So in a bit more than 2 weeks with Little Monster, we are noticing that things are much smoother than before. I imagine some of that is because we have done this before, but not most of it. Here's my list of things that are making a big difference for us. Some are things we can control, some aren't.
1. Different baby who is ever so much calmer and relaxed about eating. I think that the Kid's nearly 24 hours apart from me aside from eating in her first 30 hours led her to be antsy about getting enough to eat. That or the GERD (that would be heartburn's technical abbreviation) compelled her to eat all the time. Think every hour for 20-25 minutes for 12-15 of the hours in a day level of eating, and she didn't slow down until week 4. It was hardcore ugly for a bit there, and THEN there was the colic screaming for 3-8 hours a night that started on day 8 and continued until we got my oversupply fixed when she was about 2.5 months old.
2. No GERD to speak of, yet. We have Little Monster sleeping on a slant all the time and have from the very beginning, just in case. She doesn't seem to be showing any reflux yet and that's the most exciting thing ever in my view.
3. Less fragile-seeming baby. I do not hesitate whatsoever to prop Little Monster up in a sitting position if she's resisting burping. I was chicken about waking up the Kid (and with the colic, maybe rightfully so, maybe the lack of burping was contributing to it) so I rarely tried this.
4. We know that babies are noisy sleepers. Grunting, gurgling, wimpering, all totally normal baby is sleeping noises. Why doesn't anyone tell you that before the baby arrives? We were nervous new parents and so we were up worrying about every peep when we should have let the Kid sleep and we should totally have been sleeping too. Also on the sleep front, I now put Little Monster to bed sometimes before she's totally conked out if she is blinking slowly at me. Clearly she's tired, and maybe her bed is a comfier spot for her to settle in to sleep than being held, so I try it. So far it's worked twice of the 5 times I've tried it, but I'm gonna keep trying.
5. Total baby timer app. It's for iOS doodads and we have it on both of ours. It keeps track of diaper changes, feedings (and left, right, or bottle with ounces or mLs), sleeping, baths, and "other" plus has a diary feature that you can attach a photo to. It has all kinds of other spaces for noting things like vaccinations, doctors, etc. that I haven't actually used yet. With the Kid, we kept a log in a notebook, or we tried to. We were generally so sleep deprived that we had a hard time remembering to note the time or couldn't find a pencil to write with anyway (even with a pen stuck in the notebook's spine). It wasn't pretty. We worried when things weren't recorded properly that she wasn't eating enough or having enough wet diapers. If you don't have a smart phone, totally get one of those Itzbeen timers. Invaluable peace of mind, having a doodad keeping track of how long since you cared for the baby last.
6. Swaddling from day 1, more tightly than you'd think. We use the Swaddle.Me wearable blankets, fleece ones with the Kid because that was her comfort level and the cotton ones with Little Monster, to immobilize arms. We then add a blanket tucked around the feet to limit kicking. We waited a bit with the Kid because we weren't sure she liked swaddling, but as it turned out, she didn't like sleeping or laying down and actually adored the swaddling. Why do we swaddle? Because it keeps the baby asleep and happy for more than 5 minutes at a time. Is it the best thing? No idea. It's the best for us because it convinces the baby to sleep and that's crucial.
7. Sleeping in shifts. We have nights split so the spouse retrieves Little Monster when she wakes, changes her, then hands her over to me to nurse. I stay asleep until the diaper change is in process, and the spouse goes back to sleep once the feeding starts. Depending on if she's asleep afterward or if she wants to be held and rocked, we may switch off again. We discovered that this division of labor keeps everyone less sleep deprived or at least evenly sleep deprived, so we are happier. Should we have a colicky baby at some point (or not! Not is fine too!), we would split up the night into 2-3 hour shifts of baby amusing while the other person sleeps so we all maintain some sanity.
8. Changing the baby at night in our room. That seems really obvious but we had this fancy nursery set up before (ahem... and we will have a space set up for Little Monster sometime soon... but not yet) so it seemed like we should at least use it to change the baby. Mistake! Walking down the hall with a grumpy baby at night is more effort than necessary, so we shouldn't have been doing it. Now we have a portable changing pad that gets laid out on the bed. Saves 2 minutes of walking at least, and every minute of sleep is an important one.