BY RACHEL HOEING, CO-FOUNDER OF TRIAD MOMS ON MAIN
Sixteen years ago, I gave birth to my firstborn. There have been many highs and lows, and I still can’t quite decide which stage of parenting has been the most difficult thus far! I do know that we’ve survived each stage by having patience, and by taking advice from our pediatricians and friends.
Looking back, there were some tips that helped make that first stage of parenting a bit easier. I had one very easy baby and one colicky-wanna-pull-your-hair-out-baby. Many of these tips worked for both.
If you are expecting or have a newborn in your home right now, congrats to you! I hope these tips will help save you some frustration in the months ahead. For the rest of our readers who have “Been there, done that,” I would love for you to share your tips in the comment section below. The more help we can give to a new mom, the better!
10 Tips for New Moms:
- The cuter the burp cloth, the worse it actually works. Buy a package of cloth diapers and use those as the burp cloths on a daily basis. Save the cute monogrammed ones for special occasions.
- When your baby is overly tired, and you have tried to get her to sleep without success, try this—hold her sideways in your arms, bounce gently and lightly blow on her eyes. When you blow, she will close her eyes, and many times, she will realize how good that feels and actually keep them closed!
- As often as possible, put your baby down for naps and nighttime while he is still awake. Place him in the crib or bassinet, tell him it’s time to go to sleep and leave the room. Most babies will play for a while and eventually fall asleep. If they make noises or sound like they are crying, do not go in right away. They need to learn to put themselves to sleep. (I’m not saying to give up on your snuggle time, but save that for when it is not time to go to sleep!)
- One of my favorite bits of advice was from The Baby Whisperer.It is called EASY (Eating, Activity, Sleeping, You). I love this simple plan for a baby’s schedule. You can start this routine as soon as you come home from the hospital. This plan is a recurring period that is usually about three hours long. It is a middle-ground as far as baby regimens go, and is in-between “tough-love” and “on-demand.” Your child will learn that after they eat, they get to play (which sometimes just means a few minutes in a bouncy seat), and then after they play, it is nap time. The child learns to put herself to sleep without being breastfed or needing a bottle. Babies usually don’t like surprises, so this will get your baby used to the natural order of things. I loved this strategy, and it worked well for me. I could write an entire blog on this EASY method, so I would suggest purchasing the book and reading up on it for yourself!
- Don’t assume that every time your baby cries, she is hungry! There are many other reasons a baby may cry, so keep to your feeding schedule as much as possible. (But also trust your gut. Mothers have intuition for a reason!)
- Don’t take tags off items until you actually use them. I know you had your baby shower, and you can’t wait to put all the clothes into drawers, sheets on the crib, stuffed animals around the room, etc. All babies are different, which means they grow differently and enjoy different products and toys. We went through three different bottle types and probably three pacifier types, as well, before we found ones that worked for our first child. If you keep items in their packages until you are ready to use them, you still have the opportunity to return them! This is especially true for clothing, because more than likely, you will have an abundance of clothes in one size and not many in the others.
- Don’t register for blankets. You will get a thousand anyway.
- Accept help. Someone wants to bring you dinner? Bring it on! Someone wants to babysit while you take a nap? Yes, please! Don’t try to be SuperMom. Take the help when you can get it! You need it more than you realize you do.
- Don’t micromanage your spouse. If your spouse does not change the diaper the way you would or hold the baby the way you would, that is okay. Remember to keep things in perspective. As long as your spouse’s method is not going to harm the baby—let it go.
- Advice will come from everywhere, but I found that the best advice is always from your own mom.