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"Do whatever works" and other new-mom advice to which I wish I'd listened

mom-baby-kissingI was in the office when we were filming the video for the Everywear baby carrier and couldn't help but walk down memory lane to when my daughter was just born and I was in the shock and awe period of becoming a new mom. Everything seemed daunting -- from feeding to getting her to sleep for more than 29 minutes (her standard length of uninterrupted sleep until she was four months old).

I heard a lot of advice from fellow moms, friends, online message boards, my mom, my mom in-law.... if you've been a new mom you know it just comes pouring in. And while I listened to some of it (get outside every day if possible because it will be good for your baby and your sanity), I ignored a lot of it as well. I'm pretty sure I did this not because I'm stubborn (OK, I am stubborn, but that's a separate topic) but because I was completely overwhelmed.

There are two pieces of advice I wish I'd listened to better and they are the same bits of advice I now share with friends who are about to have kids for the first time. The first is: "And this will pass." Eventually, your baby will start sleeping or eating or not crying, you will once again feel more like a human being and be able to take a shower for longer than a few seconds. My daughter is now almost five (wow) and I can still remember losing my mind over the fact that she was not eating anything besides Cheerios when she was one; she's now in the 80th percentile for height and weight and eats just fine.

The second is: "Do whatever works for you and your baby." When my daughter was just a few weeks old she cried non-stop and the only way to calm her down was to put her in the baby carrier we had a the time or in the bouncy chair, and rock her, continuously.  We'd do this but I remember constantly worrying about whether we're getting her addicted to being calmed down this way. I am smiling now as I write this because this was just so silly -- with young babies you do whatever works to help you stay sane and to help your baby sleep.

What's your favorite bit of new mom advice?


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  • Sara Says:

    Hi Nataly,
    Love your post! My favorite new baby advice came from my older sister who was a self-professed hippie and I, a corporate executive on maternity leave. She said to "throw away all the baby books." I had read so many books about how to do it right, it was making me crazy. How to do this, how to do that...
    She came to visit and I was nursing my son with a book propped up on a pillow on how to breastfeed and a notebook documenting how long he nursed on each side!! She brought with her a large jar of organic granola and an apple cobbler. She said just to relax and lower all my Type A expectations. She encouraged me to use my natural maternal instincts to just enjoy and be in the moment to take care of my lovely, tiny new friend. I threw away that book and we both laughed and had tea with apple cobbler.

  • julespieri Says:

    Nataly--Hmmmm...I am going to somewhat contradict your "do whatever works" perspective. My favorite advice is "Never do anything once that you aren't willing to do every day until your child goes to college." That doesn't apply to general efforts to soothe your baby and save your sanity (swings, carriers, car rides). Common sense rules for those decisions, and I think ALL bets are off for the first six weeks. Do ANYTHING that helps.

    But after that, I think you can lay down some patterns that are trouble. Like keeping the house totally silent if the baby is sleeping. Or when the baby/toddler is eating solid foods, offering a smorgasbord of foods instead of a reasonable, but contained meal. Or having one parent always sit in the back seat of a car with the baby. Or training your child to only fall asleep with you lying next to them. If any of those habits are fine with you, then there is no problem. But think about having more than one child. Some patterns can get really hard to sustain...like cooking custom meals for more than one kid. So I tried to look ahead at what I could do to please my child, not feel onerous, but actually be happily sustained. Like reading books at night vs. singing a child to sleep. I love to read out loud, but I can't sing to save my life.

    I DO totally agree on the "this too will pass" perspective. It is so hard to maintain in those sleep-deprived and desperate times. That is probably the best advice to give, of all.

  • Barbara Says:

    I would add "sleep when the baby sleeps" ! I was horrible, I mean just horrible, about doing this (and therefore a walking zombie for my child's first 9 months!). It's not always easy to do, but oh - if you can swing it- do it!

    Also, seek the company of other parents with children of similar ages. Playgroups, co-ops, any type of group where you can share ideas and vent to one another about lost sleep or a winter of cabin fever can be helpful.

    And most of all, don't be so hard on yourself! Too much has been written to "help" parents of today. Take a deep breath, trust your instincts, and just enjoy your little one.

  • jothi Says:

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