Yesterday I gave you my first three tips for surviving the newborn baby stage, and today I have the next three for you. As always, this is what I have found to work for me, my babies, and my family, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can or should do all of them too. I’m a firm believer that you have to find what works best for you and your baby, but I hope that some of these tips can be helpful to you in figuring that out.
Tips for Surviving the Newborn Stage
Lay Your Baby Down to Sleep
With each of my babies, I have laid them down to sleep more and more, I guess out of necessity of having two, and now three children, and I’m not sure I would take back the days of holding my first baby basically all day long, just because I could. But, I do think it is important to try to establish good sleep habits in your baby early on, as we definitely dealt with some sleep issues with our oldest daughter because we didn’t do such a good job of this when she was a newborn.
Now, I’m not saying you should always lay your baby down when they are asleep and never hold them. I try to hold Blair while she is sleeping at least once a day. And I’m definitely not saying you should lay your newborn down and let them cry themselves to sleep. I just think it’s important to lay them down to sleep at least some of the time so that they can get used to sleeping in a bed by themselves.
The thing is, newborns sleep A LOT! And they will basically sleep anywhere, so while they are so sweet, and cute, and snuggly, and you just want to hold them forever and ever, you will be glad later on if you let them sleep some of the time in their own bed. I have just learned that you don’t want your baby to only know how to sleep in your arms. I think it’s good if a baby learns to sleep in lots of different places – your arms, their bed, the baby carrier, the swing, their car seat, etc.
Sleep With Your Baby
I can remember one night within the first week or two after my first daughter was born, I was up in the middle of the night to feed and change her. I had laid her down quickly to run to the bathroom. She started crying and my hubs picked her up and brought her into the bathroom to me (don’t ask me why, he was sleep deprived too).
Anyway, I just broke down and started bawling. I was so, so tired. I had never ever felt that tired in my whole life (little did I know that was only the beginning!), and I asked Jer when things were going to get back to normal. He kinda shrugged and we both realized that this was our new normal. Fortunately, since then I’ve somehow learned to survive on very little sleep without having total meltdowns all the time.
But, I’ve also learned that I don’t have to feel so, so sleep deprived with a newborn. You see, although we had our daughter sleeping in a bassinet in our room, when she would wake up to eat, I would sit up in bed to feed her and doze off with my head bobbing up and down as I sat there. We had said that we were against co-sleeping, and I didn’t really know about side-lying nursing. Also, I thought that if she was still awake after eating that I needed to be awake with her.
Then I went to a breastfeeding support group at the hospital where I’d given birth, and the nurse mentioned side-lying nursing and suggested I give it a try. That night, instead of trying to sit up in bed and feed my baby, I laid down with her supported by a pillow and nursed.
And it was amazing. I could basically wake up, get my baby latched on, and then go right back to sleep as she ate, and she would fall back asleep on her own. Suddenly I didn’t feel so sleep deprived anymore, and I was sold on the idea of co-sleeping.
To me co-sleeping is the lazy mom’s way to do it. Basically, I’m too lazy to get up and out of bed to feed my baby during the night. So, we put her down to sleep in her bassinet and when she wakes up for her first nighttime feeding, she comes into bed with me and stays there for the rest of the night. And we both sleep peacefully through the night. She wakes up to eat, but it hardly disturbs either one of us. I get her latched on, and we head right back to dreamland.
Of course, it is important to practice safe co-sleeping, and I feel confident that my babies are safe in bed with me. With my son, and now my second daughter, I have brought them into bed with me from day one. And I have never felt that desperation from being completely exhausted, like I did with my first baby.
Blair and Kaelyn with their Nana who was a big help after Blair was born!
Ask for Help
I talked about this in my post on dealing with the postpartum baby blues, but there is nothing that takes the pressure off in those early days and weeks like getting help from others, even just your hubby. I have a guest post coming up next week over at The Humbled Homemaker with ideas for how to help a new mama if you want to read more about different kinds of help that you can ask for from your friends and family.
But mostly, be willing to ask for, and accept, help from others. As a reader said on Facebook, “I think the best thing I did when my babies were tiny was to DELEGATE. I don’t have to do it all and somebody else doing things “imperfectly” (in my warped opinion) is good enough.” And I totally agree with her!
What other tips or tricks did you use to make the newborn stage a little easier for mama and baby?
Read more about life with a new baby on Live Renewed:
- 8 Tips for a Healthy Postpartum Recovery
- Coming Out of the Fog
- 8 Natural Remedies for the Postpartum Baby Blues
- Essential Baby Gear for the Newborn Stage