I have had many people ask, new moms and expectants alike, with terrified or tired eyes… “What did you do?” Let me tell you, it’s a learning process and each individual (AND baby) will fair differently. So read sparingly, don’t over search your eyeballs out on google OR Pinterest, and take everything light heartedly – whether it be direct or indirect advice. Know that you will have late nights, hard cries, you’ll question yourself beyond belief, but if you can get it right 30% of the time… you’re baby will be perfectly fine. You might feed them when their tired, or coax to nap when they are just gassy – but you’re trying, mama and you’ve got this.
Now that I sit in the stage where I have a somewhat self entertaining, crawling, babbling, sort of communicative, scheduled, lively 9 month old and I’ve gained a world of confidence. Suddenly I feel – I can do this. Do note, I still get things wrong, but I try!
There were (and are) a few things that have kept me sane or guided me through rougher times and I’m sharing them here so you have an opinion that hopefully brings to light something you’ve been missing or something that can help. If there’s anything you take away from this, let it be my last tip!
Rock n’ Play
Let’s be real.. the first 3-4 months of my son’s life, he didn’t sleep in his crib. There are a few reasons for this, mostly which is the fact he woke many times through the night and having him by my side made the nights easier. With him close I could just soothe or quickly feed right from the edge of my bed, otherwise choose to get up and take him across the hall into the nursery. Having a rock n’ play kept him in a comfortable position that actually helped him sleep for good stretches starting a young age and guess what? The new ones rock themselves! I’m sorry, but it doesn’t get any better than that – my son would rock for 6 hours straight in the night while I slept.. Once he got towards the end of the 3 months, I would be able to give him his pacifier or stroke his face right from the comfort of my own pillow. Don’t worry about time spent int he rock n’ play, your baby will let you know when they are ready to transition. I could tell my son wanted to be able to stretch and not be confined since he was waking me multiple times per night just with noises of discomfort and moving his head back and forth. Once we transitioned him to the crib, we had almost a full nights sleep from the get go and my instinct was right. Beyond just sleeping, we used the rock n’ play on trips, in the living room, outside, in the bathroom while I showered (hallelujah self humidified room) or pretty much anywhere I needed to be hand free with him close by.
I have a rocking chair – which I love and fed my son in every night of those first few months, but I cannot deny his love for bouncing to sleep on a fitness ball. It is said that the bouncing mimics to movement babies once felt in the womb. So whether they are fussy, tired, or just in need of calming, it’s wonderful to have one around. My son is now 9 months and we use this ball daily – it’s his cue to that it’s now nap/night time. Besides just the bouncing – you may experience back pain due to engorgement and carrying your baby around postpardum – so as much as one might want this woman’s body, this stretch is a major winner!
Oh how I love this humidifier. The first few months of your child’s life, congestion is a completely natural thing. It’s your little ones first line of defense to keep germs out of their body – amazing how we were created right? Those first few months at night can seem hard, it may seem like they struggle to breathe through their nose at night and increasing air moisture will promote easier breathing and a better nights sleep. Once the natural congestion goes down, you may not find yourself using it as much but the moment that first cold or allergies hit – you will be SO glad you had one.
Essential Oils & Diffusers
As a mom, having a first line of defense can give you the biggest confidence boost. So many times I hear parents rushing to their phone to call the pediatrician for small concerns. Once I ventured into the world of essential oils, I started educating myself on how to use them, what they are great for and different ways to use them, plus it gave me a go-to when my child started showing signs of discomfort. Now instead of running to the doctor or to over-the-counter medications, I can aid my son naturally and if the problem persists, I still have many outlets to turn too. If you have not signed up or purchased essential oils yet – you can visit my page here. Once you have them or if you already do, be sure to grab a diffuser, we have one in every room of our home! This one runs for 10 hours – perfect for overnight oil diffusing.
My husband and I would refer to this wonderful liquid as “black magic.” It was strange, but I wasn’t about to give my baby any other over the counters with any necessary additives – I mean my baby was under 3 months old! So, I bought some Gripe Water and was surprised to find out it was black… but heck it worked. It would get rid of hiccups, instantly stop my son from crying and ease what I assumed to be his gassiness.
Believe it or not… Okay easy to believe – I relied on trackers to know when my baby needed to sleep and eat (or remember which boob he fed off of last!) As exhaustion ensues, memory fades and all of the sudden, you realize your sharp mindedness has gone into a deep slumber. The app Baby Daybook kept me sane and I only focused on my baby’s awake time, not his sleep time to ensure he was never overtired. There are many app trackers out there – the most important elements for me were sleep and feeding but get one thats best customized for you.
The Wonder Weeks Timeline & Book
This book kept me feeling like I wasn’t crazy when I couldn’t get my son to stop crying. I would get this feeling that something was happening so I would check to wonder weeks timeline, and low and behold – my crazy, fussy, not sleeping child would be going through a mental development! Suddenly, I’d feel empowered thinking, how can I help him? What’s he learning? When should I expect it to end? I highly recommend having this book on hand and downloading the app (to keep your sanity like me).
Breastfeeding mamas – this was such a help. If you want any use of your hands while you newborn is feeding for 20-30 minutes, get a boppy pillow. Beyond just breastfeeding, they can eventually be propped up in them, practice tummy time and use it for sitting. At 9 months, we are still using it for feedings, now he just relaxes and holds his own bottle in it, but it was one of the greatest gifts I could have received.
Okay you can’t buy attitude and this might sound cliche, far gone or just unreal but it’s so incredibly necessary and it’s the most important intangible you can find in this whole process of motherhood. In just a few short months or even a year, your child will be self soothing and not needing you nearly as much as they do now. These first few months are such a snippet in your child’s life. I would often get aggravated by having to get up yet another time to change or feed or just soothe, but once I changed my attitude, those moments became joyful. I told myself, I need to be thankful that a child is calling for me, I have always wanted to be a mom. I could be getting a full nights rest and childless, or I could be so lucky to care for a little one, which soon brought me to prayer in those nights in the rocking chair. The moment I changed to a grateful heart, I was bounds happier and it showed to my husband and others around me. Many people ask me how I have it so easy and how I’m not overly tired and worn down, but my spirits keep my energy levels overflowing. I challenge you, next time you get up in the middle of the night, find yourself in an angry mood over changing one more diaper – find thanks in the moment – find joy in everything.
Obviously I have kept off many products and odes to things like coffee, but I wanted to enlighten you with just a few of my top tricks – if you’re curious what else may have helped, comment below!
-Essentially a Mom