Tips for Caring for a Newborn
I have been a mom for all of eight months. My baby girl just turned eight months today so I am in no way an expert in all things momma. However, having just recently come out of the newborn stage and feeling as though it is still fresh in my brain, I wanted to share some things that were helpful for me as I learned about my baby while also learning about becoming a new mom!
1. Ask for help. This new job description that you find yourself in definitely does not come with a manual! You are handed this new baby and expected to be proficient the first day on the job! What other job in the world is like that? Bottom line … you are not going to know exactly what to do. And your baby is not going to know what to do either! They are just trying to figure out life and you are trying to figure out your new life. Reach out to a friend or family member who has been there before you. No question is too silly or insignificant. I remember texting a friend and asking about my daughter’s poop. POOP! Thank goodness God has given us others who have gone before us and can help us along the way! Use. This. Resource.
2. They are going to be OK. Parenting can come with a whole new level of fear and worry. Should I breastfeed or bottle feed? How much solid food should they be eating and when? Are they hitting their milestones? Is that a rash? Being the primary caregiver of another human being comes with a lot of responsibility and it is very easy to take that responsibility and turn it into an unhealthy amount of worry. Yes we need to take our job of raising our children seriously. Yes we need to make the best decisions we can with the information and resources we have available. But really, they are going to be OK. Being a second grade teacher, when I look at the 7 and 8 year olds in my class, I can’t even tell the difference between which kids were breastfed or bottle fed, or who started solid foods at 5 months or 6 months. They will be OK. God gave you everything you need to be the parent to your specific child. Take confidence in that.
3. This too shall pass. Along the same lines, it is SO easy to see something in your child (yes even in your newborn!) and think that this will always be a thing and you need to “fix” it right now. I remember when my daughter started making this very unpleasant screeching sound. I mean, it was LOUD. And I heard it all. day. long. I was so worried that she was always going to do that sound and how could I get her to stop and I drove myself crazy thinking she was always going to be making loud sounds that would translate to a yelling/screaming toddler and then I couldn’t even think about the ramifications of her being a “three-nager” and still making these unpleasant sounds when she was upset. Can you see what I was doing to myself in my brain? I’m tired just rereading that sentence! Most things are a phase. They outgrow something and move on so fast. Keeping that perspective helps you stay in the moment more and being thankful for each phase as it comes and goes.
4. Figure out what works for you and your family. I am one that believes in absolute truth. And I am one that wants to get it right. Tell me what to do and I will do it. Give me directions and I will follow them to a T (and cross off each step happily along the way). But what I have learned about parenting so far … there is a lot of gray area. There are some things that absolutely fall under the category of right and wrong, please hear me (like making sure your child has enough food!). But a lot of things fall under the realm of figuring out what works best for you. How long does the child stay in your room to sleep? What kind of bedtime routine do you use? There is freedom and grace in figuring it out and working together to come to the best solution for your family.
5. Put down the phone. Seriously guys. It is so tempting to google every question you have or look up every symptom that your baby is exhibiting. There is the temptation to want to get the answer to whatever the problem is quickly so we can move on and continue living our life. And there is a time and a place for researching solutions for our babies for sure. But sometimes, we can obsess over finding the right solution or the quickest fix and miss the in between. That place where you figure out what is best for your baby (not what someone else is telling you online). Or praying about what is going on and finding God’s peace and grace as you work together as a family to solve the problem. Or just going with your gut and your mother’s instinct about what your baby needs. After all, nobody knows your baby better than you.
Before you know it, the newborn phase will be over. I know it doesn’t feel like it when you are in it. In fact, sometimes it can feel like one endless day (sleep deprivation anyone?). But thank the Lord He gives us this season of learning and growing alongside our newborns. I feel like I learned a ton while my daughter was learning about life and for that I am thankful. The Bible says that “nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless” (1 Corinthians 15:58). So rest in the fact that while you are up to your elbows in poop and spit-up, know that God is doing a work in you and your little one that will last a lot longer than the few short months your little one is a newborn.