You know what I found myself googling about two weeks into my daughter’s life? “How to survive newborn stage”…”when does the newborn stage get easier”…”how long is the newborn stage”…”AM I GOING TO MAKE IT?!”
Okay, maybe not the last one. But I definitely had that thought countless times a day nearly the entire newborn stage.
You’re sleep deprived, you don’t know what the heck you’re doing, you’re paranoid about everything, and you feel completely disconnected from the majority of other adults in your life. Frankly, it leaves you wondering how you’re going to survive it all.
There is hope. Things really do calm down and fall into a rhythm after the first few months. But first you have to survive the newborn stage.
Here’s what I learned the hard way. My hope is that by sharing it, I can save you from having to learn it the hard way too.
Make and freeze your favorite meals ahead of time.
You’re caring for a newborn and never sleeping longer than 30 minutes at a time. What are the chances you’re going to find the time and energy to grocery shop, prepare a home cooked meal, and clean up after? Girl, please!
In the last month or two of your pregnancy, I suggest filling your freezer with all of your favorite meals. Making dinner tonight? Make a double batch and freeze half. You can even find recipes made specifically for freezing.
These meals will come in clutch when you’re starving, but also so tired you could die. Plus, they’re usually ready much faster (and cheaper!) than your DoorDash driver can deliver.
Keep meals simple and allow yourself some delivery.
Not a fan of freezer meals? Then keep meals stupid simple.
Bread some chicken in Shake ’n Bake, then steam rice and broccoli in the microwave. Or download this list of 40 stupid easy recipes, including crock pot dumps, 5 ingredients or less, and one-pan wonders, that will save you major time and effort.
And if all else fails, the occasional restaurant delivery during this time certainly won’t be the end of you. The less time you have to spend in the kitchen, the more time you’ll have for your newborn…or yourself!
Stock up on grab-and-go snacks.
There will be so many times you’re held captive by your newborn, whether feeding them or staying deadly still so as not to wake them from their sleep. You’ll be so hungry. That’s why it’ll be important to have lots of snacks available that require zero prep or effort.
I’m talking granola bars, pre-portioned nuts, string cheese, etc. And I’m not beyond enjoying snacks that are traditionally for children, like applesauce pouches and yogurt tubes you can squeeze directly into your mouth.
Stock up on paper plates and plastic utensils.
You know how everyone says to sleep when the baby sleeps? You can’t do that if every dish you own is piled up in the sink.
I know that paper plates aren’t ideal for the environment. But unless the trees are planning on babysitting, they’ll be fine to help make your life that much easier for just a few months.
This is a short-term solution that will save you loads of time and effort. Eat, toss, go back to your sweet baby.
Stock up on diapers (and toilet paper).
While you’re stockpiling paper products, why not throw in a few more? Because the last thing you’ll want to do in the newborn stage is to put yourself in a position where you have no choice but to go to the store right this second.
So stock up on diapers, preferably in a variety of brands and styles. Every baby is so different and you won’t know which brand of diaper fits and works best for your particular baby until you try a few out! (Register for and purchase them through a Target baby registry and you’ll have up to a year after your due date to return or exchange them for a different size or brand!)
And baby’s butt isn’t the only one capable of creating immediate needs! Ensuring you have plenty of toilet paper on hand will also help you to avoid last-minute, always-at-the-worst-possible-moment, grocery store runs.
Consider grocery delivery services.
So for the most part, I’m opposed to grocery delivery services. They usually mark up prices on items, charge personal shopper and delivery fees, and still expect a tip at the end of it all. That adds up quickly! However, there have been periods in my life that, due to sickness, a busy season at work, or yes, attempting to survive the newborn stage, I was willing to pay those prices to take one more (big) task off my plate.
I’ve always preferred Walmart’s grocery delivery services because they don’t mark up prices or charge personal shopper fees. While delivery fees run around $8-10/delivery, they do offer a membership for either $12.95/month or $98/year that will erase that delivery fee! Plus if you use this link, you can get $10 off your first order!
Don’t be afraid to ask people for help.
Your family and friends likely want to help you in any way they can. But they might not (1) want to impose if you wanted this time for yourself or (2) know how best to help.
So tell them! Express any specific needs you have or direct them to posts that list practical ways to help new parents!
Accept help however it comes (as long as it’s safe).
A friend of mine had major issues with the way everyone held, fed, burped, and even talked to her newborn when she first became a mother. She’d insist baby be held at a certain angle, be burped at a very particular rhythm and pace, and more.
What did her very specific preferences get her? Strained relationships with family and friends and pure exhaustion. Because when you don’t trust anyone else to hold or care for your newborn, you’re on duty all. the. time.
I get that you have a very particular way you want things done. I know that it’s your baby and you should be able to call those shots.
I’m just saying that babies have survived much more concerning circumstances than being held at a 60-degree angle instead of a 45. And the fact is you need all the help (and rest) you can get in these first few months. Unless your baby is placed in real danger, allow your loved ones to help you without constant scrutiny and criticism.
Resist the urge to nitpick the way your spouse cares for your baby.
This one is similar to the point above, but with much more serious long-term consequences. Because when we nitpick, it usually results in one of two outcomes.
(1) We just take over to make sure it’s done “the right way.” Or (2) our spouse becomes so discouraged that they begin to withdraw from helping at all, which also leads to us doing it ourselves.
Here’s the thing: the way you distribute work right now is setting the tone for the rest of your child’s life. Sounds extreme, right? But it’s true!
I have countless family and friends who insisted on doing everything their way when their child was born. Their spouses, after having their help either criticized or declined altogether, essentially learned that those parts of parenthood weren’t for them and so withdrew. Now the critical person finds themselves doing everything for the child, even when their child has moved far beyond the newborn stage.
Of course you can always try renegotiating the workload down the road. But it’s very hard to do. Why not set yourself up for equal contribution from the very start?
Plus, allowing your spouse to do things their own way will give them a boost of confidence and an opportunity to connect with your newborn in their own special way. After I complimented my husband’s swaddle skills, he decided that bedtime was his calling! He deemed himself the “master swaddler” and created a whole nighttime routine with our daughter that they both loved.
Plus it freed me up from momma duty by 7:00 every night! That’s a win-win!
Consider taking shifts with your spouse if possible.
This one was a lifesaver! It’s wonderful if both of you are helping with your baby. But if you’re both always helping, when will you each catch a break for yourself?
You won’t. You’ll be on eternal baby duty, both physically and mentally.
That’s why every night from 7:00-11:00 PM, my husband would take over our newborn so that I could try to catch a few hours of sleep. I was on night duty since he had to log into work the next day, so he could count on sleeping until 6:00 AM the next morning, when he would take over again until he started work at 8:00 AM.
It sounds complicated and exhausting because it was. But it helped to ensure we could each catch some sleep and peace of mind knowing that if/when baby cried, the other parent would take care of her.
Find a simple way to keep baby near you wherever you go.
Our Rock ’N Play helped me survive the newborn stage. I would put my daughter in it to keep her in the living room when I was there, in the kitchen while I was cooking, and in the bathroom when I was trying to sneak in a quick shower.
Unfortunately, the Rock ’N Play was recalled for safety concerns (most due to not strapping children in as directed). Some solid alternatives include the Fisher-Price Deluxe Bouncer or Rock With Me Bassinet.
Another option (that my newborn never took to, but many do) is to buy a baby carrier or sling. Whether you want to stretch and tie the sling around them or strap them in, you’ll be satisfying their need to be close to momma while freeing up your hands for whatever you need to do.
Purchase a monitor or sock or whatever you need for a better night’s sleep.
You will be crazy paranoid about your baby’s health and well-being, especially when they’re asleep. That was a weird breath. Are they still breathing?! QUICK, BUMP THEM TO MAKE SURE THEY’RE STILL ALIVE!
That’s why I’m all for buying whatever it is you need to feel safe enough at night to actually get some sleep. Some people keep their baby in their bedroom, but that only fueled my paranoia, because I would wake up at every breath, rustle, or coo I heard.
My sister felt comfortable simply being able to hear her baby in the next room with a traditional audio baby monitor. I needed a video monitor so that I could see what position my newborn was sleeping and neurotically watch her chest for breathing.
Some swear by Snuza or Owlet Smart Sock monitors to protect against SIDS. Whatever gives you enough peace of mind to be able to actually catch some sleep while your baby is sleeping is worth the investment.
Throw out your plans and remember that every baby is different.
Yes, I know you read that book about establishing sleep patterns early on. And I get how passionate you are about that particular brand of baby product.
But when your baby arrives, you might find they have a different plan or preference. If you insist on stubbornly holding onto your original plans, you’ll find yourself incredibly frustrated in your first few months and heck, years, of parenthood.
If you want to survive the newborn stage, commit to an adaptable mindset before your child is even born. Tell yourself that you won’t really know your baby or their quirks or preferences until they arrive, and that it’ll be a constant process of trying something out, seeing if it works for you or not, and adapting from there.
Show yourself grace.
Friend, the newborn stage is really about one thing – survival. Sure, you’re bonding with your baby and family, how sweet.
But you just brought a brand new life into the world and that’s a pretty serious and stressful move! Give yourself some credit!
Your house will likely be messy, you might go days without showering, you might eat cookies for breakfast because you’re too tired to pour a bowl of cereal. And all of those things are 110% okay.
This is a temporary stage, not some huge statement about you as a person or your worth as a parent. Please remember that as you aim to survive the newborn stage.
You will survive the newborn stage somehow, someway. But by doing some prepping and stockpiling, accepting help however it comes, and aiming for peace over perfection, you can save yourself loads of unnecessary stress! You’ve got this, momma!
P.S. New baby? Download our free new parent pack for seven handy printable resources HERE! From feeding trackers to stupid easy recipes, we’ve got ya covered!
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