First of all, sleep-deprivation has a way of making everything harder. From feeling well to getting out of the house that day to remembering what day it is, it can all be, well… challenging for a new momma who’s also waking up something like every few hours all night for another feeding and another diaper change.
But fear not — many women before you have gotten through it, and even learned to enjoy it enough that some chose to do it all over again!
That was me… a brand-new mom just a handful of years ago, navigating how to make the most of that special time while also, quite frankly, making life work.
I’m willing to bet you might impress yourself with just how crafty you can be, just how well things can go with a little planning, some preparation, and a lot of motherly intuition.
Fast-forward a few years, and I was doing it all again, learning, relearning, and building on what I knew as I figured out how to not only raise a toddler but also care for a newborn.
I’m not gonna lie — it can be intense!
That’s why I’ve put together for you here a little inspiration: 23 hacks these new moms used to get through the newborn phase.
23 Supping Over Slings
My hubs and I looked at each other during childbirth class one day, like, WHAT? See, the instructor had just explained how newborns tend to eat at least every two hours. Factor in how long the feeding actually takes, a diaper change, any pumping you may need to do afterward, and … Is there any time left?
It can be tricky to fit in going to the bathroom, eating something yourself, or, honestly, much of anything. You’ll get the hang of it, and in the meantime, you’ll develop some nifty tricks, like I did.
I fit in dinner by swaying my newborn while wearing her in the fabric sling I came to rely on heavily, then VERY gingerly sitting down on the couch with her supported by a pillow, and eating my darn salad over her.
Pro tip: You can gently place a napkin over the main area of the swaddler or sling to catch the inevitable dressing drips.
22 Bring The Noise
Jennifer, a mom to one from Stafford, VA, advises that part of the trick to getting through those newborn times is to, essentially, not make yourself feel like you’re walking on eggshells around the clock.
“You don't have to be quiet while the baby is sleeping. The womb is loud, and newborns are used to the noise. When ours first came home, we watched television and I would vacuum, wash dishes and talk on the phone around her while she slept,” Jennifer shared at Mom365.com.
The result? The little one got used to sleeping with other stuff going on, allowing the mama to get stuff done.
21 Keeping Dish Soap Upstairs
It’s 2 a.m. You might have just drifted off to sleep for a while, maybe… and then you hear that cry, the one that uniquely alerts you to come running, like none other.
Not only is it time for another diaper change and feeding, but it turns out that the very liquid-y poo of your newborn has leaked out a leg hole or shot out the back of the diaper. Sigh…
It sort of just happens sometimes, even if it’s a well-made diaper and it’s on right.
We couldn’t just throw the onesie / PJs away each time this happened. So to make things much easier, I started keeping a small bottle of detergent by the upstairs bathroom sink, to scrub out those stains, or at least let them start to soak, right then and there.
(P.S. This is a good job for your partner, while you carry on with the feeding.)
20 Bring It All In That Bag
Ah, the diaper bag. It will become your lifeline, your prized possession, your everything. When it is fully stocked and ready to go, it makes going out of the house much more pleasant, easier, or sometimes even possible.
“Your new roommate comes with a lot of stuff, making trips out more complicated than planning Thanksgiving dinner,” says Jacqueline Stone of Baltimore, according to Parenting.com.
At 4 days old, it was time for the first doctor’s checkup, and then the new family got caught in one of those endless cycles of eating, pooping, changing, eating…
“It took two hours to get him into the car seat. My husband and I were like, ‘Are we ever going to leave the house again?’”
Mom Renee Baumbarger urged, wisely, to allot plenty of extra time, have a helper if at all possible, and bring changes of clothes for everyone.
19 Hydration At Each Station
I and many other moms (some of which you’ll hear from today) know how vital it is to stay hydrated. When you’re nursing, it’s important, and it helps you feel well and (this is the big one for me) stay cool when breastfeeding hormones have you like whoa…
My sippy-top water bottles quickly became my prized possessions. After having two babies in the last handful of years, I have since upgraded a few times and expanded my collection. In the newborn times, in particular, it’s good to have one at every “station” where you normally nurse.
Bottles that are sort of spill-proof and really easy to access and drink from with one hand (while nursing) are awesome to the max, and if they’re insulated to keep water cool, oh, mama… THE best.
18 The Turn-Down Service Trick
As I navigated the final stages of potty training my older toddler, I recently had an AHA! moment when chatting with another mom with a little one the same age. The parents would put on layers of sheets to make all those nighttime linen changes more bearable. Genius!
Mom Jerrie of Lonoke, AR, had a similar tactic ever since the newborn days.
“When a baby has a diaper blowout or upset tummy in the middle of the night, it can be hard on both mom and baby to have to completely unmake the crib or bassinet and change all the sheets - and all the fussing makes it that much harder to get the baby back to sleep,” she said, according to Mom365.com.
She’d put on two sheets as well as waterproof covers for the crib mattress, alternating, so she could just yank off the top set and move on.
17 Plentiful Peri Bottles
I was so sore in the weeks after giving birth. My back ached for months after “curling up” so hard and for so long as they instructed during pushing, and then it was on to carrying around 8 pounds of cuteness in my lovin’ arms pretty much allll the time. It was hard physical work, and even though our place is tiny, it has two stories, so having multiple bathrooms presented some postpartum challenges.
They only gave me one peri bottle in the hospital (used to cleanse after going), and I couldn’t carry that around the house with me, too.
So my hack? Have at least two, if you can, either by ordering online ahead of time, asking the nurses for another one, or purchasing a squirt bottle that will work at the drugstore. One for the shower and one for each bathroom would be ideal, if you ask me.
16 Belt It Out
I’ve dabbled in singing throughout my life, but once I became a mom, I realized just how magical music can be.
Singing to your baby can fix anything — sometimes.
In those very early months when she was wakeful enough that she didn’t just snooze easily like those first few weeks (but not old enough for sleep training). If it was my voice, and especially if I added motion, it would get my first baby to calm down and go to sleep when NOTHING else would.
I would sing at the top of my lungs, for hours many days, especially at night, while holding her (and often swaying dramatically or dancing, too), and gradually she’d quiet down and drift off to sleep.
15 Two Words: Exercise Ball
Dude, I got super strong and lean super fast after my first baby was born because, during those newborn times, I held her or wore her in a sling so, so much, and especially while lunging, rocking, swaying, and dancing to soothe her and get her to fall asleep. It was intense.
And while I liked it in a sense, I needed something a little less strenuous the second time around, and the exercise ball we already had lying around since college times did the trick.
I also loved that it didn’t really seem to matter who was holding our baby, all swaddled, close and bouncing on that thing; she would go to sleep. This was THE thing that worked, and I got plenty of help from Dad and even a bit from a visiting granny this time around.
14 Learning To Latch
“If you are having latch-on issues while breastfeeding your baby, you can use shields to help the process,” notes April, a mom of one in Henderson, NV, according to Mom365.com. “This was a wonderful tip that I learned from my lactation consultant. I had to use the shields for an entire month before my baby would latch onto [me] without them.”
I’ve witnessed multiple moms in my own life using the silicon wonders in the early months, and how wonderful to have another tool to use in our journey to finding breastfeeding success!
“Had it not been for the shields,” April continued, “I would not have been able to continue nursing my baby.”
13 That’s A Wrap Shirt
I remember sort of struggling to understand the benefits of onesies versus T-shirts in various styles when I was getting closer to the due date of my first baby. What would I really need and really use?
When I asked around, the moms in my own life all said it ended up being about preference and didn’t have any super concrete or helpful answers for me.
But I decided to give a couple little newborn wrap-style shirts a try, and they were so awesome that I ordered a gazillion more of them.
They didn’t rub over the cord stump like onesies would, and best of all, they didn’t need to slide off over the head for each clothes change. That can be tricky with a newborn!
Instead, I (and my hubs, who loved them, too) could just lay out the shirt, fold the two sides over, and tie or snap them in place.
12 Make Him Get Up
With our second baby, we got into a routine that I would highly recommend, if you can swing it.
I have much more trouble falling back asleep again than my husband, and so for those nighttime feedings, he would be the one to actually change the diaper, then bring her to me after I’d zombie-walked the few steps to the nursing chair and plopped down.
If you can make nighttime feedings a team effort, it might just make things go pretty smoothly, especially if your spouse is also on some sort of parental leave from work.
With our first baby, after he did return to work, my hubs would sometimes get our newborn out of her crib in the morning, change her, and bring her to me in bed, where we’d nurse and cuddle so I could get a bit more rest.
11 Dealing With Drowsy Eaters
A mother to one, Elizabeth, from Virginia Beach, VA, mentioned something I remember dealing with right after my second little one was born: keeping that very young baby awake for feedings.
At first, it’s kinda all about making sure they are consuming enough to stay hydrated and gain weight, but some babies can also tend to be very sleepy.
“When our baby was eating slowly and sleepily, my husband and I would massage her cheek to stimulate her to eat faster. A gentle stroke with a fingertip on her cheek was all it took, and on those long sleepless nights, this simple trick was a godsend!” the momma wrote, according to Mom365.com.
10 Bassinets Aren’t Just For Bedrooms
After having a first baby who napped for many months only when in my arms or a sling that I was wearing, I knew I needed a better solution the second time around.
Someone had given us one of those lightweight, collapsible and very simple rocking bassinets as a hand-me-down, and we used it downstairs in the living room for the (frequent) naps of the newborn times.
Something about that slight upward angle made the transition from my arms to the napper more seamless, and she was also less likely to wake herself up after spitting up.
I could go about my day (with my toddler) while still having her right there with us.
9 Ready To Ride, And Run
I did not want to go from being a daily runner to having no activity after my little ones were born. So my secret to happy new motherhood, my hack, is having the appropriate stroller purchased, assembled, and at the ready for when the baby will be born.
No, I wasn’t running 6-miles right when I got home — not even close. But within a matter of days, I was taking slow strolls with my hubs around the neighborhood and then moving on to longer, and faster walks.
For our first, it was the jogging stroller that our infant car seat/carrier could click into. I couldn’t wait to try out that bad boy. For our second, it was the “Sister Stroller,” as we came to call it, which accepted the infant seat and also had a place for kid #1 to ride.
Fresh air, fitness, and freedom were right outside my door because of this.
8 Cutting Back The Crying
How to stop the crying??? That’s something a lot of pregnant couples probably worry about, and a lot of new parents probably struggle with. Anna, a mom of one from National City, CA, touches on some classic tricks, but she has one favorite.
“When my baby cries, I comfort her by patting her back in a heartbeat-like rhythm,” Anna shares at Mom365.com. “That helps her burp more quickly, and it also helps her relax if she's crying from insecurity. If this doesn’t work, I also try one or all of Dr. Harvey Karp's five calming moves: swaddling, shushing, holding her on her side, swinging her or letting her suck. Sometimes it takes all six!”
7 Thinking Ahead
For some of us, it’s all about the scheduling. While those newborn times can feel overwhelming and unpredictable, there is indeed a clear and quite predictable rhythm that can often be found, allowing moms to strategically plan and work around it…
“At 3 weeks, babies’ days and nights become more predictable, and you can focus on yourself in addition to your newborn. One way to do that is by reducing your stress level - and having everything ready for your hungry baby and yourself is one way to do that,” says Paula, a momma of one in Littleton, CO.
She would prep for the upcoming feeding as soon as she finished the current one, whether that meant refilling her own water or whatever else she would then not need to do after being woken the next time.
“During the day,” she added, “take advantage of the baby’s naps to work out, shower or catch up on e-mail, or take a nap too.”
6 Let Dad Do His Thing
I totally understand the temptation to want to do it all yourself, but let’s not forget that there may very well be a very special Dada who is a crucial part, from day one, of the parenting team.
“Make sure your baby has ample time alone with Daddy. His touch and voice are different than yours, and this will begin a bonding process and give you a break. Plus, it gets the baby used to being with someone other than you,” says Tiffany, a mother to one from Colorado Springs, CO, according to Mom365.com.
She recommends attempting this daddy-baby alone time when the pops is relatively rested, knowing that it might be hard for you at first, and trying not to rush in and “fix” things when you hear a cry.
Activities such as the bath, story time, or putting the babe down for sleep are some other ideas for how dear old dad can help.
5 Imitating Body Heat
Some babies just really, really want to be held all the time, perhaps waking easily if they are put down while dozing.
The problem? Moms need a break, like when they have to eat, shower, or use the bathroom.
“When my daughter was 3 weeks, she liked to sleep only on me. Every time I put her in her bassinet after she fell asleep on me, she would wake up,” said mom Pam of Newnan, GA.
The solution? “I realized she probably liked the warmth. So I started wrapping a blanket around a heating pad and letting it warm up her bed while I fed her. … I removed the heating pad and slipped the baby between the folds of the warm blanket.”
Baby would snooze soundly, she said, according to Mom365.com. Heating the blankie in the dryer worked, too, she noted.
I’d note that loose blankets and such are a no-no for young babies… Check with your own pediatrician for all things health and safety.
4 A Little Soothing Something
Maybe each baby responds best to something different, or maybe each parent just needs to find their own sleep-assisting groove for those newborn times. I remember clearly, in any case, that very intense time when a newborn is more than a few weeks old so not sooo sleepy all the time and yet not old enough for “sleep training” — and getting them to doze can be difficult.
“When our baby was around 3 weeks old, she would cry and fuss because she was having a hard time falling asleep,” said mom Hannah, according to Mom365.com. “One day, we started rubbing her nose, and it worked.”
So reliably in fact, that they did it every time, and were continuing the tradition at the 4-month mark!
“Her eyes would grow heavy and eventually close,” the mother said.
3 March To The Beat Of Baby’s Drum
Well, apparently some new moms find that their “support systems” can turn out to be a little overbearing, each person having a strong opinion about the “right” way to do everything when it comes to the new baby.
Mom Alena of Florida suggests just following your own little one’s lead.
“Being a first-time parent can be stressful — especially when everyone wants to put in their two cents and what they're telling you doesn't feel right. As soon as I came home with my baby, my friends and relatives started giving me advice (more like demands) on how to raise her — they wanted me to do everything on schedule,” she shared, according to Mom365.com.
To calm her nerves and make it all work, she followed her own instincts about feeding, schedules, and more, and felt “much happier and healthier.”
2 The Wonders Of Wash Cloths
Although I’ve given hundreds of baby baths now, I certainly remember the intimidation factor as I tackled that very first bath time for my newborns.
When the cord stump detached around the third week and it was okay for a “real” bath, mom Rachel of CA recommended,
“To keep the baby warmer, more comfortable, and less likely to cry, place a warm washcloth over her tummy during the bath. It makes all the difference between a happy water baby and a miserable one.”
For her little girl, it was all about the temps, so she made sure to have the house warmer for bath time, too.
1 When Less Is More
Think outside the box! This will become very helpful to you in your days as a parent, if you ask me, and I love the way mom Kim of Glendale, NY, noted that this can start way back in the newborn times — with figuring out why the heck the baby is crying!
“People always say that babies cry because they want food, their diaper needs to be changed, they're bored, etc., but they always leave out that the baby might be cranky because he's tired,” she felt, according to Mom365.com.
“Our son used to go nuts during his first month, and we tried everything to calm him. It turned out that what he really needed was less stimulation and more sleep.”