Before my first son was born, I remember reading the baby care books. I remember listening intently to all the advice given about caring for a baby. I remember reading parenting articles. I remember buying DVDs on how to get my baby to sleep better. I remember reading about different methods of getting him to stretch out his feedings longer because, of course, this will help him sleep better!
But now, as I sit here with my sleeping third baby on my chest, I feel compelled to give my advice to moms and new moms of babies:
All of the unsolicited advice (even mine right now!) is not what you need.
All the baby care books, books on how to get your baby to sleep, DVDs on how to get your baby to sleep, and methods to stretch out your baby’s feedings are not what you need. Using your instincts and going on your baby’s cues will make life so much smoother, simpler, and happier.
Follow Your Mommy Instincts
These four baby care issues are what I believe to be the most important to focus on when relying on your amazing mommy instincts. You may not agree with me, because, well, your instincts say something different than mine, and that’s OK! But here is what my instincts have told me now that I have three children:
1 – Your Sleep Deprivation
It’s going to happen. It’s inevitable, especially with a very young baby. Your baby needs you all day and night in the beginning. If you accept this, you can make it through those first 2 months with less frustration.
The first 2 months are often the most exhausting for me. With all three of my children, it has never seemed to matter whether or not I push them into a routine. It just happens, all of a sudden. Your baby’s routine usually starts emerging around 2 months old or so…the smiles and giggles usually start then, too!
2 – Your Baby’s Hunger
If your baby is hungry, feed her, even if it’s been 30 minutes since the last time she ate. Hell, sometimes even I get hungry after I ate 10 minutes ago! Trying to stretch out their feedings makes no logical sense to me anymore, especially if you’re breastfeeding.
Feeding the baby on cue helps your milk supply and prevents breastfeeding issues. Feeding on cue makes it so you don’t have to watch the clock! The baby is hungry, you feed them. It’s as simple as that. Stretching out my babies’ feedings never helped them sleep better either.
However, some moms will swear by stretching feedings out for better routine and better sleep. It just doesn’t work for us.
3 – Helping Your Baby Fall Asleep
If the baby is sleepy, help them fall asleep. Lay them down while they are still awake but drowsy? Maybe that works for some young babies, but not my three babies! Let them cry it out…nope, not my thing. We lasted less than a couple minutes with our first child trying this. Although I have heard it works wonders for some families, it’s just not for us. My first two children, who are now 3 and 6 years old, are fabulous sleepers with no bedtime fears.
4 – Holding Your Baby
Your babies want you to hold them, so hold them. They need to be close to you. They need you. And that’s ok…they are babies. They spent 9 months inside your body. They need more time close to you. Plus, these holding baby days are numbered. Soon enough, they will be a wiggly mover or toddler and not want you to hold them at all!
Do What’s Right for You and Your Babies
I’m not saying that all parenting advice is bad advice. There is plenty of advice that has helped me throughout my 6 years of parenting. However, your instincts will win out in the end. You will know what feels right and what does not. Some days, your mommy instincts will speak loud and clear, and other days they will be a faint whisper. I don’t have it all figured out.
Every baby is different and has their own challenges. However, with patience and love (and plenty of crazy moments mixed in!), bringing up these babies is so much about what you already know…even if you didn’t know that you knew exactly what to do all along!
I’ve learned from my own experiences.
When I compare my three kids during their baby phases, I’ve noticed my third child is the best sleeper. She is quite laid back. She is also a great eater and super duper happy. It could mainly be her personality, but I also believe it’s because I’m a more relaxed mom and go with the flow more than I did when my first two were babies.
What I wish I had done with my first two babies is enjoy the babyhood more.
I wish I would have spent less time focusing on doing every little thing “right” or “by the book.” So, enjoy that baby. Soak in the cuddles and relax. Do what’s best for you and your baby, not what’s best for someone else.