10 Tips for Young Mothers and First Time Parents
Expecting a new baby is an exciting and daunting period at any time of life. Every first-time parent and young mother wonders what giving birth is like and what it will be like looking after a baby 24 hours a day. They'll wonder whether they will be able to cope, dread the scary possibility of postnatal depression, and wonder whether they can be the kind of parent they want to be. Once your precious newborn has arrived, you will probably begin wondering what to do now!
Newborn Help For Young Moms
First off, being a young mom can be truly wonderful so don't listen to all the negative stuff that's said about young mothers - you can be just as good a parent as an older mom. I've worked with many young mothers who were absolutely committed to breastfeeding, having as natural a birth as possible, and accepting the responsibility that parenthood brings.
....And For First Time Parents
Whether you are considered young or not, every new parent wants to get it right and enjoy the first precious months with their newborn. I've written here for you, my top ten tips for first-time parents to enable that to happen. These are all things I wish I had known the first time around (and paid attention to!).
Tip 1: At least Rest When Your Newborn Sleeps
This is tip number one because it's the most important! Everyone will tell you to sleep when your newborn sleeps and it's good advice, but it's not always possible. At first, you may be on a high from being a new mom and think you don't need to sleep or rest - but losing out on sleep over a long period of time will eventually catch up with you, and then it can be almost impossible to catch up on the sleep you need.
If you at least rest when your newborn baby sleeps you will have more energy for the coming months and you will definitely need it! Your baby will probably start teething by around six months and during those months you may be surviving on very little sleep. being rested will help you find it easier to cope with less sleep.
The process of labor and birth can also be very tiring. Sleeping and resting lots in the early days will help your body recover quickly and enable you to have all the energy you need to meet your baby's needs.
Tip 2: Develop Your Bond
Developing a strong bond with your baby is so important (for both moms and dads). The bond you develop as you get to know each other in the first few days, weeks and months will affect your child's psychological and emotional health throughout his life.
The three main ways of creating a strong bond are:
- plenty of skin-to-skin contact
- lots of eye contact
- responding to the baby's needs
When you first gave birth to your baby s/he would normally be put on your tummy so that you are skin to skin - this is because skin to skin contact is so vitally important.
In the morning or at bedtime, keep your top half naked and let your baby be naked (apart from a nappy if you choose) - and cuddle! Wrap a blanket around you both if it's chilly.
Another good time for skin-to-skin contact is bath time but getting into a bath with a newborn on your own is tricky! If you have a partner or relative around ask them to help. You get into the bath first and then ask your relative to pass you the baby. They will need to take the baby from you before you get out as well. If you're breastfeeding you will generally have more skin to skin contact just through the act of feeding, so this is especially important for bottle feeding moms and babies.
Your baby will love looking into your eyes and getting to know you by doing this. Feeding time whether you're breast or bottle feeding, is a great time to share some quality eye contact and strengthen the bond between you.
Respond to your baby's needs and don't forget their emotional needs for comfort and closeness are as important as their physical needs. Your baby will not want to be away from you for long and that includes night times. It is exhausting having a baby wanting you all the time, but it really doesn't last forever. And if you can meet their emotional needs now you will have less problems later on.
An easy way to meet your baby's needs for closeness is by using a sling, and as a bonus when you do it means you get to use your arms :) I recommend the as I used it daily for my now 4 year old daughter and was very happy with it. It takes a little practice to get the wrap sequence, but once you do get it it's a fast process to get baby snuggled up against you in it. Ergo Baby Wrap
Tip 3: How to Soothe Your Baby
I wish someone had told me about this technique when I was walking up and down the living room for hours trying to soothe my baby by jiggling and rocking! (Don't get me wrong jiggling and rocking are great, but this seems to help babies settle a lot more quickly). The pat/shhh technique works brilliantly for soothing most newborn babies as it imitates the sounds they are used to hearing in the womb.
Hold your baby on your shoulder and pat rhythmically and firmly in the center of their back. While you're doing this put your mouth near his ear and whisper a long "shhhh" sound. Do this repeatedly in time with your patting. Remember not to blow right into his ear as you could damage it, just blow past his ear. You may feel a little silly doing this at first but it really works.
Young babies also like to be swaddled (wrapped up tightly). Think about buying a swaddling blanket or just use a sheet.
Tip 4: Watch Out for Over Stimulation
One of the things that is often overlooked in the early days is that babies can get overstimulated very quickly. Of course, playtime is an essential part of parenting and it's good to have a few cool baby toys to entertain with but be aware not to overdo it in the first few months.
If your baby does get overstimulated you may find it hard to settle him down and for him to sleep when he needs to. This then results in your baby getting overtired. When your baby gets overtired he will cry, scream and get very stressed out and so will you!
Very young babies can really only stay awake happily for around 30 minutes. If he has become over tired and over stimulated go and sit somewhere quiet and dark with him and use the pat/shhhh technique explained above to quiet him down and soothe his nerves.
Tip 5: Plan, Plan, Pan!
Planning for meal times, bath time, trips out, and bedtime make life a lot simpler, especially when you're tired. it's as simple as just making sure you have everything ready before you start your task. For instance, before you bathe your baby, make sure you have everything you will need afterwards, ready beforehand, such as a clean towel, clean clothes, diaper and bottom cream.
When you're taking baby out (even if it's only for a little while!) you will need to take most or all of these things: spare clothes, nappies, wipes, nappy sacks, bottom cream, a spare top for you, breast pads, bottles if you are bottle feeding, and an extra blanket.
Tip 6: Help Your Newborn Learn That Night Time Is for Sleep
Teaching your baby that night time is for sleeping is a good lesson for her to learn straight away. You'll do this by creating a bedtime routine which could consist of a bath, PJ's, feed and quiet cuddle. Rather than come back into the noisy living room, it's a good idea to take your baby to the bedroom for his bedtime feed. Have the lights low and don't have your TV on. If you need to do something read a book or magazine instead. Keep outside noise and stimulation as minimal as possible. You might want to use a blackout blind or heavy curtains so that the room is dark in the summer months.
When your newborn wakes in the night, again, keep it quiet and dark. Talk in whispers if you need to speak - after a little while your baby will learn that this is quiet time, not play time, and it will help him learn that night time is sleep time.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Remember that newborn babies usually need to feed frequently which can be as often as every 1-2 hours. They also often have digestive troubles such as wind and colic. This can make night times difficult for Moms and Dads, but don't get into thinking that your baby should not be feeding at night - they will need to! The important thing to remember however often your baby wakes in the night, is to keep it quiet and relaxed as explained above.
Tip 7: Look After Yourself
Look after yourself and make sure you still have fun! It's hard to find time for yourself with a new baby to look after but try to set aside half an hour to do something you enjoy every day. Remember to treat yourself to new things, as well as look after yourself emotionally - if you're having a bad day talk to someone and have a cry if you need to. If you've not been able to get back into your old clothes buy yourself something new. Look after yourself physically—get as much sleep as you can (ask for help if you need it!), get out for a quick swim or run and eat a healthy diet.
If you neglect your needs you could start to resent your baby.
Tip 8: Socialize
At first a lot of new moms don't want to go out much because they are happy at home with their babies and there are lots of visitors coming to see you and your baby. Unfortunately, the visitors will slowly drop off and you might find yourself isolated and bored. Make an effort to socialize with friends, other new moms and family either by going out or inviting people to visit you at home. Isolation can bring on feelings of depression and this will not help you or your baby.
Tip 9: Learn About Your Babies Needs
There are so many parenting books available but the one I always recommend to learn about your baby's needs is . I would give to any new mother no matter what age. It contains loads of information on your babies physical, psychological and emotional needs at every stage of their development from 0-2 years old. Gaining knowledge about what your baby needs and what's normal will really help you be the kind of parent you want to be. The Baby Book by Dr Sear's
Tip 10: Buy Secondhand
Most young mothers are on low incomes and learning how to manage your money is one the skills you will master over time. One way to radically reduce your costs is to buy second-hand equipment, clothes, and toys whenever possible. Some items your baby will only need for a short while (such as a pram) so unless you are loaded there is no point in spending hundreds of dollars on them.
I hope you've found these ten tips first-time parents help you and your newborn! Newborns can be a bit of a mystery until we get into our stride and get to know the new little person in our lives—but a little bit of knowledge about their needs can go a long way to make your time together as stress free and as enjoyable as possible.