Newborn…when does it get easier?!
When do Newborns get easier?
The First Days With A Newborn
Taking YOUR newborn home for the first time is both absolutely terrifying and absolutely amazing at the same time.
However prepared the pre-baby you thought you were…you’re now wondering what on earth you’ve let yourself in for! (I was anyway!)
As a new parent it’s normal to feel over-whelmed, tired and a pressure to ‘get it right’.
There are a few things I wish I’d known as a new parent…
You won’t always feel this tired!
After a while your initial adrenalin disappears and you feel like you’ll be living on coffee for ever.
I’d like to reassure you that it will get easier. You’re baby will sleep at some point. It may be weeks, it may be months but it will get easier.
It’s a total myth that YOU are making your child sleep badly.
If he needs to be cuddled, rocked, sung to, patted…do it! You’re not creating bad habits! Your child won’t always need your help to fall asleep!
Don’t over-analyse everything.
With my first child I obsessed over his sleeping patterns. I’d read the books (the wrong ones!) and thought baby sleep was something I was supposed to be in control of.
Baby Léo taught me that everything I’d read up until that point was nonsense. He slept brilliantly on me but never alone.
It didn’t matter if I put him down tired but awake, asleep, fully awake, wrapped in a blanket, with music, without music, while rocking…believe me, I tried every variation!
If you find something that works for you just do it.
Look into co-sleeping.
After that initial week with Léo I had no idea how we were going to carry on functioning.
Thankfully I was introduced to co-sleeping. It is still the reason that I’m not totally exhausted all of the time!
Co-sleeping is when your baby sleeps in the same room as you. Perhaps next to your bed in a side cot like this…
It means that you can respond much more easily to your baby when they need you. It also means that you can comfort them without fully waking yourself up!
We actually found that a floor bed (mattresses on the floor) was the easiest way to co-sleep.
Bedsharing is slightly different in that your child is actually sleeping in the same bed as you. It’s only advised that you bedshare if you breastfeed. You can read up on the safety guidelines here.
Our boys have always come into our bed when they need to. Both now sleep through unless they’re ill or teething.
Our first-born bedshared (and fed on and off all night) until he was around one.
Then he went onto his own mattress next to me but often came back to me in the night. He still likes a cuddle in the night at three years old.
His little brother Bastien bedshared initially but it was obvious from the start that he didn’t need me right next to him all night. He never fed through the night. He slept…right from the start.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that if your child doesn’t sleep…it’s not your fault. It’s genetic, it’s random…there’s very little you can do about it unless you effectively ignore your childs needs through cry-it-out.
You can read some co-sleeping myths and truths here.
Ignore unwanted advice and opinions.
Since having my first child I’ve been given a lot of advice! Some people love to tell you what you’re doing wrong and how their way is so much better!
The trouble is that often, these people aren’t actually the best people to advise.
They probably haven’t had kids, studied child development or child sleep and as a result they are effectively guessing.
It’s really tempting to follow that advice when your handed your new baby and suddenly realise that you don’t actually have a clue what you’re doing.
It’s easy to begin parenting in a way that goes against your instincts or beliefs simply because you’re afraid that you’ll get it wrong.
Leave him to cry or he’ll never fall asleep on his own…
He’ll never go in the stroller if you don’t force him now…
He’s ok (while holding my screaming baby) he’ll never be independent if you don’t make him go to other people…
These comments may seem harmless…possibly even helpful. But, at the root, you are being advised to ignore your child’s needs.
Take some time to get to know your new baby and then ask yourself:
If I knew nothing of what society tells me is the ‘right’ way to parent…what would I do?
Get yourself some good books!
If you want to read about parenting then get yourself a book by someone who’s studied child development and child sleep.
Don’t buy anything by a ‘sleep expert’ that will teach you to ‘train’ your baby to sleep.
I can tell you now that you’re not teaching your baby to sleep….you’re teaching your baby that you won’t go to him when he needs you.
Sleep training works but for totally the wrong reasons. It works because your baby gives up on you.
The Gentle Sleep Book will explain clearly why babies sleep the way they do! It’s full of research and interesting facts that will give you a much more realistic perspective on infant sleep. I’d strongly recommend Sarah Ockwell-Smiths other books too.
Source items that will help to make things easier for you…
There’s very little a newborn actually needs…generally if they’ve got you then they’re pretty happy.
There are a few items that we found really helpful during the early years.
If I had to choose one item that made being a mother so much easier it would be my Tula carrier.
We never went anywhere without our Tula. If it was cold I wore it with a carrying fleece which kept us both warm.
Léo liked to be held most of the time (until he learnt to crawl) so it freed my hands up to get stuff done! I also quickly learnt to breastfeed in it!
Essential Oil Diffuser
These are amazing when babies have blocked noses and are struggling to sleep at night.
Diffuse plain water for tiny babies and a drop of essential oil once over 3 months. (Ecyluptus oil for snuffly noses and lavender for relaxation).
You may also like our post about diffusing safely around babies.
Nursing pillows aren’t just for breastfeeding mums. They really help to support your shoulders and arms when you’re holding baby for long periods.
Surround yourself with positive parents.
OK, we all have a moan some of the time. But, I’m talking about that parent you know that barely ever says a nice word about children…
“It gets worse…you wait until he’s (insert random age here!)
I have to admit, it terrified me the first few times I heard it. How could it get any harder than two hours sleep a night, projectile poop, constant feeding, going to the loo while holding a baby, eating dinner while holding a baby…all while your still recovering from actual labour!
Does it really just keep getting worse and worse until you finally wave them off to Uni?!
The physical toll of having a baby is difficult. The lack of sleep, constant carrying, feeding, being 100% ‘on-call’ all of the time can be draining.
I know you’ve probably heard this phrase a lot already…’cherish these days as they’ll be teenagers before you know it’.
It’s not exactly the most helpful advice. It can make you feel extremely guilty that you’re not loving every second.
However, whether you’re loving the newborn phase or not…it really doesn’t last long!6
Pretty soon your little one will want to start exploring the world a little more. Sitting up, rolling around, crawling.
This is your opportunity to grab yourself a drink, do some stretching, go to the toilet…whatever you need.
My little squishy limpet who lived on me for his first months is now an independent big boy! He wants to do everything on his own.
It will pass.
Enjoy the good bits. Get through the difficult bits. Ask for help if you need it. Talk to people who aren’t all doom and gloom!
Accept that your life is different now
As parents we will never be responsible for nobody but ourselves again. We will never be totally ‘care-free’ and able to kick back and relax without giving a second thought to anyone else ever again.
There will always be someone who needs taking care of or something that needs to be done.
That was part of the deal when we signed up to bringing a tiny human into the world.
It’s a lot to get used to. It’s actually pretty daunting!
Once you’ve accepted that your life has changed big-time (at least for a while) look at finding ways of keeping some of the things that you loved about your ‘old’ life. You’ll find loads of new loves too…
Make small changes
A tiny newborn baby is capable of bringing about massive changes in a parent’s life.
Try bringing a little control back into your life by making a list of some small changes you can make everyday to make things easier for yourself…
- Starting every morning with your favourite drink.
- Taking a walk with baby in carrier or stroller.
- Resting/ exercising/ watching tv/ reading while baby sleeps (i.e. not housework).
Talk to like-minded parents.
Joining a group can be a great way of meeting other parents. You’ll either love them or hate them. Try one. You have nothing to loose…you may even manage to drink a warm cup of coffee!
There are breastfeeding groups, play groups, baby-wearing groups…have a look and find one that suits you.
Your health visitor should be able to help you find one. Failing that, ask on a local Facebook group!
You can also find online support groups (Facebook is great for this) or follow a blog that echoes your parenting style.
It can really help talking to (or just listening to) people that can make you feel normal.
Keep things simple
It’s OK to keep everything simple while you have a new baby around. Whatever works for you…even a month of take aways!
I found batch cooking worked for us. We made all the meals for the week in one day.
With my second born we had a months worth of dinners in the freezer before he arrived. Lasagna, pies, casseroles, soups all freeze well.
Don’t worry about housework. If anyone complains just hand them a mop and bucket!
Before I had children I totally underestimated this parenting business! There are so many different parenting ‘styles’ and within them several interpretations.
The reality is that the way you choose to parent will have a direct impact upon the relationship you have with your child as they get older.
We choose to practice ‘gentle parenting’ which may sound like a fancy way of saying ‘let them do whatever they want’…but it is most definitely is not that!
It takes effort…every single day!
Short term, it would be so much easier to man-handle a screaming toddler out of the park, force them into the car seat, scold them for getting angry and drive home.
But we’re working on our ongoing relationship…making sure we keep a connection. A relationship built on love and mutual respect. We’re consistent but kind.
So, we sit with our children as we work things out together. Everything takes so much longer this way…but we sit…we process…we learn.
When you allow kids to ‘feel’ they feel BIG and it can sometimes even look as if you’ve ‘made it worse’…but allowing those emotions to flow is never a bad thing.
There will always be tantrums, tears and drama but we’ll get through it together with empathy and compassion.
A child who is put on the naughty step to think about what they’ve done only learns to internalise their emotions.
They’re very unlikely to sit there developing empathy on their own.
Kids are hard work…but they’re also totally awesome!
So for any new parents who are asking themselves “when does it get easier!?”
Life will never be the same again…but it will get easier.
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