Living with a baby, especially a newborn is ROUGH! The feeding, the changing, the holding, the lack of sleep alone is enough to drive anyone a little crazy.
I’m still convinced that sleep deprivation is the most severe form of torture. It’s hard to feel like a person, let alone a good mother.
You can do it though. You can survive the newborn stage just like I did, and just like moms before you have.
Unlike all those moms before you though, you have the amazing resource called the internet to help you figure out how to make it through motherhood. That is both a blessing and a curse.
Life with a newborn is hard, but it doesn’t have to be nearly as bad as you think.
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What Should I Expect from a Newborn?
Honestly, not much.
The newborn stage is tough, but it is also a little more predictable than some of the other, more exciting, phases that your child will go through. Like toddlerhood. Beware the toddler stage.
Newborn babies tend to sleep around 18 hours a day, waking only to feed and maybe enjoy a little tummy time.
Other than that, though, the biggest thing that your baby is going through is trying to figure out how to be a person. It’s a little jarring at first.
Especially while you’re also trying to figure out how to be a mom.
Everything is new for both of you and it can take a little time to find your rhythm.
Having a newborn is also different for every family. Breastfeeding your newborn and dealing with your baby’s sleeping habits (or lack thereof), may be different from your friend’s experience, and that’s okay, it’s just really annoying sometimes.
How Long Does the Newborn Stage Last?
Thankfully the newborn stage doesn’t last forever. Technically your baby stops being a newborn once he reaches three months old.
Once your baby gets to that point, there will be so many more new, exciting, and crazy things going on you’ll forget all about the newborn stage.
Tips for Making Life with a Newborn Easier
While it’s true that no two babies or circumstances are the same, there are a few things that are pretty common ways to help soothe your newborn so that you can survive it.
Hopefully with a bit of your sanity still intact.
· Wear Your Baby
If you haven’t figured it out yet, having a baby means that your hands are almost never free. My kid hated to be put down.
Even when he was a brand-new baby, he wanted to be on the move. And since he couldn’t do it himself, he used me as his form of transportation. He didn’t even like being in the same room for too long. It can be exhausting.
One thing that really helped was wearing him, even if it was just around the house. This allowed me to free up my hands so that I could get things done.
Really, I mostly just wanted to be able to eat. Though I have gotten pretty good at eating while pumping and while feeding him, sometimes it’s still nice to be able to eat with two hands.
I have the Ergobaby 360 carrier and I love it! I wanted something that would grow with him and this one does that. It even has this cool infant insert that would keep him nice and cozy without sliding around.
I would just put him in there and typically he would fall asleep. Some women have even figured out how to nurse while baby wearing, but I was never that talented. It is possible though.
· Set Up Stations
My house has two floors. The kitchen is on one floor and the bedrooms are on another. It is exhausting having to cart your baby up and down a flight of stairs all day long.
I swear I got more steps in when J was a newborn than I ever did before.
Make life easier for yourself and set up stations in popular locations in your house. Have a diaper changing station in any room that you and the baby will spend a good amount of time.
I had one in my bedroom and in the living room (and obviously the nursery). I just got some small baskets and put all of my supplies in there.
When J was first brought home from the hospital, we had him sleep in our room in a pack-n-play.
At about 3 weeks, we moved him to his crib. So, I moved that pack-n-play to my living room/kitchen area so that I would have a place to put him when I was downstairs.
My pack-n-play also has this awesome newborn napper and changing table add-on that was amazingly useful. It also has pockets on the side for all of your supplies.
Once he got older, I started using it as a diaper changing location downstairs. Love this thing!
In addition to a diaper station, have a pumping/nursing station too. Set up a basket anywhere where you are most likely to feed your baby with all of your supplies.
Since I am an exclusive pumper, I keep everything in the living room with my pump. That includes all of my pump supplies, a towel (these flat-fold diapers are my favorite!), a water bottle, some snacks, and a phone charger (because DUH).
Everything but the pump supplies can also be used for a nursing station. I would probably just add a Haakaa silicone pump to catch all that leaked milk and a Boppy nursing pillow and you’re good to go.
· Find Your Secret Weapon
Your kid will cry, a lot. It’s a baby thing. They don’t know how to communicate yet. They don’t even know what communicating is.
All they know is that they are hungry, wet, tired, scared, bored, (insert emotion here) and they need to let someone know about it. That someone happens to be you.
Eventually you will start picking up on the differences in his cries to know better what he needs. You’ll also start noticing other cues to let you know what’s going on, but until then be prepared for the crying.
Sometimes the crying will be easy to fix. You’ll know that he is hungry or needs a diaper change, you’ll fix the problem and all will be good.
Sometimes he will just cry and you’ll be at a loss. For these times you will need your secret weapon.
Your secret weapon can be anything that works to soothe him. Each baby is different so you may have to try out a couple of things to see what works.
Some babies like to be rocked, bounced, sung to, swaddled, walked around, fresh air, anything can work. You just have to find yours.
J mostly just wanted a change of scenery. Like I said, the kid wanted to move. Sometimes just going into a different room was enough for him. Occasionally we would take walks outside which he enjoyed as well.
We even figured out that he likes a certain rhythm in his bouncing. Once we figured that out, it was like night and day. We could pretty much always get him calm. Generally, it would even put him to sleep.
If we wanted him to stay asleep (and he was having trouble) I would bust out the swaddle.
I didn’t swaddle J every night. I didn’t want him to get used to it. I only used it when I really needed it and it worked every time. I have the Halo swaddles and I love them.
Some swaddles involve too much wrapping and I never felt like it was secure. These actually have Velcro that stick to itself so it’s always the right size.
It’s also warm and toasty. I would just put J down in his diaper and this and he was always the right temperature.
· Meal Prep
While you’re home on maternity leave, or if you happen to be a stay at home mom, you’re going to want to eat eventually. Even baby wearing can make cooking a bit difficult.
If it involved more than the microwave, I was always a little nervous getting J’s legs too close to the burners on my stove. Meal prepping saved me.
I would normally do this either on the weekends for the week, or at night when my husband was home to watch the baby.
Sometimes I would make specific items for myself, and sometimes I would just make sure that there were leftovers that could easily be reheated.
I would even portion out everything into single servings so that I didn’t have to take the extra time during the day. A minute will seem like an hour when your baby is screaming to be picked up.
How Do You Survive the Newborn Stage?
Figuring out what works to calm your baby is great, but you also need to figure out what works to calm you.
Becoming a mom for the first time is a huge adjustment. It is going to take a little time to get used to and making sure that you’re spending a little time focusing on yourself and your postpartum recovery is EXTREMELY important.
· Take a Shower
I know that when dealing with a newborn, the last thing on your mind is yourself, but you need to take care of you too. So, every day, make a point to take a shower.
When your baby is napping or when your partner is home is the easiest, but you can even just bring the rocker into the bathroom and let your baby entertain himself for a couple of minutes.
Taking a shower and putting on fresh clothes (real clothes, not just new pajamas) will help you to feel more like an actual person and not just the milk bitch for the tiny human.
It’s good to feel like a person. So, take a shower and practice a little self-care. The baby will be fine.
· Put the Baby Down
There will be days when you are at your wits end. When your baby is just crying and you can’t figure out why.
When none of your tricks are working and you just want to scream out of frustration. At that time, it is okay to put your baby down even though he’s crying.
Put him in his crib, his rocker, anywhere where he will be safe, and walk away. Go to another room or even outside for just a few minutes and collect yourself.
Take a moment and breathe in some fresh air and remind yourself that this too shall pass. He is going through something, whether it be an illness or a growth spurt, either way it won’t last forever.
It’s better that you put him down and take a moment for yourself, than you stress yourself out to the point that harm could come to either one of you.
Parents accidentally hurt their children all the time because they are tired and frustrated. Don’t let that happen to your family. Take a moment. He will be okay. Once you are calm, then you can go back to him.
When you go back in there, just take it one step at a time.
Sometimes I would say it out loud, each step to take.
- Is his diaper dirty? Check and fix if needed.
- Is he hungry? Check and fix if needed.
- Is he tired? Start trying your tricks to get him to sleep.
- Is he too hot or too cold? Adjust accordingly.
These are all things that you can handle. You just have to go down the list until something works. Something will work, you just have to figure out what it is.
· Ask for Help
As moms, I think we feel like we have to be able to do absolutely everything. The truth is, we really don’t have to.
If all you got accomplished was taking a shower and keeping the baby alive, then it was a good day. Don’t beat yourself up if there are dishes in the sink and laundry to be done.
It’s okay to ask for some help. Ask your partner to cook dinner, to do some laundry, to watch the baby while you nap. It’s his (or her) baby too.
Some people might say that “Well he was at work all day so he should be able to relax when he comes home and not have to do housework.” Guess what, you were at work all day too. It’s called taking care of a baby.
You both live in the house, you both have the baby, you both get to take care of all of those things.
So, ask for help. If your partner won’t help (get a new partner… kidding… kind of) ask a friend or a relative to help you out.
Or hell, if you have the money, hire someone to come clean your house. Maybe they’ll even do the laundry too.
No matter what you do, it is okay. It doesn’t make you any less of a mother or a wife to not be superwoman.
When Does Life with a Newborn Get Easier?
I know it’s a struggle now, but it really does get easier. You’ll eventually figure out your rhythm and things will settle down just in time for the next phase.
Just take your time and give yourself some grace. You’re going to have bad days, you’re going to make mistakes, it’s okay. No one is perfect, especially not moms. I don’t care what Instagram will have you believe.
We all make mistakes, and you know what? Our kids are just fine. Just relax and cut yourself some slack.
The best thing for you and your family may be different than what is best for someone else’s family. So, don’t get wrapped up in everything that you read. Just try out a few things and see what works.
I promise, you can do this!
Have you found any other things to help you through the newborn stage? Leave me a comment below or join the conversation in our Facebook group.
Until next time!