Congratulations! You spent nine months preparing and planning. And now you’ve made it home with your newborn! If you’re anything like most parents, you feel the exhaustion of a job well done, and it feels daunting to think that there is more work ahead of you.
We want to make the transition as easy as possible for you. Parenting your newborn should be about savoring moments, not feeling stressed. Take a deep breath, and take it one day at a time.
You can thrive during your first week with a newborn with these nine tips
If you are lucky enough to have a community of people who want to help you, let them. Now is not the time to be a hero. Say yes to offers of a home cooked meal, free babysitting for your other little ones, and any other acts of kindness that come your way. It takes a village to raise a child, and that village can start contributing on the first day.
Take it Easy
You’ve just had a baby. And now you’re home and making it through the first days with feedings, diaper changes and naps. Don’t expect to cross anything off your to-do list this week (and maybe the next several, as well). Your focus should be on the baby and yourself. There is always time later to get back to that to-do list.
Write it Down
With the lack of sleep you are most likely getting, it’s hard to remember anything. Many parents find tracking tools useful in helping remember the last feeding (and if breastfeeding, which side you started with last time) and how many wet/dirty diapers the baby has had each day. Eat Sleep, Baby Connect and Baby Log are a few of our favorites, but there are many options out there, so find the one that best fits your needs.
Trust Your Gut
Whether this is your first or seventh time bringing home an infant, know that some things cannot be taught. There are some things that you just know. Trust your gut. Don’t ignore the inklings, the nudges, or the internal warnings. More often than not, your intuition will lead you where you need to go, and it will only get more accurate as you continue your parenting journey.
Cherish This Moment
The first weeks of parenting a newborn are a whirlwind. Before you know it, your newborn will no longer be an infant. Take a couple of minutes each day to reflect on what’s happened, the good, the bad and the ugly and keep a journal of your parenting journey and/or your little ones milestones. As everyone says, time flies by and you may want to look back and reflect on the memories of what day-to-day life was really like with a newborn. Try The Five Minute Journal or the Day One app for memory tracking.
Build Your Tribe
You will have innumerable questions during your first week with your infant, ranging from “Does this look normal to you?” to “Will I ever stop feeling so overwhelmed?” Find the people and resources who will be your go-tos when you’re not sure what to do. Everyone has advice for parents, and it’s up to you to decide who is worth listening to. Your tribe will probably consist of a mix of doctors, family members, close friends, books, and online resources. We can’t tell you what people to include in your tribe, but we can suggest a few of our favorite digital resources:
- The Bump: This website will answer most of your questions about newborns and connect you with a community of other parents through their message boards
- Scary Mommy: The pieces on this website will make you laugh, cry, and most importantly, realize that you are not alone in the craziness that is parenthood
- Parenting: It’s all in the name. Consider this a catchall resource for your parenting questions
It’s all too easy to get caught up in the busyness of diapers and feedings, completely forgetting that you have a partner in raising this child. You both are running on very little sleep and a lot of adrenaline. Communicating well may take more energy than usual, but it will save you effort in the long run. Be clear about how you are feeling. Are you discouraged? Do you need your partner to handle the next diaper change so you can take a shower? Are you noticing a negative behavior trend that needs to change? Set an expectation of transparency so that you can both find joy in parenting rather than resentment.
You may have breezed through to-do lists in the past, and now it feels like changing clothes is an accomplishment. That’s okay. Having a newborn will alter your idea of productivity. Caring for your new baby is now the number one item on your to-do list. Everything else will happen at a slower rate. If there are tasks you must finish this week, schedule only one per day. Remind yourself that making it through another day with your newborn is an accomplishment in and of itself.
One of the best gifts you can give your child and your partner is the gift of yourself. Savor your role as the parent of a newborn. Give yourself and your partner at least five minutes a day to do one thing that energizes you, whether that’s playing a song on your instrument, taking a hot shower in peace, or making progress on a puzzle. A little bit of “you time” each day will go a long way in helping you avoid parent burnout.
You can step confidently into your first week with a new baby, knowing that there is always more to learn. This time with your newborn will be both awe-inspiring and challenging, and the best thing you can do is savor each day.
Did you survive your first week with an infant? Share your tips below!