Surviving Life With a Newborn

She looks like a sleeping angel, doesn’t she? Honestly, she is, but let’s put some extra emphasis on the word sleeping. We’ve been lucky to have some relatively easy going, “chill” little ones in our family, but let’s face it: newborns are work. Whether they’re peaceful dreamers who sleep the day (and hopefully night) away, or they’re colicky, stressed-out screamers, newborns still need a lot of tending to. There’s the constant pooping, changing, feeding, burping, and—oh, did you just put me in a new outfit? Time to spit up everywhere!

While nothing beats the soft skin and incredible smell of a new baby, the first few weeks often leave you feeling pretty frazzled—and, remember, I said we have been blessed with relatively easy newborns. Here are a few survival tips from someone who just finished her first month with a newborn and a toddler.

  • Carry a water bottle everywhere. When our pediatrician told me that I should be drinking around 100 ounces of water every day, my jaw hit the floor. After working hard to get about 80 oz. (10 cups) of water down the hatch each day while pregnant, the thought of adding another two and a half cups to the daily regimen made my bladder shudder. I have to bring water pretty much everywhere I go or I never make it to my goal. If you aren’t breastfeeding, downing the entire 12.5 cups of H20 probably isn’t necessary, but be sure to stay hydrated—it’ll give you some extra energy as you navigate life with a newborn. I also think it helped me flush out some of the water I retained after giving birth.

  • Don’t nap unless you have to. I’m sure there will be a few “boos” from the gallery seats, but I don’t swing with the “you nap when they nap” mantra. Now, please, if you’ve been up all night with a wailing newborn and can’t keep your eyes open, take nap for Pete’s sake! But this time has been essential for me to feel like myself. It’s the only way I get anything done (in fact, I’m writing this post as my two littles snooze away).
  • Establish a routine ASAP. It doesn’t have to be anything impressive, just have a few set things in place to keep from disappearing into the pajamas-and-spit-up-all-day twilight zone. We don’t schedule specific times for most of our activities (other than quiet/nap time and bedtime), but having a general routine in place goes along way for feeling productive and more in control of your day. I implemented our routine when Dahlia hit the two-week mark. Most of our routine revolves around my toddler, with a few chores thrown in here and there. I feed and change Dahlia on demand and carry her in our Solly Baby wrap most of the day throughout these activities.
  • Keep some records. In addition to documenting life with your little one through photos and journaling, there are some other things you may want to keep track of with a newborn in the house. Newborns are still adapting to life on the outside, and pediatricians often want to know your child’s sleeping, eating, and digestive habits. These things can be difficult to keep track of, especially because babies seem like they are eating and pooping nonstop. Many hospitals will give you a little chart for recording baby’s inputs and outputs, but I’ve also included a free printable that you can use to track everything you need.

Life with a newborn can be challenging, no matter how sweet and happy your little one is. Throw in a toddler or two and it can feel even more overwhelming—but with a few tweaks and a lot of patience, it will all work out. You’ve got this, mama! What tips do you have for other mamas navigating life with a newbie? Let us know in comments!

Jenna is a writer, educator, wife, and mama living in Colorado with her husband and two children. She founded American Ingenue as a personal blog in 2008 after losing her mother to breast cancer, using the forum as a reminder to live life to the fullest. Jenna loves cooking, dreaming, and adventuring with her family. She has been inspired to share her experiences with others as she navigates this crazy life and strives to have "it all."