Congratulations! You’re a new mom! You’ve just spent 9 months growing a tiny human inside your womb and now you’re holding that sweet newborn in your arms. It’s such a wonderful, exciting time, isn’t it?! It can also be a very tiring, stressful time as well. I know, I’ve done it six times now.
Today I’m excited to share with you my best tips for surviving the first weeks with a newborn. These are the things I’ve learned over the years that I wish someone would have told me back when I had my first baby. I hope they help you too!
Tips for Surviving the First Weeks with a Newborn
1. Nap When Baby Naps
No doubt you’re short on sleep these days. You’ve probably heard it already, but people are telling you this for a good reason. Nap when your baby naps if at all possible. You need your sleep, so if you’re tired, just do it. The dishes can wait for later, the laundry can wait for later, even the shower can wait. Getting enough rest will help your body to heal.
2. Continue Eating a Healthy Diet
If you’re breastfeeding, remember that your diet still greatly affects the milk your baby is drinking. Even if you aren’t breastfeeding, a healthy, well-balanced diet will help to give you more energy when you’re short on sleep and will help your body to heal. Try to eat whole foods whenever possible, but don’t beat yourself up if it’s been a rough day and you need to order take-out.
Now’s not the time to ditch the vitamins! It’s a good idea to continue taking your prenatal vitamins. They will help replenish vitamins and minerals lost during pregnancy and will be shared with baby if you’re breastfeeding.
3. Wake a Sleeping Baby
You’ve probably heard the phrases don’t wake a sleeping baby or let sleeping babies lie, however, if your baby is waking up during the night to eat and then staying awake instead of falling right back asleep, you’re going to need to start waking your baby more during daylight hours. Just a few days ago I spoke with a mom who has a newborn 5 days older than my baby. She said her little girl was waking up 2 or 3 times a night and staying awake for 90 minutes each time. She was exhausted – and who can blame her? I would be too!
The key, I’ve found, to having a baby who will sleep all night (besides waking for feedings, of course) is to make sure they are waking every 90-120 minutes during the day hours, eating, and having an awake period for about an hour total before falling back asleep again. Of course, every baby is different, but if your baby is sleeping all day long but not at night, try waking and feeding him or her more often during the day. I have found that the best way to get my drowsy baby to really wake up is to simply change his diaper. That’s usually all it takes to wake him.
4. Be Social
Sometimes after you have a new baby, it’s easy to become a hermit. For one thing, it’s tougher to get a shower and then get baby ready to heard out the door too. Plus, you’re trying to time your outings so baby won’t be hungry the minute you get in the car. I know it’s tough, but you’ll feel so much better if you’re able to be sociable too. Try to plan at least one playdate a month with another mom friend. Don’t have any mom friends? Join a local MOPS chapter or other moms group in your area and make some friends. Many times local churches will host these gatherings. No need to hire a babysitter since you can take your baby with you!
*Special COVID note – I know right now we are all social distancing, but I wanted to put this tip in there because I’d like to believe that things will not always be like this and hopefully improve soon! In the meantime, you can still be social while you social distance. Take time to video chat with your friends or join an online group for new moms.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help – and Take It When It’s Offered
I am a very independent person and not one to ask for help. I’m even the kind of person that, when you offer to help, even if I need it, I’ll tell you no. One time someone close to me said, Janessa, when someone is trying to do something nice for you, LET THEM, because not only does it bless you, but it’s a blessing to that individual too. And you know what, she was right! I know I feel great when I have the opportunity to do something caring and helpful for someone else.
So now, when friends and family ask about bringing a meal after baby, I accept. When I have a grocery pickup scheduled but I’m struggling with my day, I have asked a family member if they could stop to grab it (and they happily obliged!).
6. Stock Your Kitchen Ahead of Time
Hopefully you will have a few friends and family offer to deliver a meal after your baby is born, but eventually you’ll need to start preparing your own meals. Make sure you have lots of healthy food that are ready to eat or can be fixed quickly in your house.
If you have time, prep a few freezer meals a few weeks before your due date. I always make sure I keep a few healthy, microwavable meals I enjoy in my freezer. I also stock the cupboards and refrigerator with things I can grab quickly, like granola bars, apples, blueberries, cheese sticks, crackers, etc. Since I have other children, I also make sure I have quick-fix foods available for them too.
7. Get a VTech Smart Wi-Fi Video Monitor
It’s impossible to be with your newborn 24/7, so having a video monitor is one of my must-have newborn supplies!
I remember when I had my first baby 10 years ago. Video monitors were a newer thing and I thought, audio monitors have been used for years, I’m sure that’s all I need. Well, let me tell you that the audio monitor often picked up talking from our neighbors. Not only that, but my daughter would often make noises in her sleep, causing me to rush into the room only to find out that she was still asleep…but that my going into her room had woken her up.
I got my first video monitor when I had my second baby 8 years ago and what a difference! No more rushing into the room and waking my baby plus it was a stress reliever to be able to check in on him any time I wanted to.
Video monitors have come a long way over the past few years! For our 6th baby, I got the new VTech RM5764HD Smart Wi-Fi 1080p Video Monitor and I just love it! This monitor won the Women’s Choice Award, so I knew it was going to be a good one!
It was so easy to set this monitor up. You basically just plug it in and you’re ready to go! If you want to be able to view it over wi-fi, it’s just a few additional steps to set that up on your smartphone or tablet. I love that this monitor gives me both options of a parent unit with a full-color screen and also to view remotely with the MyVTech 1080p app. That way, if I’m all the way down in my basement or outside working in the yard and the range is too far for my parent unit, I can just pull it up on my phone.
This monitor has all the best features, like a temperature sensor, built-in night light on the camera, on-board recording for motion detection or on-demand as desired, motion alerts, 10x remote digital zoom, two-way talk, soothing lullabies and sounds, and automatic infrared night vision. You can also take photos right from your monitor and save them to your phone. Check out this photo from my monitor – look how clear the video feed quality is! You can even see the chew marks my 2-year-old left on the crib.
Having this video monitor has made my life with a newborn much easier. I can get a shower, fix my hair (and even put on makeup some days!), play outside with my older kids, fix dinner, etc., all while still being able to keep a close eye and ear on my baby. As a mom of older kids, I can also tell you that a video monitor like this will come in handy for many years to come. My two-year-old has transitioned to a twin size bed and this monitor alerts me when he gets out of bed during the night or in the morning.
8. Set Up a Baby Station on Each Level of Your Home
We live in a two-story house. Whether you gave birth vaginally or gave birth by c-section, your body needs to rest after baby. That means you want to limit how many times you are going up and down the stairs. My nursery is on the second story of our home, so I always set up a separate baby station on the main level of my home and it is SO helpful! I have one of those playards with a changing table and I keep it stocked with diapers, wipes, diaper cream, and extra outfits for my little one. Since newborns need their diaper changed often, this saves me so many trips up and down the steps each day.
Don’t have a playard you can use? Don’t worry – just use a basket or bin to store these supplies. That works too!
9. Take All the Photos AND Video
With my first baby, I was great about taking photos but I completed neglected video. How I wish I’d taken videos of my newborn. Those sweet little movements, coos, and initial smiles.
Another thing I often didn’t do was take photos of me with my baby. I hadn’t showered or put makeup on…but you know what, when she is older, she won’t care that I hadn’t done those things. Your child(ren) will want to see photos of the two of you together, so take the pictures, no matter what!
When you’re having an exhausting day and struggling, looking back at these sweet photos and videos will remind you how precious your baby is and how lucky you are to have your newborn in your life!
10. Get a Baby Carrier
My newborns have always loved being held and I love holding them. However, sometimes there are things I need to get done around our house and that’s why I always have a great newborn baby carrier. I have found that some of the more structured carriers don’t work as well with a newborn. I prefer a wrap-style carrier for the first few weeks. My newborns spend a lot of time in a baby carrier and I’m able to get so much done because of it! We also both enjoy the extra snuggle time!
11. Clean Well Before Baby Arrives
It’s likely you have the nesting urge as you near your due date, so that’s a great time to deep clean your home. If you clean your house well before the baby comes, you won’t have a lot of cleaning tasks weighing on your after the baby is born.
12. If You Can Do It Now, Do It Now
This has become my new mantra and it has really helped me stay on top of the laundry and cleaning at our home. Basically, if I see something that needs to be done and I’m not occupied with the baby (or the baby is in a baby carrier) I don’t delay in getting it done. Some days are good days and I’m able to get a lot accomplished. Other days I find I hardly get anything done besides feeding and rocking a baby. This is why it’s so helpful to get things done when you can.
If I walk by a laundry basket that needs to be folded, for example, and the baby is content, I fold the clothes and put them away right away.
Listen, you are bound to get somewhat behind on your housekeeping during this time, it’s inevitable (and completely okay!) but by doing this, you will be able to stay on top of things a little bit better which will help you feel less stressed.
13. Utilize Grocery Pickup
Grocery shopping with a newborn can be stressful, especially right now with COVID-19. Even if there is a small fee to use your grocery store’s pickup service, it is well worth it during the newborn weeks! I did not have this service available to me for my first few children but I am loving it now!
14. Choose a Special Song for Your Baby
With each of my children I’ve had a special song. It’s something I’ve sung to them while rocking them to sleep. Sometimes I may sing more than 1 song, but I always start with their special song. When you start early on, your baby will grow accustomed to that song and associate it with bedtime. For instance, with my oldest daughter, I would sing Stay Awake from Mary Poppins. Another child’s song is Come Though Fount of Every Blessing. My son with colic had a song that would instantly calm him when nothing else would. It was amazing! As they have gotten older, they would immediately settle down as we sit in the rocking chair and I begin to sing the song for them.
15. Enjoy This Time
More than anything, my number one tip is to just enjoy this wonderful time with your baby. They will grow up so fast — trust me! It goes much faster than you’d ever imagine. I know the sleepless nights are rough, but before you know it, you’ll be kissing their little forehead as they head off to kindergarten.