Like any first time mom, I have been riddled with parenting advice
since the day we conceived. Some of the opinions are helpful and
others…totally useless. While everyone and their mother will smother you
with opinions, whether or not you ask them, ultimately it is up to you
and your partner to chose the best path for your baby and family.
Before our son was born, I dove into researching sleeping and feeding
schedules, breastfeeding techniques, baby development and whatever else
I could think of at 2:00 a.m. I found multiple online articles
promising to provide the “best advice” for new moms. The advice included
lots of common cliches like, sleep when the baby sleeps and accept help
While I personally disagree with those two particular suggestions
(which is another story), I didn’t find the majority of these “best
advice” articles helpful. In fact, I found many of them redundant and
useless. What I did ultimately find useful, were the opinions of friends
and family, observations by families in our circle, and my own “mothers
Here are 5 lesser-known pieces of advice that have dramatically helped us as new parents.
1) Set Babies Circadian Rhythm Immediately & Extend Nighttime
Newborns have no concept of day or night, so they need to learn and
have their circadian rhythm “set” during first few months of life. This
means making sure they are getting the majority of their sleep at night
versus the day. Research shows parents can help set their babies circadian rhythm by making a clear difference between day and night.
During the day, our son napped in the living room where it was
lighter and wore clothes (not pajamas). At night he would sleep in his
crib with the room dark, in his pajamas. It also really helped us to
extend “nighttime” as long as possible! After those early morning feeds,
keep babies in their pajamas with the lights low and put back down for
sleep. Get your newborn into the routine of going back to sleep after
feedings when it’s nighttime. Once it’s time to get up for the day,
change their clothes, turn on the lights, etc.
During maternity leave, our son and I wouldn’t come out of the
bedroom until 11:00 a.m. At 6 months he no longer will sleep until 11:00
a.m., but he does sleep until 8:30-9:30 a.m. This was great advice that
was given to us and it worked, but each family needs to set up the
ideal sleep situation for them.
2) Go out!
Yes, enjoy those first precious few weeks relaxing, snuggling and
getting to know your new baby. However, it’s important to get back to
“real life” situations as soon as medically possible. Waiting for your
baby to turn 8 weeks before going to the grocery store is only going to
make going to the store harder. Challenge yourself each day to get a
little outside your comfort zone. Try enjoying a dinner date before
baby’s 2-week birthday and get a babysitter within a month. Just do what
makes you feel like normal, pre-baby you! This will help your
confidence and attitude as you adjust to having a baby in the home. Real
life is going to hit you harder if you stay cooped up inside your house
for baby’s first 6 weeks.
3) Set Realistic Expectations
Babies are a huge adjustment! Expect the worst and anything better
than that is a pleasant surprise. Newborns cry on average of 3 hours a
day, they eat every 2 hours
and take anywhere from 30-60 minutes to feed. This means you are
feeding your baby approximately 10-12 hours in a 24-hour period. Babies
are cute, snuggly and such an amazing blessing, yet be prepared and set
the appropriate expectations for the change they will bring to your
life. By being realistic, you might enjoy the adjustment a little bit
4) Keep Your Noise Level the Same as Before Baby
Whispering and tip-toeing around your house will only help your baby
get accustomed to quiet. Continue your normal routine during naps and
bed otherwise you will be whispering the rest of your life. Plus
newborns are used to noise –the womb is not a quiet place! Adjusting to noise is part of normal development.
5) Dump the Bottle Warmer
Often a baby needs a bottle when you are out and about- restaurants,
errands, hikes, etc. Is it realistic to have a bottle warmer always
handy? Just run the bottle under warm water if you want to heat the
milk, but make sure the milk isn’t too hot for baby! Experts say
you can lose nutrients in milk if it is heated too much or even if it
is refrigerated or frozen too long. It is best to use milk as quickly as
Think about some of your own unique pieces of advice that have
benefitted you as new parents and share with friends and family (when
they ask!). Most people are always looking for fresh ideas to help make
our parenting easier, efficient and more effective.