Sunday, October 2, 2011

Home Alone with a Newborn: Help!

A friend just had a baby. It got me thinking about my days with a newborn. So, I came up with some notes for reference. This will help me when I go through this again in a few months! Here we go..
You are probably one of those naturals. Everything comes so easy to you and you know just what to do even though this is your first baby. Lucky you.
I wasn't quite so lucky. Not that I was scared out of my mind to be alone with my newborn a better word for it. What am I supposed to do? I know I have to feed and change him. But...what else do I do with this little bundle?
Of course, my knowledge came from my mom and my experience of trying things out and figuring out what works best for us. John spent 2 weeks at home with us and I was spoiled to always have someone there to help me if I had trouble soothing baby or getting baby to sleep etc. Then...he went back to work and I had about 9 weeks of home alone days with Evan. It was tough at first, getting use to that.
I had trouble picturing what our days would be like. I'm a planner, I like to know what to expect. With a newborn, that's tricky. Yet, after experimenting with different routines, schedules and activities, we found one that kept us all happy.
So, here are my tips and pointers to all the new mommies out there:
  1. Make a point to get out of the house each day. Whether it's a quick dash to the grocery store or an afternoon strolling the mall, you need time away from home. I think it's important to change your environment so you don't get cabin fever and also to give baby a new experience. When Evan was a newborn it was summer time and I had to plan around the awful heat that we experience in the southwest (well over 100 degrees). I would often go out early in the morning to avoid the extreme temps.
  2. Play music in the background. I had the radio (on a mellow station) playing softly for a couple of hours a day. I like silence but days and days of it can take its toll on me. It also helped Evan be able to sleep with noise (I didn't want to have to tip-toe around him while he slept). AND most importantly, it presents the opportunity to dance with your little one, ah a priceless memory.
  3. Take a walk outdoors. Gives you both some fresh air, change of environment and introduces new things to baby (new noises, the feeling of wind and sun on their skin etc). Evan and I would stroll down our street (just a quick 10 minute walk) and I would narrate what we saw and heard.
  4. Sing! I have always sung to Evan but when people were at home with us I would be a little more reserved about it. When no one else is there, it's easier to sing and not be embarrassed if you don't know all the words or your tune is off or make up your own! As baby gets older you can get crazy and make faces and dance for him. I do this even now, and I get a ton of smiles and laughter.
  5.  Do some chores or answer emails....I carried Evan in the moby often. This allowed us to be close but I could still do the dishes, laundry, vacuum or catch up on blog reading. Carrying him helped me because I would feel terribly guilty if he was just sitting in his bouncy chair staring at me while I did chores. It kept our bond strong yet gave me some hands-free time. Plus, he got use to the motion and sounds of household activities.
  6. Tummy time. Of course! Lay baby on a soft blanket on the floor to help him workout his neck muscles. Lay a few toys near by for added excitement. To add to the sensory workout, let him feel different textures: a towel, a knitted blanket, a plush toy, a feather on his palm. Of course this is only for a couple of minutes a day as a nb, you don't want to overload them, they'll just shutdown and be cranky. At 2-3 months I let him lay under a baby gym with dangling toys, he really liked that.
  7. Sleep!! You might be experiencing many wakeups at night, so when baby sleeps you should too! I'm serious, do it.
And just remember....enjoy it. Be in the moment. This phase will pass.

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