Parenting Advice for New Moms
Feeding, sleeping, diapering: There's so much to learn about taking care of your newborn. We pinpoint the most common rookie mistakes, then tell you how to bounce back like a pro.
7. Trying to be Supermom: Yes, you're used to feeling capable at work, home and all other aspects of life, but that doesn't mean you should tackle taking care of a baby alone. “In all of human history, we've raised our children together,” says New York City pediatrician Cheryl Wu M.D. “We're social animals, but in recent years we've created this false, ‘I can do this alone’ mentality.”
THE FIX Swallow your pride and accept all offers of help, or ask for it, suggests Dr. Wu. Repeat: all offers. “In the three months following delivery, your only job should be taking care of the baby and taking care of yourself,” she says. “Other people should be doing the dishes, bringing you food and so on.” The it-takes-a-village attitude is not only good for you, it's good for your child. “Babies benefit from more than one caregiver.”
8. Thinking You're Not Feeding Your Baby Enough: It's a knee-jerk response: Your baby whimpers, and you whip out a breast or bottle. But crying doesn't necessarily mean he's hungry — he may be tired, overstimulated, overheated, uncomfortable or just plain bored.
The Fix: Listen to your pediatrician; if your baby is growing steadily with lots of wet and soiled diapers, he's getting enough to eat. (If he's not, your doctor will have strategies to help.) At home, make an effort to figure out what each cry means. It's tricky at first — but if you really pay attention you'll be able to differentiate his “I'm bored” from “I'm getting tired” from “Feed me, Mom!”
9. Not Trusting Your Instincts: Having a helpless infant to care for is a dramatic, life-changing event that brings a boatload of new worries: How do I know when she's hungry? Tired? Sick? Throw in all the advice from friends and relatives, and it's no wonder new parents are full of self-doubt.
The Fix: First, know you're not alone. “A level of insecurity is completely normal for newbie moms and dads,” says Maidenberg. “You're inexperienced, and you're not sure if your judgment is accurate.” Listen to advice, she adds, but keep your B.S. filter in place; everyone from your mother-in-law to the guy at the deli will have words of wisdom — often conflicting — on sleep, colic and feeding. It's best to seek out a few reliable sources: your pediatrician, a new-mom group or a trusted friend with older kids.
Moms who know… realize that your baby is your best teacher. As days and weeks pass and you bond more deeply, you will become more and more confident in caring for her.