We polled our readers at newparent.com to gather the best advice they had to offer other new parents, and we got some great tips!
Do you have a new mom tip? Tell us in the comments section, below!
Welcome helping hands…
When friends and family offer to help, let them. It’s so easy to say you can do it all yourself to prove you can. But the first few months after your baby is born can be overwhelming. Let those who love you help. It’s valuable. —Caren Begun, Jersey City, N.J.
When people ask how they can help, tell them to bring food! We also loved having plastic flatware and paper plates, napkins and cups, which made cleanup super easy and stress-free! I didn’t have to worry about washing dishes. —Amy Tippens, Suwanee, Ga.
Your husband (especially a new dad) may not know exactly what to do to help you. Make a honey-do list for him of daily and weekly jobs. Do not be resentful if he doesn’t do things exactly how or when you would do them, as long as the effort is there. This is also helpful to remember about his childcare, as long as the baby is no worse for the wear! —Angela Nichols, Euless, Texas
Hire a housekeeper! I’ve never had a housekeeper in my life, other than for the first two months after my daughter was born. Housework was the last thing I wanted to think about when I was trying to breastfeed and adjust to being a new mom overall. —Lisa Jones, Broken Arrow, Okla.
No matter how much help you have from family and friends, take time every day to hold your baby while he is peaceful. This will give you time to get to know each other. It will also remind you that the fatigue is worthwhile. —Savannah Knight, San Mateo, Calif.
…But keep visits manageable
Once we were home from the hospital, we did not allow any visitors for the first two weeks. It was enough to try and get rest and get used to having a little baby on our own. To have to worry about when someone was coming was too much. —Flower Mertsching, Evergreen, Colo.
My boyfriend and I cleared our calendars and created our very own island in our bed—no phone calls and no visitors. He occasionally “swam” to shore for provisions, and we enjoyed cuddling and just doing nothing! This was a great way for us to bond as a family and relax as much as possible between feedings. —Amy Waddell, Orlando, Fla.
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Clean and organize your home so that whatever you need is in order and ready for you to use. Enlist family and friends to pitch in around the house and to help with any other children you have so that you can get much-needed rest. —Latoya Peoples, Warrensville, Ohio
Cook and freeze meals before you have the baby. After you come home from the hospital, you can just thaw and reheat your frozen meals. It saves time cooking and cleaning, and leaves more to spend with your new little one. —Tamara Orduna, Wilsonville Heights, Ore.
…But be flexible
Don’t be afraid to change your plans. Every baby is different, and your child will change your life in myriad ways. Just go with the flow and do what works—don’t stick with a strategy just because it’s what you always thought you’d do. —Amanda Dameron, Medford, Mass.
Share the experience with siblings
When you first bring your new baby home, try to make sure that older siblings still receive plenty of attention to help prevent jealousy that may prevent bonding. Let older siblings be as involved as possible. —Jamie Green, Fairmount, Ind.
When we brought my newborn son home from the hospital, our daughter was 17 1/2 months old. She loved playing with baby dolls, so I knew this would be a good opportunity for us to bond. When I fed my son, I encouraged my daughter to go get her babies. She would mimic me by holding her babies to her belly. Treating her babies like I did her baby brother made her felt important and valued. We also made sure to give her one-on-one time like she’d always had. She got individual time with mommy and daddy to let her know she was still important! —Jennifer Moody, Columbia, Ky.
If you’re breastfeeding your infant and have other young children in the house, create a kit to entertain your older children with while you’re nursing your baby. The kit could include a coloring book and crayons (the best are big ones that don’t require much dexterity to use); a game that doesn’t require too much effort to play and can be played with one hand, such as Lucky Ducks or Candy Land; a couple of board books; and a couple of treats. This kit will save you from whining meltdowns. —Jamie Petersen, Davenport, Iowa
To help siblings adjust, include them in the baby experience by suggesting that they create art for the baby. Let your older child be your helper with baby by picking out clothes and helping rub in lotion or singing to the baby to soothe him. Brag to family, friends and the baby about what a good big brother or sister he or she is. Set time aside to play with and talk to your older child. Take deep breaths and relax with your kids and they will feed off your relaxed state and do the same. —Pam Mullins, Morristown, Tenn.
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Prepare your pets
When we brought our newborn daughter home to our 4- to 5-year-old boxer, Tango, we were a little nervous about how he would act. The day after she was born, my boyfriend brought Tango a hat the baby had worn to let him smell it. I had also begun using baby lotion myself months before, so that Tango could get used to the smell of it. When we arrived home with our daughter, we let Tango sniff her and lick her a few times—all under careful supervision. The first few days he was very interested in her, and he has really come to love her. —Megan Pihlaja, Elysian, Minn.
Take a blanket that your newborn has used and send it home with your spouse before your bring the baby home. Let your pets smell the blanket and even sleep with it. This way, when the baby arrives home, the baby’s scent won’t be strange to your pets. —Catalina Aranguren, Jersey City, N.J.
Think outside the box
Instead of buying a traditional changing table, we bought a garage workbench with drawers on each side. It serves three purposes. One, it’s higher, so my 6-foot-4-inch-tall husband doesn’t have to bend over to change the baby. Two, it has great shelving units on each end that provide a huge amount of storage space for diapers, wipes, diaper cream, clothes, etc. Third, we’ll be able to use it in the garage once our daughter is toilet-trained. It’s a natural in a boy’s room. Since we had a girl, I just made a fabric-and-Velcro cover to give it a more feminine look. —Melanie Sanborn, Jacksonville, Fla.
Let diapers do double duty
Cloth diapers are not just for putting on your baby! Buy a pack of basic, inexpensive cloth diapers from your local discount store. Use them for burp cloths, put one under the baby while he sleeps to catch those inevitable newborn blowouts and put one on the changing table to catch messes there as well. It will make for less laundry and save time! Plus, once you’re finished using them for the baby, they make great dusting cloths! —Mandy McElrath, Susanville, Calif.
Back up baby’s bedding
Save yourself some laundry: Use a cloth waterproof pad between the crib sheet and the mattress pad so you don’t need to change the mattress pad every time the baby spits up or has a leaky diaper. I also used smaller waterproof pads for the changing table to avoid having to constantly change the pad cover. —Karla Raymond, Oxford, Pa.
I layer my baby’s mattress with a waterproof pad topped with a sheet, followed by another waterproof pad topped with another sheet. When my son gets sick or has a diaper leak in the middle of the night, I just pull off the top layer and the bed is ready for him to lie right back down. —Crystal Baker, Lockhart, Texas
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Corral cute socks
When washing my baby’s teeny tiny baby socks, I put them all in a lingerie bag that zips closed. That way they don’t get lost in the washer or inside any of the other clothes. Less time looking for socks means more time with baby! —Jennifer Suggs, Lombard, Ill.
Walk for two
Get outside and take walks with your baby in a carrier or sling. This put my son right to sleep, gave us both a healthy dose of fresh air and ensured that I got my daily exercise— with no need for a sitter or special scheduling. —Marian Daggett, York, Pa.
Soothe with sound
When I had trouble getting my son to sleep, I would place my breast pump close to his bed and turn it on. The swooshing noises made him fall asleep almost instantly. —Kim Empfield, N. Versailles, Pa.
Since my girls were babies, I have narrated everything we do with singing so they can remember it easily and find it familiar when we do a task, like changing diapers, taking a bath or trying a new food! It gets them in a positive mood every time! —Carol Chao, Bronxville, N.Y.
Don’t miss the photo op
Set up photo shoots with your baby! Take a shower, get dressed and put on some makeup. Then set the camera’s shutter on self-timer mode and be in pictures with your newborn. Or just dress him up, then prop him up on pillows and cute blankets. It’s an excuse to play dress-up with your baby and a fun way to pass the time. Surprise your hubby with a framed picture of the two of you for him to take to work! —Kathleen Brown, Lehi, Utah
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Wait for it
Recognize and accept the fact that you or your partner may feel that your baby is more of a chore than a joy in the very beginning. Soon he or she will become much more! —Rachel Talavera, Fremont, Calif.
We spent our first few days home with our baby [like we were] waiting for his parents to come and pick him up. Don’t be surprised if you don’t feel an instant bond, or if it takes dad longer than mom to feel it. Soon, though, nothing will be able to tear you away from that sweet little face. —Savannah Knight, San Mateo, Calif.
As a mom, you will find that people are very quick to offer an opinion on your situation. Just nod and smile. Whether it be teething, doctor visits or letting babies cry it out versus whatever, if there is an issue, you will be bombarded with well-meaning advice. My tip is to listen to your baby and follow your instincts. —Heather Beebe, Port Jervis, N.J.
Don’t doubt yourself. A mom never thinks she has done it right! There’s no right or wrong—your best is great. No one could be better for your baby than you. —Nachelle Wexler, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
Enjoy every moment
Best mom tip ever: Relax. Breathe. Enjoy. The time between your child’s birth and his heading off to college is far too short to stress all the small stuff. Use your basic instinct, listen to the voice in your head, follow your heart and ask for help when you feel you need it. An hour away from your son or daughter here and there won’t harm either one of you; in fact, you’ll both benefit from it. Remember, a happy mom means a happy family all around. —Sarah Almosbeh, Boonton, N.J.
Try to enjoy every moment with your baby during this time. If you don’t, you’ll regret it. Let the laundry pile up. Stay positive. Remember, this time will pass, and the bonding will come along with the coos and the smiles. Until then, hold, snuggle and love your baby as much as you can. —Amanda Koflanovich, Quakertown, Pa.
The one difference I noticed between those first weeks with my first child and the same period with my second child was that I didn’t take enough time to just enjoy my first. I was so worried about how to breastfeed him, how to bathe him, whether he was he getting enough to eat and doing laundry that I think the friends and family who came over got to enjoy him more than I did. I wish I had just relaxed, sat in the recliner and held him. With my second child I have really enjoyed bonding moments like just sitting and breastfeeding him. Enjoying time with the new baby is the most important thing. —Monica Adams, Clinton, Utah
What’s your best mom tip? Share it in the comments section below!
Our readers share their best tips for the difficult first weeks with your newborn.