Caring For A Newborn By Yourself: How To Get Through The First Few Months Together
While having a new baby may be the single most amazing thing to ever happen to you, it can also be the most stressful and exhausting experience you ever go through, especially when you're on your own. You can, of course, do it, you just need to make sure you have all the information you need to succeed. The following tips will help you survive and your baby thrive as you face the all-important first few months of the new life together.
1. Start A Newborn Journal
As tired as you may get caring for your newborn, stopping to take notes on various events can help you plan your longer care strategy. Jot down the different times your baby is hungry, how much is consumed and other helpful information, such as what works the best at getting them to sleep faster. Having this info documented means you're well prepared to formulate a more predictable and rewarding schedule for the both of you.
2. Don't Be Afraid You're Harassing The Pediatrician With Calls
You might feel foolish calling your newborn's doctor over every little sneeze, hiccup, and gas event; however, it really just goes to show what a caring and concerned parent you are, with no implication of anything negative. Many parents of newborns are always on the phone with somebody or other, trying to have their questions answered and trying to make sure that everything going on with their baby is "normal". Don't hesitate to pick up the phone whenever you have a question or concern. Your pediatrician, someone from a place like Willow Oak Pediatrics, is likely accustomed to getting calls from concerned parents.
3. Make Sure Your Health Is A Priority, Too
Caring for a newborn will deplete you nutritionally, emotionally and physically if you fail to stop and take care of yourself, too. It might be helpful to keep quick snacks on hand, such as natural granola bars or trail mix, for the times when you need a little boost of energy, but can't take the time to fix yourself a full meal. Even with the crazy schedule, though, it's important that your own health is a top priority, along with your baby's. If you don't take care of you, you really can't take care of them.
4. Feed With Efficiency At Night
Because nighttime feedings can be so draining on you and the interruption disrupts your newborn's sleep pattern, too, this is one feeding you don't want to linger on more than is necessary. If you get your baby accustomed to lazily half-eating, half-sleeping, then that will become a habit. Instead, try prompting your newborn gently to keep nursing the breast or bottle, rather than lingering on and on. There's no health complication related to efficient feeding and you're not actually expediting the process, you're eliminating the other behaviors that accompany the eating.
5. Don't Worry Too Much About Waking the Baby
Sometimes parents go very much out of their way to maintain absolute silence for their sleeping newborns and this isn't just likely unnecessary, it could also be detrimental to everyone, too. Your baby could hear in the womb, meaning they're no stranger to the noises of normal living. Allowing for some sounds, even when it's nap or bedtime helps them to get used to the natural noise of the environment, which should help them to develop a tolerance for it, even when trying to doze off.
6. Establish Your Own Routines
The life you lead outside of your newborn's care should also fall into a routine, for your own sake. Plan ahead for everything as much as you can, so you can prep for it while baby is asleep or otherwise content on their own. You might pack your briefcase ahead of time for a meeting, rather than be forced to shove the contents in at the last minute or you could put tomorrow's outfit neatly together on the back of a chair tonight, so you can avoid that particular task during the morning rush. Anything you can plan for and take care of ahead of time is going to make life that much easier for you; thus, establishing a routine is the best way to keep your plans running as smoothly as can be expected while caring for a newborn.
7. Give Yourself Some Slack With The Housework
Yes, you have a million things to do in a day, but no, you don't have to do them all. Your and your newborn's health should always be the top priority, but some days, that may be all you can get to. Don't feel guilty or beat yourself up or try staying up until the wee hours getting everything on your "to-do" list accomplished. Even if you're a type A personality who maintains the highest standards, loosen up for the time being, to ensure your long-term survival as a parent.
8. Have A Good Baby Book On Hand
In addition to your pediatrician's good advice and the words offered to you by people in your life (and there will be many), it's a good idea to have a "baby encyclopedia" type of book on hand. It will serve as an excellent reference when questions arise, but it's also great reading material while you're nursing or helping your baby off to a nap. Reading ahead, too, teaches you about the things you can expect in the near future, giving you a leg-up on learning.
9. Never Fall Asleep With Your Baby In Your Bed
No matter how exhausted you become or how much your newborn may scream to have you together while sleeping, don't do it. The risks of sleeping together are far too great right now and you'd also risk training your child to sleep with you indefinitely, if they don't learn to sleep by themselves now. There's no harm in moving the crib or bassinet next to your bed, so you can reach in as needed or sing soft lullabies, just be aware of the sleep you are (or aren't) getting and the impact the arrangement has on you in both the short and long-term.
10. Get The Outside Help You May Need
When it's just you and your newborn, life can become overwhelming, to say the least. You may be stressed, sleep-deprived or also dealing with postpartum depression, among other issues. If you feel like you need help, seek it out. Hospitals, community services or government agencies can help you in many ways and in most cases, all you have to do is ask. They understand the momentous task you face every day and might be able to help you financially, with newborn education and other forms of support. There's no harm in asking and it doesn't reflect poorly on you in any way.
No matter what you have to do to succeed in caring for your newborn, you're going to do it. However, with a little planning, organization and prioritizing, you can do it a lot better and without it being as hard on you. Before long, the two of you should be working a synchronized schedule of sleeping, eating and newborn care, but with at least a little time to enjoy the pleasure of each other's company.