There are a few things you learn after having eight babies. I have learned what is realistic to expect when a new baby is coming along, many friends comment that “it looks so easy when you have a new baby, like you've got this, how do you do it?” Here is my advice for a new mom.
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Holding The Baby All Day Long
It's true, even the sweetest, calmest baby requires a lot of time, care and holding. With my first few babies, I was more impatient and harder on myself, like “I need to get this done”, or “that room clean”, or whatever. But, now that my first baby is 23 and my youngest is 3, I realize all these things…
- The time went way too fast.
- It's harder to get a hug from them. Even the sweetest kid, they are just busy and distracted. I need to hug and hold them all I can now.
- I remember holding my baby, I don't remember the house being a mess.
- In the long run, it's more important what my child thinks of me and that they feel loved and cared for rather than another person's opinion of how I am as a housekeeper, etc.
- Like the cute saying says, “babies don't keep” meaning they won't stay babies.
- There are so many positive benefits that come from responding to your baby's needs in the first year. You really can't spoil them by holding them, but you can spoil them by not.
- Bonding with your child truly does last, at least 22 years, even if your child is stubborn and naughty – they still call for you when they are sick or need advice and I think it is due to that bond.
Knowing all of this helps me realize that “this too, will pass” and I need to enjoy the moment. Sometimes, I am still impatient when I have a deadline or when I really want to clean something and I have to ask for help or for my husband or someone to hold the baby. My youngest baby is now ten months old and is already getting independent and likes to play on the floor much more often. It feels too fast, yet it's nice to get more done in a day.
Plan on only doing five things a day when you have a new baby. Clean one room, do one load of dishes, do one load of laundry, feed yourself quick foods and drink lots of water. Anything above that is a bonus!
Quick To Prepare Foods
How I would have loved to have grocery delivery or pickup with my first baby! I recommend taking advantage of that, if you can. Get easy to eat single-serve foods like yogurt, pudding, protein/granola bars, frozen microwave meals, oatmeal, canned meals or soups, and cereal with bran in it (trust me – you will need the fiber) for times when you just can't make a meal, which may be four months, if you are blessed with a very needy baby.
Hard boil eggs about once every 4 days and peel them (on a break). It is such an easy “go to” food and fills you up nicely. Keep canned chicken, canned tuna, bread and mayonnaise in the house. It doesn't take long to open a can, drain the water, put some mayo right in the can, mix it with a fork, spread it on slices of bread, put tops on, keep one out and refrigerate the others to have as quick grab foods later.
The Hospital Bag
A big question I get is, “what goes in your hospital bag?” I am distracted by watching a movie, which are provided at my hospital, for my earlier stages of labor so I don't bring much.
- lip balm
- travel roll with lip balm (my lips get dry from all that breathing), toothbrush, toothpaste, small hair brush with elastic hair bands tied on the handle (sometimes I don't want hair in my face), and deoderant
- contact lenses case and solution
- glasses (they won't let me wear contact lenses for C-sections, I don't get why)
- nursing bras and nursing pads
- plenty of my own underwear (I don't enjoy the feel of the mesh ones they provide). Side note, I don't bring feminine pads because they provide them, but have a ton stocked up at home because there is a lot of bleeding that goes on afterwards. For my first baby, my poor embarrassed husband had to run and get them for me (and got the wrong kind – but I didn't have the heart to tell him).
- A thin bath robe (the rooms are cold in my opinion)
- don't bring extra socks unless they are non-slip, my nurses never let me wear mine, I wore the hospital's socks
- going home clothing
- long sleeve shirt for baby
- socks for baby
- going home outfit for baby
- baby fingernail clipper (they come out with long nails sometimes and I have a preference on which one I use)
- receiving blanket
- cover to go over the infant seat if it is cold or very sunny
- nursing shawl (some visitors are not comfortable watching you nurse, even if you are)
- baby hats
- puzzle book and pen or favorite book to read (for after baby is born, sometimes they sleep a lot right after birth and you are awake from the adrenaline rush, I can hold the baby and do a puzzle)
- I don't bring snacks because the hospital is good about providing food, after the baby is born, they often don't let you eat before
- Keep in the car or have your husband get it – infant car seat less than five years old and stroller that the infant car seat goes into
What Makes the First Year with a New Baby Easier?
In my opinion, it's God. Reading my Bible and praying and relying on His strength help me so much.
If you are breastfeeding, eat a yogurt a day to keep thrush away (it's like a yeast infection on your nipples and inside baby's mouth, and yes, I went through this for two kids until a kind pediatrician told me this secret.) If you are bottle feeding, keep bottled water in your diaper bag as not everyone has good tasting water.
Trying to buy ahead with clothing. It's annoying when the baby wakes up and doesn't fit in anything and you HAVE TO shop when you had other plans for the day. Even if you just have three outfits of each size, it's so helpful. Always get long sleeve, even in the summer, when they are under three months, they really can't regulate their body temperature.
What is the Best Time for Visitors?
This has been my selfish little secret, but I am ready to share it now. I like to at least have a room clean and some of the dishes done when someone visits and with a new baby, I don't always get that done until the afternoon. I found out over the years that the best time is between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. Your guests will be thinking about you during the day and realize you probably won't have time to cook supper with them visiting and so they bring a meal with them! Often, they will even put it in the oven for you and take it out before they leave! The guest who realizes this while they are visiting often orders food to be delivered to you. But this does not happen before breakfast or lunch and it happens with all different personality types of people. It seems like everyone thinks of the evening meal, but not everyone thinks about breakfast or lunch.
My Favorite Mom Hack – Distract and Divert
When Diaper Changing
When your baby is old enough to put their hands down to their privates, keep the little hands busy with a toy to hold that they don't see often or engage them by looking them in the eyes and singing a cute song, even a made up one, I use to sing… “We're going to change a diaper, change a diaper, change a diaper” in a happy sing-song voice!
When Baby Gets Into Mischief
When your baby gets a hold of something you don't want them to have (that is super fun for them), like pulling all of the wipes or facial tissues out of the container or all the books off of the shelf, or they are about to put a choking hazard in their mouth – to avoid them having a temper tantrum about it, TRADE THEM with something really fun and amazing! Yes it may be a boring toy they have already seen, but did they know their bunny could do cartwheels and sing in a high pitched voice? Make it fun and get the object you don't want them to have out of sight and mind with your empty hand! If you don't have a great trade – pick them up and change the environment, go to a window and say, “oh, wow, look at the tree!” or whatever you see like you are seeing it for the first time in your life!
If You Struggle With Breastfeeding
Don't give up! Don't beat yourself up! Drink a ton of water, more than ever! You have to relax and look at your baby, smell their hair, etc to get your milk to let down, don't look at the phone or the walls or shut your eyes. Focus on feeding that little one and your body will take over. It may take more than the quoted three days for your milk to come in. Just keep feeding, feeding, feeding! (like Dory in Nemo saying, just keep swimming)
If You Feel Like You Are Losing Your Pre-Mom Self
Decide what it was about you that you really miss. Focus on one thing. Figure out how long you need it to keep you sane and take that time. For me it was arts and crafts. As long as I could get a little “creating” time in, even an hour a week, I was happy. I would do this when my husband and I were watching a TV show or movie. He would hold the baby and I would crochet while watching TV, which I did pre-baby.
To Survive Night Time Feedings
I credit having an Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper. The baby is next to me so I can just pull her close to me and nurse her, then put her back in bed, all without me getting out of bed. I still get up and go into my four year old's room every once in a when he cries for me, but I know he will grow out of this stage eventually.
Other Products I Love To Use In The First Year
- Graco FastAction Fold Click Connect Travel System
- Baby Boom Traveler Hobo Tote Diaper Bag I love a cross-body type that looks like a big purse and I just put my big wallet in there so I don't have to carry a purse and diaper bag.
- nursing shawl – even though I am comfortable breastfeeding, not everyone else is and this helps THEM feel more comfortable.
- feeding bibs with adjustable snaps it grows with your child for the first 2 years, velcro wears out and then my kids can pull it off!
- Ergo front pack baby carrier or another similar carrier to keep your baby safe and close to you and your hands free to get things done or hold an older sibling's hand when walking.
Yes, being a new mom will stretch you and change you, but you will rock this new season of your life and be far ahead of your new mom friends with all these tips I wish I would have had 23 years ago. Enjoy it, it goes all too fast!
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