10 Not-So-Common Pieces of Advice for New Moms

The worst piece of parenting advice I ever received was, “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” I tried to nap when the baby napped; I tried to go to bed when the baby went to bed. But if I sleep when the baby sleeps when do I get some “me” time? I’m all about listening to parenting advice. Sometimes it isn’t practical; but sometimes it is really helpful. Here are ten pieces of advice that I would like to pass along to other new moms, without sounding like a know-it-all:

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  1. When you’re in the hospital, ask the nurses to take the baby to the nursery for a few hours. My brother gave me this advice right before I went into labor and it was a lifesaver. I understand that rooming with your child is the best option, and I am all about it for the majority of the hospital stay. But getting a few (okay maybe one) hours of uninterrupted sleep before you take your newborn home feels amazing.
  2. Teach your baby how to fall asleep on their own before six months. I read this piece of advice in a book and it was one of our sleeping goals with our son. We were very diligent with it (even though rocking a baby to sleep is the sweetest thing ever) and he was self-soothing by three months (with the help of a sound machine).
  3. It is okay to stop breast feeding. Not many people are going to tell you this, but I will. You know what’s important? That your baby eats. It doesn’t matter if it is formula or breast milk. Eating is what is best. Period.
  4. Go to library time even when your baby is teeny tiny. You can start going to library time at your local library as soon as you baby is born, although I would wait a couple of weeks. Your child starts to learn way before they enter this world, and continue to learn every single day after that. Not only is library time beneficial for your baby, it is also the best place to meet mom friends. Plus, it’s a free mommy/daddy and me class.
  5. Get off your phones at the park. I don’t care how many other moms try to rationalize being on their phones at the park while their kids are busy playing. If you want to be on your phone, don’t take them to the park. I’m not saying you have to play with them the entire time you are there, but at least watch them and wave every once in a while. Our parents didn’t have cell phones at the park and they survived parenthood. I get it, we all need a break. I am all about putting myself in mommy time-out, but the park isn’t the place to do it. (Of course, the occasional picture is acceptable.)
  6. Giving a baby solid foods before six months is kind of a waste. Sure, it is fun to see your baby spit mashed peas out and make funny faces. But let me tell you, bottle feeding and breast feeding really are easier. We started our son at exactly six months on solids and he is a fantastic eater at almost 2 ½. He even slept through the night at four months, without the help of rice cereal/oatmeal.
  7. Get your kid off the bottle by the time they turn one. I know this is easier said than done but when our son was 11 months, we started taking one bottle away every week. By the time it was the day before his Birthday, he was drinking whole milk from a straw cup, and we never looked back. The older they get, the harder it is to take the bottle away. Plus, who actually enjoys cleaning bottles?
  8. Speaking of cups, skip the sippy. I was all about trying to get Jimmie to use a sippy cup even though he had mastered a straw cup. Sippy cups are basically bottles with different lids, just another item you’re going to have to wean your child off of. Straw cups help children develop stronger mouth muscles for speech.
  9. Give your child the food you are eating almost every single night. Even when I think our son is going to hate the meal I have prepared, I give him some (plus other options I know he will eat) just so he can try it. Sometimes, he loves our main course more than his. By now, he eats 95% of the same foods we eat, even spicy foods like Korean dishes. It is very rare that I make him something completely different than what we are eating. And if he doesn’t eat what we give him for dinner, he doesn’t get anything else. It sounds harsh, but he probably only completely refuses dinner once or twice a month because of this. Kids eat when they’re hungry.
  10. Parenting is hard. Okay this isn’t advice, it is just a fact. Not only is it physically exhausting but it is also emotionally exhausting. I bite my tongue whenever I am about to tell another parent that they grow up too fast and to enjoy these days. Because honestly, we have had many not so great days in our house. Some days, I am far from enjoying parenting. Don’t feel guilty. Just open a bottle of wine, pray for bedtime, and start again tomorrow. You’re doing great! (For every bad day, there are two good days, remember that, too.)
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2 thoughts on “10 Not-So-Common Pieces of Advice for New Moms

  1. nannygrannie says:

    This is such a REAL post, I love it! Damn, you’re good. Totally agree with your points, especially the phone obsession! I love that your kid eats what the adults eat…so much easier!

  2. Emma says:

    Thanks, Rosie! This is all solid advice! I’ll bookmark it for friends as we are done. And I want to strongly support 1), 2), and 3).

    1) Nobody gave me that advice and I was really for room-sharing and bonding, so I didn’t think it was okay to ask for baby to go to the nursery for a few hours. It is okay! I would not make the same mistake again.

    2) Yes! Depending on the child, your support network, and parenting style this is easier or harder to do. BUT getting it done, even if it’s hard, it is the best investment you will make. It will enable you to have so many things. Personal time, date nights, not to mention a well-rested infant and later toddler! Plus, it’s not right to let your baby become a cranky, tired child that can’t sleep by himself/herself. I know moms who have almost 2-year-olds who don’t nap and who wake up every two hours at night. As a result the parents are still sleep-deprived as are their “babies.”

    Also, get help with the nights. A full night’s sleep in the early days for both parents is worth a lot once in a while. You can request your family’s help if they are on board with your night time parenting practices, or hire a night nurse if you can afford it. She can even sleep-train your child for you if that’s what you need 😉

    3) Absolutely!! The amount of guilt and sadness I felt at having to switch to formula feels ridiculous now, but at the moment those feelings were there and real. I’d suggest any expecting woman should get the number of a (reasonable, that is not militantly pro-breasfeeding), local lactation consultant before giving birth. If you run into trouble, you know who to call. Also, if you are worried about weight gain in your breastfeed baby, a cheap baby scale helps. You can weigh baby after feeds and assure yourself that they are getting enough milk (one of my friends asked me to borrow mine later).

    And, I’d like to add,

    11) Understand that you and your partner are important and that your needs and wishes matter too. It’s a good idea to work out a system where you can spend some time alone out of the house by yourself and as a couple. Some time out in the world in nice clothes without interruptions where you can focus on what you want and interest you, will remind you that there is more to you than being a mommy. You are also a wife and woman. Don’t put it so far on the sidelines that you forget. I see that it’s hard to bring back.

    12) Obviously adapt your life to include age-appropriate activities and settings for your new, little family member, but also integrate your child into some adult activities where reasonable. That is, go out to restaurants as a family so that baby and toddler can learn what it means to behave appropriately in those settings. Don’t stay too long though at first, have an exit strategy, and only go when your child is in good spirits. You know your child. But the more regularly you do it, the better you and he/she will get at it and they really learn to appreciate those experiences too. That also goes for taking him/her to regular life experiences (dentist, doctor, etc.). They’ll learn tons from how we act in different social situations.

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