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1. Sleep while the baby sleeps, but don’t get consumed by what you need to do when the baby wakes up.

Ah, you finally got her to sleep after what may very well have been hours of trying to put her down. Now, you are supposed to sleep, but all of a sudden, you’re flooded with pesky thoughts about what you need to accomplish when the baby wakes up: clean her changing station, feed her, change her diaper, do the laundry, fold clothes, and make yourself something to eat so you can sustain your energy level and do it all again later!

But wait a second. This is supposed to be your time to check out for a bit! So take a deep breath, gently slow your thoughts, and calm your nerves. You worked hard, and now you earned this break. As short as it is, you need it to recharge, refuel, and mentally decompress from the stress of being awake and caring for your needy baby. You will quickly burn out if you continue operating at warp speed. Just as your infant needs sleep, you need it too. Now that there are no more distractions, other than the ones you are creating in your head, it is time to rest.

Easier said than done, you tell yourself, but perhaps you off-load those thoughts by writing up a schedule for the wake-up routine and reviewing it before you put your baby to bed. The next time you lay down, only to find thoughts of what-to-do-when-your-baby wakes-up, hijacking your mind, remind yourself you’ve already prepared for this, and then float away to a serene and happy place. Maybe it’s your favorite vacation spot or a quiet place outside. It may seem like a lifetime ago, but now you can visit that place again in your dreams. So even if it’s just for a few uninterrupted minutes, smile sleepily, think joyful thoughts and allow yourself the freedom to rest.

2. Keep milestones in mind, but don’t freak out if they happen a little earlier or later than expected.

It’s been said that no two babies are alike. Each has a different timeline for their development to progress. One may smile early, while another takes a bit of time to begin communicating with you. One baby might feverishly work to roll himself over from his back to his belly, while another may lounge a little longer to take in the sights as he stares adoringly up at you. There is a range for child development, and it’s perfectly normal to go a little fast or coast along at a slower speed.

When it comes to your child, set markers to know when you need to help him pick up the pace or figure out why he paused at a particular milestone. Maybe you put a dot on the calendar so you can check in a month whether he’s met the desired milestone, then go about your business caring and loving him as always. But whatever you do, don’t obsessively count down to the date or mentally check every day whether he’s accomplished the goal. Set it and forget it until the day rolls along.  Then you can either rejoice proudly or bravely decide what the next steps will be to help him grow.

3. Do you bottle or breastfeed? Whatever your preference, commit, and don’t let anyone guilt you into feeling a certain way about your decision.

Okay, this is a contentious one.  There are numerous publications about the benefits and consequences of each.  But that’s not what this article is about.  You’re at your own place in your decision-making, perhaps because you’re emotionally or physically drained, or maybe there’s been a hiccup in your baby’s health and development that brought you here.  So naturally, you turn to your friends, family, and the internet for guidance.  Not surprisingly, you will find tons of conflicting information and opinions on the subject of breastfeeding. While it’s great to consider everything you read and hear, this is a personal choice only you can implement. So, make a decision and stand by it. Then breathe a sigh of relief, and don’t let doubt or guilt creep in to make you second guess your decision. Your baby will love you either way! After all, this is just one of many decisions you’ll learn from on your parenting journey. 

4. Ask for help when you need it, but trust your instincts.  Parenting gets easier with practice.

It’s okay to get help when caring for a newborn.  Maybe a caring grandparent or friend offers their time to help with the feeding and bedtime routine. As we’ve discussed, being a parent is exhausting. There are tons of decisions to make and there is a lot to learn as you finetune your parenting skills.  However, if you are not careful, pretty soon you could find that other people are doing everything for you, and you feel like an observant bystander.  Remember, this is your baby, and you will continue to understand her needs as you care for her.  So, seek advice and support for both you and the baby when you need it, but then try different techniques on your own as much as possible.  Your confidence will grow, and your bond with your baby will become that much stronger. Suddenly, you will be a parenting pro. Based on how devoted you are to your baby, you’re already on your way.

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