The months spent during pregnancy are over and your baby is finally here. It is a happy time, but very nerve-wracking and tiring beginning as well. As much as you love your new baby being a new parent is quite difficult. There are just so many new things added to your life, whether that be changing diapers, not sleeping well, or just the new responsibility of taking care of a brand new human being.
It gets overwhelming at first and there is no doubt about the worries you will experience during those very first months let alone the first week. So in this post, we are going to talk about what it means to be new parents and how to survive the beginning of parenthood.
What Being a New Parent Means
Being a new parent means taking on the huge responsibility of taking care of and raising tiny little humans. That means we have to fully look out for them as if we were playing the video game Sims in a way. As a parent, you need to make sure that they are fed, hydrated, have a roof over their head, are getting the education they need, and growing up healthy.
That is a lot to take in right off of the bat. And when becoming a new parent there isn’t really a way to gradually go into it. You just end up jumping straight into the deep end.
There is no way to truly understand what being a parent feels like until you are one. That includes the changes to your life when you do have children.
Ways Life Changes After Having Children
When you have a child you are there to support them, help them grow, and teach them the ways of life. So that definitely changes your look on life. Before having kids you don’t worry about the new generations. Once you do have kids then you start worrying about what the new generations are doing because that will affect your own kid.
You start worrying about the dumb social media challenges that plague the younger generations. The way that women are portrayed on social media, television, and in magazines and how that will affect their views on how society thinks women should be. How guys are treated like they aren’t supposed to have emotions or cry. Or that society as a whole regresses as time goes on instead of moving forward.
Another thing that changes after having children is that you can no longer think about only yourself. You have to think a lot about your child and what they need, compared to when it was just you or you and your significant other.
That includes how much time you have for yourself. There is only the time that they are at school, daycare, or after they have fallen asleep. Then there is also the fact that your privacy will be nearly non-existent.
Let’s be honest, once they start walking everywhere you will not have privacy. You probably won’t be going to the bathroom alone for a while, especially if you are a mom. Your time will be with your kids a lot of the time and basically all of the time if you are a stay-at-home parent.
Related: How Motherhood Changed A Lot of My Life
How to Survive as a New Parent
Surviving the first few weeks is the hardest part because everything is new territory. From learning the ropes as a parent to healing from childbirth. All of this is tough in the very first couple of weeks. Especially since you now have to get used to a new schedule that your baby has.
Trying to get that rhythm of when your baby needs to eat and when they need to sleep is a lot harder than setting an alarm on your phone. Your body will be tired and exhausted from lack of sleep and the new demand of your child.
What You Should Have for a Newborn
Having a baby requires a lot of time and a lot of things you never needed before. Things like diapers, breast pumps if you are breastfeeding, formula if you aren’t breastfeeding, tons of wet wipes, the cutest tiny little clothes, and of course some bulky furniture.
Now you don’t need to have every product ever made for babies. Just what you and your baby needs. And that might take a bit of time to figure out at first because you will worry you don’t have everything they need.
Just know that babies are pretty simple and don’t require as much as people always tell you they need. There are things you will need that I will talk about next, but I promise you it won’t be a long list of items that are cool to have, but unnecessary.
Yes, diapers are mandatory. But you have many options when it comes to diapering your newborn. There are plenty of brands out there that you have heard about and some you haven’t. Either way, you have a bigger decision first before choosing a brand.
That would be whether you are going to use cloth diapers or disposable. There is a big difference between these two. As a first time parent, it may seem scary to use cloth diapers but keep an open mind.
Disposable diapers are so well known and used now that it may seem strange to use cloth. But disposable diapers cost a lot more and are constantly being bought. You will go through a lot of diapers especially during the newborn phase.
Cloth diapers don’t need to be constantly bought, but come with more of an upfront cost. They are more expensive at first and need to be washed which may take more electricity, but can be cheaper overall.
The main question is if you are okay with washing cloth diapers or if it is just too much for you.
Yet another big question you need to figure out. Are you going to breastfeed or use formula?
Each option comes at a cost. Breastfeeding will be more of a learning curve and with some pains. Whereas formula feeding will cost more with the bottles and formula.
I will say that I did both. I breastfed at first and switched to formula later on when my baby started teething.
Breastfeeding takes a lot of work at first, but once you get used to it everything goes a lot smoother. It is the cheapest way to feed your baby because it is free. But some people do not have a large enough supply of breast milk and they can substitute some of the breastfeedings with formula.
Using both can help if you are worried that your baby isn’t getting enough nutrient-rich milk from breastfeeding. That way a bottle or two a day of formula can help lessen your worries and increase their nutrients.
With formula, you need bottles, bottle cleaners, water, and of course the formula. Formula is actually quite expensive and depending on your brand can be a huge chunk out of your budget.
There are also many helpful things when it comes to bottle-feeding like bottle warmers and sanitizers, but they aren’t needed. Don’t let someone tell you that you need something that you really don’t. If you want one then go for it, but if you don’t then don’t waste your money.
Another big waste of money is buying tons of clothing that your baby won’t need. Yes, they are super cute and tiny, but your baby won’t be small forever and that means they will grow out of clothing quickly. So don’t go spending $500 on newborn clothes alone, spend it on diapers instead.
Newborns actually only need a few items of clothing during their newborn stage. They don’t need to be fancy or brand name clothing either because it will be burped up on and get stained. It does depend on your season as well if you need warmer clothes or more lightweight clothing. But for the most part, it is the same.
All you need are a handful of onesies, they don’t have to be anything special, white works just as well. A pair or two of mittens like this one so that they don’t scratch their faces with their nails. A couple of pairs of footed pajamas. A pack of newborn socks to keep their little feet warm. Some swaddle blankets because you will be swaddling them so that they can sleep. And if they were born in the winter you might need a pram/ bunting which is a warm winter suit for them that usually are just too cute.
Now there are plenty of other things you can have for clothing, but they aren’t exactly needed. Some pants are nice especially if it is going to be autumn or just to make sure their legs are warm. And of course, some nice clothing when it is time to show them off to family and friends or go to a holiday party.
It really is up to you what you want them to have, but just know that you can be very minimal with your newborn’s clothing and everything will still be fine.
This by far is the biggest pet-peeve of mine because everyone gives you “advice” of what you need to have when it comes to baby furniture. But you really don’t need all of that.
You don’t need a rocking chair, you don’t need a crib AND a pack-n-play, you don’t the latest and greatest baby swing, you don’t need a bouncer, you don’t need a baby carrier, and you don’t need an automated formula dispenser.
There is honestly so much more that you really don’t need, but I would just rant a lot longer and not get to my point. But yes I said it. You don’t need these things. You may want them and you can totally have them if you are able to have space for everything and make it fit into your budget. But trust me your baby will not know the difference.
You can raise a baby in the most minimal way and they can still grow up happy and healthy. It is just that most of the baby furniture that people tell you “you need this!” is actually meant for making life easier on yourself, not the baby.
There are some really great options for furniture out there that work wonders on helping new parents. They are very useful and I even had some favorite baby items that helped me out. But there are only a few things you truly need.
You MUST have an infant car seat. Hospitals will not let you leave with your baby without an infant car seat. They even have to do a car seat test with your newborn before you can leave. It is all about safety for them.
Another thing you need to have is a plan of where your baby is sleeping. If you are co-sleeping or bed-sharing you won’t exactly need anything, but if you are worried about rolling over this right here is an amazing option.
If you aren’t co-sleeping then you need to decide if you have room for a crib or if you want something smaller like a bassinet. Or you could go for a pack-n-play that can be folded up easily. Once you decide then all you need is either the crib, bassinet, or pack-n-play.
And that is really about it with what you actually need. An infant car seat and a designated place for them to sleep.
Being Prepared Ahead of Time
As a new parent, everything can start to become overwhelming. There is a way though, that can get you started off on the right foot and that is by preparing ahead of time. This means that while you are still pregnant you need to kick your butt into gear and get some things ready.
What to Stock Up On
Stocking up on things you will need like newborn diapers, wipes, and even formula if you know ahead of time that you don’t plan on breastfeeding. These things are what you will go through pretty quickly and it is best to be prepared early than to have to run to the store when you run out too quickly. And you will run out of diapers and wipes if you don’t stock up beforehand.
Why would you run out of diapers and wipes so quickly? You misjudged how many diapers you need to change a day. Newborns are supposed to go through about 7-8 diapers a day. That adds up quickly. Good thing is that they stay in newborn diapers for about 46 days.
Now just multiple 8 diapers a day by 46 days and you get 368 diapers to go through. If you did the same, but your baby only went through 7 diapers a day then it would be 322 diapers. So plan for your newborn to need between 322 – 368 newborn diapers before changing to the next size.
Since you have the number of diapers you will need now, all you have to do is try to stock up on them if you can. It will save a lot of stress once they are here. Especially for the mom since she is still recovering from childbirth.
Diaper Bag Essentials
Another way to get prepared for your newborn is to already have your diaper bag set up and packed with everything you will need. I won’t go into too much detail in this post about diaper bag essentials, but you can always head over to my post about it to help you get started. You will need the basics though like diapers, wipes, bottles if bottle-feeding, formula, diaper rash cream, and binkies.
Your diaper bag should not be the only place for these things though. You should also have a spare set of items you would have in your diaper bag in your car as well. It is basically your baby’s version of an emergency car kit. These will come in handy when you run out of what you have in your diaper bag or if, like me, you forgot some or forget the entire diaper bag.
What New Parents Will Need
Most new parents are very focused on their newborns and forget that they themselves need things too. Many times being constantly worried about a baby will make it harder to take care of yourself. Things like eating, sleeping, recovering, and breaks might just feel like they are out of reach for you, but they aren’t.
Healthy, But Easy Meals
The easiest way to make sure that you are eating after having a baby is to keep easy meals on hand to just throw on the stove for 8 or so minutes and it is done. No prep work. No hassle. No thinking.
Simple things make it that much easier to eat while you are on a time limit. And when you have a baby you have a limit of time before they wake up to get things done. So making a meal that takes less than 10 minutes of that time helps out a ton. That way you eat and still might have time to get other things done like the laundry or a nap.
The hardest part of being a new parent is getting enough sleep again. Every 2-3 hours your newborn will wake up hungry, needing to be changed, and wanting cuddles.
Oh yeah, that means at night too. No straight 8 hours of sleep again. Well unless you are the father who can sleep through crying. Boy how I wished I could swap roles and get sleep without having to breastfeed at 1 a.m. then 3 a.m. and so on.
But you need to get sleep and so the best advice I ever got during pregnancy was to sleep when the baby was asleep. This way you got in your naps to make up for the times you missed at night. Though you won’t be sleeping every time your baby is asleep because you still need to eat and get things done.
Items for Recovering from Childbirth
After the mother gives birth she will be in a lot of pain. It doesn’t matter whether she gave birth vaginally or with a c-section because each way has its own problems and pains to deal with. And their own items you will need for recovering.
With a vaginal birth, you will need things like Epsom salts, a perineal bottle, and a medicated numbing spray called Dermoplast if you ended up tearing your perineal.
For a c-section, you will need high waisted underwear and pants to make it less painful on your incision. A pillow to press against your incision if you need to laugh, sneeze, or cough to lessen the pain.
But for both of them, you will need ibuprofen or Motrin, heavy flow pads (I think that the overnights work better due to being longer), underwear you will want to throw away afterward, and stool softener.
When people become new parents they take on such a huge responsibility and worry about whether they are being good parents. But one of the things they never realize at first is that to be a better parent you need to be away from your kid sometimes. You need breaks.
Taking a break from your kids actually gives you time to breathe and feel happy to see your kids when you get back. If you are with your kids all the time then you don’t get the chance to be excited to see them after some time apart. It doesn’t even need to be a long time away. It really could be something as simple as going out to eat or going to see a movie without your kids to actually have a break.
Help & Support
Having help and support from family and/or friends is very important for new parents. It makes it easier on the new parents to feel like they can do this and that they aren’t alone. Not only do they feel as though they can actually make it through the struggles of parenthood, but they also get help when it comes to learning the ropes as a parent.
Help from family and/or friends can be in many shapes and forms. It could be anywhere from watching the kids for a little while to giving them clothing that their kids already grew out of. Even furniture can be handed down and save new parents the money that they will need to spend for things like diapers. Even tips and tricks from other parents can make being a new parent easier.
The biggest struggle for new parents is actually patience. It is going to be a long rollercoaster because parenthood is always a crazy ride. But patience is hard to have when everything gets overwhelming and when you aren’t getting enough sleep at first.
Patience takes time. It is definitely learned when it comes to parenting. There are many times when you need to let things slide even if it tries your patience.
Finding ways to be more patient in situations can reduce the stressfulness of parenting. You can’t get mad at everything and not start going gray. Try taking deep breaths and maybe count to ten before you decide how to deal with the situation.
If nothing works you might need to take a break because if you get breaks at work you should also get breaks for your 24/7 parenting job too.
I am going to end it here for today, but I would be more than happy if you kept reading. Check out some more of our posts for motherhood and feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below!