(A couple days after I posted this I realized that I might have forgot a few things. If you read the original post already, just scroll to the bottom to see the new tips!)
I’ve been pretty reluctant to write a post about mothering or raising little ones because I just feel like I’m still learning every day (and certainly no model mother), but it’s becoming more clear to me that the voice saying “yeah right, what sage advice could YOU really give to people? You yell all the time. You’re no mommy blogger.” is just my sense of self-doubt (it’s quite a LOUD voice, too). I’m trying more and more to ignore that voice, not just towards my blog but in all areas of my life. My first piece of advice for this post, and this really applies to everyone (not just mommies) is to recognize that voice of self-doubt in yourself and say “not today, satan!” (that was meant to be humorous, i am not religious nor do i believe in the devil). Ignore that voice that makes you feel like you’re not good enough and that you cant “do the thing”. You don’t need that negativity in your life. It serves no purpose. Try and keep trying and always do your best.
Ok…Now that I’m passed my self-doubt about this post, I find that I really do have a lot of things to say about raising little ones. I have two little girls, a 5 year old and a 3 year old, and I’m a stay-at-home-mom. Don’t let anyone tell you that stay-at-home moms are lazy or that our lives are soooo easy. When we are home all day, all the time, with our babies, it’s not easy at all. It’s a full-time 24/7 job and we don’t get breaks. We have no privacy (we cant even go to the bathroom by ourselves), we’re expected to get all the housework done (because we’re home all day), keep everyone fed and happy all while having kids UNDERNEATH OUR FEET OK??? Literally, as mommies, the babies/toddlers never leave our sides and it makes it quite difficult to get anything done at all. But this is not what we’re talking about today. I almost went on a rant there wooo!
Here’s some advice that I would give a friend who’s becoming a new mommy. I know my advice might not be for everyone, this is just what I personally would tell a friend asking for help. Take what you want and ignore the rest. This is the first part of my mommy advice post, this ones for the infants (the next ones for the toddlers).
~For Mommies With Infants (0-1 yr)~
- Always smile at your baby! And ignore people who say not to hold them too much. Listen to me, there is no such thing as holding your baby too much, ok? I’m being completely serious.
- Breastfeed. It’s the best thing for your baby, not just nutritionally but for bonding. There are a lot of great reasons to breastfeed including the rush of oxytocin you receive, it helps your uterus contract and stop bleeding, it has the perfect amount of electrolytes/fat/nutrients for your baby, you save money, you will likely lose your baby weight fairly quickly. I don’t look down on mothers who use formula, but if you’re able to breastfeed, do it. And don’t give up without a fight (there are sometimes difficulties. I highly recommend Mothers Milk tea! I drank it 3 or 4 times a day because i had trouble making enough milk. Babies drink A LOT!)
- Sing to your baby. Even if you’re just humming. Introduce music to your baby as early as possible. The are so many benefits to singing to your baby that I’m gonna go ahead and leave this really interesting article right here for you to check out. It can really teach your baby a lot, not to mention help soothe them.
- Swaddling is really important in comforting your baby. He/she has been wrapped up tight in your nice warm womb for months! They’re going to be really disoriented out here in the open. Make sure you know how to swaddle!
- In case of colic, here are some tips- try applying pressure to the belly by laying the baby face down on your lap with your hand under their belly and rub their back with the other hand, swaddling (of course) while rocking or light bouncing, singing, white-noise (like from a fan or even clothes dryer) soothes by reminding them of the womb, switch formulas (if you’re formula feeding), and finally gripe water! You can find gripe water in most pharmacy sections of grocery stores (or any vitamin/health food store). Its a mixture of sodium bicarbonate and herbal extracts. Many parents swear by it (as do I!) and it also helps with a bad case of hiccups or teething pain!
- Teething is not fun for anyone. But there’s some simple solutions that I’ve found help a great deal. One thing (and this might sound strange just bear with me) is a necklace of baltic amber beads. You can make one yourself (just look for a reputable seller because it has to be real baltic amber) or buy one (look online! I recommend Etsy). The warmth from your skin activates the succinic acid in the amber and your skin absorbs that into your bloodstream. It helps with anxiety, inflammation and pain relief (and arthritis in the elderly!). It’s tried and true for me. Then of course there’s plenty of products out there for this very ailment, like frozen fruit mesh teethers, wooden teethers, dissolvable teething tablets, gripe water, etc. You can also try a frozen washcloth!
- When you start to introduce “solid” food to your baby, try not to rely solely on jars or squeeze packets of processed baby food. I encourage you to mash up fresh fruit with a fork! Try bananas and maybe add a little bit of strawberry in there (pure strawberry might be a little sour), making applesauce is very simple, avocados are great and easy to mash, veggies can be mashed after steaming them a bit (or maybe if you have a good food processor?). Make your own baby food! Then you’ll know exactly what you’re feeding them. Feed them a rainbow of fresh produce!
- Co-sleep with your baby. This means letting your baby sleep in bed with you or pushing their crib right up against your bed (there are also co-sleeper bed things you can buy, they’re neat but expensive). Sleeping with your baby in bed makes the bedtime ritual much easier, if your baby starts to stir you can soothe them (or nurse them) back to sleep before they’re even fully awake, it reduces separation anxiety from not being able to see them, night-time nursing helps your milk production keep up, everyone gets a lovely, restful full nights sleep! Not to mention waking up to that smiling face 🙂
- Always keep a spare shirt or two (just a plain black or white t-shirt) in the diaper bag for YOU. Babies spit up all the time, and sometimes it’s more than can be wiped off with a burp rag. Puking also happens sometimes and you’ll be shocked at how much can come out of such a tiny belly, you’ve been warned. Spare shirts are also great for when your breast milk leaks through your bra.
- If you’re squeamish about getting poop on you, mommy up and get over it. Its going to get on you. It’s not a big deal. Yeah it’s gross, just wipe it/wash it and move on.
- This might be a bit too “crunchy granola” for you, but I’ve tried cloth diapering (along with cloth wipes!) and I definitely recommend it to all mothers. On average, you’ll spend about $550 the first year on diapers alone. Not to mention the impact disposable diapers have on the environment. It’s really not hard to clean the cloth diapers, you just have to dump as much solid waste into the toilet as possible and then toss them in the washing machine (it wont coat your washer in poop, i promise!) with a bit of dawn dish soap and vinegar or some detergent with no coloring or perfume. You have to also dry them carefully, because the water-proof coating will warp and come off. There’s plenty of mommy blogs that will explain how to care for your cloth diapers. If you have any questions though, leave a comment!
- Your babies are sensory beings, they need to touch, smell, taste EVERYTHING! So if you don’t want your baby to mess with it, make damn sure its put up high or put away. Your baby may start to pull themselves up to stand as early as 8 months, so keep a close eye on them and their environment.
- Mommy blogs are an indispensable resource. Without their advice I imagine I would probably be very depressed and basically falling apart at the seams. Mothering is hard, and you aren’t alone. I find pinterest.com very useful for finding parenting articles on specific issues. But don’t let yourself constantly compare yourself with other mothers. Your unconditional love is good enough. You are good enough. Don’t listen to that voice of self-doubt. Talk to yourself like you’re someone you’re taking care of and trying to help. Talk to yourself like you would talk to a friend.
- Journal and record all the milestones your baby makes. Sit and write about the whole birthing experience. Everything you never want to forget. Paint their feet and press them onto a pretty piece of paper. Take lots of pictures. Journaling can be very therapeutic and can help you get your thoughts in order. Flannery O’Connor said “I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”
- You should view loose change on the floor or low tables as an OUTRAGE! Pick it up immediately. Look out for anything they can fit in their mouth and put it away. Make sure you’re up to date on how to help a choking baby. It’s also important to know the difference between choking and gagging. If the baby is coughing hard or crying, they can probably get the blockage out themselves. If they’re choking they can’t make a loud cry. There’s a great youtube channel to help you learn first aid for your baby (including minor cuts, first allergic reactions, eye injuries, seizures, etc.) called “CPR Kids TV”. Here’s the video for helping a choking baby.
- Always always always take the diaper bag with you!! Even if you don’t expect to be out for more than 30 minutes. Grab. The. Diaper. Bag. And make sure you’ve got a baby blanket in there in case you’re like me and like to be covered up for nursing. (I’m not telling you that you should cover yourself, please don’t freak out on me! You do what you’re comfortable with.)
I really hope this was helpful in any way. ❤