If hang around this blog long enough, you will start to notice that that I had a heck of a time figuring out the right baby sleep tips to follow after my son was born. As a mommy to be, I read all the books and did all the right things, and yet my son had a grand plan of his own. It wasn’t my journey into the world; it was his, and I was simply along for the ride.
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A terrible sleeper from birth, my son loved to sleep in short 45 minute bursts. Poor child wound up in a perpetual state of never-ending exhaustion, which made for one very tired mama and baby. Babies who are overtired sleep less, not more, which is one of the cruelest parts of new motherhood: the more tired you become, the less sleep you get. Sigh.
But alas, just like everyone else, we made it through all the wiser and smarter. So if you are a new mom or a mommy to be, I just wanted to share my best new mom survival tips. I hope it will help. It might not. Every newborn is unpredictable and different, but hey, it’s worth a shot.
And psst…10+ other moms weighed in to give their best pieces advice. See their tips at the end of this post!
Best mommy to be survival tips…
Have help scheduled to come. One of the biggest things that I underestimated as a mommy to be was how helpless I would feel during the newborn phase. Just the stress of ‘Am I doing the right thing with this baby?’ was all consuming and prevented me from attending to cooking, cleaning, and other usual chores. Having someone stay with me, in addition to my husband, was so helpful. Both my mom and aunt came at different times of the newborn phase, helping to clean my house and cook meals on a daily basis. I don’t know where I would be without them.
But I would also say that keeping visitors to just one person during the first few weeks is also important. You don’t want your house flooded with a bunch of people while you are getting the hang of everything. Everyone is different, but that is something that worked really well for me.
Be willing to go hands free. Sometimes babies just won’t sleep unless they are held during the initial newborn phase. My favorite carrier for a small baby is a Moby Wrap Original or a Lite-on-Shoulder Baby Sling. A wrap or sling allows the baby to get snuggled up a bit more comfortably, enhancing the likelihood he will stay asleep.
You could try a Baby Bjorn or Ergobaby Carrier, but I find they work much better with an older baby. I’ve also read that a Baby Bjorn can contribute to hip dysplasia. We used it minimally and did not experience any issues, but it is something to be aware of.
Arm yourself with some baby sleep information. Babies sleep way differently than adults. Who knew? I was clueless about the whole baby sleep thing, despite reading a few books ahead of time. My son was such a horrible sleeper that I actually became slightly obsessed with researching the topic, and eventually wrote an entire eBook about baby sleep solutions. If you are looking for a way to learn everything you need to know about newborn and baby sleep, you will love For the Love of Sleep: Practical Baby Sleep Solutions for the Everyday Mama.
Create bedtime routines to bring consistency. Babies thrive on routine and predictability. The best pediatricians recommend starting a routine before bedtime and naps with your baby as soon as you get home and feel ready. I would say starting by the 6-8 week mark or earlier is ideal. We established a bedtime routine at 6 weeks and never looked back. 18 months later, we still do almost the same routine before naps and bedtime. It works!
Accept any offering of food or help. Sometimes it’s hard to accept help from others. If someone starts cleaning your house or bringing you dinner, it’s okay if you just say YES. To all of it. If there is ever a time in your life to swallow your pride and take the help, the newborn phase is it.
Be a team with your husband. If you need to, feel confident assigning different jobs to you and your husband. If you need to switch off with night feedings or need him to lull the baby to sleep, go ahead and share the work load. As moms, we often feel the need to do it all. It’s okay to let everyone else pitch in too. One thing we do in our home is rotate the bedtime routine between parents each night.
Keep meals stockpiled. The idea of freezer meals is kind of beaten to death if you ask me, but they serve a purpose, and they are helpful. Even if the whole newborn thing is going really, really well, it would be so much more fun to curl up on the couch and watch TV than to cook a meal from scratch. Put a freezer meal in the crockpot or bake it in the oven, and just relax. They are totally worth it. If freezer meals really aren’t your thing, take note of all of the mealtime hacks for busy moms and try to implement several into your routine.
But many parents wonder, when is the best time to move a baby into his own room? The easy answer is, it depends. About a week after my son was born, a visiting nurse came to the house. She recommended moving the baby into his own room around the 8 week mark. Before that, they are too young to really know the difference.
We opted to move our son around the 6 week mark, mainly because all his little noises were keeping me from sleeping at all during the night. We also had a townhome, in which the baby’s room was right next to ours. Sometimes the layout of a home is a factor because if you have to go upstairs or downstairs for every night feeding, it isn’t always worth it.
Eat well to keep energy levels up. Life with a newborn is exhausting enough. Getting enough nutrition to sustain you is important to help you feel as good as possible. Drinking lots of water makes a difference too. You may feel incredibly thirsty, especially if you are breastfeeding.
Invest in the perfect swaddle. You probably already know that newborns are notorious for startling themselves away for the first several months of life. If you read enough posts here at The Military Wife and Mom, it is probably no surprise to you that I am completely in love with the HALO SleepSack Series.
We’ve used them from birth until 18 months and are still going strong. We started with the swaddles and transitioned to the wearable blankets. I’ve never been paid by HALO to market their product, and I’ve never received a free product from them. I truly just love their stuff, and I think that you will too!
Don’t fear the coffee. When I was pregnant, one of the things that I missed most was coffee. Don’t get me wrong, I drank coffee in moderation when I was pregnant. But I wanted to drink the whole pot! So after my son was born and he was sleeping horribly, I went on and off coffee trying to see if that was the problem.
Here’s the thing: if you are a breastfeeding mom, and you drink coffee regularly but in moderation, your baby should be fine according to La Leche League. Approximately 1% of the caffeine you drink goes through to your breastmilk and to the baby. Don’t go overboard, but 1-2 cups per day should be fine.
Let go of perfect. Motherhood is especially hard on those moms, who aspire for the perfect schedule and predictable life. That would be me. Oh, I struggled. Everything was so chaotic. Nothing was in order. Yeah, I was a mess. Don’t be like me. Just let it go and know that everything will start to fall into place if you are willing to give it enough time. The newborn phase is rarely ‘by the book.’
Do what works. If you read something in a book that says do this or that, don’t feel the pressure to make it happen that exact way. Mama knows best. You know your baby, and your motherly instincts are powerful. So if you don’t do what the book says, feel confident in your choice. What works for one baby will likely be completely different for another.
Tell it like it is. This is the part where it’s better to tell someone that you are struggling than to wait it out. Breastfeeding going poorly? Tell someone. Seek help. Make an appointment with a lactation consultant. Every mom struggles in some way, and anyone who claims it goes perfectly is putting up a façade. Sleep not going so hot? Talk to your pediatrician. Ask another mom. There is no purpose to suffering in silence.
Tips from other moms…
“Trust your gut, no one knows your baby better than you. Others advice can offer insight, but in the end, your baby, your choice.” –Emily
“Learn to go with the flow. It’s the only way to keep any semblance of sanity through the many phases your kids will go through.” –Vanessa
“Keeping a schedule. The earlier you start the easier daily routines will be in the future.” –Shannon
“Don’t read all the ‘fear’ blogs. As long as you try your hardest to be the best for/to your child, you will be a great parent. Stop worrying, because tomorrow they will be a bit older and therefore a bit different” –Brittany
“Have patience because there’s a lot to learn, do not let people pressure you into going out, tell someone if you’re having a hard time, ask for help, and don’t worry about losing weight.” –Kylie, Someone Maternal
“Seriously, take the help you are offered, sleep when that baby sleeps, make sure you eat(!!), get out of the house, go for a walk often, and enjoy the snuggles. The newborn phase doesn’t last forever. But, also, get that baby on a schedule as much as possible from day 1, but also be flexible a bit too.” –Katelyn, What’s Up Fagans?
“Your baby’s taste in music may surprise you. Be adventurous and find out what will soothe them when they’re cranky. Here are 6 songs that might just work: How to Calm a Crying Baby. –Kelly, Happy You, Happy Family
“Remember that it is just a stage and that even though some nights might seem unbearably long you will get through it. Soak in every moment and that wonderful new baby smell.” –Kerrie, Family Food and Travel
“I swaddled from the first day in the hospital until I weaned them months later. I never gave them an option to “like it” or “not like it” I just did it. All three of mine liked being swaddled of which I was happy about.” –Rachel, A Mother Far From Home
“Remember that it won’t last forever. Even my kids start sleeping through the night eventually, my first after their fourth birthday and the others much sooner… Many kids start sleeping through the night well before their first birthday.” –MaryAnne, Mama Smiles
“Nutrition is important, especially when nursing. You are running on fumes and need to replenish your body. This is another opportunity to ask for help. If someone has offered to provide meals, let them! Ask for your favorite foods. Many times, people are willing to cook and freeze meals so you don’t have to. They may be willing to go grocery shopping for you. If you have to cook, make easy meals with healthy ingredients. Try making double batches so you can freeze the leftovers for another time.” –Melanie, Babies Learn Through Play
Want more on Motherhood?
- When Nothing Prepares You for New Motherhood
- When Everyone Keeps Asking, “Are You Excited?”
- Best Essential Oil Uses for Tired and Stressed Moms
What is your best tip for a mommy to be? Let’s chat in the comments!
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