Having a newborn living in your home for the first time is exciting. However, it can be extremely stressful for first-time parents.
Not only will you be under a lot of stress for the first few months, but you’ll also find that there’s little time for yourself and your partner. Dealing with stress in a healthy manner will ensure you are healthy enough to take care of your baby (mentally and physically).
Here are 14 tips for how to deal with the stress of a new baby:
1. Share the Responsibility
Whether you’re a single parent, married or co-parenting, you shouldn’t bear all the responsibilities of raising your baby alone. As any parent will tell you, caring for a newborn is physically and emotionally draining, and a lot for any single person to take on.
Taking on too much makes it impossible to relax.
If you’re married or co-parenting, make sure your partner is carrying their share of the work. From changing diapers to preparing food and simply just watching the baby, split everything as equally as possible. Otherwise, you’ll end up resenting them for not doing their part, and you’ll stress yourself out even more.
Even if you’re a single parent, it doesn’t mean you’re alone. Reach out to friends and family to help out. A lot of parents don’t ask for help because they feel like they’re being a “burden” to others.
However, your true friends and family will be more than happy to help in any way they can. You just have to let them know your situation and ask for a hand.
The key to raising a healthy, happy baby is being happy. When newborns sense that their parents are stressed, they will become restless and agitated.
2. Take Time For Yourself
Taking care of a newborn is an around-the-clock job. For the first few days and possibly weeks, your newborn will wake up crying on a regular basis. This means that you will be up every time the baby is, leaving you very little time for sleep.
Taking turns with your partner will definitely help take the edge off. If you have someone who is responsible and trustworthy willing to care for your infant for only a few hours, you should not hesitate to take them up on the offer.
Doing so will give you time to spend doing something for yourself. During these times, you should consider getting your hair done, go to a spa or attend an invent, such as a wedding or birthday party.
A big misconception is that having a newborn baby means you have to completely lose your personal/social life. While you’ll definitely sacrifice some things, you don’t have to completely cut off your “me time”.
3. Set Up A Feeding Schedule
Regardless of whether you have chosen to breastfeed or bottle feed, you will need to create a doable feeding schedule. Being prepared in advance for feedings will help you out a lot.
In fact, it will help prepare your mind and body for those late-night feedings, which can be the worse. Most newborns require feedings every two hours, so set your schedule accordingly.
We suggest using this Baby tracker journal. You can use it to write down when you feed your baby, poop times and anything else you want to track. Not only will this help you monitor how often your baby is eating, but it makes it easier to spot irregularities.
4. Prepare Bottles In Advance
Again, it truly does not matter if you are going to be breastfeeding or bottle feeding, your baby will require a feeding about every two hours.
If you have chosen to bottle feed your infant, you should prepare enough bottles of milk to last over a 24-hour period.
If you plan on feeding your infant every two hours, you will need at least 12 bottles of milk. So, when your infant wakes up hungry, you will just need to retrieve the bottle from the fridge and place it in warm water. Once the milk warms up, you will be fully ready to feed your infant.
Prepping bottles ahead of time eliminates the stress of rushing to do it at the last minute. Nothing’s more stressful than trying to prepare a bottle with your newborn crying in the background. The added pressure of knowing they’re hungry only makes you more anxious and stressed out.
5. Sleep Whenever Possible
Working around the clock to keep your newborn fed and dry is grueling. You’ll be lucky if you get 3-4 hours of continuous sleep. And, you’re like most first-time parents, you may spend several hours worrying about your child after you put him/her down.
If at all possible, you should try to sleep when your infant is sleeping. Of course, if you have other children this might not be possible.
If a grandparent, friend or other family member volunteers to watch your newborn for a few hours, you should consider taking them up on the offer. Take this time to get some shut-eye.
6. Learn How To Meditate
Not every parent has someone who is willing to help them care for their newborn. In this case, the parent is responsible for everything, including feedings, diaper changes, laundry, house cleaning and baths.
Most first-time parents are not fully prepared for the responsibilities that go along with caring for a newborn. And, things only become more stressful, when there is no one there to help.
Learning how to meditate will definitely play in your favor. This method has shown to help people deal with stress. You do not need to do anything special, just breath in through your nose, out your mouth and relax.
7. Parenting Classes
Many hospitals, churches and midwifery organizations will offer free classes for first-time and other parents. These parenting classes not only provide information about caring for a newborn, but also offer hands-on experiences.
For instance, one class may teach parents how to properly diaper a newborn, while another may show parents how to properly wrap a newborn in a blanket. These classes are extremely helpful for all parents, regardless of how many children you have.
8. Go For Walks
Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress. However, it’s hard to find time to go to the gym when you have a newborn baby. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still get in some physical activity during the day.
Before your infant is born, you should consider investing in a stroller designed specifically for newborns. Even when your newborn is only a few days old, you can take him/her for a walk. Just gently place the baby in the stroller, strap him/her in and off you go to the park. If you don’t have time for a visit to the park, you can stroll the infant around the block or just up and down the road a few times.
These physical activities will play a huge role in keeping you and your infant healthy and happy. It’s also a good time to get some peace. As you walk with your baby, breathe in the fresh air and clear your mind a bit. It’ll make you feel better physically and mentally.
9. Join Parenting Groups
There are self-help groups for just about everything, including parental guidance. These groups provide parents with valuable information that will help them care for their infant properly.
In addition to this, these groups bridge the gap between parents who are experiencing stress. During the meetings, you will have the time to introduce yourself and explain your situation and your feelings. Other attendees will do the same thing. So, you know you are not alone.
You can find parenting groups through churches, Facebook or sites like Meetup.com.
10. Always Take A Time Out
Most newborns are very content in sleeping, with feedings and diaper changes in between. Other parents are not this lucky, because they will have an infant that is very demanding. Dealing with a demanding infant can be stressful.
In fact, it can be so stressful that the parents will feel like pulling their hair out. Instead of allowing your stress to control your emotions, you should take timeouts. Even if the timeout only lasts for a few minutes, it will give you enough time to recollect yourself and prepare for the next phase.
11. Don’t Think of it as a Chore
One of the biggest makes parents make is comparing the care of their child with a chore. Of course, you will be working around the clock to provide proper care for your child, but this should never be classified as a chore.
A baby is a wonderful addition to any household. And, this addition will mean a lot of extra responsibilities, but these are not chores.
“Chores” have a negative connotation. They’re tasks you “have to do” in order to get them over with. And if given the choice, most people would rather not do chores.
Instead, you should think of caring for your baby as an opportunity to ensure they grow up happy and healthy.
We know, it’s hard to think of cleaning up your baby’s diarrhea as a beautiful opportunity. But the point is, if you stop looking at your newborn as a chore, you’ll be much less stressed when it comes to caring for them.
Vacuuming your carpets, washing your dishes and doing laundry are chores, not caring for an infant.
12. Leave Time For Bonding
It is a fact that many parents, especially mothers, are so caught up in caring for their newborns that they leave little time for bonding.
Bonding is extremely important, as it allows the parent and newborn to form a special bond, one that will last a lifetime. The best time for bonding is during feedings.
You should wrap your infant in your arms, position them to prevent aspirating and enjoy these moments. You can use a nursing scarf as well if you’re in a public area. This is always a great time to show your infant how much you love her/him.
13. Stop Comparing Yourself to Social Media Moms
One of the most stressful parts of having a newborn is getting stuck playing the comparison game. Browsing through Instagram looking at photos of new mom’s cuddled with their babies happy and joyous, while you’re experiencing a scene from Ali Wong’s standup routine is demoralizing.
You need to keep in mind that those photos you see on Instagram are typically staged, and don’t represent what that new mom is actually going through on a daily basis.
If you can’t help but browse Instagram during those short 2 minutes of freedom you get throughout the day, check out some of these moms who show a more realistic look at what parenting is like.
14. Think Of The Future
Yes, your responsibilities are many and your stress level is at its highest. However, you should take the time to think about your future with your child. Your child will not always be a newborn.
There will come a time, when they’re capable of running all over your home, getting into everything they can get their hands on. If you think you have it bad now, just wait until you are spending most of your day running around the house trying to keep your child from getting injured.
Enjoy these moments and always think about what tomorrow will bring.
Dealing With the Stress of a New Baby Isn’t Easy
We’re not going to lie and tell you that raising a new baby is all rainbows and sunshine. It’s stressful, exhausting and at some points, you’ll find yourself feeling completely defeated. But the upside is you’re raising a baby that will grow up to be a functioning member of society. And the bond between a parent and their child is extremely powerful, which makes all those sleepless nights worth it.
As any loving parent about their experience raising their baby and they’ll tell you it was hard as hell but they wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
Do you have any tips on how to deal with the stress of a new baby? Let us know!