As a first time mum you stress about everything, from the day you see those two pink lines you start stressing out about the financial stuff, the breastfeeding, the hospital bag. It is all constantly in your mind. That is definitely not a bad thing and it is completely normal. Then you actually give birth and your whole world is upside down and you worry even more (at least I was).
I remember worrying about every single thing, I remember calling the doctor for the most common things (better be safe right?) and here I am the second time around realising that having a newborn/baby is hard but not as hard as I thought it was. And the main reason it was that hard the first time around was because of all that pressure I was putting on myself regarding everything.
Here are some examples of things that I now know that I shouldn’t have worried about and also some things that I shouldn’t or should have done:
Don’t wake a sleeping baby – with George I was so focused on him having a schedule or eating on the same time every day that I would actually go and wake him up. This then led to a grumpy baby (of course!) which then led to him not wanting to eat and getting overtired until his next sleep. I rarely wake Olivia up and if I do is because I HAVE TO go somewhere and I have to take her with me.
Let your baby sleep with noise – I know it’s difficult especially when your baby is not a fan of sleep. George had a lot of stomach pain in the first few weeks which resulted in him not sleeping well, so when he did I would do anything for him to stay asleep. And for the longest time he wasn’t able to sleep with noise, until we bought a noise machine which really helped.
Have a routine – Start as early as possible and establish a night-time routine and avoid making it too long or too complicated. I remember with my son I would have an hour-long routine and this was just too much especially as he got older as part of the routine was me rocking him to sleep. My daughter’s bedtime routine consists of a warm bath, applying body lotion with baby massage, wearing her pyjamas, comforting her and laying her down for her bottle (I will be adding a story time to the routine soon). She loves the routine and actually calms down and it’s a routine I can do or my husband can do.
It’s okay to break the routine – It’s important to have a routine with your baby, especially a bed time routine (I cannot stress this out enough!) but it’s also okay to break that routine every once in a while if needed! Let’s say you have a family wedding at night, just go! They will sleep in the stroller and their routine won’t break. It takes generally at least 7 days to change a routine and sometimes even more therefore you will not change the routine by breaking it one time.
Co-sleeping – I am not against co-sleeping but it’s not something I generally do. I will sleep with my son or daughter if they are sick or if I know they need me to (I briefly mentioned it here: Boundaries are meant to be broken?) but I much prefer for them to have their own space. I do however have a cot next to my bed up until they are around 6 months or they start to kind of sleep through the night. This time around though I am not worrying that she will get used to it if we co-sleep every once in a while!
An early bedtime routine – With my son it took my about 3 months to actually get him to sleep before 9 o’clock at night, which is not bad I know! But for me it’s important that they get a good night sleep and I get some time to myself. Some may find this selfish or I don’t know what else but for me it’s important. It helps me have everything (or at least most of the things) under control and it keeps me happy. A happy mum means a happy baby! This time around we have a bedtime routine which starts at 7 o’clock at the latest and Olivia is sleeping by 7:30 and then George will go to bed by 8:30 most of the times. For me this works perfectly!
Plan in advance – With my son I would cook every single day his baby food and then offer it to him. I don’t really mind doing it but having a backup plan lifts a huge weight off my shoulders. With my daughter I now have prepared baby food in advance and stored it in the freezer, ready to go whenever I need it (you can read how to do it here: “Starting solids: preparation“)
If they are hungry they will eat – I so wish I wouldn’t worry about this so much, I still do with my second baby but not to the point I did then! There are so many reasons why a baby may not want to eat as much on that day, maybe it’s too warm, maybe their teeth are hurting them, etc. But if they are hungry they will eat sooner or later. Often Olivia will refuse her bottle or will drink just part of it but then after half an hour she will drink the rest of it and that is why there is no reason to stress about their eating, if of course they are growing as they should.
CARRYING YOUR BABY
Do carry your baby – It’s really bothering me just thinking about it. People always like to tell you that you shouldn’t hold your baby all the time or they will get used to it. I believe there is a balance in everything and did you actually know that by carrying your baby you encourage him/her to trust you. We weren’t holding our son as much as we wanted so that “he wouldn’t get use to it” and it actually took him so long to accept cuddles. Maybe it has nothing to do with that or maybe it has everything to do with that. This time around we are holding our daughter whenever she needs it without even thinking twice and she is super cuddly!
Baby carriers are not only for outside – My son wasn’t a huge fan of baby carriers in general to be honest but I always had that idea in my head that baby carriers are just for outside. And I was so wrong! You have a grumpy baby and a huge “to do” list of things around the house that you need to tackle? baby carrier saves the day! Your hands are free, your baby is happy (as happy as he/she can be) and your to do list is getting done.
Make time for the important things – The first couple of months the pediatrician suggests some exercises that will help with your baby’s movement development and somehow I only did them a few times with my son. The only thing I had to do is make the time to do them. This time around I was determined to do them, and I did. I did them after her bath time. Another example here is tummy time. My son hated it at first and I had that as an excuse and never really had him have a tummy time up until he was no longer fussy about it. My daughter hated it as well but we were doing it a few minutes more every day and she now loves it.
DO NOT STRESS
Development – Keep in mind that every baby is different and every baby will develop at its own pace. Don’t stress about it too much, if you do you will probably end up forcing your baby to learn something they are not ready for. This will probably end up with you being frustrated and your baby sad for no actual reason.
It’s okay for your baby to be bored – Actually it is beneficial for your baby to be bored. Babies/toddlers will try to entertain themselves when they are bored and this will actually help their development and later on their independence. Leave your baby with some toys to play while you tackle your housework, you will be amazed for how long they can actually entertain themselves.
You are the one setting the time – In literally everything! You, as a parent, are the only person that knows when it’s the right timing for everything. This can be anything from starting solids, to moving them from a bassinet to a crib, or moving them in their own bedroom. People love deadlines and they love setting them around babies as well, for example they will tell you that you have to take your baby in their room by the age of 6 months otherwise they will get used to being in the same room with you and it will be harder, etc. For me, one thing I learned, probably the hard way is that YOU and only you know when your baby is ready for everything! So just listen to yourself instead of everyone else.
In parenthood there is nothing wrong and nothing right – Same as mentioned above, you are the one setting the rules. You know what is right for you and your baby. This can be simple things such as co-sleeping to a lot more complicated things such as breastfeeding / birth plan etc. Every parent is doing what is right for them and their baby (at least most of them do!) and that is a good thing, we are all different and we all have different needs and trying to find the right way for everything would actually be pointless.
Start talking more with your baby – I remember reading an article about this when my son was born but I never really did it, especially when he was a baby. I would of course talk to him but I wouldn’t really put an effort in talking with him more, it just felt weird to be honest. This time I try to talk to my daughter and explain to her a lot of things like bath time, diaper change etc. This will help her language development later on.
This the list of the things I wish I knew/did with my first-born. They are simple things but they do cause a lot of stress, especially to a new mom. What are some of the things you are doing differently or will be doing differently with your second child?