10 crucial habits that help baby (and parents!) get better sleep

Teaching your baby healthy sleep habits doesn't have to start when they've reached a certain age or milestone. Although each developmental stage will have different sleeping habits and patterns, introducing healthy sleep hygiene from the start is a great way to ensure long-term sleep health.

Adopt these 10 sleep habits with your child from birth to help you establish a strong foundation for sleep. (And don't worry, if your baby is older, you can still incorporate these habits into your current routine!)

1. Use light and darkness to your advantage. 

Exposing your baby to light first thing in the morning and throughout the day will help them distinguish the difference between day and night, driving their circadian rhythm. Natural sunlight will keep baby alert and stimulated throughout the day, which is important for development.

Darkness is equally as important. Your baby's room should be dark for all naps and bedtime, signaling to their body that it is time to sleep. In the evening, you can start dimming the lights in the house about two hours before bedtime to prepare them for the transition to sleep.

2. Develop a routine

Even when your baby is a newborn, you can start thinking about a routine that will help them learn when sleep is coming. Although a newborn's sleeping patterns are erratic and unpredictable, a bedtime routine is still beneficial at any age.

When your child is younger the routine will likely include more rocking and helping to settle, whereas an older baby might fall asleep more independently. Some ideas for a routine are: Bath, books, rocking, swaddling, infant massage and singing. Of course, you can decide what works best for your family and your baby.

3. Eliminate exposure to blue lights and electronics before bed.

This is true at any age, including adulthood. Blue lights from screens easily suppress melatonin, our sleepy hormone, and it happens fairly quickly. This is why it is best to turn off the television and any other electronics at least two hours before bedtime.

​4. Keep your baby's sleep environment consistent.

When your baby is first born, it might seem like they will fall asleep anywhere and everywhere and it will be tempting to let them do so. While napping on the go is somewhat inevitable for the first couple months, I always encourage sleep to happen in your baby's own sleep environment.

So whether that is in a bassinet in your room or a crib in their room, teaching them to sleep in the same environment consistently will help avoid difficult transitions later and encourage longer sleep stretches without distraction.

​5. Encourage healthy sleep "props."

Many parents worry that the use of a pacifier or other sleep objects creates a habit that is difficult to break later on, but I highly encourage the use of sleep objects as long as they don't become the only thing that will get your child to sleep.

A pacifier, white noise machine, lovey, small blanket, or swaddle/sleep sack are all great sleep promoting objects, depending on baby's age. Many babies will naturally transition out of using one or more of these items as they get older and if they don't you can help them do so using various methods.

6. Honor sleepy signs and cues. 

Most babies will show clear signs that they are ready for sleep as early as six weeks. Following appropriate awake windows for your baby's age will help avoid over-tiredness, but sometimes listening to your baby is all you need to do.

Rubbing their eyes, consistent yawning, extreme fussiness and drooping eyes, are all signs that your child is ready for sleep soon and it is important to put them down quickly to avoid missing that window.

​7. Make sure your baby's environment promotes sleep.

One of the reasons sleep in transit or sleeping in different environments each day isn't a great idea is because it can be overstimulating and distracting for your baby. But some parents don't realize that their baby's room or dedicated sleep environment is also distracting.

The area that your baby is sleeping should be free of distraction, which includes toys, lights, artwork, and colors. It is best to have minimal objects in the room and neutral colors to eliminate overstimulation.

Room temperature is also key as you don't want your baby waking because they are too cold or too hot. The recommended room temperature for your baby is between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit.

​8. Follow a consistent schedule and routine as best as possible. 

For the first eight weeks of your baby's life, a schedule really isn't possible since sleep isn't consolidated yet. As they get older, it is a good idea to set consistent nap and bedtimes and stick to it. As your baby's sleep cycles develop, she will have the ability to follow a schedule and it is a good idea to implement one that you follow consistently.

Of course, there will be times when you need to adjust nap times because of a commitment, traveling, or having to get out of the house, but it shouldn't be the norm. I encourage the 80/20 rule which means 80% of the time you are following a sleep schedule and 20% of the time you can be a bit more relaxed.

​9. Practice independent sleep skills.

When your child is younger, they will need more assistance from you to fall and stay asleep. As babies develop, they have the capability of sleeping independently more often and it is important to encourage that.

Independent sleeping does not mean you should leave your child to cry until they fall asleep, as this is often the perception—but, rather teaching them that they can fall back asleep on their own as they transition from one sleep cycle to the next.

One way you can do this is by recognizing what their noises and cries mean and when you need to come to their assistance. For example, it is completely normal for your baby to wake up multiple times throughout the night and stir, change positions or make noises.

If you run into their room the moment they're awake, they'll associate all wake-ups with a parent coming to the rescue. If you allow them the opportunity to fall back asleep, they will learn that they are capable of doing so.

If they become upset very quickly after waking up, that might be an indication that something else is going on and they truly do need assistance.

10. Prioritize adequate nutrition. 

It is important that your baby is getting enough to eat during the day to avoid multiple night wakings. Although babies newborn to about 6 months will still be taking feeds at night, it is a good idea to encourage a full belly throughout the day and before bed.

Once they start solids, you want to avoid certain foods, such as sugar, that could interfere with their ability to fall asleep.

Healthy sleep is as vital to our bodies as eating and drinking and although baby sleep can seem complex, starting with these foundations might be all that your baby needs to become a great sleeper!

A version of this article appears in The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama: Redefining the Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum Journey.

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Kristen Bell and Jackie Tohn on how they’re ‘sneak teaching’ kids with their new show "Do, Re & Mi"

The best friends created a musical animated show that's just as educational as it is entertaining

Amazon Studios

This episode is sponsored by Tonies. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Kristen Bell and Jackie Tohn have been best friends since they met as young singers and actors more than 15 years ago, and now they're collaborating on a new Amazon Original animated kids series called Do, Re & Mi. The show, which follows best birds Do, Re and Mi as they navigate the world around them while also belting out catchy tunes, is just as educational as it is entertaining.

On the latest episode of The Motherly Podcast, Bell and Tohn talk to Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety about how they're "sneak teaching" kids with their new show and why music is such an important focal point.

"It was basically our mission from the very beginning to 'sneak music education' into kids' lives, hands, brains, all of it," Tohn admits.

"There's so much science and data to support that [music] helps kids, their brains grow with math, with social skills. It literally can change your neuroplasticity. You can put music of their favorite genre or timeframe on, in an Alzheimer's ward, and they will come back online for a couple minutes. I mean, it's crazy," Bell, who has two daughters of her own, adds. "You know, music can bind a lot of families together. It can bind friendships together. And it's just a show that you can feel really good about. We want to get it in front of as many kids as possible, because I don't like the fact that some kids won't have exposure to music. Their brains deserve to grow just as much as everyone else's."

The first season of Do, Re & Mi premiered on September 17th and its creators recorded 52 different songs for the show that range from reggae and pop to country, blues and jazz.

"That's what's so exciting about this show," Tohn gushes. "Not only are the lessons we're teaching for everyone, but every episode has a musical genre, a musical lesson and an emotional lesson. And so there really is so much to learn."

Elsewhere in the episode, Bell tells Tenety about how she made literal toolboxes that carry different regulation tools to help her kids calm down (one is "find a song you love and sing out loud") and why having a village is crucial to surviving motherhood, especially in a pandemic, while Tohn details her special friendship not only with Bell, but with her daughters, too.

To hear more about the show, Bell's experiences in motherhood, and her enduring friendship with Tohn, listen to The Motherly Podcast for the full interview.

Entertainment

12 baby registry essentials for family adventures

Eager to get out and go? Start here

Ashley Robertson / @ashleyrobertson

Parenthood: It's the greatest adventure of all. From those first few outings around the block to family trips at international destinations, there are new experiences to discover around every corner. As you begin the journey, an adventurous spirit can take you far—and the best baby travel gear can help you go even farther.

With car seats, strollers and travel systems designed to help you confidently get out and go on family adventures, Maxi-Cosi gives you the support you need to make the memories you want.

As a mom of two, Ashley Robertson says she appreciates how Maxi-Cosi products can grow with her growing family. "For baby gear, safety and ease are always at the top of our list, but I also love how aesthetically pleasing the Maxi Cosi products are," she says. "The Pria Car Seat was our first purchase and it's been so nice to have a car seat that 'grows' with your child. It's also easy to clean—major bonus!"

If you have big dreams for family adventures, start by exploring these 12 baby registry essentials.

Tayla™️ XP Travel System

Flexibility is key for successful family adventures. This reversible, adjustable, all-terrain travel system delivers great versatility. With the included Coral XP Infant Car Seat that fits securely in the nesting system, you can use this stroller from birth.


Add to Babylist

$849.99

Iora Bedside Bassinet

Great for use at home or for adventures that involve a night away, the collapsible Iora Bedside Bassinet gives your baby a comfortable, safe place to snooze. With five different height positions and three slide positions, this bassinet can fit right by your bedside. The travel bag also makes it easy to take on the go.


Add to Babylist

$249.99

Kori 2-in-1 Rocker

Made with high-quality, soft materials, the foldable Kori Rocker offers 2-in-1 action by being a rocker or stationary seat. It's easy to move around the home, so you can keep your baby comfortable wherever you go. With a slim folded profile, it's also easy to take along on adventures so your baby always has a seat of their own.


Add to Babylist

$119.99

Minla 6-in-1 High Chair

A high chair may not come to mind when you're planning ahead for family adventures. But, as the safest spot for your growing baby to eat meals, it's worth bringing along for the ride. With compact folding ability and multiple modes of use that will grow with your little one, it makes for easy cargo.


Add to Babylist

$219.99

Coral XP Infant Car Seat

With the inner carrier weighing in at just 5 lbs., this incredibly lightweight infant car seat means every outing isn't also an arm workout for you. Another feature you won't find with other infant car seats? In addition to the standard carry bar, the Coral XP can be carried with a flexible handle or cross-body strap.


Add to Babylist

$399.99

Pria™️ All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

From birth through 10 years, this is the one and only car seat you need. It works in rear-facing, forward-facing and, finally, booster mode. Comfortable and secure for every mile of the journey ahead, you can feel good about hitting the road for family fun.


Add to Babylist

$289.99

Pria™️ Max All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

Want to skip the wrestling match with car seat buckles? The brilliant Out-of-the-Way harness system and magnetic chest clip make getting your child in and out of their buckles as cinch. This fully convertible car seat is suitable for babies from 4 lbs. through big kids up to 100 lbs. With washer-and-dryer safe cushions and dishwasher safe cup holders, you don't need to stress the mess either.


Add to Babylist

$329.99

Tayla Modular Lightweight Stroller

With four reclining positions, your little ones can stay content—whether they want to lay back for a little shut-eye or sit up and take in the view. Also reversible, the seat can be turned outward or inward if you want to keep an eye on your adventure buddy. Need to pop it in the trunk or take it on the plane? The stroller easily and compactly folds shut.


Add to Babylist
$499.99

Tayla Travel System

This car seat and stroller combo is the baby travel system that will help make your travel dreams possible from Day 1. The Mico XP infant seat is quick and easy to install into the stroller or car. Skipping the car seat? The reversible stroller seat is a comfortable way to take in the scenery.


Add to Babylist
$699.99

Modern Diaper Bag

When you need to change a diaper during an outing, the last thing you'll want to do is scramble to find one. The Modern Diaper Bag will help you stay organized for brief outings or week-long family vacations. In addition to the pockets and easy-carry strap, we love the wipeable diaper changing pad, insulated diaper bag and hanging toiletry bag.


Add to Babylist

$129.99

Mico XP Max Infant Car Seat

Designed for maximum safety and comfort from the very first day, this infant car seat securely locks into the car seat base or compatible strollers. With a comfy infant pillow and luxe materials, it also feels as good for your baby as it looks to you. Not to mention the cushions are all machine washable and dryable, which is a major win for you.


Add to Babylist
$299.99

Adorra™️ 5-in-1 Modular Travel System

From carriage mode for newborn through world-view seated mode for bigger kids, this 5-in-1 children's travel system truly will help make travel possible. We appreciate the adjustable handlebar, extended canopy with UV protection and locking abilities when it's folded. Your child will appreciate the plush cushions, reclining seat and smooth ride.


Add to Babylist
$599.99

Ready for some family adventures? Start by exploring Maxi-Cosi.

This article was sponsored by Maxi-Cosi. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


Boost 1

This incredibly soft comforter from Sunday Citizen is like sleeping on a cloud

My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

When it comes to getting a good night's sleep, there are many factors that, as a mama, are hard to control. Who's going to wet the bed at 3 am, how many times a small person is going to need a sip of water, or the volume of your partner's snoring are total wildcards.

One thing you can control? Tricking out your bed to make it as downright cozy as possible. (And in these times, is there anywhere you want to be than your bed like 75% of the time?)

I've always been a down comforter sort of girl, but after a week of testing the ridiculously plush and aptly named Snug Comforter from Sunday Citizen, a brand that's run by "curators of soft, seekers of chill" who "believe in comfort over everything," it's safe to say I've been converted.


Honestly, it's no wonder. Originally designed as a better blanket for luxury hotels and engineered with textile experts to create this uniquely soft fabric, it has made my bed into the vacation I so desperately want these days.

The comforter is made up of two layers. On one side is their signature knit "snug" fabric which out-cozies even my most beloved (bought on sale) cashmere sweater. The other, a soft quilted microfiber. Together, it creates a weighty blanket that's as soothing to be under as it is to flop face-first into at the end of an exhausting day. Or at lunch. No judgement.

Miraculously, given the weight and construction, it stays totally breathable and hasn't left me feeling overheated even on these warm summer nights with just a fan in the window.

Beyond being the absolute most comfortable comforter I've found, it's also answered my minimalist bed making desires. Whether you opt to use it knit or quilted side up, it cleanly pulls the room together and doesn't wrinkle or look unkempt even if you steal a quick nap on top of it.

Also worth noting, while all that sounds super luxe and totally indulgent, the best part is, it's equally durable. It's made to be easily machine washed and come out the other side as radically soft as ever, forever, which totally helps take the sting out of the price tag.

My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

Here is my top pick from Sunday Citizen, along with the super-soft goods I'm coveting for future purchases.

Woodland Snug comforter

Sunday-Citizen-Woodland-Snug-comforter

The bedroom anchor I've been looking for— the Snug Comforter.

$249

Braided Pom Pom Throw

Because this degree of coziness needs portability, I'm totally putting the throw version on my list. It's washable, which is a must-have given my shedding dog and two spill-prone kiddos who are bound to fight over it during family movie night.

$145

Lumbar pillow

sunday-citizen-lumbar-pillow

What's a cozy bed without a pile of pillows?

$65

Crystal infused sleep mask

sunday citizen sleep mask

Promoting sleep by creating total darkness and relaxation, I've bookmarked as my go-to gift for fellow mamas.

$40

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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10 Montessori phrases for kids who are struggling with back to school

The first day of school can be hard for everyone, mama. Here's how to use the Montessori method to help your child adjust.

No matter how excited your child was to pick out a new lunchbox and backpack this year, there will likely be days when they just don't want to go to school. Whether they're saying "I don't like school" when you're home playing together or having a meltdown on the way to the classroom, there are things you can say to help ease their back-to-school nerves.

More than the exact words you use, the most important thing is your attitude, which your child is most definitely aware of. It's important to validate their feelings while conveying a calm confidence that school is the right place for them to be and that they can handle it.

Here are some phrases that will encourage your child to go to school.


1. "You're safe here."

If you have a young child, they may be genuinely frightened of leaving you and going to school. Tell them that school is a safe place full of people who care about them. If you say this with calm confidence, they'll believe you. No matter what words you say, if your child senses your hesitation, your own fear of leaving them, they will not feel safe. How can they be safe if you're clearly scared of leaving them? Try to work through your own feelings about dropping them off before the actual day so you can be a calm presence and support.

2. "I love you and I know you can do this."

It's best to keep your goodbye short, even if your child is crying or clinging to you, and trust that you have chosen a good place for them to be. Most children recover from hard goodbyes quickly after the parent leaves.

If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye, give one good strong hug and tell them that you love them and know they can do this. Saying something like, "It's just school, you'll be fine" belittles their feelings. Instead, acknowledge that this is hard, but that you're confident they're up to the task. This validates the anxiety they're feeling while ending on a positive note.

After a quick reassurance, make your exit, take a deep breath and trust that they will be okay.

3. "First you'll have circle time, then work time, and then you'll play on the playground."

Talk your child through the daily schedule at school, including as many details as possible. Talk about what will happen when you drop them off, what kinds of work they will do, when they will eat lunch and play outside, and who will come to get them in the afternoon.

It can help to do this many times so that they become comfortable with the new daily rhythm.

4. "I'll pick you up after playground time."

Give your child a frame of reference for when you will be returning.

If your child can tell time, you can tell them you'll see them at 3:30pm. If they're younger, tell them what will happen right before you pick them up. Perhaps you'll come get them right after lunch, or maybe it's after math class.

Giving this reference point can help reassure them you are indeed coming back and that there is a specific plan for when they will see you again. As the days pass, they'll realize that you come consistently every day when you said you would and their anxieties will ease.

5. "What book do you think your teacher will read when you get to school this morning?"

Find out what happens first in your child's school day and help them mentally transition to that task. In a Montessori school, the children choose their own work, so you might ask about which work your child plans to do first.

If they're in a more traditional school, find an aspect of the school morning they enjoy and talk about that.

Thinking about the whole school day can seem daunting, but helping your child focus on a specific thing that will happen can make it seem more manageable.

6. "Do you think Johnny will be there today?"

Remind your child of the friends they will see when they get to school.

If you're not sure who your child is bonding with, ask the teacher. On the way to school, talk about the children they can expect to see and try asking what they might do together.

If your child is new to the school, it might help to arrange a playdate with a child in their class to help them form strong relationships.

7. "That's a hard feeling. Tell me about it."

While school drop-off is not the time to wallow in the hard feelings of not wanting to go to school, if your child brings up concerns after school or on the weekend, take some time to listen to them.

Children can very easily be swayed by our leading questions, so keep your questions very general and neutral so that your child can tell you what they're really feeling.

They may reveal that they just miss you while they're gone, or may tell you that a certain person or kind of work is giving them anxiety.

Let them know that you empathize with how they feel, but try not to react too dramatically. If you think there is an issue of real concern, talk to the teacher about it, but your reaction can certainly impact the already tentative feelings about going to school.

8. "What can we do to help you feel better?"

Help your child brainstorm some solutions to make them more comfortable with going to school.

Choose a time at home when they are calm. Get out a pen and paper to show that you are serious about this.

If they miss you, would a special note in their pocket each morning help? If another child is bothering them, what could they say or who could they ask for help? If they're too tired in the morning, could an earlier bedtime make them feel better?

Make it a collaborative process, rather than a situation where you're rescuing them, to build their confidence.

9. "What was the best part of your school day?"

Choose a time when your child is not talking about school and start talking about your day. Tell them the best part of your day, then try asking about the best part of their day. Practice this every day.

It's easy to focus on the hardest parts of an experience because they tend to stick out in our minds. Help your child recognize that, even if they don't always want to go, there are likely parts of school they really enjoy.

10. "I can't wait to go to the park together when we get home."

If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye, remind them of what you will do together after you pick them up from school.

Even if this is just going home and making dinner, what your child likely craves is time together with you, so help them remember that it's coming.

It is totally normal for children to go through phases when they don't want to go to school. If you're concerned, talk to your child's teacher and ask if they seem happy and engaged once they're in the classroom.

To your child, be there to listen, to help when you can, and to reassure them that their feelings are natural and that they are so capable of facing the challenges of the school day, even when it seems hard.

Back to School

Sex after baby: How to reconnect with your partner

Women reported having less sex in our 2021 State of Motherhood survey, so let's do something about it.

Le Club Symphonie/Getty

One well-established reality of starting a family is that at least for a time, you will generally be having less sex. Various changes and stressors including sleep deprivation, physical changes, hormones and general stress and exhaustion mean that our libidos take a major hit in those first years of parenthood. This is something that is to be expected, and can be seen as a normal part of a relationship's trajectory—part of the ebb and flow of the connection between partners.

That said, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have had an additional impact on parents' sex lives, with Motherly's State of Motherhood survey finding that 41% of millennial mothers having less sex due to the pandemic. Again, this is a normal and understandable response. After all, stress and uncertainty are established libido-killers, and time is at an all-time premium, especially for working moms. But it still means that intimacy and closeness in a relationship are impacted even more now than in pre-COVID times.

We know that intimacy (sexual and emotional) plays a major role in relationship satisfaction, so here are some tips for reconnecting with your partner after babies, even in busy and stressful times.


1. Practice Acceptance

Many couples worry excessively about how much their relationship has changed since having babies, and will try every single thing they can think of to get it back to how it was before. A more helpful way to think about this is that the relationship will likely not be the same, and that's okay. It's up to you and your partner to negotiate how you'd like your relationship to now be. We talk about radical acceptance as the practice of seeing reality as it is, which frees us up from the struggle of trying to change or fix things.

Once you've accepted that your relationship has changed fundamentally since kids and discussed this with your partner, this opens up the conversation of how you both might like to connect in your new world. What do you need now? What do they need? What matters to them now that didn't before? Talking through what has changed for you is important, since you are now both different people with different priorities and routines. It's likely that you are actually closer in many ways, and perhaps the love you share is even deeper and more complex than before—these are things to celebrate and nurture as you move forward in this new dynamic.

2. Understand Contextual Desire

We've already talked about the impact of stress on libido (hint: it's not good), but it can be helpful to refer to the work of sex educator Emily Nagowski. We can all benefit from learning about contextual desire, and the fact that each of us has different things that accelerate our desire, and things that put the brakes on desire. For many women, things like stress or body image put the brakes on desire, meaning that an 'off' switch will be flicked on our libido and willingness to have sex. Nagowski talks about the importance of understanding how we are wired, and the things that are going to help us take our foot off the brake and towards the accelerator. It can also be great to share this knowledge with our partners, as they may not understand that body image, pain, fatigue or stress is having this impact on our libido since it is different for everyone.

Long story short: it is very normal to not feel like having sex when you're stressed, in pain or feeling self-conscious, and understanding contextual desire can be a game-changer. Even having time to reconnect with platonic touch can be a wonderful way of getting all those feel-good hormones and neurochemicals—so a foot massage or a night spent spooning on the couch can be a great way to feel close and intimate with your partner, even if you're not ready for sex.

We do need to remember that our physical boundaries change after having babies, so we may not like to be touched as we did before, or we might be 'touched out' and craving some personal space. Making sure we communicate this to our partners in a clear and respectful way is fundamental. They may be missing physical touch and affection, and not actually realize that your own needs for this contact have changed for the moment.

3. Ask for Help

This may not be news to you, but time spent reconnecting can be tough if you're a) exhausted by bath time and preparing dinner, or b) getting up every few minutes to help the kids with something. This is where you may need to swallow your pride and ask a family member to babysit while you go on a night out with your partner, or arrange a kid-free-night swap with neighbors (with the promise of minding their kids the following week).

We get used to not having to ask for help or support when we are single or partnered, but when children come along, help is needed, and evidence tells us that having some time each week to reconnect and be adults together can help to keep your closeness and friendship. Some couples find that creating rituals for time together that doesn't involve parenting or child-minding is helpful, so this could be a biweekly date night, or even foot massages on the couch after the kids are asleep.

Our relationships need nurturing and care, even if they seem to be low maintenance. Having rituals is a good example and means that we don't need to put mental effort into scheduling or organizing, since they are just part of our routine. But a warning: These kinds of things can fall by the wayside, but research tells us that putting as much importance on these rituals as we do on other things (e.g., exercise, cleaning, holidays) can help a couple to maintain their connection and appreciation for each other. It is a worthwhile investment, even if you'd rather be watching Netflix solo on the couch—and the more you do these rituals together, the closer you'll be.

As you can see, the art of reconnecting after babies is both simple—and not-so-simple. At the core of all of these tips lies good communication, as well as the ability to be flexible in your approach to things and understand that change is completely normal during these times of transition. Parenting is challenging enough as it is, and add in the COVID-19 pandemic, and we can see challenges like never before. So even if you feel like you're not doing a good enough job, it's likely you're doing just fine.

Sharing some of these ideas with your partner and being able to ask for help means that you don't need to solve these issues by yourself; after all, reconnecting is a two-person job, and if you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed or unhappy, it may be that you need more support from those around you more than anything. Letting your network, and your partner, know what you need from them may be the most helpful thing of all.

Relationships

9 things I wish my husband had known before we brought baby home

There's so much to navigate in new parenthood. Proud new papas of the world, this one's for you.

We brought our baby home in a confused, crazy haze of new-parent life. We didn't know a lot. Actually, scratch that. We didn't even really know a little. There's so much I wish I could have told you—to give you, this patient and amazing man, a heads up. But I couldn't. I didn't know, either.

There's so much to navigate in new parenthood. Proud new papas of the world, this one's for you.

Here are 9 things I wish my husband had known before we brought baby home...

1. We are both clueless.

I know you've never done this before. But guess what? Neither have I. Just because I'm a woman or I used to babysit in college doesn't mean I know more about what we're doing. This isn't a competition of who knows more or less about babies. The playing field is level. We are both clueless. If you ask me why she's crying again, and I give you a master-level death stare—just understand it's because I. Don't. Know.

2. So help me.

Don't wait for me to ask. Please. Just do something. Change the next diaper, get me a snack, fill my water bottle while I'm nursing, cook dinner, throw in a load of laundry. Remind me to take Motrin. Literally anything will be helpful. And it is such a nice feeling when I don't have to ask you to do something. Like, a major turn-on. (And I'll remember that in six to eight weeks.)

3. Happily take over when I need a break.

When you're getting the feeling that I may need a break, or a shower, or to just sit in silence by myself for a minute—take over. With a smile. Bond with your baby. Talk to the baby. Sing to the baby. Do awesome father stuff. I'll get my very necessary break, and I'll be listening in the other room. #Swoon. ?

4. I'm going to cry a lot.

Over all sorts of things. I got poop on my hands. Tears. I am tired. Tears. My nipples hurt. Tears. I don't understand what I'm doing. Tears. Someone just stopped by unannounced. Tears. My belly is jiggly. Tears. I feel sad. Tears. I have never been happier in my life. Tears. This cookie is sooo good. Tears. ? ?

The new norm? Crying. Get used to it for now. I don't really realize I'm crying over ridiculous things, I'm just in this brand-new world with lots of crying (from me and the baby), a nursing appetite that dwarfs my pregnancy appetite and a baby bump without a baby in there. Let me cry without judgment.

For the most part, there will be zero rationale behind these tears (well, except #hormones... and dang, that cookie was really good). But also, do me a favor and pay attention to signs of postpartum depression. Because I may not be able to.

5. I've never felt so self-conscious.

My baby bump is gone, but I am still carrying extra pounds. Some people think I still look pregnant. I haven't showered yet today. My hair is greasy. My legs are so hairy they're confused as to whether they're wearing pants or have a thick fur blanket wrapped around them. The circles under my eyes are deepening by the second. My wardrobe consists of sizes I'd never thought I'd see, and my maternity clothes don't look like they're going anywhere fast.

Lift my spirits, please. I don't quite feel like myself. Be gentle with me. We can't have sex—and I definitely don'' want to!—but we can cuddle before bed, you can hold my hand and tell me what an amazing job I'm doing, and you can remind me that I'm a badass, beautiful mama.

6. I'm going to spend a lot of time in the bathroom.

You may wonder what exactly I'm doing in there. I may be trying to escape you people for a little while. But I also may just be using the bathroom, which now means also using my new BFF spray bottle, very slowly sitting down on the toilet, very slowly picking myself up off the toilet, putting a new pad on, and hoisting my pants up. It's not the quickest process right this second.

Oh, and when I get a chance to shower... no, I did not get sucked down the drain. I am simply enjoying the peace and quiet while the hot water runs down my back. ? I'm giving myself some time alone to reflect on the fact that yes, this is all happening.

7. I don't want visitors.

Sure, the close family members we agreed on are fine. I know they want to check in on us and want to meet the baby. But please don't invite other people over right now. This is a lot to take in and figure out. My boobs are out 24/7, I'm wearing your sweatshirt and maternity sweatpants and—makeup? What does this word mean?

If you could, just give me a little time and space in our bubble. I'll be ready for visitors soon. Tell people no from us so I don't have to feel bad about it. When the VIPs are visiting, be the overstaying police—if they've been over for too long, make something up so they get the hint to leave. The baby needs to rest, I need to rest, I need to feed the baby, aliens are coming and we need to go into our underground bunker—whatever you need to do. Check in with me privately if you're not sure what constitutes "too long." ⏱

8. I'm going to go into protective mama bear mode.

And not just with the baby. ?

With you, too. I need you with me, near me, supporting me and letting me support you. We're in this together, and I desperately need to feel like a team. Let's try to be patient with each other.

But also, if we do have people visiting and I give you the "I-need-my-baby-back" stare—HAND ME THE BABY. Politely ask whoever is holding her if you could borrow her and like I said—HAND ME THE BABY. PLEASE. I LOVE YOU.

8. I'm going to go into protective mama bear mode.

We are awesome together. Our baby makes us even more awesome together. This is new to us. Let's try to enjoy this time in our lives. Let's laugh over that poop on my hands (after I cry... and remember—let me cry), let's stay in our bubble as long as we can and let's rocking being clueless parents together. Because let's face it—no matter how much we think we know, we'll never know it all.


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