Here is some down to earth and easy advice for new parents that’ll help you breathe easy, rest, and start enjoying your journey as parents.
When I became pregnant with my first child… I was so so scared.
In addition, we had other plans for the next few years and this seemed to derail them. But not only that… I had no idea how to take care of a baby. I had not been the babysitter type.
Generallly, I was not the teenage girl whom all the neighborhood kids adored. In fact, I was barely ever around kids. I felt it was a recipe for disaster.
So, I did what I always do when I’m completely freaked out.
I read and read and read until I feel a bit more confident.
After all those books and 5 babies of my own, I want to boil down into a few practical points what really makes the biggest difference with little ones.
Read: Advice For New Moms Your Doctor Won’t Tell You
How to ease your tension a new parent
As part of my advice for new parents, I want to give you some peace of mind here. There are only a very few things you need to focus on in those early months that make for smooth sailing for the months after that.
Get these few things down and you are Good-To-Go.
1. Create An Easy Newborn Routine
One of the biggest mistake first time parents make is to wait and try to decipher baby’s cues.
Of course you’ll want to use your instincts & respond to your baby’s cries.
But do not assume you’ll understand what baby wants when baby cries.
This is why one of my best pieces of advice for new parents is that a good newborn routine is key. It takes the guesswork out of daily life with a baby.
You’ll learn to…
- Feed baby before baby is staving
- Put baby down to speed be fore baby is too exhausted to fall asleep
- Stop worrying about when and how to get baby down
- Focus on simply feeding, changing, and resting
- Relax with a little happy camper
This will also help minimize witching hours.
Read: A Newborn Routine That Works Every Time
2. Work On Baby Sleep (Without The Tears)
It’s a lot harder to teach baby to sleep on their own when they have developed sleep props.
When baby is addicted to rocking, nursing to sleep, riding in the stroller, or whatever else… it ain’t easy to break that habit.
It’s much easier to teach a tiny little thing to get to sleep on their own. You don’t want to end up with a super tired baby if you don’t have to!
Proven tips to help sleepy baby:
- Put baby to sleep at the first sign of sleep cues, or within an hour or so of starting to feed.
- Swaddle baby (I prefer these swaddles) because it helps them transition through sleep cycles. (Psst.. here are some super interesting swaddling tips for baby at night)
- Put positive sleep associations in your baby bedtime routine.
Read: The Ultimate Newborn Sleep Schedule: Week By Week
Here’s a handy dandy list of 28 things to try so baby will stop fighting sleep and sleep longer and later.
3. Reset Household Expectations
An important piece of advice for you new parents… your home will no longer look like it did pre-kids.
Even if you hid the crib and swing and infant seat… you’d still end up with more mess than before because now you’re distracted and focused on a baby instead of the speck of dust on the kitchen floor.
Read: Cocooning a Newborn & 7 Reasons Why it Can Be Good For The Family
Remember this: life is like a video not a photo.
Take a nap when your baby naps. It’ll be the best thing for your hormones, mental health, and mood.
Honestly, the house will be dirty and you’ll be spat on. Look up, do some tidy routines, and take a bath.
Read: The Non Obvious Reason Your Home Feels Chaotic
4. Meet Baby’s Needs In A Timely Manner
If you are working on a routine, this will happen naturally. A good piece of advice for a new parent? Don’t wait for baby to cry to meet their needs.
One of the most encouraging things a new mom can do for herself is to make sure that her baby’s needs are met.
This results in a calm, content, happy baby (barring medical issues you couldn’t have predicted nor prevent) and mom who can relax a little.
- Feed at regular intervals (cluster feeding in the early evening) so baby doesn’t get starving or have blood sugar drops.
- Put baby down for a nap after every feed. Watch sleep cues so you’ll know what baby’s perfect sleep window is.
- Avoid over stimulation and over tiredness, both of which make it difficult for baby to calm down and drift off to sleep.
- Give baby full feeds and avoid snacking.
5. Don’t Take Shortcuts With Feeding and Sleeping
It is much easier to teach a positive habit today than to continue a negative one and then have to correct it later.
In short, with things like feeding and sleeping… you want to put the hard work in early.
Without a doubt, If you wait to start good habits until baby is 6 months or later then there are many more factors involved that make it harder.
Start out like you can hold out. – my grandmother
Research shows that if you…
- Feed well, don’t let baby snack all day because then baby won’t get the rich hind milk, they’ll never be “full” and will become fussier and fussier as time goes on. Babies who are not full don’t transition well through sleep cycles which causes short naps and multiple night wakings.
- Add in a dreamfeed so you’ll be able to go to bed immediately after and get more sleep.
- Find baby’s tired cues so you can put him down and let him learn to sleep on his own. This is very easy with tiny ones, much harder as they get older.
- Give yourself the grace and compassion you’d give your best friend during this time.
You can do this, mama.
As a mother who had 5 kids in 5 years… you’ll get through it.
Need sample routines for babies 6 weeks and older?
Easy to implement routines, rhythms and schedules from birth through school-aged kids to help you streamline day-to-day life with kids, including a step-by-step guide for getting started.Learn More
By now, you know how to handle the newborn days, but what after? The good news is this: you’ve set your baby up for a foundation of success.
Now all you need to do is continue to find routines that work for you and your baby as they grow up and begin getting bigger and bigger. Sob. After having had 5 babies with 5 different personalities, I know a thing or two about finding a good schedule.
This is why I’ve created a book of sample routines and schedules for babies ages 6 weeks up to 5 years. The book includes information on how long to let baby stay awake, how much play time is good for each age, what to do with baby when baby is awake but not quite mobile, and even how to manage toddler and baby joint routines.
Chapters covered in Rhythms, Routines & Schedules include:
Section One: Sample Schedules
- 6 Weeks to 3 Months Old
- 3-6 Months Old
- 7-9 Months Old
- 9-12 Months Old
- 12-18 Months Old
- 2-3 Years Old
- 4-5 Years Old
Section Two: Tips and Tricks
- Tips for Managing the Day With Multiple Children
- Daily Rhythms for an Only Child Ages 1-4 Years Old
- Daily Rhythms for Multiple Small Children Ages 0-5
- Sample Bedtime, Mealtime, and Playtime Routines
- Tips for Keeping Kids Busy Throughout the Day
Don’t end the day with anxiety, stress, and a full mind.
This evening brain dump journal sheet will help you get in a peaceful mindset so you too can sleep peacefully through the night.
For more sample routines, mom tested and approved schedules for babies ages 6 weeks and up, check out Rhythms, Routines & Schedules right now.
Take our 3 day challenge to create life-giving family, child, and self-care routines.Learn More
Felicity Frankish says
I really like to read articles/blogs online and I found this post very helpful to me.Thank you for your great advice to new parents like me.
Thiranya Ravi says
Really a useful post. Thanks for sharing such awesome tips with us. Keep sharing. Looking for the more valuable post like this from you.
Jennifer M says
I just found your site, my baby is 3 weeks. He is already addicted to sleep props like nursing to sleep. I just started swaddling him at night in hopes that it will help but today he would not nap on his own for hours and i think the daytime swaddle might have been aggravating him…not sure. He cried every time i layed him down. Now he is sleeping without a swaddle…after nursing. Does it take days to get a baby to accept naptime and swaddling? So tired and frustrated.