Even when you think you are prepared for the arrival of your little bundle of joy, think again. No one can fully prepare for what’s to come. A new baby will turn your world upside down — and not just for weeks, but for months to come.
Yes, newborns bring lots of joy and happiness to families, but the first year is as exhausting as it is exhilarating. The stress of handling your little one around the clock can be difficult for new parents alike.
“Babies can be scary for new parents because they are so small and seem so vulnerable, and parents are scared of doing anything that will harm their babies,” said Dr. Emma Raizman, a pediatrician at Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics, Medina. “Plus, babies can’t communicate with more than simple body movements and crying, so some parents may feel lost and unsure of how to feed and care for them.”
Dr. Raizman offers 5 tips to help new parents cope with the stress and worry — beyond the basic necessities of staying well hydrated, nourished and rested. So, you can spend more time on the important things, like giggling and playing with your newest family addition.
Come to terms with babies cry
No matter what, your baby is going to cry. That’s how babies communicate their needs. Babies cry for many reasons, whether it’s because they are hungry, cold, have a wet diaper or just need your attention. There are even times when babies cry for what seems like no reason at all.
“If your baby is fed, dry and warm, but is still crying, understand it’s not because you did something wrong,” said Dr. Raizman. “You are a great parent and are doing everything in your power for your baby. If the crying is upsetting you, you may need to put your baby down in a safe place and walk away for a few minutes.”
Babies come from cramped surroundings and are used to the feeling of being “hugged” all the time. That’s why most babies love to be swaddled in comfy, soft blankets. It gives them a sense of calm and security because it imitates the feeling of being back in the womb.
“Swaddling just may be your saving grace,” said Dr. Raizman. “It’s a great skill for parents to learn.”
Don’t be a superhero
It’s not unusual for mom to take charge of most, if not all, of the responsibilities when it comes to baby, especially if you’re breast-feeding. But, it’s important your partner shares in the duties so he can bond with baby, too — and you can get a well-deserved break. Plus, he’ll gain confidence in caring for the baby through his many experiences.
Also, be sure to accept help from family members and friends with errands, grocery shopping and household chores. It will help make the transition from pregnancy to parenthood much smoother.
Maintain perspective and patience
Most parents tend to get caught up in all the stresses of a new baby, but the most important thing is to remain calm and breathe. Babies are sensitive to their parents’ distress.
Try to keep things in perspective. Remember, this phase too shall pass. Sometimes talking to your partner, family members, a pediatrician or even attending a support group can help you de-stress and remind you you’re not alone.
“There is more than 1 way to parent a baby, and what works for one family may not necessarily work for yours,” said Dr. Raizman. “Step back and realize you’re doing a great job!”
Rescue your pre-baby life
“Babies tend to take up 100 percent of a parent’s energy, and sometimes we as parents tend to lose ourselves in our infants,” said Dr. Raizman.
She suggests when your baby gets a little older, plan a girls’ lunch or a date night with your partner so you can reconnect with yourself and your loved ones. Even though it may be hard to leave baby behind, it’s important to restore balance in your life. That way, you’ll come back feeling refreshed and ready to tackle baby’s daily challenges.
Learn more about Akron Children’s COVID-19 response and resources available for families.