Some Handy Tips for First-Time Mothers (and second, third, fourth…)!

mother-and-baby-l-lauter

Here are some (hopefully) helpful thoughts or advice on what I found made things a little bit easier when caring for baby. Although everyone is quick to give advice regarding how you should look after your baby; especially when its your first, at times this advice is not helpful despite all good intentions, or just does not suit your routine, parenting style etc. I hate to be another one of those people, and if you have already been bombarded with helpful tips and feeling are annoyed by the whole process I suggest you stop reading now! Or at least do what most do and take good information and store it for later while disregarding the not-so-helpful hints. At the end of the day you will come up with your own way of caring for your baby that suits you and your little one; which is how I came to develop these “handy tips” – which as stated are only suggestions on what I found helped made things easier and enabled me to really enjoy caring for a newborn and everything that goes with it. So, here are some of my handy hints:

  • If bottle-feeding try to wash/sterilize bottles at night so come morning (when sleep deprived), you have fresh clean bottles ready to go. Try to wash/sterilize as many as you can accommodating for all of baby’s feeds for the following 24 hour period. E.g: If baby has 4 bottles per day wash/sterilize a minimum of 4 bottles.
  • Similarly if using Milton sterilizer change solution at night also so the next day solution will be fine to use until the time you changed it last (solution lasts 24 hours). Also, you can cut down on tablet/solution use by getting another days worth of bottles clean, so hopefully you will not have to use solution the next day. E.g: My baby is on 2 bottles per day (rest breastfeed) so I sterilize 4 bottles at a time, using 2 on Day 1, leaving two for Day 2. On the 3rd day I change solution and sterilize all four bottles and repeat process for days 4, 5 and 6. Plus, its always good to have extra clean bottles on hand should baby need an extra feed.
  • Boil water at night before bed or early in morning (6-7 am). As with sterilizing solution boiled bottle water lasts for 24 hrs. I found doing this meant the water was cooled and ready to go for morning routine.
  • Put a post-it-note or have a log for sterilizing solution/boiled water to record times solution changed/water boiled, as its easy to forget. Alternatively if able try to pick a time you do both each day routinely so you know that at 8 pm for example is when solution/water ‘expires’/needs changing.
  • Have a separate kettle for baby’s bottle water. You can buy cheap kettles for around $10 and dedicate this kettle to baby’s bottle water so Mum/Dad can still have a coffee without interfering with boiling times/cool down process. There is nothing worse than having a hungry, screaming baby and a kettle full of boiling hot water that you cant use for an hour or more! If this does happen, put the boiling water in the bottle and place in fridge or even freezer to speed up the cool down.
  • If breastfeeding invest in a good quality automatic pump. AVENT (Phillips) is a fantastic model and well worth the money. Some cheaper manual ones will not extract milk effectively increasing risk of mastitis (and a lot of frustration and tears), or even not work at all. I bought a Tommee Tippee manual pump for $60 which fell apart every time after one pump. For $150 I got the AVENT automatic and loved it so much I wanted to marry it!
  • Don’t bother with expensive bottle brushes. I’ve seen (and bought) bottle brushes at ridiculous prices. I purchased one for $15 which looked aesthetically pleasing but in practicality was a piece of crap, breaking within a week. I next purchased a plain, ‘old-school’ wire one from The Reject Shop (discount store) for $4 and am still using it now after 8 months and many clean bottles with no complaints.
  • Don’t worry about housework! Yes, admittedly it is nicer and somewhat easier to cope in a  clean house but do not sacrifice your health/energy or more importantly bonding time with baby. As cliche as it may sound babies grow up quick and that special  time does not last forever so enjoy it! As a lovely little poem outlines: “Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow, for babies grow up we’ve learnt to our sorrow, so quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep, I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep”.
  • Don’t feel bad if you don’t know what your doing! I remember with my first born my mother and mother-in-law would say “You know what he wants” and “you know him best”; especially as far as a feeding routine was concerned, except I didn’t know what I was doing at all! Their comments would give me a sense of failure and feelings of inadequacy that my motherly instincts were not telling me what to do. In actuality it is normal to not know what to do particularly with your first baby. Babies are hard and every baby is different,Your first child will be different to your second, and third in temperament, routine etc. And; just when you think you have them worked out they will go and have a growth spurt or developmental change and throw the routine you just worked out completely out the window! Mothering is all about trial and error and going with the flow; what works one day wont always work the next, but with each adversity comes a learning experience and another ‘mothering’ skill under your belt (apron?)!
  • Take time for yourself. Don’t forget you are not just a  mother but a person! Let grandma babysit for an hour or two and go and get your hair/nails done or go out for lunch with your friends, you will feel better about yourself and appreciate baby all the more when you get back home.

I hope these tips were helpful to some and help mothers expand their “skills” and make things a little easier throughout a wonderful time in your life. Enjoy your baby because they are beautiful! xoxox

Image: “Mother and Baby” by L. Lauter fineartamerica.com

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