Recently, I shared my choices for essential gear for the newborn stage, and while all of those things do help to make my life with a newborn easier, after having three babes, I’ve also learned a few tips and tricks that really help me to survive those early days, weeks and months.
In some ways the newborn stage is one of the easiest stages of a child’s life. Their needs are basic, and they sleep all. the. time. And yet, life with a newborn can be exhausting and overwhelming, nursing round the clock, interrupted sleep, babies that need to be held and rocked, unknown crying. And that’s just for the easy babies, not to mention the fussy, colicky ones.
As I said in the other post, I have been very blessed with pretty easy babies, not overly fussy or needy. (I’m not convinced this is necessarily a good thing though, because these easy babes have turned into a very challenging toddler and preschooler!)
But, I still found that there were things I could do that made the newborn stage much easier for me. This time around with Blair, I have felt less overwhelmed and less sleep deprived, and more in control of the transition of adding a new baby to the family. This definitely doesn’t mean things have been perfect! But, I do feel like things have been easier.
Tips for Surviving the Newborn Stage
Skip the Schedule
But do try to find a routine. With my oldest daughter, I tried to figure out her natural schedule when she was about 2 months old. I wrote down when she slept, ate, and was awake for a week because I desperately wanted some kind of consistency to our days. And by consistency, I meant I wanted to know what time she would wake up, what time she would take her nap, and what time she would eat. What I really should have been looking for was a pattern.
In other areas of my life I am totally a schedule and routine kind of person. And although it can be hard for those of us who love a schedule to not no how long our baby will sleep, or when they will want to eat next, I don’t think it’s realistic to try to put a newborn on a schedule. They really don’t do anything at the same time day in and day out. But, I’ve found that my babies usually do fall into a routine, or rhythm, of awake time and nap time.
My baby wakes up in the morning anytime between about 7 and 9. She eats for a while, is awake for about 30 min to an hour, and then is tired and ready to go back to sleep. She takes a morning nap for anywhere from 45 min to 2 hours, and so on. As you can see, it’s definitely not a schedule, but it is a rhythm that provides a little bit of predictability to our days, but we don’t worry about exactly what time she will sleep, or wake, or eat.
And we definitely don’t hold this routine tightly. If she doesn’t follow this one day for some reason, it’s okay, we just go with the flow. Babies need us to respond to their needs, not keep them on a rigid schedule.
Nurse on Demand
Speaking of eating, when it comes to feeding my newborns, I throw all ideas of a schedule out the window. I have a general idea of the last time my baby ate, and whether it’s been two, or four, hours, but mostly, I don’t really worry about it at all. Also, don’t ask me how long she ate for, I feed her til she’s satisfied and done, not for a certain amount of time of the clock.
This makes things easier for me because it’s one less thing I need to worry about remembering. I don’t have to stress that she’s acting like she’s hungry, but I just fed her an hour and a half ago, and the schedule says I can only feed her every three hours. And the baby’s happy because she gets fed when she wants, so she doesn’t have to cry and cry because I’m holding off on feeding her. I’m not sure about bottle-feeding, but I’m guessing that this would work for that too — feed your baby when they’re hungry, not when the clock says they’re supposed to eat.
I’m bummed because I realized I don’t actually have very many pictures of me wearing Blair, I’m usually the one behind the camera! But who can resist newborn baby feet?!
Wear Your Baby
I shared my favorite carriers in my list of essentials for a newborn baby, and said that baby wearing is the main thing that makes the newborn stage easier for me. And it’s definitely true. I absolutely love baby wearing and freedom it gives me. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s good for the baby too.
Wearing your baby allows you to go along with everyday normal life, whether that’s doing chores around the house, running errands, or doing fun stuff with your family, all with your baby in tow, easy, happy, and safe. Blair falls asleep almost immediately when I put her in the carrier, and will sleep for the just about the whole time I keep her in there. It’s so easy to put her in the carrier and go about with life as usual, that sometimes I almost forget that I have a third child.
I’m so thankful that my cousin encouraged me to baby wear before my oldest daughter was born, it has made such a huge difference for me. And now I want to encourage other new moms to wear their babies – I’m planning to post more specifically about babywearing with a newborn soon!
Okay, so this post is getting a little longer than expected. I guess I’m passionate about these things! So, I’ll be back tomorrow with three more tips for surviving the newborn stage.
For now though, I’d love to hear your experience! Tell us what helped to make the newborn stage easier for you.