. Join here today.

______________________________

 

Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of wereallhumanhere.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 23 years.

How to reduce shrieking/screaming/screeching with babies and toddlers

By Jessica Martin-Weber

Originally published on our Patreon. With the support of our patrons we’re able to continue providing information to our online community. Become a patron today to gain immediate access to additional information while supporting The Leaky Boob.

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Have a screaming banshee of a child? Do they squeal when they’re happy? Feel like your eardrums are going to burst when they’re mad? Does your blood pressure shoot up when they’re excited and playing because of their shrieking? Are you totally overwhelmed with their screeching when they’re frustrated?

 

What would it be like if adults acted like screaming babies or toddlers?

This video might give you an idea on what it would be like (be prepared to laugh).

 

A parenting coaching client asked us for help with her shrieking, screaming, screeching toddler and as ours had just gone through the same stage, we had a pretty good idea of what she was going through. We gave our client what worked for our little one and some additional information and suggested action steps based on her values, parenting goals, and unique circumstances. We were thrilled when took weeks later she said the screaming had almost completely stopped and her toddler was doing much better.

Interested in a free one-on-one relationship or parenting coaching consult with the founding family of The Leaky Boob, relationship coaches, Jessica and Jeremy Martin-Weber? We’d love to, let us know here.

First of all it is important to remember that adults *usually* don’t act like this so rest assured your child is probably going to grow out of this stage at some point. Probably.

If you experience sensory overload when your child is loud and screechy, you’re not alone. And you’re not a bad parent to just wish it would stop or to want to run away. This is a very common stage of development but that doesn’t mean it is an easy one. Knowing it is normal can help when it is overwhelming and torturous. It isn’t that you don’t love your child or accept them where they are, it is that you would like to not be on edge with every big emotion they experience.

Shrieking/screeching/screaming babies/toddlers/preschoolers is really common and no, you haven’t done something wrong if your child is this way.

But there are some steps you can take to help reduce the overwhelming squawking right away.

*Note: sometimes shrieking/screaming/screeching is a part of neurodivergent expression. That’s ok, just a piece of information about your child. Together with other signs, loud high pitched vocalizations may be an indicator that further evaluation is necessary to understand and support your child’s neurotype.

 

 

Shrieking older baby/toddler tips

In the moment:

  1. Make sure nothing is really wrong (safety, check their body for possible cause of pain, diaper, hunger, overtired, etc.)
  2. Remember behavior is communication- they aren’t doing this to annoy you, they are learning how to express themselves
  3. Responding calmly and quickly helps develop a sense of security and reduces the need for escalating for a reaction
  4. Affirm that you hear them
  5. Match their energy to help them feel understood (don’t be too calm)
  6. Use words (speech and sign) that express that energy (“wow, that was really loud, you sound angry!” “I hear you, it is frustrating to drop your toy, do you need my help?” “What a shriek! You’re so excited!” “YAY! You did it!”
  7. Try different sensory input when you respond (hold their hand, gentle pressure on their arms, a soft rhythmic hum, etc.)
  8. After responding and listening, guide a gentle transition to a different activity or setting. Do not rush this or it is not respecting their process, the idea is to help them work through the moment by co-regulating with you and then shift the energy into something else. We are not redirecting or distracting.

In general (outside of the moment):

  1. Play with them using a range of sounds to model the range of tones and volumes model a range of vocal sounds, high, low, soft, loud, growling, singing, whispering, shouting, etc
  2. Introduce simple sign language and use it regularly with speaking and when  responding to screaming. Helpful signs: help, stop, more, hungry, thirsty, water, milk, eat, change, all done, please, up, down, yay (applause), hurt, etc.
  3. Assess their environment and note any patterns such as possible sensory overload, overtired, hunger, loneliness, etc.

To manage your own sensory overload:

  1. Take a deep breath before responding.
  2. Respond sooner rather than later to reduce the chance of the shrieking escalating.
  3. If possible, reduce other sensory input or stressors (i.e. turn off background noise, get more rest, remove visual noise (clutter), stay on top of your own physical needs, try noise reduction earplugs, etc.)
  4. Take breaks.
  5. Change the scenery for you and your child (go on walks, put them in the bath, try a new sensory play experience, etc.)
  6. Remind yourself that behavior is communication so you respond rather than react.

 

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For over 10 years, The Leaky Boob has been providing information on The Leaky Boob website and Facebook page helping countless families. If you find yourself compelled to give back, consider becoming a patron on our Patreon where you gain first glance of newly dropped articles amongst other firsthand perks for as little as $1. 

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Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of wereallhumanhere.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 8 daughters with her husband of 23 years.

 

A Letter to Non-Birthing Partners

by Jeremy Martin-Weber, Relationship and parenting coach and dad of 8

The Leaky Boob 2021 New Baby Guide banner

this post is sponsored by The Leaky Boob New Baby Guide, available here and by Martin-Weber Relationship, Family, and Parenting Coaching, sign up for your free consult here.

 

A Letter to Non-Birthing Partners

 

Congratulations, you’re having a baby! Or have recently had a baby. Or maybe it was a long time ago. Whatever it is for you, congrats! Having a baby is a wonderful thing that changes you forever. Even as the non-birthing parent, there is a lot of change when you welcome a whole new entire human being into the world.

That’s a good thing! Not an easy thing but still a good thing. 

A lot of the time, energy, and focus has likely been lavished on your partner and the baby growing in their body. That’s understandable – growing babies is a big deal! You may feel unsure about your role in all this or how to best be engaged in caring for your new baby when they’re here, let alone before or even as they are being born. I’m no expert but I’ve been there myself, 8 times now. There’s always a learning curve to becoming a new parent. As the non-birthing partner expecting a new baby your role isn’t relegated to being on the side-lines, you have an active and important part to play.

In the partnered life, most responsibilities can be approached and divided between partners through a conversation based on each person’s strengths, interests, skills, talents, availability, and so on. It rarely comes down to who’s capable – most people are capable of handling most responsibilities – they may not want to, but they can. It’s completely possible to divvy up those responsibilities through conversation that leads to an agreement about who does what. 

There’s one area in particular where, for many, it simply can’t play out that way: growing, birthing, and breastfeeding babies. 

Typically, one partner does all that, and the other partner does… what? Puts the crib together? Smokes a cigar? 

Well, from one non-birthing partner to another, I can tell you that there are many ways for you to be involved that go beyond putting a crib together and maybe fertilizing an egg (or ovum, to be exact). 

For all the books and articles and even classes for the birthing parent, there’s not a lot for the non-birthing parent. So what exactly do you do? Besides wait for the kid to grow up and then you get to be the “fun parent?” (Hint: don’t do that, it won’t serve you, your partner, or your child well.)

What is the nonbirthing partner or dad role with a new baby?
The most important thing you can do is to regularly tell your partner that you want to be as involved as possible and then demonstrate that by being present, interested, curious, and active (that means taking the initiative and actually doing some stuff instead of waiting around to be invited or told what to do). Listen to your partner about what they actually need and want – don’t do something they don’t care for and expect appreciation and praise. The demands on them are massive, don’t make it even more. The biggest difference between you and your partner is that they don’t actually have a choice but to think about having a baby – their body is literally changing every day to make that possible. It serves as a constant reminder. And eventually, it’s not just their body that reminds them, it’s the little body inside their body that reminds them too! You, on the other hand, have a choice. And it comes down to the choice of being involved, or missing out, and it takes effort. Which, translated into your partner’s perspective means that they’re either going through this experience without you or together with you. Don’t wait. No matter how far along the pregnancy is or how old the baby is, it’s not too late to start demonstrating that you want to be involved – the longer you wait the harder it will be, so back to this: don’t wait. You don’t have to know everything. You don’t even have to know anything. You’ll figure it out together. Don’t expect your partner to manage you, you’re not an employee they have to work to direct, be a partner by being proactive.

Following is a list of some of the ways you can be more involved:

PREGNANCY

  • Don’t wait. Demonstrate that you want to be involved now, and every day. 
  • Tell your partner that you want to hear about what it’s like for them to be pregnant. 
  • Tell them that they’re not a nuisance for sharing about their aches and pains and the special parts. 
  • Massage them to help with the aches, but also for connection, and to help relax them. 
  • Get informed about pregnancy, birth, and babies beyond what your partner is willing to share. 
  • Don’t get cocky about what you think you know about growing a baby in your body. No matter how much you think you know, you still aren’t the one experiencing it in real time. 
  • Listen.
  • Be willing to talk about pregnancy, birth, and babies with your partner as often as they want to. It may feel like you’re talking about it all the time, and that’s all you two talk about anymore. GOOD. It won’t last forever, but your partner doesn’t get breaks from being pregnant, so you can deal too. 
  • As a matter of fact, don’t expect your partner to always be the one to bring it up. You go ahead and start that conversation too. Let your partner be the one to say that they want to talk about something else for once – they will, if they get a chance to talk about it enough. This demonstrates your invested interest in your partner, their experience, and the baby.
  • Be a more attentive partner. Offer to do more for your partner. 
  • Tell them they’re beautiful. 
  • Don’t forget romance – keep doing the stuff that reminds you of your love for each other. And it’s ok if that turns into talking about babies. It’s just the deal. 
  • As your partner gets closer to birth and things get harder for them to do, you do more of those things – unless your partner doesn’t want you to. 
  • Don’t coddle your partner, or treat them like they’re sick. Let them tell you when they need to do less. You can ask them about it, but don’t tell them what they can and can’t do. 
  • Talk about the birth. What they want. How you want to be involved. Discuss a birth plan together. 
  • Go to prenatal appointments with them whenever possible and rearrange your schedule to do so. 
  • When they start nesting, do all the things that they say need to be done in order for this baby to arrive in a safe space. It doesn’t matter if some of those things don’t make sense to you. They matter to your partner. 
  • Welcome all of your partner’s feelings. Listen and validate your partner’s experience. 
  • Pick out baby clothes together. 
  • Prepare for the birth together. 
  • Go to the birth classes. 
  • Go to the new baby classes. 
  • Talk with your partner about what you’re both looking forward to, what you fear, how you feel. 
  • Be more present. 
  • Your partner will need more time to be in their own head to sort out what they’re experiencing and how they feel about it, and just be in the moment. Do what you can to help make that happen – more responsibilities around the house, more cooking, meal planning, etc. 
  • If you smell bad to her because of what you eat, don’t eat that again until after the birth and don’t take it personally- pregnancy hormones can create the nose of a bloodhound. 

 

BIRTH

  • More than any other time in this experience of bringing a baby into the world, labor and birth needs to be all about your partner. Your job is to support your partner. 
  • Do everything you can to allow your partner to focus on the work their body is doing – in other words, minimize distractions, and don’t be a distraction. 
  • Let your partner call all the shots. 
  • Do what they say they need. 
  • Remind them of aspects of the Birth Plan as needed. 
  • Go to bat for them. If there needs to be a conversation about the Birth Plan or what your partner wants with a nurse/doctor/midwife or other birth attendant, you do it. Run interference when needed. 
  • Encourage your partner. 
  • Ask them if what you’re doing is what they need but don’t be needy about getting accolades that you’re doing the right thing.
  • Massage them when they need it. 
  • Keep your hand where they directed you to put it, and don’t move it! You’ll never put it back exactly where it was before. 
  • Tell them you love them. 
  • Say affirmations to them (you’ll want to have discussed them beforehand). 

 

NEW BABY

  • Support your birthing partner as they recover from birth. Encourage them to rest. Do everything you can for them so they feel like they can focus on their healing. 
  • Take on all of the household responsibilities, and it’s ok for the house to not be perfect. That doesn’t mean that it’s ok to just let the house go entirely. Dishes still need to be done. Laundry. Trash needs to go out. The house still needs to be clean, even if it’s messier. 
  • Spend time with your partner.
  • Bond with your baby as you change their diaper. 
  • Your partner gets to feed your baby – you get to enjoy watching them. At some point you may have more of a role in actively feeding but it usually takes WAY more work to pump than to nurse directly and you giving the baby a bottle could undermine lactation at first so just sit back and enjoy the bond your partner and the baby are developing through feeding.
  • Keep being attentive to what your partner needs – this will be a part of your bonding with the baby and your partner.
  • Go to baby well checks.
  • Hold your baby. 
  • Feel insecure about that, or other aspects of caring for a new baby? That’s normal. Ask your partner about it. You’ll become more comfortable and confident in time.
  • Talk about the birthing experience with your partner. Invite them to share what it was like for them, what they liked, didn’t like, what surprised them. 

 

As you can see, there’s plenty to do to not only demonstrate that you want to be involved, but to actually BE involved and strengthen your connection with both your partner and your new baby. Do it. Jump in. Don’t wait. You won’t regret it. Nobody ever looks back and says they regret the time they spent loving their loved ones. This time and stage may be consuming in the moment but it really is so brief. Neglecting your role in this time is something you’ll never be able to undo and could damage your relationship with your partner. You matter in all this, don’t minimize the impact you have in this time by not fully being present and participating to connect with your partner and baby.

Martin-Weber Coaching

Jeremy Martin-Weber, relationship family, and parenting coach has been married to his wife Jessica Martin-Weber for 24 years and is the father of 8 children. His background includes music performance, teaching, non-profit director, mentor, and running a non-profit coffee shop. To support as many families in their relationship goals as is possible, Jeremy co-created We’re All Human Here and helps administrate The Leaky Boob in addition to his work as a relationship and family coach. For a free coaching consult, sign up here: https://bit.ly/3akaRR7.

Breastfeeding baby to sleep, bad habit or ok?

by Jessica Martin-WeberNaturepedic
this post made possible by Naturepedic Organic Mattresses for the whole family
Use the code “TLB15” for 15% off your cart at naturepedic.com. 

Fan Question: My baby keeps falling asleep while breastfeeding, am I making a bad habit?

You bring your tiny new human being to your chest and after a little awkward fumbling they are successfully latched as you marvel at their tiny perfection and they suck, drinking deeply of your milk. They settle into a steady rhythm and you feel them relax more fully into you, a relaxation that in 5-10 minutes is fully heavy sleepiness. By the time they’ve drained your breast your baby’s eyelids are closed, their arms and hands floppy, their lips and jaw slack, and a dribble of milk rolls down their cheek as they breathe deeply in sleep. 

Warm, soft, snuggled sleep.

Eight months later, the scene isn’t much different, they’re just longer and rounder. Ten months after that the routine continues. Maybe not every feed but often and maybe it is the only way they go down for a nap or bedtime.

For many little ones boob = sleep.

This may worry some as they hear from others that breastfeeding their baby to sleep is creating a bad habit, alarm that their child will never be able to sleep on their own if they do this, and dire warnings that the milk will damage the child’s teeth. On The Leaky Boob we frequently hear from those wondering if breastfeeding their baby to sleep is a bad thing, fears that this experience that happens so frequently for so many will doom them and their child.

I have good news!

According to pediatrician Dr. Arthur Lavin and coauthor of Baby and Toddler Sleep Solutions For Dummies, breastfeeding your little one asleep is totally fine. 

In a live interview I had with Dr. Lavin on The Leaky Boob Facebook Page (view here), he explained that there’s no concern with breastfeeding your nursling to sleep and it is actually quite normal that breastfeeding would lead to sleep. In fact, it’s a part of how the brain works! The portion of the brain that regulates feeding is closely related to regulating sleep and wakefulness and releases a hormone called orexin which is why we feel sleep when we have full tummies even as adults. This starts from birth. Breastfeeding also releases oxytocin and dopamine in the brain which makes everyone involved feel sleepy. These hormones are a part of helping milk flow and contribute to bonding by making us relaxed, happy, and safe. It all combines to be a drowsy inducing cocktail of snuggles and feeding. What better way for baby to fall asleep?

For a newborn it just makes sense. Breastfeeding to sleep feels safe and the scent of the breasts and breastmilk is familiar, comforting, and warm. Being skin to skin is soothing and babies are programmed to want to be there, close and protected. Their food, safety, and everything they know is there. Cradled to your chest they can fill their tummy, get that relaxing hormone release, smell home, and be lulled to sleep to the sound of your heartbeat just like before they were born.

Breastfeeding your baby back to sleep at night helps protect your breastmilk supply while meeting their demanding nutritional needs. A baby’s growth rate for the first 4 months of their life is faster than it will ever be again (even teen boys don’t grow as fast!) and feeding frequently through the night not only ensures an adequate milk supply as it coincides with the time of day that the milk-making hormone prolactin is highest in the lactating parent’s brain, these feedings also provide a steady supply of calories for this rapid growth phase. Night-time feeds can be protective of breastmilk supply with higher prolactin levels at night and may make up to 20% of a baby’s total milk intake. Feeding to sleep is part of their growth strategy! (See this study for more info.)

Breastfeeding to sleep may continue long after birth as well, particularly around certain times of day as melatonin levels in breastmilk are higher in the evening and through the night. It’s no surprise that a year or even two years later your little one falls asleep best while at the breast. This may even contribute to a regular sleep rhythm for your child. (Read about melatonin in breastmilk here.)

But is it a bad habit?

According to Dr. Lavin, no. In our interview Dr. Lavin explained that just as adults can establish new sleep habits, so can babies and young children. If, at some point, breastfeeding to sleep isn’t working for you and your child, you can change it. Particularly with an older baby or toddler. If you want to night wean gently, check out our night weaning readiness checklist here.

So it’s totally natural to breastfeed your baby to sleep and it isn’t a bad habit but… what about their teeth? We’ve all heard of bottle-rot, won’t falling asleep with breastmilk be bad for their teeth?

Human milk isn’t going to cause human teeth to decay. Dr. Lavin shared with us that genetics and socio-economics have more of an impact on the development of cavities than breastfeeding to sleep. That doesn’t mean there’s no risk, it just means that the risk is pretty low and wiping or brushing the teeth after your child eats solid food or drinks anything other than breastmilk or water is adequate protection for your child’s teeth. It isn’t necessary to clean teeth after breastfeeding at night (don’t wake the baby!) if there has only been breastmilk or water since the teeth were last cleaned.

As always, it is important to practice safe sleep whether or not you are breastfeeding your baby to sleep. The AAP recommends that babies under 12 months should sleep alone on their back in a dedicated sleep space in the parent’s room, free of blankets, pillows, toys, and crib bumpers. While the AAP recommends against bedsharing it is better to prepare to practice safe bedsharing if there is a chance you will fall asleep with your baby rather than to accidentally sleep with your baby in an unsafe manner (i.e. falling asleep with baby in a chair, on the couch, in a recliner, etc.).

Breastfeeding your baby to sleep is a completely normal reality, particularly in the first few months. If at some point you desire to change that and establish different sleep habits, you can. No need to worry that it is a bad habit you’ll be stuck with or is causing problems later on down the road. If it is working for you and your baby, it’s not a problem at all. Happy breastfeeding and sweet dreams!

The New Baby Guide 2021 Edition (for Pregnancy, Postpartum, and Newborn)

Expecting? Have a new baby?

Thousands told us what they wanted in a pregnancy, newborn, postpartum, baby-feeding, baby-sleep, and baby-gear guide and everything they wished they had known before having their baby.

This is that guide.

Pregnant belly new baby gui

Listening to what our fans told us what every parent needed when expecting or had a new baby, we created first edition of The Leaky Boob New Baby Guide and it is the guide of our dreams. But don’t take our word for it, here’s what Kathleen McCue, PhD, CNM, IBCLC had to say about TLB’s guide:

“Single best guide currently available to new families. Honest, concise, informative and all around fun to read! Refreshing to have such a valuable resource by those truly in-the-know.”

At just $1.99, you can get your copy and support The Leaky Boob and see for yourself.

Not convinced? Keep scrolling for a preview of The Leaky Boob 2021 New Baby Guide.

 

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The Leaky Boob 2021 New Baby Guide is a resource for first-time-parents and new-parents-again with checklists, vital conversations to have for partners and with your health care provider, family, work place, and more. The guide provides information as a jumping off point of what collectively hundreds of parents shared they wish they had known before having a baby. With sections on pregnancy, newborn, postpartum, feeding, sleep, and gear, our guide covers the essentials of having a new baby.

Plus exclusive discount codes!

Ready to get your 2021 New Baby Guide?

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Tools such as our checklists, vital conversations, and product recommendations support you in making sure you have the important conversations and items you need for your new baby with expert information.

Get The Leaky Boob New Baby Guide here.

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The Leaky Boob New Baby Guide gets real about aspects of having a new baby nobody ever talks about, like postpartum bleeding, normal newborn behavior, normal sleep, body changes in pregnancy and postpartum, difficulties with breastfeeding, postpartum mood disorders, and so much more.

Think TLB’s New Baby Guide is for you? Don’t miss it! Download your digital copy now.

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Practical must-know information, realistic expectations, and tips from the most experienced parents just like you, The Leaky Boob 2021 New Baby Guide shares what thousands of parents told us they wish they had known before having baby without overwhelming you with boring irrelevant information.

See why our guide has received rave reviews and get yours here today!

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The Leaky Boob 2021 New Baby Guide supports new parents in preparing for their new baby not only with information but with vital conversations and checklists of what is really important to prepare when having a new baby.

What do thousands wish they had known when having a new baby? Find out here.

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The Leaky Boob New Baby Guide can’t tell you the best products for you and your baby but we can tell you some of our favorites and why without overwhelming you with options.

Don’t miss out on our favorite products!

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Don’t wait, get your 2021 New Baby Guide here today!

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Want to help us continue producing content and resources to support families? Join our Patreon for even more access.

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TLB’s First Ever Newborn and Postpartum Summit

Newborn and Postpartum Summit

A totally free event with say-it-like-it-is conversation about the newborn and postpartum stage featuring guest experts and The Leaky Boob’s New Baby Guide.

This completely free summit event is made possible by the generous support of GooseWaddle, My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear, Charlie Banana, Pura Stainless, Andaluz Waterbirth Center, Bets & Emy, Crane USA, and TWELVElittle.

Enter the giveaway at the end of this post before December 1st for your chance to win some of our favorite products from the sponsoring brands.

 

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Guest speakers:

Rebecca Michi, Children’s Sleep Consultant

Dominique Gallo, IBCLC, Doula

Sue Potts, CNM

Angela Campos, Child Injury Safety Expert, RN, CPST

Victoria Strong, CPST

Laura Brown, LE, CPST, Babywearing Educator, Postpartum Doula

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The summit featured 4 livestreams on The Leaky Boob Facebook Page, and they’re all gathered here for your convenience:

 

Newborn Behavior: Sleep and Feeding- The Leaky Boob Newborn and Postpartum Summit

The dreaded “is she a GOOD baby?” is almost always really about sleeping and feeding and crying. But are babies really even capable of being “bad?”

Is my baby supposed to do THAT? Is it ok he wants to feed ALL the time? Whoever said “sleep like a baby” hasn’t met my baby- will she ever sleep? Is that even normal?

What is normal anyway?

Down to earth, this first livestream in The Leaky Boob Newborn and Postpartum Summit debunks the “good baby/bad baby” myth with a realistic look at normal newborn behavior when it comes to sleep and feeding.

 

Postpartum Recovery and Healing- The Leaky Boob New Baby and Postpartum Summit

Why do they smash on your belly after you give birth? What’s with the no baths rule? Why does your bleeding change color?

Certified Nurse Midwife Sue Potts fills us in on the postpartum recovery process explaining what’s happening in our bodies, what we need to fully heal, and what to expect with your care provider.

The Leaky Boob Newborn and Postpartum Summit features 4 livestreams with different guests in one day taking an honest look at the newborn and postpartum period. Host and TLB founder Jessica Martin-Weber is joined by her best friend, Sue Potts, CNM to tell you about the wonders of perineal ice packs, what’s really behind the no baths rule, and more about postpartum healing and recovery.

 

 

Newborn Safety and Gear- The Leaky Boob Newborn and Postpartum Summit

Have you ever asked “is that safe?” What’s the most common injury for babies? How do you know you pick the right car seat? What hidden dangers am I missing to keep my baby safe?

Child Injury Prevention Expert, Angela Campos, RN, CPST and Baby Gear Concierge, Victoria Strong, CPST join host and TLB founder, Jessica Martin-Weber for The Leaky Boob Newborn and Postpartum Summit. Hear what safety products are worth investing in and get guidance in what baby products you really need, what’s nice to have, and what you can probably skip.

The Leaky Boob Newborn and Postpartum Summit features 4 livestreams with different guests in one day taking an honest look at the newborn and postpartum period. Host and TLB founder Jessica Martin-Weber is joined by two long-time Leakies and safety experts to discuss gear and safety for the Newborn.

 

 

 

What Postpartum is REALLY Like- The Leaky Boob New Baby and Postpartum Summit

The first pee and poop after having a baby… what’s it REALLY like? How long does the bleeding last? Did you know about the night sweats? Or why you may want to hold on to those maternity clothes long after giving birth?

Postpartum Doula Laura Brown is our special guest for an honest-to-goodness-hold-nothing-back discussion about what postpartum is REALLY like. Giving it to you like it is, you might just laugh so hard you’ll pee yourself.

The 4th livestream in The Leaky Boob Newborn and Postpartum Summit, host and TLB founder Jessica Martin-Weber is joined by Laura Brown with real-talk about our bodies and lives after having a baby. With 13 children between them plus many more they’ve supported through birth work, doula support, breastfeeding support, and more, Laura and Jessica draw from experience to be sure nothing about the postpartum period takes you by surprise.

 

If for some reason the videos aren’t playing for you here, you can follow these links to watch them on Facebook:

Newborn Behavior: Sleep and Feeding

Postpartum Recovery and Healing

Newborn Safety and Gear

What Postpartum is REALLY Like

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Here’s the giveaway! Ends December 1, 2020.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ready For Your Virtual Baby Shower? Your Virtual Baby Shower Planning Guide

by Lavinia Martin-Weber
This post made possible by GooseWaddle

(Join The Leaky Boob’s virtual baby shower here.)

In the midst of the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic, we’re finding our whole world shifting to being online… well, more than it already was before the stay-at-home orders were issued. But just because our physical social lives come to a grinding halt doesn’t mean our way of life does. 

And people are still making and having babies. 

So what now? You’re pregnant (congrats!), during a pandemic (oh crap), and you have to stay at home (*insert big sad face here*). Never fear, oh incredible child-bearing human, you can still have your baby shower and throw a party to introduce your baby to the world!

(Download our quick and easy guide to introducing baby safely with social distancing here.)

“But how?” you may ask.

Introducing: the internet! I may know nothing about being pregnant but I know how the internet works and I love a good party. And even when all this pandemic stuff is over (it will end at some point, right?), so many of us have pocket friends that live all over the world that can’t get together in person for a party that we need to have options. So let’s celebrate you and your little one with the rest of your friends online. 

Bring on the virtual baby shower!

(If you’re short on time and need to simplify even more, WebBabyShower is a website that will do a lot of these steps for you.)

Whether you’re organizing a meet and greet for your own baby (which is absolutely, TOTALLY fine to do- girl, throw yourself a party, appreciate yourself and celebrate your baby!) or throwing a baby shower for a friend, as with any party, you have to figure out the Big Four. The Big Four (I should trademark this) being the main four questions you have to ask yourself in order to plan a party: where, when, what, and who. It can be as casual and simple as you like or it can be a big involved shin-dig. Whatever works for you and your budget.

(Download our Virtual Baby Shower Planning Guide and Checklist here.)

 

Before we get to the boring technical stuff (like what platforms are available), let’s get to the fun part of party planning. The What, if you will, of the Big Four™ (if you want to skip to what video call platforms you can use, then scroll down to the bottom of this article). Themes! If a specific theme for a party isn’t your thing, more power to you, but I personally really enjoy having something to base my party around. My two personal favorite birthday parties were Renaissance knight themed, and Harry Potter Hogwarts feast themed, respectively. 

“But why do themes if it’s going to be virtual?” 

Good question and I’m glad you asked. When there’s nobody coming over to your house to celebrate, what’s the point in picking a theme for them to partake in and appreciate? I get it, and maybe it’s too much of a hassle, but I think it would be fun to decorate the background of your limited screen square or use a border or background theme related to the party theme. It can add variety and once it’s set up, it feels nice to be within the party space. I’d compare it to the same feeling as getting out of pajamas for a video chat or getting dressed up just because. It feels good! It sets the mood. It makes it feel special. It is FUN! It can uplift your spirits, something that definitely comes in handy if you’re trying to celebrate. If you’re blanking on what themes to incorporate into your baby shower, don’t worry, I did a lot of brainstorming. And if these theme ideas don’t work for you hopefully they inspire you to come up with one that does! 

  • Disney and/or Pixar: I love how general and specific with this one you could be. You could choose just Disney in general and theme your party like it’s the Disney parks themselves with an assortment of iconic Disney/Pixar characters. Or you could get super specific! A Toy Story theme, Disney Princess theme, Star Wars, the Marvel universe, Mickey and Friends themed, or any of your favorite Disney/Pixar stories! Dress up inspired by your favorite Disney character, wear Mickey ears, play iconic Disney tunes in the background, the Disney world is open to you! 
  • Studio Ghibli: Man oh man do I love me some Studio Ghibli. It’s another one of those theme ideas where you can do a general theme or hone in on a specific movie. You can pay homage to the general aesthetic of the Studio Ghibli movies (which I LOVE), or if you have a favorite movie you want to represent (like “My Neighbor Totoro”), you can just keep it to that. 
  • Doctor Who: For all you Doctor Who fans! I never actually got into the show (I know, my loss), but it’s still All The Rage™ (and I do love that the new “Doctor” is a woman). Dress up as your favorite doctor and turn your pen into that screwdriver thing one of them holds (I’m sorry, I mean no disrespect to the Doctors please don’t come for me Whovians).
  • Harry Potter: I had a Harry Potter party for my 18th birthday and it was awesome! Hung battery charged candles from my ceiling with fishing wire, dressed up in my Hogwarts House colors (I’m a Slytherin hehehe), and ate food inspired by the Hogwarts feast (which is a lot of boiled food as it turns out). Take a sorting test! Take bets as to which house your friends might be in! Drink firewhiskey and pumpkin juice! Hogwarts spirit!
  • Anime: Another one where you can be general and specific. Anime is a HUGE category. You could celebrate the classics (Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, Naruto, Pokémon, etc) or pick a favorite to base your theme around! Cosplay your favorite character and geek out. And in case anyone was wondering, my favorite anime is Soul Eater, and yes I have cosplayed as the Thomson Sisters thank-you-very-much (Soul Eater is not appropriate for children as it has mature themes). 

Here I am with Earth Baby (top) and Lollie (bottom) when we cosplayed as the Thompson Sisters and Death the Kid at our city’s Comic Con in 2016.

  • Hello Kitty: Oh boy is the Hello Kitty fandom still HUGE. Another franchise I’m not that well-versed in, but I see it EVERYWHERE with its cute kitties, bunnies(?), and colors. Dig out all of your Hello Kitty merchandise and share your love for the cool cat with your friends and family. 
  • Toki Doki: I love Toki Doki. The characters are so adorable and creative! You can order the cute plushies or mystery mini characters for you and your friends to unwrap together. 
  • Astrology: This is less franchise/fandom-ish, but I personally really dig astrology and looking at zodiacs and natal charts. Although I’m not an adamant believer in horoscopes, I still think it’s fun to draw parallels in zodiac personality charts. Look up and read your and your friend’s natal charts, dress up as your zodiac animal and colors, make fun of stereotypes! (I am a flaming hot double Aries cheeto with Libra as my rising). I’m just talking about the zodiacs based off of Babylonian and Hellenistic astronomy because those are what I’m into, but don’t forget Chinese zodiacs and others! 
  • Nintendo: Can be a general theme to show love to all of the classic Nintendo games, or once again you can get specific. Dress up as your favorite Mario Brother character, or if you’re a Legend of Zelda fan like me, Zelda character. Play Super Smash Bros. or Mario Kart online together, reminisce about the good ol’ days when Mario was a 2D scroller game. Oh, and you can play some of the iconic video game soundtracks in the background because let’s be honest, Nintendo games have KILLER original soundtracks. 
  • Classic Hollywood: Have all of your guests show up dressed inspired by their favorite classic hollywood movie. Like Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Singin’ in the Rain, Roman Holiday, My Fair Lady, The Wizard of Oz, and more! Another one of those themes where you can play all those nostalgic soundtracks in the background, and maybe try to guess what movies they are from!
  • You can Theme by Era! Dress up as your favorite 20th century fashion era. Whether it be the Roaring 20s’, the Rockin’ 60s’, or the Alternative 90s’ have fun (and maybe pull from your own wardrobe)! Encourage your guests to costume up too. Play the iconic tunes of each era and play 90s’ kid trivia! 
  • Forest/space/beach, etc. Whether you go with a fantasy version or the real thing, transport your virtual gathering to anywhere in the world with a little decorating online and in real life.
  • And lastly, you can base your theme around DND or other RPG’s (Roleplayer Games). I’ve played DND once and honestly? I need a party to join because that one-shot session was all I needed to get HOOKED. Dress up as your character, take on their cannon accent, and play a session of DND with your friends. Don’t know how? Don’t worry, there’s tons of information on the internet on how to campaign (basically how to start a group and build a story). All the information online and HUGE fanbase may look daunting, but you’re likely to find a helpful fan who’ll be more than willing to assist you in your DND endeavors. It might even be someone you know! I had no clue my dad played DND when he was a child until about a year ago. 

 

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Food. Drinks. Gifts. Games. BAM let’s go. 

If I were to list all of the food, gifts, and games specific to each theme that you can easily (and affordably) send to your guests then this would be more of an overwhelming ride down the rabbit hole that is Pinterest and not a helpful article. So instead I’ll fire off some new trendy and standard classic party ideas that can be applied to some, if not all of the themes listed. Otherwise, I’ll leave the Pinterest digging to you. 

FOOD – food is the only real reason I used to go to parties. Well that and I’m an extrovert. If I could get away with it, my guests wouldn’t be allowed at my parties without bringing something to munch on (that was when I could actually throw in-person parties). Humans love food, so how can we incorporate it into our virtual party? May I introduce to you: food delivery services. You may not be able to lay a spread in your party venue but you can have party treats delivered to your guests. It doesn’t have to be a lot but there are a range of options way beyond edible arrangements. Sure, there is DoorDash, UberEats, and Postmates but those are EXPENSIVE. I’m talking companies who are ready to send you a big box of popcorn lollipops (sounds weird, but trust me, they are AH-MAHZING), a box of candy assortments, fruit bouquets, pretzel boxes, a DIY cookie decoration kit, or customized cookies (maybe with your baby’s name on them in the party theme? Just an idea.). I’m just going to list off some of my favorite cookie delivery companies I’ve discovered, because who doesn’t like cookies? (I’m very sorry if you don’t like cookies). 

I find the cookie decorating kits to be especially fun, even more so if you have a little one you want to keep still while you talk to your more mature friends. It’s also a nice set activity you can schedule into your party. If you haven’t noticed already, all of these were found in a quick and easy search on Etsy! I strongly suggest looking on Etsy for your foodie needs to support small businesses. And hopefully you can count on your product to not taste like a factory. 

For DRINKS, unfortunately there isn’t really a drink delivery option so let your guests decide what they’ll have. I’d encourage them to get creative and try to match the party’s theme, or send them a recipe for the drink you’ll be enjoying, or for the non-preggos put together a cocktail kit you send out ahead of time with mini-bottles. Etsy for the win again with these fabulous drinks:

Let’s talk PARTY FAVORS (personally my least favorite party thing to figure out because UGH that’s so many small things to plan and nobody wants a bunch of plastic junk). Once again, I’d recommend Etsy for a quick and easy party favor find that you can send out to your friends but there’s also Amazon and boutiques and you may be able to support a local-to–you business if they have an online store as well. If you’re doing some kind of food delivery then maybe skip the favors completely. Party favors aren’t necessary but if you really want to do something, keep it simple. It doesn’t need to be a lot. Be sure you work this stuff out at least a month in advance since all of it is counting on the mailing services in your area and where you order. You can get baby shower specific, or just search general party favor gifts. As I stated at the beginning of this article, I’ve never been pregnant and thus never have had my own child so the baby shower gifts were a little confusing to me. Scrolling through I was like… huh? But maybe it’ll make sense for you mamas and mamas to be. I did like the bath bomb, tea kits, and scrunchie party favors I found. Also don’t get shy with the DIY! Find bracelet making kits or temporary tattoo kits, those are fun and will keep you and your guests’ hands busy during the call. Still feeling uninspired about party favors? Take a dip into Pinterest. Not only will it give you something to do for an hour or two, but there’s a plethora of ideas in there!

Now GAMES. Personally, I’d count the DIY projects as a game, but if you want to get technical then I have a few other ideas for you and your virtual baby shower. If you don’t like them, that’s ok. Not everyone is as cool as me and gets what I get, Pinterest is your friend in this case. 

  • One word: T-R-I-V-I-A. I love me some good ol’ trivia. It sparks my competitive spirit and love for knowing things. You can make it specific to your theme too! If you’re having your classic baby shower theme, quiz your guests on pregnancy and birth (I’d win because do you even know my mom?), or if you have a theme like Disney, do a Disney trivia. I love how applicable trivia can be to different subjects and let’s be real, who doesn’t love a good trivia? 
  • Bingo is another game that’s pretty diverse in what theme you throw it in. You can make your own bingo, or easily find a bingo template or prepaid printable online.
  • If you’re still pregnant, take guesses on the birth date, first sign of labor, weight of baby, etc. If this is after baby has arrived, go with guesses on anything that hasn’t been shared publicly.
  • The Song Guessing Game. I don’t know if other people do this, but in my house we have this made up game where one person links up with our bluetooth speaker and plays a song (usually a soundtrack, but it can be anything!) and then we all try to guess what it’s from (in the case of a soundtrack, we try to guess the movie title). Whoever guesses it first gets to pick the next song. This game can go on for forever and it’s fairly simple and easy to pick up. You can dish out handicaps to those who seem to have an unfair advantage. Take my older sister for example, she regularly listens to soundtracks, way more than the rest of our family. So normally she has a 10-15 second handicap where she can’t guess the song to give others a chance (she’s a BEAST at this game, often guessing a track correctly by the first note/second). 

To keep your celebration flowing, CREATE AN AGENDA. A common agenda structure would be welcome/greeting, ice breaker game, game, food/gifts (guests eat while gifts are opened), game, remarks/well-wishes/new baby advice, goodbyes. 

Create a memento of the event with a digital guestbook or video with each guest pre-recording a video tribute. With screen sharing options on most platforms you can share the tribute with all the guests as part of the virtual babyshower. There are several apps available for these, I like mydigitalguestbook.com and tribute.co.

Let’s talk about BUDGET real quick (ew, I know). In these “unprecedented” times (I can’t wait for more “precedented” times again), money can be the last thing you want to think about… or spend. Which is totally reasonable. The good news is you CAN do a virtual party completely for free, which is great! You can also pull it off very low cost, or the sky is the limit. I actually think an upside to a virtual baby shower is that you’re spending less than you would for an actual party. I looked it up, and most in-person baby showers range between $300 – $1,000 having to take into account venue, decorations, catering/food, possibly having to Uber your drunk friend home, party favors, cake, drinks, and the like. When it’s all virtual, many of those things are null and void. So, if it’s feasible, allow yourself grace to buy all your friends party favors because in actuality, you’re probably spending less than you would’ve if the party was in-person. 

If you’re feeling in a particularly party throwing mood, you can create a small care package for each guest and ship them out once you have the RSVPs. Be sure to get the invitations out early enough to get responses back and have time to pack up and ship each party-in-a-box care package to your guests. With a care package style you can send homemade goodies too, printable game sheets (like the bingo cards), the fixings for a mocktail/cocktail, theme decorations, and more.

 

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Now we gotta invite people to this special baby shower you’re planning, here comes the Who and the When. We’re combining two of the Big Four™. Obviously, it’s going to be people you actually want there to celebrate this new baby, but how are you going to invite them? Thankfully, you don’t have to burn your hand trying to handwrite cute invitations (did people even do that before the pandemic?) because now it’s all ✨~virtual~✨. Here are three virtual invitation options that I found! 

  • The Evite we all know and love. I’m the most familiar with this one, and it makes things fairly easy and simple! Very user friendly. Also, it’s completely free (aside from upgrades, but meh, they still have a vast array of good options).
  • Paperless Post isn’t free, but its options are adorable. They do things based on coins, which is kinda like a store credit system. When you first sign up, you get 25 coins free. Clicking on the first baby shower invite option, it was 2 coins to use. From then on there are various upgrades to choose from (using coins) that can spruce up your invitation. 
  • Smilebox is free with a basic plan. The basic plan includes unlimited cards to choose from and you can share your invite on Twitter. With Smilebox premium ($2.99 a month) you’re granted the option to share on FaceBook as well as Twitter, sharing by email, adding your own music, unlimited storage and backup for drafts, and removing the watermark. From what I’ve seen, they also have a wide display of cards to choose from. 

WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR INVITATION

  1. Details on the date and time of your live event
  2. A link to join the group or meeting
  3. A link to your registry with a ship-to address

Don’t forget to send event reminders closer to the date! 

Let there be PRESENTS!

(Get the softest blankets ever like the one in our images here, sweet plushies, beautiful wood teethers, bibs, and more at goosewaddle.com.)

You can always make your celebration a gift-less party or invite guests to make a donation to your favorite non-profit organization in your honor. But babies need stuff and people LOVE to give baby gifts, so be sure to create a registry or if you’re hosting for someone else, have them create a registry and include that information in the invitations (along with an out so people don’t feel like they HAVE to get you a gift to join the party). Go virtual shopping and build your wishlist of items you want and/or need to prepare for this new baby. Here are a few websites so you can do it all from your couch in your pajamas. 

  • Babylist: from what I’ve briefly explored, this website is super user friendly and pretty much the luxury registry experience! It has easy ready-for-you buttons to different websites to get started on your list including Target, Amazon, Pottery Barn Kids, Walmart, and others. I know my mom has used it and loves it because you can add items from multiple different shops including small businesses, Etsy, and register for things like a doula, prenatal massage, and having meals delivered. 
  • Target: if you look up “Target registry” it’ll pull up a page ready to help you build your wishlist. Also seems super user friendly but you’re limited to, well, Target.
  • BuyBuyBaby: They have a 20% off deal on their product when you register! On top of having their own website of product, you can create your wishlist on their site and add other brands in it to share with your friends and family. 

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Now time for the Where. Obviously, in terms of an actual physical location for your virtual baby shower this may be the best part: HOME! You don’t even have to put on pants if you don’t want to (just be sure to remember that if you’re going to stand up on camera because that could make your party awkward REAL FAST). But what about the where on the internet? We have a plethora of options (and it’s not just Zoom, who else here is tired of Zoom and can’t think of it as a fun thing anymore?). 

Cisco Webex

Personally, Cisco Webex is my favorite platform for a multi-person facetime. For the host, you have to create an account, download a plugin for Cisco Webex, start a meeting with the BIG green button, and invite your friends via email! For the guests, it’s even more simple: click the big green button they get via the host’s email invitation and BOOM, they’re ready to party. No installing any plugins on their end, and it works across any mobile device or video system. With the FREE Webex plan, yes free, you can have meetings with up to 100 participants, HD video, screen sharing, and a personal room, and there’s no point in time where the free plan stops for you. 

Jitsi Meet

Jitsi Meet is another video meeting platform (duh) known for its exceptional security (way more than Zoom’s). Fully secure, very easy, and once again: your friends don’t need to register to get into the room! Just send them the link and they are IN, baby! Jitsi Meet also has an audio feature where you can recognize who’s talking and blow up their feed so they are featured in the meeting/party. There is a session recording option as well if you really want to keep the meeting for later reminiscing. After the meeting is over, the recording will be downloaded into Dropbox just for you. Jitsi Meet can integrate with Slack, Google Calendar, and Office 365 (I have no clue what Slack or Office 365 are, but if you’re more tech savvy than I am, which is 100% possible, this may mean something to you). With up to 75 possible guests (though 35 is the recommended amount for quality), the host can kick out anyone who’s annoying them or they accidentally invited because they forgot they were ghosting that one guest. Only downside that I can tell is that you CAN’T set up the room beforehand, unlike Zoom where you can schedule a room to be up at a specific time. With Jitsi Meet, the host has to make the room live themselves at their preferred time and then invite their guests. And oh, did I mention it’s free?

Skype 

Another option is Skype, but even compared to Zoom it wouldn’t be my go-to choice. Recently, in light of the coronavirus lockdown, Skype has released a new feature called Meet Now that allows hosts to set up and share free meetings without having the Skype app downloaded for all parties involved. The host just has to go through the Skype website to set it up. Similar to a few other platforms we’ve been looking at, Skype also has an option to record and download sessions after they are ended. It’s totally free to host video conferences (or if you’re a gamer like me: parties), more secure than Zoom, and you can have up to 50 people in a party. Which depending on your social circle, can seem small or just enough. My favorite feature of Skype? I like it’s “incoming call” jingle. Not sure why, but it can keep me groovin’ for a while. 

Zoom

And lastly, we have Zoom. I know, I know, I was trying to give you other options in substitution of Zoom, but hear me out. It’s boring, and bland, and everyone’s sick of it BUT it does have a wait room, a feature I actually really appreciate. There were calls of concern about Zoom’s security after hackers figured out how to get into activated parties and drop less-than-savory videos into the feed, but Zoom has since then made their platform more secure. Complete with passwords to get in and wait rooms. Before someone can join a Zoom call, the host has to approve of them dropping in. While they are waiting for approval, the guest is put in a virtual wait room where they can test their microphone, speaker, and video feed. This is another video conference app that allows the host to record and download the session for the archives if they want to. If the session is being recorded, any guest who hops into the meeting will hear a small announcement that the session is being recorded, just to give them a heads up. Zoom has a basic free plan where you can have up to 100 guests in a meeting with the basic features we all know and love. But with a few paid upgrades, you can have a party with up to 1,000 participants (why you’d want that, I don’t know. Sounds absolutely chaotic). Honestly, I actually like Zoom. I use it weekly for my telehealth therapy session, which is something that I personally need during this pandemic (I could write a whole other article about why I advocate for therapy as a 19 year old). 

If you’re going with Zoom, check out these virtual baby shower bundles from Babylist that includes digital invite event header, custom Zoom backgrounds, themed printable games, and thank you cards. They even have 10 free fun virtual backgrounds with a step-by-step guide to install and use them.

That’s all I have for you today! It’s been a pleasure and honor to start you on your path to your virtual baby shower. I hope I’ve inspired you to make the most of your virtual baby shower. Once again, CONGRATS to the new little human! I hope you and your child are healthy and the birthing process goes smoothly. I may not be a mother, but I know new life is beautiful and I love babies. The possibilities are endless for you and your virtual baby shower and I wish you all the best. 

 

Yours truly, 

Lavinia (AKA Storyteller, AKA the second oldest, AKA Jessica The Leaky Boob’s daughter)