The first 6 weeks with a newborn can feel a lot like Baby Bootcamp. Parents are thrown into sleepless nights with a fussy baby. ‘Are we doing this right?’ ‘Is he okay?’ and very frequently, ‘Why won’t he stop crying?’
The exhaustion and the constant, siren-like wails and screams can wear down even veteran parents. Here are some tested parenting tips on how to survive the first 6 weeks. Like all o5.com’s recipes for life, these are practical, simple and straightforward—to help even the most couples develop the parenting skills for the most difficult month of their lives.
Parenting tip # 1: Take shifts.
The fact is that sleepless nights are part of the territory—but there’s no reason why two of you need to stay up at the same time. You can alternate nights so that one of you is rested and ready to take over the next day, so the other can sleep in a little longer.
If that’s impractical (like if your husband has to leave early in the morning for work) then work out a way for him to watch the baby in the evenings so you can take a nap in the evening.
Parenting tip # 2: Automate what you can.
You will need time to adjust to your newborn and recover from the physical demands of labor (and for some, a caesarian section). So, before you give birth, create a system that simplifies the more tedious housework. For example, make meal plans for the next 3 months so you don’t have to think about what to cook. Look for recipes that can be simplified with convenience foods (like frozen vegetables or ready-made soup) so everything can be ready in 15 minutes. Or, find a few dishes you can cook and freeze ahead.
Other things you can look into: carpool options for your other kids, so you don’t have to worry about bringing them to school or after-school activities, or compiling a list of reliable babysitters so you can call one if you really need to rest or attend to chores.
Parenting tip # 3: Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Drop the Supermom myth right now. Your house doesn’t have to be spotless, and your older kids will forgive you if you occasionally serve a microwave dinner so you can take a much-needed nap in the afternoon. So you don’t feel guilty, always look at the big picture: what’s really important to you, as a mom? List concrete non-negotiables: ‘I want to tell my older son a bedtime story every night.’ Or, ‘I want to serve at least one healthy meal a day.’ Then, on really bad days, you can take one look at the microwave dinner and say, ‘Well, they had a really good homemade pancake breakfast (made from pre-made and frozen batter) with fresh fruits,’ and forgive yourself.
Parenting tip # 4: White noise is your best friend.
Newborns are calmed by sounds that mimic what they heard in the womb: the whoosh of amniotic fluid, the beating of your heart. Lots of mobiles have the sound of water, but you can also rely on the hum of the washing machine or even the crackle of radio or TV static. Also try saying ‘Ssssssssssssssssssssssshhh’ in a low voice. Other great parenting tips to calm fussy kids: baby massage, and tips to help baby sleep through the night
Parenting tip # 5: Get a baby sling
This handy device lets you carry your baby around, while your hands are free to do other tasks. Your baby may actually be soothed by the rocking motions as you walk about the house, or the sounds of the vacuum cleaner and your conversations with other people. It also helps him get used to sleeping with a little noise—so you don’t have to tiptoe around him every time he takes a nap.
Parenting tip # 6: Avoid entertaining guests.
You are too tired to talk to other people, too emotional to hear all that unsolicited advice, too busy to have to think about the state of your house and what others will think about it. Besides, there’s no shame or blame in telling people who call that ‘the doctor says the baby shouldn’t be exposed to that many people for the first two months.’ Let him be the scapegoat.
Parenting tip # 7: Eat for energy.
Some foods have been known to boost energy levels. Look at our other energy boosters for the sleep-deprived.
Parenting tip # 8: Ask for help.
You know the saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child?’ Well, the first 6 weeks are no exception. Ask your husband and kids to share some of the household chores, or talk to the parents of your kids’ friends about a possible play date so you can have a few hours to catch up on errands. Consider hiring a cleaning lady once a week, or one of the neighborhood kids to walk the dog.
Photo from baby.more4kids.info