Parenting Your Newborn

Congratulations! You have a new baby! Now what?

Welcome to Planet Parenthood, where the sleep is scarce but the love will blow you away. In this section, you'll find your baby's developmental tasks, your priorities, and a simple Parents' Gameplan, all set up to make your life easier when you've only had an hour of sleep and you've got two minutes to read.

Photo: Ben McLeod

Your Newborn's Primary Developmental Tasks:

  1. Learning to eat
  2. Learning to sleep at night
  3. Learning to handle lots of stimulation
  4. Development of trust
  5. Rapid physical and brain development
  6. 6. Settling into his body



Your Challenges:

  1. Learning everything about your baby when he was delivered without an owner's manual -- and as soon as you figure it out, he changes!
  2. Renegotiating your entire life.
  3. Getting some sleep.

Your Top Priorities

  1. Learning to feed your baby
  2. Learning how to comfort her
  3. Getting some sleep
  4. Learning how to relax and enjoy the moment (Don't sweat the small stuff -- and it's almost all small stuff.)
  5. Gaining the confidence that you really are the perfect parent for this baby!

Your Strategy:

Photo: Zygote Daddy

1. Wear your baby.

She'll cry less. You'll be more in touch with her cues. Babies are designed to be held.

2. Breastfeed.

He’ll be healthier, have a higher IQ, and cry less. You’ll be happier in the middle of all that unfolded laundry. (The hormones that get released when you nurse are similar to those released after orgasm.) Nurse on demand, not on schedule. Get whatever advice you need to get nursing established. As soon as your baby can handle it, nurse at night lying down, so you can doze while she nurses; you won't be so exhausted the next day from night feedings.

3. Sleep whenever and wherever you can.

For me, the family bed was the only way to get any sleep at all. It makes some people anxious. There are now great options, like a baby bunk, that connect right up against your bed so you can't roll on the baby accidentally. Or a baby hammock positioned near your bed, which lets your baby sleep in womblike comfort right next to your bed. My advice is to read as much as you can, and then lose the guilt. Do what works for you and your baby.

4. Plan for the baby to be with Mom or Dad as much as possible for at least the first year.

An infant needs to be with an adult who is crazy about her. That’s too much to expect from a paid caretaker. Not to mention that if the paid caretaker IS crazy about the baby and leaves your employ – and the chances of turnover are very high – your baby will experience it as a tremendous loss. HE doesn’t know this isn’t a second mother. In fact, if he spends most of his waking hours with her, he doesn't know it isn't his primary mother.

5. De-prioritize everything else,

except eating, sleeping and loving, for yourself and the rest of your family. This isn't just for moms. It's amazing how many dads assume their lives can go on as usual when there's a new baby at home.

6. If you stay home with a baby, don’t let yourself get isolated.

At the very least, get out of the house every single day and go for a walk. (No one cares if your hair doesn't look its best, I guarantee.) Or get together with other moms or dads and talk babies. Or politics (For instance, why the U.S. is one of only five countries of 168 studied that doesn't mandate some form of paid maternal leave, putting us on par with Papua New Guinea, Lesotho, and Swaziland!)

Additional Resources:

My favorite all purpose baby authors are William Sears and Penelope Leach, but there are lots of great books on babies, see the Infant & Baby books section. Drop me a line and let me know what books and sites you've found useful.

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids

AHA! NEWSLETTER

"Dr.Laura's daily emails are the perfect way to start the day with love and compassion"
-Misti

Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings

CONNECT WITH DR.LAURA ON...

DOES THIS KIND OF PARENTING WORK?

My son said to me one day "pinky swear you won't yell anymore?" That broke my heart and made me realize that yelling only hurts everyone. Doesn't mean I am perfect, but it was a good reminder!

WHAT I'M READING

Reviews of the best parenting books l've found over the years