Bringing your first baby home is always a bit of a shock – to say the least! We asked blissful baby expert Lisa Clegg to give us her top ten tips for mothers with newborns.
Becoming a parent has got to be one of the most exciting, but also terrifying experiences you will ever have. You are now completely responsible for someone else whose needs you will naturally always want to put first no matter what. It can sometimes be very scary knowing that and with so many friends and relatives wanting to give advice it can be confusing as to who’s advice you should listen to when they conflict each other.
Here are some tips you will hopefully find helpful when you first bring your newborn home:
1. You can never have enough Muslin Squares! They are great for feeding, mopping up sick or dribble, drying bottoms after nappy changes and much more!
2. Remember the 2 hour max of awake time with a baby under 10 weeks. Ensuring your baby naps regularly will prevent an overtired meltdown and vicious cycle developing. Many parents have found that knowing about the 2 hour rule and working within it makes a massive difference to their babies temperament each day.
3. Nappy changing can sometimes be an unhappy experience for your new baby. It’s amazing how quickly they get used to wearing clothes and being covered and will get very upset when it’s time for a nappy or outfit change.
Talk to her as you do it to reassure her and it’s usually best to just plough on and get it all done as quickly as possible. Then you will be able to pick her up and soothe her to calm her down.
If you keep stopping and picking her up as you are changing her then it usually makes them so much more angry when you continue!
4. Get a daily bottle established with a breast feeding baby by the age of 4 weeks at the latest. If you don’t then you run a very high risk that baby will refuse one altogether or go off the bottle if not given as part of the daily routine. Many Health professionals advise to wait until after 6 or even 10-12 weeks as they scare mums into thinking the baby will go off the breast. In my experience with the 100’s of babies I’ve worked with in my job as a Maternity nurse and bf my own 3 children, that will never happen. A baby who is well established on the breast (usually after 2-4 weeks) with a mother who has a good supply will NEVER refuse or prefer the breast when 1 daily bottle is part of their routine.
I receive many emails daily from parents who haven’t offered a bottle early enough and find it’s too late by the time they do and baby totally refuses it thereafter no matter what variety of bottles at offered
5. Don’t be afraid to cuddle your baby too much. Bad habits are not created in the first few weeks and it’s during this time that your baby will crave being held and cuddled. Being inside mummy is very cosy, safe and comforting and actually very noisy with sounds from the outside world, as well as hearing their mothers heartbeat and blood rushing around as well as being surrounded by water.In the daytime you may find your baby very settled and happy to go down to sleep but at night they are up and down a lot. This is usually due to the quietness being such a contrast to what they are used to in the womb.
Playing white noise and giving reassuring cuddles usually helps
6. Equally don’t be afraid to put your baby down for a nap awake from an early age. Some parents feel they need to cuddle to sleep everytime and that baby won’t be able to fall asleep unaided so they never even try. If well fed, clean and winded she may surprise you and just happily drift off to sleep without help.
(Obviously if she cries then you should pick her up to soothe her as she may need additional comfort or cuddles to help her go off to sleep. )
You won’t know unless you try it though!
7. Giving a bath as part of your bedtime settling routine usually relaxes a baby to enable them to settle to sleep easier. A small amount of milk and a nap 30-60 mins before a bath will ensure they are not overtired or hungry and in the best mood possible to enjoy the experience.
Once out and dry then doing their bedtime feed in a quiet calm environment should mean that they are relaxed and settle to sleep happily.
8. When bottle feeding, be aware of the various teat sizes on bottles and when you need to move to a faster flowing teat. With a newborn bottle you will likely get a number one teat with it. As your baby gets more efficient at feeding they will need a faster flow teat so as not to become frustrated at feeding times.
9. Trust your instinct!! You may read many books and have lots of well meaning friends and relatives giving you advice. Listen to it (or don’t) but ultimately remember, this is YOUR baby and only you will know what feels right and what doesn’t, even if that’s different to what your friend with the same age baby does with hers!
It’s also important to remember all babies are different, even among siblings. Try not to compare them or at least don’t worry if you notice differences to the ages your baby reaches milestones compared to others. As long as you haven’t noticed an alarming issue with their physical or intellectual development that is obvious, then time, Patience and encouragement will mean your little one will be soon hitting any developmental milestones you are worried about.
10. Accept offers of help from friends and family. It may be cooking, cleaning, doing your ironing for you or even just watching the baby for a couple of hours so you can grab some much needed sleep. If you are not ready to hand over the baby just yet, even if someone offers to look after them in your house while you sleep upstairs, then of course that’s fine and totally understandable. Try to relent on the housework offers though, as it means you get more time to spend with your baby without worrying about the mess and jobs piling up!
Above all, savour every minute as with each passing day your little one changes and grows and it flies by way faster than you can ever imagine.
Lisa Clegg is a mum of 3 children, Maternity Nurse and author of The Blissful Baby Expert (Feb 2014). She also helps and advises parents on a daily basis through the advice service she runs on her website The Blissful Baby Expert.
Her follow up book The Blissful Toddler Expert was released in April 2015. Both are available on Amazon and in all many book shops/online retailers.