While a newborn child is one of the greatest blessings a family can receive, raising a child may be one of the most difficult challenges you ever undertake and it’s even more intimidating if this is your first child. After all, you’ll be navigating a brand new role as your baby navigates a brand new world. However, being a new mom doesn’t mean you can’t handle the role like a pro. With 17 tips from seasoned Silver Spring moms, you’ll be ready to tackle the most grueling challenges motherhood can throw your way.
1) Trust Your Instincts
As the new mom on the block you’ll be receiving parenting advice left and right from relatives, friends, and neighbors. Take the wealth of advice with a grain of salt. At the end of the day it’s your child and you don’t need to spike your baby’s bottle with a shot of whiskey just because your grandma did. Listen to your baby’s clues and trust your instincts.
2) If At First You don’t Succeed, Try Again
Each and every child is strikingly unique. When it comes to getting your child to sleep, eat, or play, there is no one technique to fit all. Play with different techniques and ideas. While you’re getting used to your baby’s likes and dislikes, you will more than likely have to test several different methods before you discover what makes him/her smile.
3) Let Your Baby Do The Talking
The average baby needs to eat every two to three hours and sleep for 16 to 17 hours a day. However, you don’t need to force the schedule of an average baby on your child. Feel out your newborn’s needs and create a schedule around them. Let him/her eat and sleep on demand to figure out what he/she requires and when.
4) Avoid Overexposure
Your baby doesn’t need to become Bubble Boy, but limiting outside exposure is healthy to a degree. Infants under six months have skin too sensitive for sunscreen and should be kept out of direct sunlight. Furthermore, babies aren’t born with a fully developed immune system. Limiting exposure to large crowds and groups of kids is also a good idea to reduce the risk of catching a cold or infection. Exposure to others should certainly be limited during flu season. By approximately 1 year of age a child’s immune system should be significantly, but not fully developed.
5) Nap Like a Baby
Lack of sleep is easily one of the most difficult challenges to overcome in motherhood. While babies sleep for an average of 16 to 17 hours a day, their sleep is dispersed throughout the day a few hours at a time. The best way to catch some shuteye is to nap when your baby naps. Limit your expectations on how much you’ll accomplish each day and keep sleep your first priority. Don’t try to sneak in additional housework, because your time is limited. The minute your baby falls asleep you should lay down as well.
6) Secure Your Car Seat
As a mother, your baby’s safety is your first priority. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 3-14. Purchasing a car seat for your child is essential, but it won’t do any good if it isn’t properly installed. Ensure that your car seat is secured and your child is properly fastened in before driving anywhere.
7) Learn To Feed
The concept of breastfeeding seems simple enough. You hold your baby up to your boob and let nature run its course. The reality is that breastfeeding proves to be a more complicated procedure. If your baby doesn’t latch properly, your breast will be left sore and painful. A lactation consultant, or a friend that’s already nursed a child can help you train your baby to latch on properly.
8) Always Travel Fully Equipped
Traveling anywhere with a baby can prove to be a nightmare if you travel unprepared. Any time you leave the house you’ll want to have a bottle, milk, stroller, diapers, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, a few plastic bags (for messy diapers), and a change of clothes for both your baby and yourself. It’s quite a load to carry around, but having these things makes traveling anywhere a breeze.
9) Take a Spa Day
Your baby will undoubtedly be your primary focus, but it’s also important to focus on yourself. Have your husband or a friend take over parenting duties for a while and spend a day at the spa or the gym. To avoid burning out, you should shoot to leave the house baby-free for at least two to three hours every week.
10) Prepare For Separation
After parenting full-time for several weeks it can be difficult to return to work. It’s especially stressful to spend time apart from your child while you’re at work. Keep pictures on your phone of your baby to flip through when you’re missing him/her. Make the transition easier by getting back on a work schedule before returning to work. You can maximize interaction time with your child by planning quick meals and having your groceries delivered via services like Instacart.
11) Find a Soother
Dealing with an upset baby day in and day out can quickly zap your energy. The average newborn will cry for a total of 2 hours each day, but there are techniques you can utilize to limit fuss. Try throwing a blanket under a small table and allow your child to crawl under it. Toddlers often need to block out stimulation in order to calm down. Additionally, if you’re looking for an instant-soother, you could run the bathroom fan and faucet. Low, droning noises simulate the sound of a heartbeat in utero.
12) Bring The Salon Home
Having to wash your baby’s hair can be a torturous nightmare featuring kicking, screaming, and even biting. You can turn the washing experience into something your child looks forward to by bringing the salon treatment home. Lie your child down on the kitchen counter with his/her head hanging over the sink. Roll up a towel and keep it under the neck for support. Run warm water and use your fingers to massage his/her head while applying shampoo. The more enjoyable you can make the washing process, the easier it will be to wash.
13) Defuse Road Rage
Traffic may frustrate you, but chances are having to sit in a car for extended periods of time frustrates your child tenfold. Play soothing music to avoid fits of hysteria and consider stashing toys like magnets in your vehicle. The magic of magnetism can keep your child entertained for several minutes if not hours.
14) Tasty Teething
Frozen washcloths are often advised to soothe teething babies, but your baby may teethe longer with some added flavor. Placing chunks of pickles, cucumbers, or carrots in a mesh teether will keep your young one happily gnawing away.
15) Technology Is Your Friend
Mothers today carry a helping hand in their pockets at all times. Mobile apps for motherhood make parenting easier than ever before. From baby monitors to activity trackers, if you need help with it, there’s probably an app for it.
16) Change Diapers With Ease
Changing diapers is an inherently messy process, but it can be cleaned up a bit. Wrap one arm around your child’s belly to hold him/her still while you pull the old diaper off with the other arm. Ask your child to try touching his/her toes and use your free hand to wipe them clean. Once the cleaning process is finished you can secure a new diaper on by placing the diaper on the front of the body, pushing it through the legs, and pulling it up over his/her butt. Kiss your diaper struggles goodbye with this simple method.
17) Help Is Available
Last but not least, remember that you’re not alone. You’re likely surrounded by a network of experienced parents who are more than willing to help. Don’t be afraid to enlist your husband, parents, or friends for baby duty when the going gets tough. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask for tips or advice. Admitting that you don’t know something does not make you any less of a mom.
Take it from the Silver Spring Moms, becoming a mother is no easy journey. With a bit of research, some experimentation, and many sleepless nights, you’ll begin to feel like you know what you’re doing.