Advice for First Time Moms

Penny and Mommy Moby_resize

I’ve learned a lot from my first pregnancy and raising a baby girl.

As a first time mom myself, I also know how annoying it can be to get a constant stream of advice from well-meaning friends, relatives, and anyone who passes you in the grocery store. This is what I’ve learned from being a mom – I hope you take something away from it, but you certainly don’t have to!

  • Don’t beat yourself up about a little clutter. When Penny was a newborn, I had a choice between getting housework done and napping. Choose the snooze! The housework can wait! I made the mistake of trying to keep up with all of the laundry, cleaning, organizing, etc that was so easy when I had the opportunity for a full night’s sleep. With a newborn, you are focused completely on your little bundle when he/she is awake (and often when he/she is asleep too!) Instead of trying to get everything done when your baby naps, take a nap yourself. It’s a big change going from 7-8 hours straight of sleep a night to maybe 3 hour chunks. Rest yourself so you can enjoy the newborn time with your little one.
  • Invest in a white noise machine. My husband and I learned this little tip from The Happiest Baby on the Block, a book and DVD that my friend who had also recently had a baby turned us on to. According to Dr. Karp, the author and a practicing pediatrician, babies relax better when the environment they spent 9 months in is simulated outside the womb. There is constant, and fairly loud, noise (a muffled, rushing/whooshing noise) that a white noise machine does a good job of approximating. Once we bought one of these little beauties, my little girl woke up less often during a nap and slept for longer stretches.
  • Learn to wrap your little burrito (or find a wrap that does it for you). Also from The Happiest Baby on the Block, Dr. Karp emphasizes swaddling to help your newborn sleep well. In the womb your baby is snuggled tightly, but once outside, they miss the feeling of being enveloped. We tried over and over again to perfect our swaddling technique, but to no avail, we are pathetic swaddlers. Fortunately, we found some products that achieve the same effect without the sweat and frustration. Our favorites were: SwaddleMe, Woombie, and the Miracle Blanket (we used this one when she got really good at getting those little arms free).
  • Let people help you. Friends and family want cuddle time with your adorable little bundle. If you’re comfortable with it, let them babysit while you take a nap or run an errand. This was extremely hard for me (mainly because I wanted to spend every second with Penny) but you’ll be a better mom if you are well-rested and your baby will get some time to bond with those that will be important in his or her life.
  • Take care of yourself. With a new baby at home, it’s so easy to forget to take time for yourself to make sure you stay healthy physically and mentally. Eat well and eat healthy. Not only will this help you lose some of the pregnancy weight, but if you’re breastfeeding, you have to keep your body fueled and strong (not that you don’t need to do this if you aren’t breastfeeding, but it’s especially important if you are so baby gets nutrient-rich milk). Take walks or do light stretches to ease back into an exercise routine. Don’t overdo it right out of the hospital. Birth takes it out of you, so make sure you’re ready before you get back in the gym. And finally, don’t forget to take a shower! This seems crazy, maybe, but there was many a time I was so wrapped up in taking care of Penny that I forgot to do the same for myself.

These are some of the most important things I learned after my daughter was born. I’m going to do my best to remember them when our new little one is born (although, with a toddler at home at the same time, I’m sure I’ll have to amend/revise them a little. For all of you new mommies and new mommies to-be out there, you’re going to find your own way to care for your baby and your new family, they right way is what works for you. Above all, enjoy it. 

Bedtime Routine

Penny on the Patio

Chillin’ on the patio

If you read my post about our last time breastfeeding, you know that I’ve been concerned about changing my daughter’s bedtime routine. (If you haven’t read it, click here.)

Well, we’ve fallen into a fantastic routine now and bedtime at the Simons household couldn’t be easier. This is what a typical night looks like for us:

7:00 Dinner Time

7:30 Playtime on the patio/Walk outside (if it’s not too hot!)

8:00 Playtime in Penny’s room with lullaby music for a zen atmosphere

8:30 Bathtime (we have a song mommy made up…and no, you can’t hear it)

8:45 Brush Teeth (she loves this!)

8:47 Say “nigh nigh” to Daddy and back to Penny’s room

8:50 Turn on the lamp and turn off the light; read 2 or 3 books (whichever ones Penny picks out)

8:58 Grab the lovey and rock in the glider with mommy to a lullaby (usually “Hush little baby don’t say a word…”)

9:00 Kiss Penny goodnight and say sweet dreams (she usually goes right to sleep, but sometimes she talks to herself or her lovey for a while before drifting off)

Ever since we got into this groove, I haven’t had to go back in her room to comfort or rock her back to sleep once. It’s amazing! I’m so thankful that this transition has turned out so well for both of us! I love that she’s happy going to bed and that she is totally independent in comforting herself and getting to sleep on her own. I feel like we really reached a milestone and I’m so proud of her!

Goodbye Breastfeeding

A little nostalgia for me :) She's not this little anymore, of course, but who can say no to a good baby picture?

A little nostalgia for me 🙂 She’s not this little anymore, of course, but who can say no to a good baby picture?

Tomorrow will be the last night of breastfeeding for me and my Penelope.

I have mixed feelings. I’ve spent 14 months bonding with her in this way and I don’t know that I’m ready to give it up. On the other hand, I’ll be breastfeeding again in 8 months and the break will be nice. Also, the Bugg (one of our nicknames for Penelope) isn’t really that into it anymore. She gets bored after a few minutes and starts looking around, grabbing my face/hair, and sticking her little feet up in my face with a devilish giggle.

I didn’t plan on breastfeeding this long. I thought we’d get to 12 months and be ready to wean. But, Penny’s first birthday came and went and we continued breastfeeding before I went to work, at naptime, and at bedtime. Summer arrived and we cut out the morning feeding and, not long after, we stopped the naptime feeding. But the bedtime feeding has endured.

It’s such a special time for me. A wind-down-from-our-busy-day time for both of us to share. And, I’ll admit, it calms her down before bed, which is one of the things I’m worried about tomorrow. I hope she gives up her bedtime feeding as easily as she did her naptime feeding. (I’m also planning on finally getting her to sleep without her wrap…the thing’s in tatters and it’s way past time she gets to sleep without it…) I’ll post on Tuesday letting you all know how it went. Wish us luck…

Disrupting the Nap Schedule

Penny on Daddy's Leg

Penny on Daddy’s Leg

Do you plan your days around naptime?

I do.

And it has had some interesting effects.

First, I find myself determining where it is feasible to go during the day based on how fast we get moving in the morning. For example, my parents live about 30 minutes away. Whenever we visit, we usually go in the early afternoon before Penny’s nap. This is the naptime math I recently went through before a visit. Penny woke up at 10:15 am and she takes a nap at 2:00. In order to spend a worthwhile amount of time (by this I mean more than a friendly wave as we drive past their house on our way back to ours), we need to be gone from our apartment by, at the latest, 10:45, which puts us at my parents house at 11:15. If we arrive at this time, we can have 2 hours to visit before we have to leave at 1:15 (this gives us enough time to get home and go through our naptime routine so things go smoothly). This means that, on days we are visiting my parents, I’m a complete B from the moment we wake up; I become a crazy, clock-watching, psychopath until my family (including my definitely-does-not-like-to-be-rushed husband) are packed into the car.

Second, I do nothing spur-of-the-moment. At our recent visit, my mom recently suggested that we have Penny nap at their house so we could stay longer. I would LOVE for this to be an option…but…I’m a wimp. My daughter loves her routines and she thrives when everything goes as expected (as most toddlers do, I’m sure). When the routines are disrupted…well, that’s another story. Case in point: a few days ago we weren’t able to get Penny home at 2:00 for her naptime routine (we had appointments and had to pick up a family member from the hospital) so she slept for about 30 minutes in the car. When we got home at around 3:45, I attempted our regular routine, but little toot spent about 30 minutes talking to herself in her crib, playing, and not sleeping. She was FINE the rest of the night. However…the next day I had a tired (and oh-so fussy) pumpkin. It took her a day to get back on track and back to her usual, happy-go-lucky self.

What kind of nappers do you have? I have friends who can tote their kids anywhere and they’re perfectly fine, but I know others whose kids are like mine: naptime is sacred and must not be disrupted at all costs. Leave comments and share your experiences!