Having a baby can be a wonderful and exciting new experince. It can also be very scary if you aren't sure what you are doing! The good news is, the panic doesn't last too long, and usually only happens with the first one!
This is a list of some tips I found very valueable as a young new mom, and even some I didn't learn until after I had my second child.
1. I think getting on some type of routine is important. NOT a rigid schedule, but a flexible routine such as from 'The Baby Whisperer' by Tracy Hogg. In this book she teaches the 'E.A.S.Y.' method, Eat, Awake time, Sleep, and while baby is sleeping, time for Yourself. This method can be applied to any amount of time based on the age of your child. A younger infant may stick to a 2-3 hour time span from the 'E' to the 'Y', but an older baby should be able to go closer to the 4 hour mark. But like I said, its a general guideline, also take cues from your baby, though I would stress not to feed the baby in order to coax him to sleep. Thats a bad habit to get into. Getting into the habit of rocking them to sleep is a bad idea too, the best thing to do is put your baby down for naps when she is still awake, so she can learn to soothe herself to sleep with the aides of food or rocking.
2. My first baby was mildly colicky. I had to learn quickly that it IS okay to let her cry in a safe place like her crib when I can't handle trying to soothe her anymore. The important thing is not to get overly stressed, which seems impossible when you constantly are hearing your baby crying so hard, but it helped me a lot to be able to lay her down and walk away until I could recompose myself. It also helped with my hair loss- I wasn't pulling out as much once I realized this was okay to do!
3. I know some mom's stress over having a clean house, but especially early on, you just need to find peace with the mess. Having a newborn at home is not the time to be worrying about the clutter piled throughout your home, its the time to cherish your new baby and rest when the baby is sleeping! The mess will always be there for you to get to at a later date, the time with your baby, and those few and far between moments for you to relax won't. And you will be a better mommy to your baby if you are well rested.
4. This is definitely a matter of opinion, but by 6 weeks if your baby isn't sleeping a good 6 hours at night, let her cry it out! Of course go in every few minutes to try to soothe her, but gradually increase the gap in which you let her cry before rushing to her bedside. It may take a week, but your baby needs to learn how to soothe herself to sleep in the middle of the night, and you need to get more solid sleep yourself. Again, crying will not hurt your baby.
5. Beware the over tired infant. If you don't like to hear your baby crying, don't let them get over tired!! Unlike us when we are exhausted we can barely keep our eyes open, babies who have been kept up too long may get 'exhausted' or over tired and are unable to soothe themselves to sleep properly. I don't have any secret to tell you here, this is really a matter of developing the routine that works for your family and knowing your child. Picking up on little clues that tell you its time for them to sleep- maybe eye rubbing, yawning, that 1000 mile stare or something different.
6. When it comes to sleep, swaddling is a very valueable tool. Learn to do it well with your first and it just might earn you some extra sleep over the years (as you have more babies). It is very soothing to your new baby to be restricted like that because it reminds them of being in the womb, when they had minimal space. It also keeps them from jerking themselves awake as they lull off into dreamland.
7. As a formula feeding mom who wishes she was a breastfeeding mom, the best thing I can say is not to stress over it. Breastfeeding just isn't for everyone, and while for most who expected to breastfeed but found it quite difficult will have an emotional decision to make if they choose to stop, it isn't the end of the world. The important thing is that your baby gets fed, whatever the method you use, you are still a good parent caring for your new baby. I will say though, if you want it bad enough there are many resources and help for breastfeeding moms. I had friends who got a lot of help from La Leche League, they even came into their homes to observe, help and coach as a new mom tried to master getting the baby to latch on. Also if you can afford it, you can use a breast pump, but I was once told to not bother with it unless you can afford the good one, the expensive electric one, I can't testify to that personally, its just what I was told in a breastfeeding class I had taken before I had my first. Thats another thing, while you are pregnant, take the classes, go to La Leche League meetings, get as much information as you can glean to help you towards successfully breastfeeding. I don't regret my decision, but looking back, if I had wanted it more, it was probably possible, but being sleep deprived, and unsuspecting, I thought breastfeeding would come more naturally to me and my babies, but it just didn't, and it won't for everyone.
8. Cover your furniture!!! Until you know if your baby is prone to spit up, and assuming you like your current furniture in the state its in, I would suggest putting a blanket over the area you plan to sit and feed. My first baby absolutely destroyed out microfiber couch, which luckily was a piece of used furniture we didn't plan on keeping long anyway (though maybe a little longer had she not ruined the upholestry). By our second baby we learned our lesson and covered the couch in those very early days so our nice new couch would no recieve the abuse of the previous one.
9. Keep the camera handy! You just can't take too many pictures of your children! (And for those going it the second time- its more difficult but I stress taking just as many for your second and third children as you did for your first, you don't want anyone feeling left out or second best.) And you never know when that photo opportunity may strike, especially with the little ones, so always keep one within reach! You can sort through and decide what to keep later, but when the chance comes just snap away!! These moments won't come again once they have passed. Also important- don't only save them to your computer, back them up. If anything happened and you lost them, you will be very hurt. I had this happen and from 3 months to 10 months, I have very few pictures of my son, only those I had already sent away to my family could I get back. I now wish I had at least sent more! And I am much better about backing them up quickly now as well! Lesson learned- the hard way.
10. You can never hug and kiss your new baby too much!! To this day, I love loving on my children, and in at least one it has passed over. I love it when my now 4 year old daughter will randomly run up to me with a kiss and a hug. And heaven forbid we should forget to give her loves before bed, or anytime we even step outside the front door for a moment! My son hasn't quite learned how to love back, but he knows and accepts he will be getting many smooches from us each day. He often laughs as shower him with kisses!
I know I had said I was going to do baby names this week, but I thought this would fit in better as I share about the early days for me as a mother. Also see Natalie's Birth Story on Wednesday and Zachary's Birth Story on Friday, as well as How We Came to Formula Feed Our Babies.
This post is linked with and this is also my own Teach Me Tuesday post.
What have you learned this week?