After months of preparing and reading everything about babies you can get your eyes on, your new little bundle is at home with you. Bringing your newborn home is such a special time – but, it’s also an extremely overwhelming time.
It’s easy to feel like you haven’t prepared nearly enough for this new person! First thing’s first: give yourself some grace. Becoming a parent is a challenging time.
To make this time a bit smoother for you and your baby, there are a few things not to do. These points can easily fall under the radar during the stress of new parenthood.
Here are four baby mistakes to avoid:
Not Asking For Help
One of the most important things – if not the most important thing – to avoid as a new mother is trying to do everything alone and not asking for help when you need it.
Mama, do not suffer in silence! If you are struggling with your newborn emotionally, psychologically, physically, call in your support system.
This can look like going to a psychologist or counsellor to work through postpartum depression, calling in trusted family members and friends when you need some time to just focus on you, and seeking help when you are struggling to make decisions regarding your baby.
Two aspects of having a newborn that many new parents struggle with is breastfeeding and sleep. You don’t have to fight through this alone! As a newborn and lactation nurse, I help parents understand how feeding affects sleep, and how sleep affects feeding. If you’re in the Charleston, SC, area, schedule a lactation consultation to work through breastfeeding challenges, and a sleep consultation to learn how to reconnect with and settle your baby.
Thinking They’ll Sleep Through The Night Better With Less Naps
It can be easy to fall into this trap. After all, if your little one sleeps less during the day, shouldn’t they then get a full night of sleep because they’ll be tired when bedtime rolls around?
Firstly, it’s important to remember that babies’ bellies are tiny – they can only handle so much milk at one time! This is why they need regular feedings, and will wake during the night, especially during the first few months at home. Babies will start sleeping through the night usually at around the age of three or four months.
Secondly, naps are key for your little one’s development.
Babies develop in leaps and bounds, and to cope with this, they need regular sleep. As explained by Kids’ Health, “[Naps] provide much-needed downtime that aids the important physical and mental development that happens in early childhood [and] help keep kids from becoming overtired, which can affect their moods and make it harder for them to fall asleep at night.”
So, skipping naps can result in a very unhappy, fussy child when it’s bedtime.
However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a bedtime routine for your baby. Developing a routine that helps your baby feel relaxed and ready for bed can really help set your little one up for sleep time success.
To download my recommended routine for babies aged two to six weeks, click here.
Not Giving Them Any Tummy Time
When your baby is awake (this window will grow as they do) one of the best things you can do is place them on their belly.
Tummy time can start from when they are a newborn, and it’s an essential activity in your baby’s schedule for many reasons.
“…always lying belly-up can delay motor development because a baby gets less of a chance to work the muscles in his upper body. Lack of tummy time can not only affect how long it takes for your little one to master such basic skills as lifting his head and turning over, it may also have an impact on physical milestones like sitting, crawling, and walking,” says Parents.
You can start introducing tummy time by laying on your back and letting your baby lay on top of you. Talk to them, and they’ll start to try to lift their head to see you.
You can place them on a tummy time mat with interesting toys around them that they’ll be intrigued by so they’ll start to lift themselves up and reach for them.
When they’re a newborn, tummy time can be around three minutes long a couple of times a day. This can increase as your baby grows.
Ignoring Breastfeeding Pain And Your Own Needs
No, pain during breastfeeding is not normal! Feeding your baby can and should be an amazing experience, so don’t settle for less.
If you’re feeling pain in your nipples when you’re feeding, it might be a sign that your baby isn’t latching correctly; this can be addressed with a position switch up.
Make sure that your little one isn’t twisting to feed – their head, neck and spine should be lined up and their chin should be up and touching your breast. You can motivate them to open their mouth up by touching your nipple against their upper lip. The goal is to get them to open their mouth as wide as possible, as they should take a large part of the areola in. Also, make sure you’re in a comfy position, too!
A lactation consultant can help you discover the reasons for any pain you’re experiencing, so schedule an appointment with one in your area.
My course, Breastfeeding Made Simple, goes through what to expect from breastfeeding at birth, through growth spurts and developmental leaps, how to extend nighttime sleep with breastfeeding, and everything in between.
When you’re spending night and day trying to keep your newborn alive, your own needs can slip further down your list of priorities. Remember mama, looking after yourself can help you look after your baby. Your body is using nutrients to make breastmilk for your child, so make sure to replenish them.
For seven tips for the first week of breastfeeding, click here.
We all make mistakes – they’re part of the journey of parenthood! So, not if, but when you make a mistake, don’t be hard on yourself. Look after yourself, too, mama, and never be afraid to ask for help.