After surviving 9 long and challenging months of pregnancy, you’ve finally been able to meet your precious little bundle and welcome them into the big wide world.
But if you thought pregnancy was hard, you may have been in for a rude awakening when discovering that for most new parents, getting through the newborn phase is actually a lot more difficult than the proceeding few months.
It’s worth calling out right now that the newborn stage does get easier, particularly when you’ve adjusted to the shock of being a new parent.
In the meantime however there are definitely some things you can do to make life easier.
So let’s take a look at some tips and advice that will not only help you survive this period, but will enable you thrive during these early days.
Table of Contents
- How Long Does The Newborn Stage Last?
- 10 Tips & Advice For Surviving The Newborn Stage
How Long Does The Newborn Stage Last?
The word newborn can mean different things to different people, so defining the newborn phase isn’t as easy as it might first appear.
Some experts like to refer to the newborn stage as the period from birth all the way to 28 days.
However, others will tell you that newborns are 2 months or under, while other parents and caregivers may refer to a newborn as as an infant that is under the age of 3 or 4 month.
Although these differences exist, the general understanding is that a newbon is a very young baby, ranging from a child that has literally just been born, to one that is up to 16-20 weeks of age.
During the newborn phase an infant develops very quickly, and you can expect things like feeding patterns and parent-child bonding to begin or become established.
For the purpose of this article, we’ve interpreted the newborn phase as those first few months from birth until a baby is 3 to 4 months old.
10 Tips & Advice For Surviving The Newborn Stage
Whether your baby is a few days old or a few months old, there are certain tips and pieces of advice that can make this stage of parenting a little easier to get through.
Here are 10 things you can do to better survive this exciting yet challenging period of parenthood:
1. Establish A Routine
Routines are great because they give you and your little one some much-needed structure to each day.
With a newborn there’s no way you can develop the sort of predictable daily structure that you could with a one-year old, so you’ll need to incorporate some flexibility.
Once your baby is around 4-6 weeks consider adding an evening routine that includes dim lighting, a bath, and some milk, because this will set the foundation for a good sleep routine a little later.
Your overall aim is to practice a consistent routine before bedtime every single night.
Let’s face it, this is one of the most challenging periods of your life to date.
So if you have the option to lean on others – particularly your partner or spouse, but also close family and friends – then you should definitely do so.
Take turns with your partner in regards to who looks after your baby during their awake windows, who changes diapers and who does other essential chores like cooking or cleaning.
If you pump breastmilk (more on this shortly) then you’ll also be able to share some of the feeding sessions too, which will go a long way to making this newborn phase easier to navigate.
3. Pump Breastmilk
One of the main pros of breastfeeding is the ability to share feedings with your partner or other caregivers.
It’s best not to introduce a bottle until your baby has taken well to breastfeeding and your milk supply is consistent, which might be at around 3-4 weeks.
But after this, using a breast pump will allow you to make up bottles that your partner can give to your child during a feeding session, meaning you yourself will become less tied down to your baby’s feeding schedule.
4. Look After Yourself
As any mom will tell you, one of the most natural things about parenting is to put your baby first in all aspects of what you do and think.
The trouble is, this leaves no time for you.
If mom (and dad) don’t take care of themselves that could lead to things like exhaustion, burnout, depression, stress and feeling overwhelmed, none of which are good for you, your baby or your family.
So make sure you take time to schedule in some self care when you can, especially because a little relaxation will go a long way to helping you survive the newborn phase.
5. Seek Out Convenience
Those first few weeks and months are no time to be expending effort on anything that’s either unessential or something that other people could do instead.
So look for convenient ways around having to personally do time-consuming household chores – for example by hiring a cleaner to clean your home or by doing your grocery shopping and other essential shopping online.
As the old saying goes, laughter is the best medicine.
When times are tough it can be great tactic to use humor as an escape mechanism, or more specifically to take your mind off the more serious aspects of your day.
Try to find ways to make yourself laugh, perhaps by watching your favorite comedy shows or a movie that always makes you laugh out loud.
Laughter is proven to be a great stress reliever and can sooth tension, relieve pain and improve your mood, so make sure you tap into this unexpected source of relief.
7. Get Out Of The House
Aerobic exercise can have a positive impact on depression, anxiety and your overall mood.
When you think of exercise your mind may wonder to running or cycling in the gym, but walking can also boost your mental (and physical) health and help release stress, given it helps release endorphins.
And the best part is it’s an activity you can do with your baby, either by walking with a stroller or using a baby carrier.
8. Batch Cook Meals
This one is all about efficiencies.
We all know good nutrition is important and has a big impact on how we feel, but the less time you spend in the kitchen, the more time you’ve got to do other things (including rest).
So try cooking meals in larger quantities and freezing the surplus – depending on the dish it probably won’t take you any longer to prepare a dish for two as it would a dish for six, but doing the latter will probably save you a few precious hours.
9. Embrace Technology
There’s plenty of tech out there that’s designed to make a parent’s life easier.
Once devices that is worth a mention is an under-mattress sensor pad, like the example below.
They are designed to monitor and detect even the slightest baby’s movements through the mattress, and if they don’t detect any movement for 20 seconds then an alarm sounds.
Using an under-mattress baby monitor might help you sleep better given the piece of mind that comes from knowing you’re using something that is watching over your baby while you sleep.
While no device can completely eliminate the risk of SIDS or suffocation, it’s reassuring to know there is some readily-available technology that could reduce theses risks.
Babysense Under-Mattress Baby Monitor (Amazon, $149.95)
10. Remember It’s Just A Phase
Now’s the time to remember the famous phrase, “this too shall pass”.
Nothing lasts forever, and given how quickly babies grow and develop, it won’t be long before the newborn phase is but a distant memory.
It’s hard to believe right now, but you will get your full quota of sleep back soon, your baby will soon start showing affection and being able to communicate, and your little one will move into their own room.
Just try to get through this period day by day, accept that some days will be worse than others, and don’t forget it will all be worth it in the end – something you no doubt know, but might need reminding now and again.
Whether you this is your first child or your fourth, the newborn stage is a particularly difficult time for most parents.
The lack of sleep, shock of caring for a newborn and realization that a tiny person relies on your for absolutely everything in order to survive can be extremely demanding.
But there are certain things you can do to make surviving these first few weeks or months easier, such as not neglecting your own needs, sharing the load with your partner, prioritizing what’s really important in your home and life right now, and remembering to laugh and have fun along the way.
Don’t lose hope because things will get easier before you know it.
Stay strong – you’ve got this!
Must Read: Navigating Your Child’s Early Development