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5 Tips to Baby Proof Your Relationship

Bringing home a baby is so big -- so full of newness and wonder -- that it is hard to imagine in advance. Ask any veteran parents what those first few weeks (or months) were like, and you’ll get some combination of profoundly amazing and hauntingly difficult. But one thing is sure: it is a time when your relationship, as strong as it may be, will be tested. Babies are super needy and require all of your attention. So it’s easy to forget about yourself and about each other when you both want to do things right for your newest bundle and invest your entire selves in this hard, learn-on-the-go job.

But don’t you worry. Your relationship doesn’t have to suffer during this transition. Sure, these new experiences are challenging, but they are normal, and they will pass. Life will settle down, and there are certain things that you can do to move past the hurdle. Here are 5 tips to help you baby proof your relationship during the first few weeks with baby.

1. Create a postpartum plan. We often hear about the birth plan, but knowing what you want after the birth is also very important. Your postpartum plan is an opportunity to ask yourself and your partner some important questions. How will you take care of yourself after birth? What is it in your day that makes you feel restored and cared for? A walk outside or an unrushed shower? Make a list of your daily priorities, put it somewhere visible, and check in to make sure you take a few minutes daily to reconnect with yourself. If you feel renewed, you’ll have more to give to others.

Next, consider what you need from your partner to make those daily goals happen. Someone has to be on baby duty at all times, so plan to be there for each other in these small but important ways.

Also consider the role of family or friends. Will family or friends help or will they make things harder? Setting up boundaries is hard and can hurt relatives’ feelings, but having someone around who makes you feel anxious will ultimately make things harder. Play to each person’s strengths. Your best friend may be the person you cry to while your mom is the one who can make dinner as you feed the baby.

2. Let your partner fail. Did your partner forget the changing pad somewhere? Did she grab the wrong outfit for your first postpartum visit to grandma’s? Or maybe he doesn’t know how to sanitize pump parts? It’s ok. Step back and let your partner develop their own techniques for taking care of the baby; let your partner figure out baby’s world -- fail and learn. Not only will this build your partner’s confidence, it will also help your partner bond with your baby. The alternative? You take over and do it all. That may sound better short-term, but you’ll regret it later when you’re ready to grab coffee with friends and your partner hasn’t learned the ropes.

3. Don’t forget that your relationship is important. Your relationship is what got you into this mess! Don’t forget that you were once autonomous adults. Plan a date day or a date night. You don’t have a sitter? That’s okay. Plan 10 minutes together. Seriously, plan it. Get snacks, sit down and hang out with each other. Say hello to your autonomous adult selves again. Put in the time to be a couple again.

4. Timing is everything. Words can be hard when you’re tired, and we don’t always know the right thing to say. That’s okay. Small gestures make a big difference. A quick hug or an act of kindness will slow down the runaway train that leads to arguing. When we’re tired and stressed, our fight or flight response is easily triggered, which elevates heart rate and gives you an urge to be right. But it’s not about who’s right in that moment -- it’s only about the way you want the evening to go. So let go and revisit the disagreement later, when you’re both in a better place to actually listen.

5. You can have a healthy conflict. As hard as you may try, you will have conflict. But there are ways you can keep your conflict from becoming a catastrophe. When you use the word “I,” you are sharing what you need and what you’re feeling. Try this, “I feel overwhelmed with the baby.” Starting a statement with “you” on the other hand, like “You don’t understand what it’s like being here alone all day,” puts the other person on the defensive. So when you talk with your significant other, do it from your very own perspective, and listen for the other person's needs and feelings. You may find that conflict leads to connection. You can also use positive reinforcement and acknowledge the hard work you've both put in. And don’t forget to say thank you. It goes a long way.

Evelyn Gama is a licensed therapist in NYC specializing in pregnancy and early childhood. Evelyn’s best adventures though are as a mom to her own two little ones on the UWS.

Laura Vladimirova is a full-time NYC-based birth doula, Maternal Health Policy MSW student and International Board Certified Lactation intern. When she’s not attending births or supporting families postpartum, she’s fostering dogs and spending time with her family.

Photography by Laura Vladimirova, of bebebirthphotography.com.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

$70

Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

$65

Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

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Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

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