The last three months have been both the BEST and HARDEST three months of my life, and the later I didn’t see coming. I was either over confident or clueless….I guess it doesn’t matter. The point being, having a newborn is no small undertaking. And if I had known the following 12ish things (like I will next time) I think it might have been a little easier! *I must note that I know all babies are different and what works for one doesn’t work for all, so take all my advice with a grain of salt!
Now, get ready because it’s about to get wordy! In no particular order….
1. White Noise We discovered TRUE white noise about 3 weeks into parenthood, and it was a game changer folks. Who would have thought that babies would actually LOVE a constant shhhhhhhhhing sound. Apparently the womb is loud and the world we bring them into is quiet…most don’t like it. They miss the noise of the womb, so enter white noise. Chickadee would be screaming her lungs out and the second you turned it on the screaming would cease and within minutes she might even be asleep. Plug it in and turn UP (we keep ours on the bookshelf that sits on the wall opposite her crib). If you are worried about it being too loud you can download a decibel reader app and don’t go above 65. Here is the noise machine we have, along with an app on our iphones for when we are on the go. Seriously folks this changed our lives.
2. Put your baby to sleep for naps I thought babies napped when they are tired, which in those early days meant they would sleep all the time. If you have one of the babies that follows this theory consider yourself winning the jackpot. Chickadee was NOT this way. If I had a quarter for every time we were told how “alert” baby girl was, she would be set for college. “Alert” to me meant she wanted to be awake all the time! And she was for about the first month it seemed. Then I realized my baby needed to be put to sleep (This mom has no idea where the term ” they sleep like a baby” comes from….it should be ” the sleep like a dad!”) So I paid attention to her mood and figured out that about an hour after she woke up/nursed she was starting to yawn. I took this as a cue and “put” her to sleep. Sometimes I rocked and held her (or wore her in the K’tan Baby Carrier or ERGO, these carriers ROCK) while she slept, sometimes I sang, I’d let her sleep in the swing, other times I swaddled, turned on the white noise, put her in the crib and walked away. If I timed it right she fell asleep almost immediately without any fussing and turns out she became a great sleeper (by around two months she was napping about 4 times a day for at least an hour and sleeping 10 hours at night). I figured out her schedule instead of putting her on the ones I found in books and things have worked beautifully!
3. Swaddle I’ve heard from several friends that their baby didn’t like to be swaddled. Now, maybe this is true, but stick with it and they will expect it. Swaddling will become a cue for them that it is time to sleep. There are two key elements to a good swaddle. The right blanket and the right technique. I suggest these blankets by aden + anais . LOVE them! They are a little pricey but will be worth it! As for how to swaddle I found this YouTube video from Moms on Call extremely helpful and effective.
*I should note we dropped the swaddle about 4 months!
4. Ask for Help & Find Someone in Your Shoes I was lucky. Both my parents and in-laws took turns staying with us the first few weeks. The best part was that while they did help with the baby, they were willing to do “everything else” so I didn’t have to worry and could truly “sleep when the baby slept.” They washed clothes, cooked dinner, did the dishes, helped keep the house in order, and ran errands. It was amazing….I could give 100% to our precious newborn because I wasn’t having to worry about anything else. Also find a friend, or friend of a friend, or a girl in a nursing support group, etc. who is in your shoes (as in also has a newborn)….those middle of the night texts, and “is this normal” conversations are priceless to your sanity. Thanks Lindsay for being my “go to!”
5. Don’t Compare Your Baby or Yourself to Others I found myself in the middle of the night googling everything under the sun. “When do they start sleeping through the night?” “How many wet diapers?” “How long should a baby take to nurse?” “When do you truly let them cry it out (if ever)?” I would run across posts where moms would say “My baby came home from the hospital sleeping through the night…” or “My baby could change their own diaper…” Folks, EVERY baby is different. You have to do what works BEST for you….trust your gut. God made you a mother and along with being a mother comes maternal instincts. Trust them. There is no one right way to be a parent, there are many right ways to parent. And while you aren’t comparing your baby to other babies don’t compare yourself to other moms, especially those who came home from the hospital weighing what they did pre-pregnancy. Can I get some love from anyone else out there still trying to lose those last 5-10 pounds????
6. Let your Husband know how he can Help Chances are your husband doesn’t have a lot of experience with babies and so him taking the initiative with your new little one might be a little scary for him. Remember maternal instinct/old school babysitting know how might not come naturally to him. However, chances are he is ready and willing to do anything you need him or ask him to do! III became a diaper changing master, was great at bringing me things when I was glued the the glider nursing yet again, and is quite successful at putting Chickadee to sleep so I can slip away to finally take a shower. I think sometimes they just don’t know what to do, so let them know!
7. Keep a Changing Station Close By Holy Cow, newborns go to the bathroom A LOT. We have a two story house….having a changing station (in the form of a Pack ‘N Play) set up downstairs was fabulous to remedy all those wet & poopy diapers. And while we are on the subject…if your baby has one full poop everywhere blow out per day, consider yourself in good company. Even in the finest Pamper diapers it’s going to happen. Oh, and another thought….you don’t have to change a wet diaper the second the line turns blue. It’s a great marketing strategy by the diaper folks to lead us to believe the second it’s blue you need another 30 cent diaper….but I promise you don’t. You’ll be able to tell when it is full enough to need changing…promise.
8. Breastfeeding is Hard Someone told me if you can commit to the first six weeks you’ll make it. I know it’s not for everyone, but I was adamant about wanting to breastfeed. True orgnaic milk, right? Truth be told it definitely hurts in the beginning, but there is a light at the end of the Lanolin tunnel! After about two weeks and a few meetings with a lactation consultant the pain was virtually gone. Engorgement will happen but your body will get itself under control in a few weeks. And while we are on the topic of breastfeeding I cannot stress enough the importance of a fabulous breast pump. Call your insurance, they all have to cover one in some form or fashion! It helps immensely when you are engorged (which you will be at some point or another). Also if you ever want to be able to leave that precious little one for more than 3 hours (I know you don’t want to now but at some point you might) you’ll need to leave some of that liquid gold behind. Enter….a breast pump. I use the Medela Freestyle and have nothing but positive things to say!
9. Don’t Spend Too Much Money on Baby Clothes Do they look precious in that little smocked dress or seersucker suit? Yes. Will it be covered in spit-up or poop in about 4 minutes, yes. It’s the truth folks. And It’s Okay if Your Baby Spends Their First 3 Months in PJs. I prefer pajamas of the zippered variety or long gowns with the elastic at the bottom. The zippers or gowns make for easy changing in the middle of the night or any time of day for that matter. Button pajamas work great too, just a little trickier. Also in all of your excitement you don’t necessarily need to try to get “ahead of the game” by washing everything newborn to six months. Chances are they aren’t going to wear some of it and if the tags are still hanging from the sleeves you can exchange it for the next size or a few sizes up!
10. Going Shopping the First Time by Yourself With the Baby is Scary But you can do it! Make the first trip a short trip…go to Publix and buy some bread. Leave them in their car seat and set them down in the buggy….turn on the white noise app if you need to to keep them calm. If they start to fuss try picking up the car seat for a minute. Somehow they seem to know when they are “in the air” and this calms them down. Another suggestion is to “wear” them while shopping either. I can’t stress how helpful I found wearing Chickadee. Ago we used the K’tan and Ergo, etc. I found it a lot easier to calm Chickadee down when she was strapped to my chest, a little bouncing would do the trick! Once you get the first few trips out of the way you’ll realize it’s going to be okay, and if they start to cry you can handle it.
11. Once nursing is established try and get your baby to take a bottle. This will be so freeing. I am not really a nurse in public kind of girl, but it is not always convenient to have to head home every 2.5 hours. So sometimes I pump and bring a bottle with us wherever we may go. At first I felt guilty about giving her a bottle when I could be nursing, but when a friend asked why? I didn’t really have a good answer. Another reason a bottle was great was because when I was trying to urge her to sleep through the night I would give her the bottle for the last feeding of the night. That way I was sure she had taken in enough to make it through to morning. Having your breastfed baby be able to take a bottle really will help you break out of “baby jail!!” If your little one isn’t feelin’ it, here are a few tips that might help!
12. Take Pictures Take soooo many pictures, make sure a camera is close by even if it is your iphone. Remember you can always delete ones you don’t like or don’t need, but you can never retake pictures of these moments. I’m trying to take one picture a day of baby girl. Then after a year I’m going to put them all together in a little book. Also, get in the pictures with them…chances are you aren’t going to remember a lot of this later unless you have it cemented onto your SD card.
12ish. Other tips.…big picture everything is going to be okay, if they are crying they are breathing…if you need to set them down in the crib for a moment while you take a deep breath that is okay, keep snacks & water near by when nursing, it’s okay to say no when someone asks to visit, buy consignment, they will wake up in the middle of a nap but give them a few minutes before you go in because chances are they will go back to sleep, join Amazon Mom, watch them sleep, if you have a fussy baby try wearing them…they like to be close to you, remember the chores can wait, breathe.
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So do you have anything you would add to this list? I’d love to hear them because I will be the first to admit I’m still trying to figure this thing out on a daily basis…. However, I truly think there are some things you can’t know until you experience them for yourself…and other things I think moms truly forget (unless you write them down for a blog post). Just remember it’s all worth…every sleepless moment, every tear you both shed, every blow out diaper, and every ounce of spit up because having a newborn is the best thing in the world!
*Also remember I am not an expert, so please do your research & only what you feel is best for your precious little one!
Here are a few more posts about getting ready for your little one and surviving once they are here that I think you might find helpful!!
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