My first month as a parent was a blur of anxiety and sleeplessness. We overanalyzed every feeding and diaper change, constantly kept watch over our baby’s breathing, and felt like we just couldn’t keep our heads above water. You know when people tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps? We cried when our baby cried. The good news is that the first month with newborn babies doesn’t have to feel like a complete train wreck.
Most parents that crash and burn with their first baby, like we did, have a healthier, more balanced approach with their second. Why? Because they’re going in with healthy expectations and a little more prep.
But you can actually reap some of those same benefits with your first baby! Here’s how.
Before Your First Month With Newborn
- Don’t fall in love with your expectations. You might have written a beautiful birth plan, or just know you’re going to breastfeed. But don’t fall too in love with the picture in your head, because life doesn’t always go according to plan. I came thisclose to an emergency c-section, and my daughter’s tongue-tie and jaundice made breastfeeding a serious challenge. If you go in with an attitude that can roll with the punches, you’ll feel a lot less panicked about whatever life throws your way.
- Make a plan for food. Unlike non-parent-you, parent-you will now have to pack up a tiny infant to run to the grocery store or even Chick-Fil-A. That’s why having super-easy food options at home is a must. A few weeks before I was due, I cooked a ton of food, portioned it into individual servings, and packed my freezer until the door could hardly close. (Looking for some stupid easy meal ideas? Look no further!) Make a plan and knock out the work before your baby arrives. Parent-you will thank you!
First Month With Newborn | Practical Measures
- Keep all of your tracking in one central location. The hospital will give you a tracker with instructions for counting your baby’s wet and dirty diapers each day, and studying the consistency of their poop. Fun, right? You’ll also be tracking how much they eat and sleep. It’s so much easier to keep track of all of those things in one place, instead of three. Click here to download a free all-in-one daily tracker!
- Don’t waste much time cleaning. Just the bare minimum will do the trick this month. The fact is that you only have so many hours in a day, and your baby will benefit more from a happy mama than a clean kitchen. Bonus tip: Use paper plates and there’s even less to clean!
- Focus on sleep. The lack of sleep was the most challenging part for my husband and me. When you’ve been awake for 482 hours straight, it’s just plain hard to function. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Seriously. Forget that messy kitchen, put down your phone, and sleep. Sleep when your spouse has the baby. Heck, catch a quick 30-minute nap when your closest family and friends come to hold the baby. Looking for a few tricks to get better sleep? Get them here.
First Month With Newborn | Working With Your Village
- Don’t feel shy about asking for and receiving help. Your family and friends want to help you and spend time with your baby. So let them! They say it takes a village to raise a child, and that’s true from the moment your baby is born. If someone offers to help you in some way, take them up on that offer! And don’t feel bad about asking your family and best friends to pick up food, watch your baby, or help you pick up a bit. They’re likely looking for ways to help you, but won’t know what you need until you ask. (Direct any friends who ask how they can help to this post!)
- Encourage your spouse to share the load as much as possible. What you do now will shape the future. When our daughter was born, my husband and I both felt overwhelmed. My tendency when my husband feels overwhelmed or anxious, is to take over for him. But if we do that, we rob our spouse of growth and connection with their child. The fact is that it’ll take practice. For both of you! And with that practice, my husband became comfortable changing diapers, burping our daughter, and soothing her in the middle of the night. And now that she’s three, he’s comfortable doing anything that I do with her. Except packing for a trip, because that’s apparently very mysterious and impossible to figure out.
- Avoid micromanaging your spouse. Sure, they may not do everything the same way you do, but as long as your child is safe, let them try in their own way. It may be awkward for a while, but eventually they’ll find their strengths and you’ll find yours. When I let my husband try things his own way without criticizing or assaulting him with tips, he actually found a better way to swaddle our baby, and to help her fall asleep.
First Month With Newborn | Healthy Mindset
- Similar to above, let go of your expectations for the sake of your sanity. If you swore you wouldn’t give your baby a pacifier, but it’s the only thing that soothes their cries, for heaven’s sake, give that baby a pacifier. If you prefer to breastfeed, but a bottle of formula before bed buys you one more hour of sleep, don’t for one second feel bad about that bottle. You’re not failing. You’re showing yourself a little grace for the sake of maintaining your sanity (which both you and baby need).
- Remember that every baby is different. Your baby will eat, sleep, and cry differently than your best friend’s baby…or your favorite celebrity’s. It’s quite possible that the steps your friend took to get her baby to sleep through the night won’t work with your child. Or that even though your sister swears by baby wearing, your baby just isn’t that into it. This comes back to managing your expectations and not getting stuck on doing anything a certain way. Try something with your baby and if it doesn’t work, try something different. Learning this skill now will serve you for years to come.
- It’s totally okay if all you accomplish some days is staying alive. I know, you have a long list of things you’d like to knock out. But newborns are unpredictable and haven’t quite settled into a routine, so every day will be a crapshoot. And if you don’t accomplish one single thing more than feeding, changing, and cuddling your baby some days? Not a problem. In fact, you should expect it. Remind yourself that your baby is your first priority, and that you did accomplish something, by giving your child the care and attention they required that day.
Wrap It Up
If you can take a few practical measures, work well with your village, and establish a healthy mindset, the first month with newborn babies doesn’t have to feel like a train wreck. Soak in those cuddles, fill your nose with that new baby smell, and show yourself some grace this month, mama. You’ve totally got this!
P.S. Miss the link to our free newborn all-in-one tracker, to note feedings, diapers, and sleep? Nab it here!
P.P.S. Are you preparing for baby, but trying to keep things practical? Nab our free checklist of the things newborns really need. It’s the ultimate list of basics for practical parents!
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