I felt completely overwhelmed, and terrified that I would fail miserably at parenting. I mean… what did I know about taking care of a baby!?
Parenting is the most incredible, yet challenging journey you will ever embark on. Motherhood, especially for the first-time, comes with a lot of questions. But where do you turn to for advice? It doesn’t take long to realize that there aren’t any definitive answers. In fact, you’ll probably think you have a plan, but once your baby comes along, I guarantee that plan will go right out the window!
I’ve been there. I’m a total Type-A, must-have-a-plan-for-everything kind of gal. Two kids and many lessons later, I’m still learning and I’m definitely no expert. But, I’ve learned a lot that I can share, and so this post was designed with you in mind, mama! Full of tips and helpful advice, this post will help guide you as you prepare for your new baby.
Your Ultimate New Mom Survival Guide
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I spent most of my time scouring the internet, trying to compile every bit of info that would tell me how to raise this little human growing inside me. I was determined to have a little manual all ready to go so I could be completely prepared for her birth and first year at home (haha, yeah I got a lot of laughs when I told people that, too).
It was SO overwhelming, and I had to search far and wide for the answers to my questions. Although I did find a lot of helpful info, little did I know that my own baby would be the greatest teacher I could ever have. What I also learned, is that there is one common, simple truth to describe all mothers everywhere: none of us really know what we’re doing.
Why do I say this? Because I’ve talked to many new moms who tell me they’re feeling discouraged and alone because they have no clue how to do it “right”. I mean, I felt that way too. You have to realize that every mother is in the same boat at one time or another. But, we survive, we adapt, and we learn from our experiences.
I love to organize, plan and research everything. So, finding the best time + money + energy saving hacks comes with the territory. Along with the things I’ve learned as a parent, I’m also here to share my favorite resources that helped me survive along the way. I’m hoping they will help you too!
Whether you’re a new mom looking for tips, or a mom doing this newborn thing all over again – this post is to help you with the basics of preparing for your baby when you feel like you don’t know where to start. I created this guide to help save as much time and stress for you as possible. I’m so glad you’re here!
Knowing What Advice to Listen To
All the information you come across will do one of two things. Either it will help solve your problem, or make you cringe. Go just with your gut. Yes, even if all the people and all the books are telling you to let your baby scream in the car seat because they “have to get used to it”, but your gut says it’s not right, listen to your instincts!!
My son did this a couple times, and I later figured out that it was because he was way too hot in his car seat. He would get absolutely drenched in sweat from a 10 minute drive… in the middle of the winter! He wasn’t crying “because he’s just being a baby.”
I’ve actually been told that more times than I can count.
He was crying because he had a problem that he needed help with. My husband and I decided that our best option in this case was to get him a new seat, and just like that, our car rides became much happier overnight. And while this may seem like an obvious solution, the same approach can be taken in any other situation as well.
There were so many days when my daughter was a newborn, where I’d hear her scream as soon as she was on the change table. My husband of course (through no fault of his own) was there to get a job done and knew it would only take a minute – baby could wait. But from all the way down the hall, my internal alarm bells were ringing!
That’s a PAIN cry, help her!
As moms we have this incredible innate voice telling us when something is not right with our babies. You will quickly learn to understand that little person more than anyone else in the world. Ladies, this includes the men in your lives. I’m not saying they can’t do an incredible job raising our babies, it’s just that they are physically hardwired differently. And if you gave birth to that sweet little baby, or are their primary caregiver, you have this special bond with your baby that no one else has… and YOU are their advocate! So don’t doubt yourself. Even if no one else agrees.
Every mom is different. Every baby is different. What works for one family may not work for yours, and vice versa. Stick with the advice that works, and toss the rest. Listening to your baby’s cues and your gut is a pretty amazing tool that you should definitely trust.
I just couldn’t ignore her cries. I picked her up and put her over my shoulder. Instantly, a huge burp came out, and she was completely happy again. We figured out pretty quickly that my daughter needed to be burped before laying down (as most babies do), and that taught us to avoid the issue on the change table. It was a learning experience that boosted my confidence as a mother, and in my ability to understand my baby. It also really helped me get to know the different types of cries she had. And yes, that’s definitely a thing!
The 11 Most Important Things To Do To Prepare for Baby
1. Don’t Get Trapped by Mom Guilt
Mom guilt can be relentless. All we want is the best for our children, but we are going to make mistakes, misread cues, forget to do things, etc (we’re only human, after all!). Don’t let yourself get trapped in the mindset that you aren’t good enough, smart enough, or strong enough.
That’s a LIE. You ARE strong. You ARE capable. Most of all, YOU are the person your baby loves more than anyone else in this world! And you got this.
Make mistakes, but learn from them! Your baby will forgive you. If you fall, get right back up and keep your head high. Not only is this so important for your mental health, but also, remember that you have little eyes looking up at you that will one day follow your example. Show them they’re capable by modelling that behaviour.
And besides, that’s what firstborns are for, right? (I say that because I am one)
2. Have a Support System and Be Open to Advice
There are very likely many motherly figures in your life. Your mom, grandmother, aunt, sister, friend – whoever it may be. They’ve been down this road before! A few times, even. If you trust them, ask them for their opinion! Tell them your concerns and see what they say. You might find their advice to be extremely helpful! Or, you might decide their advice isn’t for you… which is perfectly fine. Just remember that if your plan doesn’t work and you need a Plan B, it’s nice to have other options in your back pocket.
Thankfully, I have wonderful mothers in my life to help offer advice or lend an ear when I needed it. That helped SO much! If you are fortunate enough to have this, make sure you take advantage of that. If not, build relationships and make connections with people who can be your support system. You will also need a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, someone to make you a meal, or even just someone to cuddle baby so you can have a little break.
Having a support system in place so others can help build you up when you’re feeling down is something that should not be overlooked. Your health is so important!
3. Don’t Overdo It
Before my daughter was born, I knew I already wanted the best for her. In my mind, that meant having all the things, with all the bells and whistles. I didn’t want her to go without, and my husband and I were thankfully in a position where we both had a reliable, full-time income. I’m not exaggerating when I say I went a bit overboard and bought way more than we needed. I’m talking, two different nursing pillows, multiple baby carriers, outfits for DAYS, etc.
Did we really need all that stuff? No, and since then we’ve actually sold or donated a TON of it. It caused unnecessary stress, drained our bank account, and cluttered up our house. You don’t need it all. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
4. Stock Up on the Essentials
Okay this might sound like a contradiction, but there are some things you WILL need, and in large quantities. It’s pretty much impossible to know exactly what your baby will need or use before they’re born. Even something that seems simple – like clothing – shouldn’t be purchased in large quantities before you get to know baby. I remember thinking my babies would be small because its genetic on both sides of the family. Even my midwife told me she would be surprised if baby was over 8lbs. But, low and behold, both my babies were over 8.5 lbs at birth and didn’t fit into newborn clothes for long!
I had stocked up on a TON of newborn sized clothes for my daughter, in every piece imaginable, and she probably only fit into them for 3 weeks tops. There were outfits she wore once and some she didn’t wear at all. That was a tough pill to swallow, but a lesson learned for sure.
The same goes for other baby products, like bottles. Some babies will end up bottle feeding from day one, and probably not have a bottle preference. Some babies however, will not. take. a. bottle. ever. (eg: my daughter). I bought 4 or 5 different kinds of bottles in hopes that she would drink from the new one, and it never happened!
So when you’re stocking up on the “essentials”, make sure they’re really necessary. Like, something baby absolutely needs in order to grow and thrive.