When I was pregnant, I channeled my inner honor roll student and read numerous books, researched multiple websites, consulted friends and family for advice, and yet from the moment the three of us left the hospital the shock was immense.
However, we ALL survived, and through it all, there were helpful tips and tricks that guided us along the way. Here they are in no particular order:
1) A Good Baby Carrier
Remember when I said I read a ton of books? One book, The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp, explained many months too late that through his research Karp found “the more a baby was carried the calmer and happier she became. Overall, these cuddled infants had 43% less crying.” So yes, carried babies are calmer, yet, there are still things for moms to accomplish throughout the day even if it is just to put on makeup and feel a little normal in the haze that is cluster feeding. A good baby carrier allows both to take place. The Baby K’tan Breeze was a great one for when the babe was teeny as well as dealing with the oppressive Pensacola humidity. The Ergo Baby 360 and Baby Tula were also highly recommended and useful for the months ahead.
2) Unsolicited Advice
The old adage that no one wants unsolicited advice should probably be amended for families with newborns. From the moment a woman is pregnant everyone has advice. When the baby comes, take it. Take all of it because they have been in the trenches and survived it. Do not necessarily do it all, but definitely store it in your memory as you can create a great toolbox for when situations arise. Each family is different. Each baby is different. And truly, mama knows best. But these helpful tips from multiple perspectives can help YOU choose what is best for YOU and YOUR family.
3) A Great Pediatrician
Finding the right doctor for your child is a gift because pediatricians are walking saints. How else can you characterize someone who holds your hand three days post C-section and informs you it is okay just to cry or someone who takes your sick baby call and calms your fear that just because there was a tick near the baby does not mean the baby will get Lupus? (Yes, true story) Do research, get recommendations, and ultimately find the doctor that fits you and your baby best.
4) The Wonder Weeks App
It is important before I rave about this app, that I disclose that no one from Wonder Weeks has paid me or even knows that I love it so much. It is equally important to note that this is not a free app, but it is the low price of $1.99. Now, let me explain my appreciation for this particular app. It provides insight into developmental milestones. Not only does it explain what may be occurring with the baby cognitively and emotionally, but it allows you information on how to comfort and help them through transitions, as well as gives YOU tips and strategies on how to get through them (HELLO, SLEEP REGRESSIONS!).
Whether it is bringing over freezer meals, unexpectedly buying a swing to soothe the crying babe, or babysitting on Valentine’s Day so you can sneak away with your husband, friends and family want to help. Let them. There is no amount of pride worth sacrificing self-care.
6) Online Ordering
Whether it is Amazon, Walmart Grocery Pickup, or Instacart/Shipt, online ordering can be a lifesaver. As a new parent, the 30 minutes it takes to shop for dinner could be all the difference in feeling sane. This can give you time, and while shopping for diapers and onesies, you can also drop a little something special in your cart for yourself.
Receiving hand-me-downs, especially with clothes, is truly a blessing Whether it is from someone you know, consignment, or Facebook Marketplace, take advantage of any opportunity because babies grow FAST and they are uber messy. Plus, the Pensacola area has some great consignment boutiques and some MEGA seasonal sales. Here are a few: Once Upon a Child (6249 N Davis Hwy), Lollipops Boutique (4341 Woodbine Rd), and Lullabies and Mudpies (319 E 9 Mile Rd)
8) A Great Caregiver
For the mamas who go back to work, finding a good caregiver is a tolling task. Whether you decide on a private nanny, in-home, or larger facility, there is A TON to know. What is the difference between licensed and registered? What are the qualifications for hiring at the center? Do they require continuing education? Is there a curriculum or faith infused in the daily routines? Researching early and getting multiple recommendations from those you trust will help you make the right choice which will ease (not prevent) the tears when you drive back to the office that first day.
We are all creatures of habit. Babies are no different. A solid routine will help provide peace and ignite cues for your little one which will help establish an easy bedtime and mealtime, but also provide you and your spouse with a rhythm to help piece out some time together and even share the duties.
If this were a ranked list, this would have to be number one because it is essential. It is essential not only for mama to have grace with herself but also for everyone around. Nursing is HARD. Finding the right formula is HARD. Finding a work-life balance is HARD. Sleep Training is HARD. NOT SLEEPING IS AWFUL. Ultimately, it is all so challenging and new, so the moment you give yourself, your little one, and all the special people in your life a little grace to learn and adapt, the moment you can begin to feel like you are rocking this whole parenthood thing because here is the thing…you really are!