PREPPING AND SHIFTS
“Having children is like joining a cult- everyone tells you it’s going to be amazing- the best thing you’ll ever do, until you have a child then the narrative changes to ‘Oh yeah, this sucks, Welcome to Hell’.” - quote from a client.
As a Newborn Care Specialist, New Parent Educator, and Professional Nanny with 15 years of childcare experience, one of my favorite things to do is help parents find their groove after baby comes home. Here are a couple tips for life with a newborn that I’ve learned and implemented throughout my years working and serving families across the United States.
Prep ahead of time!
Have “nests” around the house somewhere close to where parents/caregivers and baby will be spending time with everything needed for feeding and changing. Examples include: access to a fridge or mini-fridge, pump parts, clean bottles, formula, water, burp cloths, whatever feeding looks like for your family, diapers, wipes, creams, extra change of clothes (for baby and parents), anything you’ll need for changing baby’s diaper, especially if things get messy! Think of the nest as a mini family station.
Prepping water bottles and small, easy to hold snacks ahead of time will be a life-saver. I find this to be true especially when working overnights or needing to be awake during those hours. Middle of the night munchies are real, and there’s nothing worse than wanting a little something to eat or drink and not having it on hand. Grab the tastiest snacks and biggest water bottles around and keep them near baby nests, bedside-table, any and everywhere. Proper nutrition and hydration are so important!
Take the nights in shifts!
In order to prevent sleep problems and exhaustion, each parent will need *at least* one 4-hour stretch of undisturbed sleep. My fiancé and I, even though we don’t have human children yet (shout-out to Snoopy, woof-woof!), have talked extensively about how we’ll handle the newborn phase. The best idea we've come up with is to take the nights in shifts: One parent sleeps undisturbed while the other is “on”. After a predetermined time, the other parent is “on” and will wake when the baby does until morning. The families I’ve worked with who implement “shifts” love this method! Parents are able to sleep, be rested and functioning humans the next day! It also allows for both parents to share the responsibility of overnight care.
I always tell parents that the newborn stage is like the Wild Wild West: there is no rhyme or reason to newborn patterns those first 6-8 weeks. Some days, the plan goes out the window, and that’s okay! Take a breath, regroup, and adjust accordingly. Remember: What works for one family might not work for another; every baby and family is different! Sometimes it sucks, but it won’t last forever! So soak up all the baby snuggles you can, they’re only “newborn” for so long! Wishing you and your family all the best in this wonderful journey called “Parenthood”!