1. Stock up on food before the baby is born. Frozen meals, fast or easy meals (lots of cereal, pasta, etc.), and snacks are so nice to have around when you're either too tired to cook, or baby is crying, or you need to get off your feet because you're supposed to be recovering. Even if you know you'll have family or friends helping you out with meals, it's still nice to have some backups, and food for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.
2. 3 hour nap limit. Don't let baby sleep longer than three hour stretches during the day. Babies are almost always more nocturnal when they're born, and this will usually help sort that out, and encourage their longer stretches of sleep to be at night. And they also need to eat! I know there are lots and lots of books and theories out there on sleep schedules, but this has really helped with my babies. Both of them were sleeping at least one 4-5 hour stretch at night (followed by 3 hour stretches) fairly consistently by about 1 1/2 weeks old. There will be good nights and bad nights, but limiting nap length during the day, coupled with swaddling (see my next tip) really helps with getting new babies to sleep in slightly longer stretches at night, and just start to get on a good sleep schedule.
3. Learn how to swaddle. The biggest bonus to swaddling: babies love being swaddled! They're used to being all warm and snug! They'll sleep much better all swaddled tight. There are lots of different types of swaddle blankets that you can buy at baby stores, but I feel like they're usually overpriced, especially when a regular receiving blanket will do the trick. And if you're anything like me, you got lots and lots of receiving blankets from friends and family. See my previous post for how to swaddle with a receiving blanket. You, baby, and your wallet will all be happier if you learn how to swaddle.
4. Put the scale away! At least for a few weeks. I know, we're all anxious to get back to our pre-pregnancy weight, and to wear real clothes again. But those first weeks are all about recovering and adjusting to life with your little one, not trying to diet and exercise. Especially if you're breastfeeding, you really shouldn't be dieting. Eat healthy, of course - that's best for you and baby! But don't start obsessing over the numbers on the scale for a while. It takes time.
5. Invest in a sling and/or bouncer seat. My babies have loved both. It's a great way to keep them feeling snuggled, and keep them close, but still have your hands free for a little while. Even as tiny as they are, your arms do start to get tired after holding them for hours. The sling is great for keeping them right with you, especially if you're going out. And the bouncer is great for when you just need a little break, or need to take care of an older child, or cook at the stove, etc.
*Update: I would also add a Moby wrap or other type of baby carrier that allows baby to be snuggled up to Mommy if you prefer those over a sling. Just something to keep them snug and give your arms a break.
|All snuggled up in his sling. Don't let the disgruntled face fool you - he really does love it! He just didn't like the sun in his face for the picture.|
6. Don't give up on breastfeeding. It's hard, especially if this is your first baby, or this baby just doesn't seem to be figuring it out. But there's a learning curve, so don't give up too quickly. Give it at least a few weeks, and talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant if you have serious concerns that your baby's not getting enough milk, or if there seem to be other problems. But the benefits of breastfeeding, both physically and emotionally for both you and baby, are so worth it if you're able to do it. Plus, formula is crazy expensive!
7. Strategically place pacifiers and burp cloths. You don't want to have to go hunting for them in the middle of the night, or when you're covered in spit up, or when you're just feeling too tired to get up and find one. I keep a pacifier in the crib, the bouncer, the diaper bag, and a few spares in the hanging organizer in the nursery. Keep a burp cloth on hand anywhere you feed the baby - on the couch, the rocking chair, in the diaper bag, etc.
3 in 1! Swaddled, in a bouncer seat, with a pacifier at the ready!
8. Buy Pampers Swaddlers newborn diapers. I don't usually like to promote specific brands, but these are definitely the best newborn diapers I've found. They fit better, leak less often, and are just really great compared to the other newborn diapers I've used. To be honest, I don't love Pampers in bigger sizes, but the newborn ones I absolutely recommend.
9. Get out of the house. It feels great to get to sit around in your sweats all the time. But only for so long before you'll probably start to go a little crazy. After a week of basically just sitting around all day (you'll be doing lots of sitting with as often as newborns eat!) I need to get out of the house. Obviously, you still need to be taking it easy - you just had a baby! - but maybe take baby for his first walk around the neighborhood. Or maybe just go for a drive. Or leave baby home with Daddy and go to the grocery store, or spoil yourself with a pedicure. Just something so that you have to shower, and get dressed, and feel slightly more human again, and get a little change of scene.
10. Snuggle! I think every mom would agree with this one. Snuggle lots and lots. Babies love to be snuggled - feeling warm and secure, and hearing your heartbeat (which they've been listening to for the last nine months). Plus it encourages bonding between you and your baby. And there's something so irresistibly precious when they're so tiny and new. Skin-to-skin, or kangaroo care, is a great way to snuggle, promoting bonding and breastfeeding, and helping regulate a newborn's body temperature, breathing, and heartbeat. (Even though it's often talked about for premie babies, it's good for all newborns.) Be sure to get Daddy in on the snuggling too!
Fellow moms, what tips would you add?