If you’re about ready to welcome your new baby home, congratulations! You’re about to embark on an amazing and beautiful journey. But those first few months can be really tough, especially if you’re faced with a colicky baby or little outside support. So, to help prepare you, here are our top 10 tips for surviving a newborn.
#1 – Build Your Support Circle Early
Whether it’s family, neighbors, a mom group, a blogging community, or a support group, moms need support! These should be people that will remind you that you’re human, that you’re doing an amazing job, and that the newborn phase doesn’t last forever. Before you know it, your baby will be laughing and giggling most of the time, and you’ll be getting a full night’s sleep! You should also have members of your support circle that you can ask for help, whether it’s just to take a nap or do the dishes without having to stop twenty or thirty times.
#2 – Sleep When Baby Sleeps
Some newborns come home and are amazing sleepers! Others . . . not so much. Some babies confuse their nights and days, and others seem to wake up every hour on the hour. To keep yourself from going crazy with sleep deprivation, learn to sleep when baby sleeps, especially in the first few weeks. The cleaning and laundry will be there later. We promise!
#3 – Be Kind to Yourself
Speaking of the laundry and cleaning being there later . . . don’t give yourself a hard time if you’re struggling to keep up with the mundane day-to-day stuff. Eat off of paper plates for a while. Let the laundry go until you can get some help with watching the baby. Order take-out a little more than usual. And be okay with bad hair days.
#4 – But Try to Maintain a Healthy Balance
Again, while you shouldn’t strive for getting everything done, at the very least, try to shower and brush your teeth as early in the day as possible. It will help you feel a little more energized and a little less . . . blah, which we sometimes tend to feel anyway, simply because of sleep deprivation.
#5 – And Try to Take Some Time for Yourself
It sounds impossible, and it sounds downright ridiculous when you’re in the middle of raising a newborn, but try to find a way to take a little time for yourself. It doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be something that will help you feel a little more . . . normal. Go for a walk. Paint your nails. Take a bath. Read a book. If necessary, employ help from your support circle.
#6 – Know the Top Calming Techniques
From white noise to swaddling to rocking to gentle bouncing or swaying to the 5 S’s – know as many as you can. Alternate them. Find what works best for you and baby. And be prepared to change it up if need be. Also, know how to recognize the signs that something is wrong, such as colic or an ear infection or gas. Also, invest in a good thermometer and a couple of cheaper spares, just in case you should misplace the good one.
#7 – Know When to Walk Away
When your baby is crying, it’s really hard to put them down. We want to soothe them. It’s a normal instinct. But baby is able to sense when you’re frazzled, and it will only stress him or her out even more, and then it becomes a vicious cycle. So know when to walk away. If you can, ask dad or someone from your support group for help. If that’s not an option, just walk into another room until you’ve had a chance to calm your own nerves. When you feel ready, go back to baby.
#8 – Perfect the Art of Flexibility
Your life has changed drastically! It now revolves around this tiny little human and its schedule. To avoid stressing yourself out, perfect the art of flexibility. Cut your chores or errands down into chunks. Be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. When you make time or energy commitments outside of baby, give yourself extra time to complete the job or decline altogether. Don’t worry if you can’t shower or brush your teeth until noon. Surviving the newborn phase is all about being flexible.
#9 – Have an Emergency Bag in Your Car
Rather than tote around a massive diaper bag with ten outfits, thirty diapers, and enough baby wipes to last a month, keep a spare emergency bag in your car. Keep all the extra outfits, spare diapers, wipes, rash cream, a blanket, socks, a can of formula and extra bottles if you’re bottle feeding, and anything else you might need. That way, if your smaller diaper bag runs out of supplies, or if you forget to grab something, you still have what you need with you. Oh . . . and to save you from having to carry a purse and a diaper bag around, consider converting your diaper bag into an all-purpose tote.
#10 – You Can’t Spoil a Newborn
You might hear it from friends or family or even complete strangers . . . but you really, truly can’t spoil a newborn. They cry when they need something. Maybe they just need your touch to feel safe. After all, they’re used to hearing your heartbeat and your presence every second of every day. This is an adjustment for them, too! Or maybe they’re hungry or gassy or need a change. Whatever the reason, they need you! So don’t be afraid of spoiling them—pick them up!
And, an added tip . . . learn early how to filter out all the opinions you’re likely to receive on how to raise your baby. Sleep schedule versus letting baby regulate him/herself, bottle versus breast, and so many other issues that you might not have ever even realized would or could be an issue. Rather than let it all stress you out, remember that, at the end of the day, you’re mom and you have the final say.