Thursday, November 04, 2010

Ten Tips for New Moms Who Are Bringing a Baby Home

I recently finished editing my upcoming book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: New Moms: 101 Inspirational Stories of Joy, Love, and Wonder, and in reading the hundreds of stories that were submitted, I realized that many women have fears of inadequacy when faced with the prospect of caring for a brand-new little baby who’s entirely dependent on them for their needs. It’s a daunting job, and many new moms crumble from the pressure and lack of confidence they feel. So, I thought I’d offer up some tips for making those first few months just a little bit easier:

1. Accept help: Many moms admit that they turned away offers of help when they brought their baby home, only to regret it later. It’s so hard to fathom the impact of lack of sleep on our ability to function. Realize that you will be a happier and more productive mom if you let others help out around the house. Yes, only you can breastfeed your baby, but other people can do your laundry, sweep the floors, or run errands for you while you take care of your little one.

2. Trust your instincts: Your baby may be new, but you’d be surprised at how tuned in you already are to his or her needs and wants. If you sense that something’s not right with your little one, don’t let others shrug it off. Get the answers you need. Sure, you might be over-reacting and fussing over nothing, but better to be sure.

3. Lower your standards: Nobody expects your house to look perfect or your wardrobe to be gorgeous. It’s okay to cut corners (serve frozen food, pull on sweats, etc.) when you’re a new mom. Your job is to care for your baby. Everything else is optional. And get some rest. If your baby is napping, lay down. Don’t clean out the refrigerator.

4. Protect your newborn: I still remember the mom who told me that she was so anxious to show off her new baby that she took him directly from the hospital to a Mommy and Me class! Your baby may be the most beautiful child ever born, but don’t risk exposing him unnecessarily to germs and viruses during those first few months. Stay close to home and don’t hesitate to ask guests to wash their hands before handling your baby.

5. Laugh off unwanted advice: Everyone will have an opinion on what you should name your baby, what brand of diaper you should be using, and whether you should have your baby on a schedule. Don’t let nosy-bodies get you down. Thank them for the advice and then do what works best for you and your baby.

6. Write it down: You might think you’ll remember all of the adorable things that your child does, but you won’t. I wish I had done a better job at recording my experiences with my babies. Now that I’ve got four kids, I often find myself saying, “Was that Dylan who always spit out his vegetables or was that Taylor?” When additional children arrive, it can get harder to remember these experiences.

7. Don’t spend a fortune: You’ll be amazed at how quickly your baby will grow out of her clothes, the pack-and-play, and more. My boys were so big at birth that they never even wore many of the newborn clothing we had. You don’t need every single gadget and doo-dad on the market. Your child will most likely turn away that expensive toy and play with the box!

8. Keep relatives informed, but don’t overdo it: It’s great to send periodic updates to out-of-town friends and relatives, but your cute photos lose their cuteness when you’re sending daily emails with numerous attachments of your baby’s antics. Same goes with the stories. People love to hear about your child, but will soon roll their eyes if you regale them over and over again with every move your son makes.

9. Don’t make comparisons: When your friend brags that her daughter is walking at ten months, don’t feel bad that your son still isn’t walking after his first birthday. All babies develop at different rates, and it’s not a contest! If your doctor is satisfied that your child is developing appropriately, then don’t sweat the timing. Remember that Einstein was a late talker!

10. Savor the wonder: Pay attention to the little things -- the silkiness of your baby’s hair, the little milk bubbles coming out of her mouth, the feel of her fingers on your neck. Believe me, those baby years go by so very quickly. Store those moments in your heart for those inevitable future times when you’re not finding motherhood to be a lot of fun. You’ve been blessed with the precious gift of a child.

Being a new mom can be very rewarding, but also a challenging experience. I hope the tips above will help you get through the first few months with your precious newborn. Congratulations!

DISCLOSURE: I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Lysol® Wee Wisdom blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.


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