7 Tips for Surviving the Newborn Stage
This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
The newborn stage is hard and wonderful and challenging and exhausting. There’s nothing quite like it.
I have a love-hate relationship with the newborn phase.
I love having a squishy new baby and all the joy that comes with it…but I do not enjoy navigating all the changes that come with it while being simultaneously sleep deprived.
The newborn stage is just plain hard, but especially so the first time you go through it.
It is like your entire world gets flipped on its head.
You may feel like you’ve made a mistake, but that is just because you’re doing one of the hardest things you’ve ever done.
Things will get easier and you will get better at this mom gig.
In the meantime, here are some really helpful tips to help you get through.
How Long is the Newborn Stage?
I recently watched a Q&A Youtube video where someone had sent in the question, “When does the newborn phase get easier?”.
I laughed when I heard it, only because I remember thinking the exact same thing when I had my first.
The Youtuber answered the question in exactly the same way as I would have.
With empathy she replied, “When it is over”.
And it is true. The entire newborn stage is just tough.
So, when does it end?
Well, the World Health Organization defines a newborn being under the age of 28 days while many other people consider babies to be newborns from 0-2 months.
Personally, I consider my babies in the newborn stage until they’re about 3-months old.
In my experience, the newborn first month is the most challenging, but the second month can also come with its hurdles.
The first three months are just packed full of growth spurts and you yourself are still recovering.
I recommend that you expect the newborn stage to last three months. That way if it gets easier before then, it’ll be a pleasant surprise.
Other Helpful Posts…
7 Tips to Surviving the Newborn Stage
Here are the tips that you really need. Things you can implement to make the challenging time of introducing new life into the world just a little bit easier.
But please remember that if you’re struggling, it isn’t because you’re doing anything wrong. It is just that hard, but it will get easier.
#1 Prepare Ahead of Time
One of the best things you can do before your baby arrives is to get organized for the postpartum stage.
Being prepared isn’t all about packing your hospital bag and filling your baby’s closet with gorgeous outfits (although those are important).
There are other ways you should also prepare that will absolutely make life easier once your newborn has arrived.
You can find all of my checklists for preparing for the birth of your baby in my Ultimate Collection of Checklists for Pre + Post Baby.
1. Create Systems to Stay Organized
If you don’t have a particularly structured home system then now is the time to start putting one in place.
Simple things like doing the dishes and making sure clothes get washed become really challenging once you throw a newborn into the mix.
Plus, there will be so much more laundry…trust me on this one.
Start thinking about how you’re going to keep on top of things. Try not to let the thought of it all overwhelm you.
Instead, focus on what is practical and achievable.
Perhaps one load of washing a day and one load of dishes in the dishwasher?
If you’re really clueless about all this stuff and just want a helping hand, then you’re definitely going to want to check out this amazing home organization and routine bundle deal.
Hillary from Pulling Curls does an amazing job of teaching you how to organize and simplify both your home and your chores so that you can get the most out of your day without losing your mind in the process.
Check the bundle out HERE.
2. Have a List of Go-to Ideas
The next thing you can do to prepare may take a little research but it involves making a list of go-to ideas and strategies for when plan A or B just aren’t working.
I’m mostly referring to feeding your baby and getting them to sleep.
You can also find a great list of tips for getting your baby to sleep in this post.
3. Frozen Meals Or A Subscription Service
Eating well yourself and making sure your family is doing the same can be a challenge during the postpartum period.
Before my first child was born, I spent a few days cooking up meals to put in the freezer. It was absolutely wonderful to have those meals readily available once my son had arrived.
They were wholesome and filling and therefore perfect for my family.
I didn’t have the freezer space to put away meals when I was expecting my second child, but some wonderful friends (more like family) of ours offered us two weeks worth of meals as a gift. It was the BEST thing ever!
We went online to eat.co.nz and we were able to choose which dates we wanted the meals sent and which menu suited us.
The meals arrived at the beginning of the week and could either be put into the fridge or frozen. All we had to do was heat them in the microwave when we wanted them.
However, they weren’t like microwave meals at all. Instead, it was like having a home cooked meal every night. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
If your family and friends aren’t sure what to get you as a gift, it would be worthwhile suggesting they pool together and shout you a week or two of meals. 🙂
#2 Start as You Mean to Go On
This is a concept found in the Babywise series and it is one that I have found to be very wise.
Yes, there are certain things that you’re going to have to do in order to just get through the day (or night).
However, for the most part, you really want to focus on making sure that the things you are making into habits now are things that you are happy to continue going forward.
There is DEFINITELY room for grace, but it needs to be balanced with reality.
I have snuggled all three of my children when they were tiny newborns. I held them as much as I could.
However, I still worked on independent sleep skills because I knew that it wasn’t realistic for me to have to rock them to sleep for every nap.
#3 Work on Sleep
Speaking of sleep, let’s talk a bit about that.
You will get all sorts of advice about this topic as you edge closer towards the birth of your baby.
Take what you want and ignore the rest. There is not one right way to do things so don’t feel as though you have to take on board everything that you are told.
However, I will say that the one thing that I DO NOT regret doing is working on sleep right from the very beginning.
That’s right, during the newborn stage I started sleep training my babies.
Not in the way you may typically associate sleep training (left alone crying for hours), but in a gentle, nudging sort of way.
It was more about not allowing certain habits to form so that we wouldn’t have to break those habits down the line.
You’ll find this post about the newborn sleep hierarchy incredibly helpful when it comes to balancing teaching independent sleep skills with showing grace.
Don’t let the whole concept of working on sleep skills right from the early stages overwhelm you.
Things can be taught and habits can be broken later down the road, but it does tend to make everything a lot easier the earlier you begin.
#4 Accept Help & Support
Whether you are a first-time mum or a mother many times over accepting help is always important.
I think it does come down to certain personality types but I’m going to generalise here and say that we as women tend to take far too much upon ourselves.
If there is any time to readily accept help, it is when you become a mother. There is some deep truth in that old phrase:
It takes a village to raise a child.
There is no shame in accepting help and you will be a better mother for it. The job of raising a child is both a wonderful and a huge undertaking.
There are times when the worry can be overwhelming. Allow others to share the responsibility with you and I assure you that the job will be made lighter.
Part of accepting help can mean asking for it.
This is fairly important to do before your child arrives. Sleep deprivation and hormones that are all over the place don’t often lead to clear thought processes and conversations.
Before your new addition arrives, sit down with your significant other and decide who is doing what.
Obviously, some things will cross over, but you can still have certain things assigned to each person.
For instance, when my second child was born, my husband assumed the majority of the care of our toddler son for the first several weeks while I was recovering and caring for our daughter.
He also stayed up late with her if she was unsettled so that I could get to bed earlier. Then, I was the one that got up to her during the night.
If you can decide who is going to be responsible for what before your child arrives it will lead to far fewer disagreements based on presumptions and sometimes unrealistic expectations.
#5 Share Your Emotions
We as women have a tendency to bottle things up.
Society pushes this idea of strong women upon us and we believe the lie that being a strong woman means that we can do everything, be everything, all. of. the. time.
That is not true.
Not only is it impossible for you to do and be everything, you also don’t need to.
It is okay to be tired and weak and just sad.
Without even broaching baby blues and postpartum depression, you’re still going to have all kinds of crazy emotions as you adjust to motherhood.
It doesn’t matter how many babies you’ve had, your body still goes through some massive changes and your emotions are gonna get rattled.
But especially as a brand new mama, your world is going to be flipped on its head.
Do not feel as though you have to keep those feelings all to yourself. They will bottle up and overwhelm you.
The very best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to be honest and communicate your feelings in a healthy way.
#6 Prioritise Chores + Lower Your Expectations
Mama, lower your expectations…and then lower them again.
At least for the first 6 weeks or so anyway.
After having both my babies I focused on accomplishing only a couple chores a day. They were the chores that were necessary for keeping the household going.
I tried to do one load of laundry and get the dishes done. As long as there were clean clothes to wear and clean dishes to eat from, we were alright.
I didn’t care about what the rest of the house looked like or if the sheets had been changed.
Eventually, as you settle into life with your new addition, you’ll be able to take on more and your house will be somewhat manageable again.
In the meantime, do yourself a BIG favour and let the other things go.
Those newborn days are fast and fleeting. Take whatever moments you can to curl up with your tiny babe in your arms. You will never regret it.
#7 Set Up A Chore/Cleaning System
During your pregnancy, I would urge you to develop a simplified cleaning routine. I came up with THIS one and am still using it 8 months postpartum.
It has had a huge impact on how well the household runs. I have actually already got a free printable for you to download so you can easily make one for yourself.
Just click on the image to be taken to the post where you’ll find the free printable.
As always, I’m very open to learning more, so please share with me the things that helped you out the most postpartum. 🙂
How to Take Care of Your Health During the Newborn Stage
Taking care of yourself will play a big part in your postpartum experience.
If you are worn down and miserable, you’re going to struggle to find joy in your everyday experiences.
Taking care of yourself is absolutely vital and one of the very best things you can do for your new baby.
Here are my tips for how to take care of yourself during the postpartum and newborn stage.
#1 Meal Plan
I have been meal planning for years and I can tell you that every single time I get lazy with it, our eating habits turn nasty.
Setting up a meal plan is actually super simple and will make life so much easier when you have a newborn.
You’re going to need as much on autopilot as possible, so being able to just look at your calendar and have it tell you what is for dinner that night is something you seriously want to consider.
#2 Have Healthy Snacks
It is difficult to sit down and have an uninterrupted meal when you’re a new mom (or just a mom in general).
Having healthy snacks around is going to be a big help when it comes to keeping your nutrition levels up.
This is obviously especially important if you’re breastfeeding as what and how much you eat is going to directly impact your breastmilk production.
Look on Pinterest for some snack ideas for moms and I bet you’ll find a ton to save and refer to later.
#3 Rest as Much as Possible
When you become a mother there is a never-ending battle in your mind between the want to sleep and the want for some time alone.
I get it. I really do.
However, the newborn phase and sleep deprivation are for such a short time. Before you know it your baby will be in a solid routine and giving you a full night of sleep again.
You can read about one of the tools that helped us to achieve this result with both of our children HERE.
Getting a healthy amount of rest is not only healthy for you but will, in turn, allow you to be a better mother to your child.
I recently read here that every hour you sleep before midnight is worth two afterwards.
When my babies are in that newborn phase I try to make it to bed by 9 pm at the latest.
My husband was a gem and would give them a dream feed so that I could get a good 4-5 hour stretch in before they needed me again.
Once my babies were sleeping through from the dream feed till morning (which was around 9-10 weeks for both), I would then allow myself to stay up a bit later.
#4 Stay Active
In contrast to resting is the importance of staying active.
I’m sharing this tip with a word of caution. Do not try and be super active too soon.
I know that for me, a simple trip into town to pick up a couple of basic things was enough to tire me out at the beginning.
Take your time to ease back into being active, but do try to work towards that goal.
Getting outside and taking a short walk with your baby will do you a whole lot of good!
It was often my go-to when my newborns just wouldn’t settle and I had tried everything else.
#5 Take Care of the Basics (like having a shower!)
This is strong language for me, but I hate the whole idea that moms not being able to fit in a shower is normal, even praised.
No, just no.
Taking a shower is one of the most basic things to do when it comes to taking care of yourself.
Have someone watch the baby, or put your baby in a bouncer and take them into the bathroom with you if you have to.
Make it a priority to take care of your personal hygiene, especially in those early postpartum days.
If you do not make an effort to be taking care of yourself now, I can assure you that it will become even harder to do so the longer you let it go.
Sure, the newborn stage ends, but children are still hard work. They will always want your attention so start getting into the habit of making just a little time for basic care right from the start.
#6 Dress Up a Little
This one is entirely optional and totally depends on your unique feelings and personality.
For me, I always liked to wear something comfy but cute and put on a little make up when I was in the postpartum phase.
That leftover loose skin and general frumpy feeling was really hard to overcome.
By dressing up just a little bit, I felt a lot more human and attractive.
But don’t feel as though you have to do this. Like I said, it is entirely optional.
#7 Get the Social Interaction You Need
Motherhood can be really lonely.
It is totally okay and normal to long for some adult interactions and conversations.
Whenever you can, take the time to seek out your friends and spend a little time with them.
It is amazing how refreshing it can be!
I know that there were times when I was just overwhelmed with mom life, but after spending time with friends, those problems didn’t seem quite so big and scary anymore.
#8 Take Time for Yourself
Whatever it takes to make you feel human and whole…do it.
Whether that be an hour at the library, time with friends, or a date at the coffee shop.
It doesn’t have to be elaborate.
Take time for yourself, mama. This whole newborn stage is full on and if it is your first time, you will likely feel like your whole world has changed.
It is okay to need a minute to just step back and not have to feel “needed” for just a little while.