Motherhood

Advice For New Parents (P.S. You’re Doing a Great Job)

Advice for New Parents

When I first became a mom, I was so hungry for information about every part of the experience that I was never more than an arm’s length away from one of my many encyclopedic parenting guidebooks. But it turned out, the best advice almost always came from other moms. So, we asked a few mothers to weigh in with the one thing they’d tell a new parent, besides, of course, congratulations! (and please share your insights, too)…

“Resist the temptation to research the hell out of every single decision. Having a baby is time consuming enough without going down a rabbit hole of baby carriers. Choose one or two moms to have on speed dial as needs arise, and just buy what they tell you to, and do what they do.” — Gina Hamaday

“Even though I wasn’t a ‘teen mom’ — I was 21 — the show Teen Mom kept me company the winter my first baby was born. Seeing women three years younger than me go through extreme and dramatic phases of life and motherhood was comforting. If I had to tell a new mother anything (especially if they give birth in the winter), it would be to find a show you enjoy to keep you company through the long stretch of gray days and newborn haze.” — LaTonya Yvette

“Take videos. Videos of everyday happenings, not just the soccer goals and school plays… the boring stuff, eating dinner, playing together, taking baths. It won’t be boring when they grow up.” — Robin Helman

“It can be great to breastfeed, but you don’t have to. I didn’t, and it was the best thing for my sleep, mood and resentment levels — my husband and I worked shifts when feeding her.” — Rory Evans

“Get those little nightgowns that gather at the bottom for girls and boys so changing diapers in the night is easier. Why would you voluntarily opt for the sleeper that requires you to snap 17 buttons in the middle of the night?” — Jennifer Tung

“When your partner/parent/mother-in-law takes over, relish the time off and resist the urge to micromanage.” — Luisa Weiss

“Try to make the baby’s room a place that you like to be in. Even more than what you think the baby wants, is it pleasant to you? Does it have a comfortable chair? Do you have a nursing stool (essential!)? You will spend so much time there, so make it a sanctuary.” — Anna Nordberg

“Smell is such a powerful memory receptor — I can still smell the folds of my daughter’s neck where the milk had curdled and gone sour, and I know it’s positively disgusting to anyone else (and maybe should be to me, too), but it’s one of my favorite smells. That and sweaty baby skin. Take it all in!” — Liz Libré

“Never start cutting off the tops of strawberries for your children because you will be doing that for the next 18 years.” — Jennifer T.

“My daughter was born prematurely, at 32 weeks, and her early months were hard for me in many ways. One piece of advice that helped me survive came from another preemie mom. The advice: White lie your way through the grocery store. When well-meaning strangers asked me how old she was, it was a revelation to me that I could lie and say, ‘Three weeks,’ even though she was actually three months old. She looked three weeks old — it was the answer people were expecting. You can do this for all manner of new-mom questions from strangers. For instance, I also lied about nursing her. I loved this strategy because it allowed me to decide when I wanted to wallow in my complicated feelings, and it was definitely not while in the bread aisle.” — Mindy Walker

“Maybe you’ve had a relationship that has zero tolerance for taking things out on each other. That’s great! But now you’re navigating a whole new normal, and a little snapping can be part of the territory. Give each other some slack. We had a rule that for six months, we would let those little snaps slide.” — Gina H.

“I think my best piece of advice, and the one I still rely on during tricky periods with my now three- and five-year-olds, is that absolutely everything is temporary. A baby waking up every two hours is temporary. A kid who will only eat yogurt — temporary. Throwing things — temporary. And when those phases pass, the kid will get into some new horrible thing. But that horrible thing will be temporary, too.” — Emma Straub

“During those early weeks with our first, I felt very isolated at times, so I made sure to always get dressed and walk to our local bakery — even if it was not until noon or later! It’s not even a full block away, but the challenge to get myself and the baby there was real! I knew I’d be greeted with friendly faces, light chitchat and a delicious muffin — and it was lifesaving. (Nine years later, I still look forward to seeing those friendly faces.)” — Liz L.

“Get comfortable asking for help. If someone is coming over to visit, ask them if they could grab you some toilet paper on the way, or hold the baby while you shower.” — Gina H.

“Also, and this is a truly hard one in the age of social media, remember that every kid is different and every family is different, and that everyone is facing challenges. Forget about that kid whose parent you follow on Instagram and how they can already ride a bike and speak Chinese and eat oysters. That kid is working on something, too. Instead, focus on your kid, and your life, and keep doing everything you can to help your kid live their best life, whatever that looks like.” — Emma S.

Advice for New Moms

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give a new parent? And, of course, take or leave any of this! After all, “good for her, not for me.”

P.S. 15 things I’d want to tell a new mother, and how to talk to little girls.

(Top photo by Nikaela M. Peters, bottom photo by LaTonya Yvette.)

  1. Sonia says...

    Co sleeping was the only way i could get any sleep when my babies were little. It works really well with breastfeeding. I also didn’t stand on ceremony with my partner, i asked him to sleep elsewhere so that the baby and i had plenty of room and weren’t disturbed. After my second was born we didn’t sleep in the same bed for over two years. It was the only way i could handle it. I still have no idea how people get babies to sleep in cots, mine wouldn’t have a bar of it. If you’re concerned about co sleeping, don’t be! Unless you’re drug/alcohol effected or sleeping on a non firm bed surface (eg sofa) it’s very safe! Humans have been doing it forever.

  2. Cynthia says...

    Trust your instincts, and when your baby is ready to do something, he/she will do it. Ignore advice from well-meaning strangers. If your parents or inlaws offer advice, such as “I gave Sally cereal at 3 months,” reply with “We are following our pediatrician’s advice on (fill in the blank). Do not feel guilty if you are not breastfeeding. You’re still feeding and cuddling your baby. It doesn’t matter how you feed your baby, as long as your baby is being fed.

  3. Jessica says...

    1. Humans have been to the moon and we understand quantum physics. If there was one right way to get all babies to sleep all night, we would know it by now. Don’t let anyone convince you they have THE ANSWERS.

    2. The other day I asked my mom who raised 3 of us as a single parent on a low income how she did it (I have three and a partner and a two income home and I’m struggling) and she responded, ‘easy–no internet, no phones, no cable, I just did what I thought I should do, cooked what I thought I should cook, cleaned when I thought I should clean and I had no idea what anyone else was doing’

    • K says...

      Your mom is a sage!

  4. jaime says...

    -Limit visitors in the early days, especially with the first baby. My mom, who is incredibly helpful and a baby whisperer, stayed with us for a few days and took care of me and the baby. My in-laws arrived within 24 hours of her birth and it was a nightmare. We were both sleep-deprived, I was in physical/hormonal shambles, and they insisted on spending 14 hours/day at our house (and had been very unhappy they weren’t staying with us). Protect yourself and this fragile time. If I had made the advance plan that no one could visit for the first 2 weeks it would have been so much better… instead it permanently damaged my relationship to them.

    -You can’t really overfeed a newborn/young infant. When they are wanting to nurse all the time, it doesn’t mean your supply is insufficient, it means they are stimulating an increase in supply. Similar cluster-feeding happens with each growth spurt. Let them nurse every hour for a few days and you will find your supply builds and the frequency of feeds drops off.

    -Absolutely normal to not love the baby right away, or even for many months. You can continue to give love and care until your heart catches up.

    -Also normal to perhaps love your partner less/differently at least in moments. A friend told me “Promise each other not to discuss divorce before the kid is 5”. I laughed at the time but NOTHING has rocked my marriage/made me contemplate divorce before this (normal, relatively easy) child. And we’ve been together for 17 yrs.

    -Get an abdominal binder for the first few weeks after birth. Hospitals have them if you ask, or you can order one for <$15 on amazon. It will make your organs feel like they're back in place, make it easier and much more comfortable to sit up from a supine position, and make you feel better in your clothes.

  5. What nice and down to earth pieces of advice! About half a year after becoming a mother I wrote an article about the 5 things I’ve learned since becoming a parent. The most important one I learned, is that “not all advice you receive is actually advice”.

    People have a way about venting their opinions and personal experiences when it comes to babies, which can make a new parent very insecure. Remarks like “savor your sleep now, because you won’t be getting any when the baby is born” really aren’t very constructive or helpful, nor are “aren’t her feet getting cold?” when your baby managed to take off her socks for the umpteenth time in the stroller. People generally don’t mean it the wrong way, but it’s more a way of sharing their opinion about the matter (“I barely had any sleep when my kids were little” or “I’d rather see you put your baby’s socks back on”) than giving you a helpful tip (“You could try napping when the baby naps” or “I know this brand of socks which are harder to take off”). Just do you, and listen to your intuition (another thing I learned since becoming a parent!)

  6. AS says...

    this is a big one that i wish someone had told me before i had my first baby: you don’t have to have visitors! even if they “can’t wait to see the baby!!!!” if you have wonderful, supportive friends and family members who want to bring you nourishing food, do your laundry, or take your older child(ren) or pet out for a walk – fantastic! but if they want to sit on your couch and talk about themselves for hours while you cover up your leaky parts with clothes you don’t want to be wearing, while you sit there wishing desperately that you could have napped – NOPE!
    a friend got me this book when i was pregnant with my 2nd child, and it completely changed my mindset about postpartum. it should be required reading for every person – not just parents! https://www.amazon.com/First-Forty-Days-Essential-Nourishing/dp/1617691836
    it’s not a mindset that’s supported in our culture, where mothers are expected to “bounce back” and be smiley, happy, and accommodating of others’ needs. i can’t even count the number of friends who have called me (even as early as during their hospital stay) to say that they were exhausted and overwhelmed by the number of cousins/in-laws/friends they felt they couldn’t turn away. i felt that way even once i was home from the hospital; all i wanted to do was sleep and stare at my baby and i didn’t want anyone to interfere! healthy boundaries are OK!

    • Neen says...

      YES!! I wish I had known this and had limited visitors. I felt so intruded upon in the hospital when my parents and extended family came to visit, some of them multiple times…and we then had visitors at our house virtually every day for the first four weeks we were home. Nursing was a struggle for us and I was so irritated that we felt we needed to clean the house for visitors instead of just snuggling and figuring things out.

      Please, don’t feel obligated to let anyone visit. They’ll still be there when you’re ready.

  7. Luci McCann says...

    The only advice I offer new mums is this: “new babies need to feed roughly every three hours during the day and every four hours at night”. I spent endless hours reading books, asking fellow mothers and still doubting myself. But in the end, this was the best advice to follow. Hope it helps!

    • Melanie says...

      If you are trying to establish a strong milk supply it’s not unusual for hourly feedings. Newborns tummies are the size of a grape and nursing sessions need to be very frequent. An older baby may be able to go 3 hours between feeds but it’s best to follow babies cues and not a clock, especially for the first 6-8 weeks!

    • rosa says...

      This 3-hour “rule” nearly sent me into depression in the early days of motherhood. I had all these friends telling me their baby ate every 3 hrs, mine could barely go an hour without a feed (except at night, thankfully!). I stopped listening to “rules” and started listening to my baby and felt much better, now at 5 months she’ll go 3 hours easily but still feeds more frequently sometimes. It’s their nourishing and hydration and I find these dogmas silly – if I want to drink a sip of water, I take one!

  8. Jamie says...

    Encourage your partner, family and friends to take spontaneous pictures of you with your baby. Quite often women take most of photos but you’ll want to look back at ones of you together, and do will they when they’re older.

    • Inge says...

      This is so true! I do this regularly, otherwise I’d only have selfies with my children. I wish there were photos of me doing the daily things: breastfeeding, changing nappies, talking to them, walking with them.

    • rach says...

      this makes me so sad,because i didnt think to ask for this, and this is so true….

    • Jamie says...

      I didn’t ask either Rach and it makes me sad too. That’s why I tell all new parents to try and do it.

  9. Callie Kurtz says...

    Don’t check the time when the baby wakes for a feed in the middle of the night!!! All it does is help you keep account of how much sleep you HAVEN’T gotten. Just wake, do what baby needs ( I TOTALLY AGREE WITH NOT CHANGING THE DIAPER UNLESS NECESSARY ), and go back to sleep ASAP. There is no help or no joy in knowing how long that all takes.

  10. Jenn S says...

    YES to the suggestion of finding a show to keep you company!! Mine was Friday Night Lights! Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!

    Towards the beginning of the series, one of the main characters has a baby and it was so cathartic to be able to cry with her when she was sad and lonely and frustrated and trying to get her baby to settle down for the night. To quote C.S. Lewis, there were moments where I thought with relief, “What! You too? I thought no one but myself…”

    Texas forever!

  11. Laura says...

    I always come back to the Cup of Jo greatest hits of parenting advice:
    “Your partner is not the enemy. The baby is the enemy.”
    “Babies be babies.”
    And, when they’re acting like maniacs, reminding yourself that they are probably just acting their age. As in, “Man Graham, you sure acting like an 18-month-old today.” (For when he refuses to put on shoes but is still yelling to go outside.)

    Also, I didn’t like the “sleep when they sleep” advice because even if I was sleep-deprived, I still wanted to do other things around the house because when the mess reached critical mass, I got very anxious. So I say, “do what WANT when the baby sleeps, especially if it makes you feel better. If that is sleeping, go for it. If it’s wiping out the nasty toilet, do that!” The important thing is to not feel guilty about the doing things you need/want.

    • rosa says...

      Sleep when baby sleeps advice made me so angry! You know, I just pushed a human out and she depends on me 24/7, if I get a half hour to myself, perhaps I might want to read a book/drink a coffee/watch tv/load the dishwasher to feel NORMAL for a minute!

  12. Martina says...

    I have twins and what helped in those first months (and also now that they’re older!) was to 1. Try and go with the flow. 2. Ask for help and accept it. 3. Don’t compare your babies to others. 4. The days are long but the years are short. 5. Be patient with yourself, you’re learning and trying your best.

    Plus, one very important advice my gynecologist gave my husband when we left the hospital was: Look after your wife, and if you feel her emotional state changes in a way that begins to worry you, it’s your call: talk to her, ask for help, because she might not be able to.

  13. Kinsey says...

    Im a first time mom of a now one year old and I work night shifts part time and I’ve found that it’s important to remember that babies won’t remember much from the first few years of their lives. So, it’s okay to make mistakes and just keep trying to do your best. If you love your baby and do your best they won’t remember the details that you stress so much about. Also, be quick to forgive yourself for not being a perfect mom, no one is.

  14. Phoebe B says...

    For a new mom – every two weeks it gets easier! Babies change so fast and when you’re in the thick of it sometimes you just need to repeat this to yourself.

  15. Jo says...

    Be kind to yourself! You are doing the best you can and you are the best parent to your baby. I found people were often cruel (probably without realising) – “Oh did you put on alot of weight?”, “Oh you look so tired” and that always weighed so heavily on my mind even in those incredibly hazy newborn days and nights. Of course I put on weight I just had a baby and am trying to nourish this tiny human being with milk and of course I am tired I have to wake up every 3 hours to feed said tiny human being.

    I know it is always said that breastfeeding is convenient, free, easy etc but there is nothing really easy about it. Sure it might be more convenient if your baby latches directly vs having to prep formula with powder and bottles when you are out but having to pump requires a whole lot of time and money which people seem to ignore. I went back to work when the baby was 3 months and had to pump at work which necessitated investing in a pump, extra pump parts, bras which allowed for handsfree pumping, clothes which were pumping friendly so you don’t have to entirely disrobe in the office not to mention scheduling time to pump and having to wash pump parts. My point is breastfeeding and pumping is not easy and saying that it is easy makes mums feel sad when they struggle because of the eroneous perception that it seems so easy for others.

  16. Mish says...

    A lovely and annoying thing when you’re expecting is that everyone wants to give you advice, and often, particularly when it’s your first child, that advice might not make any sense…, it’s difficult to imagine what life will be like for you after your first child, second child, whatever. Sometimes the advice shared will never be relevant to you and your family…, so really the best advice one could receive is to trust yourself. You got yourself so far using your heart and your head, you’ll be an amazing parent when you continue to do so. Congratulations!

  17. kate says...

    From my Mum “Just love them and do your best, oh! and by the way sometimes your best really sucks!”

    • B says...

      100 %
      I know full well when I’m not “doing great”, and for someone to say that I am or that “your best is good enough”, some days it really isn’t enough.
      That’s where humbling yourself to apologize to your kids ( even as babies!) is tre important. Then move on!

  18. Rachel says...

    Sleepers with zippers. That is all.

    • CandaceJ says...

      a million times yes. zippers. zippers. zippers.

  19. Lila says...

    FInd a mommy mentor. Or a few of them. I have one with kids just older than mine and one with kids in college. I like their kids and I trust their instincts and the way they think about things. From sleep training to figuring out summer camps, these mammas have taken me through it all and are just a text or phone call away (now that we don’t all live on the same floor of a NYC apartment building!).

  20. Marci says...

    You be you. Don’t feel guilty or “less than” because you’re not parenting the way your mom did or your best friend is or the mommy bloggers do. And, on the flip side, don’t feel holier than thou because you’re doing (fill in the blank). There are many paths to being a good parent – choose your own that works for you, your partner and your child(ren).

    Remember that your choices are not set in stone; your opinions/techniques probably will change with each child and as your life changes. My sister and I are eight years apart, and we joke that we were raised by different parents; they were the same people, but I got the hyper-vigilant energetic ones and she got the mellow “don’t bother me unless the house is on fire” ones. We both turned out just fine.

  21. Stacey says...

    Listen to Janet Lansbury’s podcast-
    “Unruffled!” I wish I had followed her RIE approach when my kids were little.

    • T says...

      Omg yes. Whenever I am anxious and feel like I’m ruining my kid she makes me feel better.

  22. K says...

    There are seasons of giving and seasons of receiving, as a new mom you are in the season of receiving. Ask for help and allow yourself to be taken care of. We were not meant to do this alone.

  23. Avi says...

    While you don’t need to follow through with what everyone says, you could learn from everyone. I live in a close and small knit neighborhood, Sometimes my neighbors will comment if thrh think I overdressed my baby or my mom will tell my neighbor ‘why did you ask them what they want for dinner? Don’t give them choices, just give them what you made’ and both me and my neighbor thought about it and said ‘oh, you’re right!’ Sometimes others are right, be open but be confident in yourself.

    Another friends mother told me ‘your house will be clean when they grow up! Enjoy them now and don’t waste time cleaning too much’

    Educational shows are free babysitters and don’t feel guilty when a show or 2 turns into a whole day so you can chill on the couch on your phone. It’s not every day!

    Love the white lies advice. Must lie more to my MIL…!

  24. KP says...

    I always feel guilty sneaking away to have time to myself, and my husband will remind me to secure my own mask before attempting to assist others.
    My babies napped the best in my lap in their first weeks, and I spent a lot of hours just letting them sleep. Iwas super glad to have some funny (light!) reading material on hand – books that were easy to dip in and out of, and that provided a laugh when I needed it. Keep your entertainment light!
    Oh, also! A very kind friend gave me a labor recovery kit with everything I needed for self care when I got home from delivering. I was so grateful – I try to pay it forward and do the same for the other mamas in my life.

    • Sandra says...

      Would love to know what was in the labor recovery kit (maybe a good post for Cup of Jo, too?)

  25. Jessica says...

    For all parents, at all stages: “If you’re trying … you’re doing a good job.”

  26. Chantel says...

    Find a good show, yes!! I have three kids and each postpartum was really challenging and anxiety producing for me. I learned to totally dread it BUT…while still pregnant my aunt randomly mentioned a wedding cake show I might like (I’m a baker), I decided to tape the whole season then forgot about it. Fast forward to postpartum crazy time and the one anchor I had in those late evenings was my wedding cake show!! I loved it, and looked forward to watching it every evening. To escape, mentally, and forget my worries made it a hidden gem. So grateful for that silly little show and recommend the same for those of you who need an escape from whatever ails you!

    • Inge says...

      Agree on the backpack style diaper bags; especially easier when you have more than 1 child.

  27. CJ says...

    1) The backpack style diaper bags are so much easier than over the shoulder styles;
    2) Always have a spare change of clothes in that diaper bag (sometimes for both of you 😊)
    3) When they’re little and colicky, try sitting with them in the bathroom while you have a hot shower going in the background. Something about the noise and the steam seem to help.
    4) Vacuum when the baby vacuums.

    • K says...

      #4 made me LOL. Thank you. I needed that.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha

    • rosa says...

      Yes to number 4! ;-)

  28. Ari says...

    Do what’s best in the moment; nothing is absolute.

  29. Johanna says...

    The second that baby yawns, bundle that sweet angel (still awake) in the crib for some nappy-time. Best advice I ever got, to help them help themselves to sleep. A simple gift that keeps + keeps + keeps giving.

  30. K says...

    Babies are so tough (and wonderful!). My many thoughts very condensed:

    1. When my doctor could tell something was off at my post-partum check up she told me that for women who are type A and have been high achievers, caring for a newborn can be incredibly hard. It’s all work and there’s no praise! The baby doesn’t give you positive feedback on your performance and cries no matter what you do! She told me that she even tried to get her mom to adopt her baby soon after she got home because she couldn’t handle it. This made me feel SO MUCH BETTER because it made so much sense. That conversation plus 6 months of an anti-depressant made all the difference in the world for me.

    2. The way we live now means that many of us (and lots of our spouses) haven’t ever actively cared for a baby or, in my husband’s case, held one. So it’s okay that your mom or grandma seemed like a natural and you feel like you’re fumbling around with no idea what you’re doing. Part of that is due to a cultural shift in how we live, and it doesn’t mean you lack the necessary instincts to parent.

    3. Sleep deprivation is a torture technique for a reason. Couple a newborn’s sleep routines with even a slight a bout of PPD/PPA and it’s a recipe for disaster. Even when I had the opportunity to sleep my mind was racing too much about what I was doing wrong to be able to fall asleep. If you aren’t sleeping at all, get help ASAP. It’s amazing what a couple good nights of sleep can do for you mentally.

    4. To be honest, I find 0-6 months stressful and just plain hard. It gets better!!! Hang in there.

  31. Eva says...

    As the mom of a nearly 4-month-old now, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received—and that has gotten me through my toughest days so far—is to let yourself have “baseline” days. Basically, on those really tough days, allow yourself to do the bare minimum: feed, change, and hug the baby. In the early months I felt so much pressure to be constantly engaging and “enriching” my baby (lest I totally fail her and momhood), but this reminded me to cut myself some slack when I’ve been tired or frustrated or just needed a mental health day. What’s more, it helped me be more present, just watching her play or look around, and enjoy her all the more.

  32. Alex says...

    1. THE MOST important thing – What’s good for mom, is good for baby. Whatever that may be. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. The best thing for the baby is a healthy, happy mom that has the energy and desire to take care of said baby. Go out, have a glass of wine, drink your coffee in the morning, take naps, hand the baby off to your co-parent or family member or friend… do what you gotta do to thrive as a person separate from baby.
    2. Your relationship with your partner may suffer at the start. It’s very easy to resent the parent that did not give birth/is not breast-feeding. It’s normal, and it will likely improve with time. But if things are not getting better – get couples therapy. We started when our first was 9 months old and it saved our marriage.
    3. Soak in as much of the daily mundane stuff as you can. They really do grow up so fast.
    4. Don’t forget – especially in the dark and scary moments – its a privilege to be a parent.

  33. Tara says...

    In moments when motherhood insecurities start flooding in, I try to stop questioning myself and think “cave women were able to keep their babies alive and well, so what would a cave mama do?” A safe, fed, well-loved baby will find her way in the world. Try to be a simple cave mama.

  34. EP says...

    Don’t feel resentment or guilt about the WAY your baby was born if it’s a healthy baby. A healthy babe is all the matters. I felt such c-section guilt after my first which led to a really long, heartbreaking story. And I’ve heard similar guilt from moms who’ve been induced. After losing a child because I decided to wait and try for a vbac, I just can’t believe I cared about that! Not that you shouldn’t try for vbacs (they are wonderful), but I didn’t realize the longer you wait after 37 weeks, the higher the likelihood that things can go wrong.

    • M says...

      I’m so, so sorry for your loss.

  35. Liz H says...

    A friend of ours, who heads up the pediatric unit at a local hospital, says, “With children, there are three big things every parents worries about: eating, sleeping, and potty-training. In my experience, NO kid is good at all three. And if the parents say otherwise, they’re probably lying.”

    True or not, as a mom of two amazing eaters and easy-as-pie potty trainers—who also happen to be tiny sleep terrorists—these words have allowed me to cut myself some slack in the, “Where did I go wrong?!?” guilt game and to trust that this, too, shall pass.

  36. talia says...

    the game Two Dots for breastfeeding. get the app and pick that over scrollllllling social media, baby product review sites and weird mom forums

    • Liz says...

      Such good advice… I can’t believe how much time I wasted on Mom Forums and endless google searches about baby sleep and baby poop and baby EVERYTHING. And social media deep dives. I did not, in fact, need to look at every Instagram Justin Bieber has ever posted.

  37. Erin says...

    Find a mom-and-baby group so you can make friends with mothers who have babies the same age and who live really near you. Also, if you’re planning to breastfeed, find something you can read or watch (that has nothing to do with babies — we all need mental breaks) during the long hours of nursing. My New Yorker subscription got me through because every page of the magazine is so, so long that you don’t have to move your arms to turn pages very often.

  38. Valeria says...

    If you are still pregnant, you and/or your partner start cooking for 5. Eat 2 portions and freeze the other 3. Repeat for at least a week. As you’ll come back home from the hospital, you both will be so grateful for all these delicious meals you only have to defrost and warm. And believe me, you mother will need, deserve and enjoy the extra portion!

  39. Abigail says...

    As someone who isn’t a mom, I’d like to say to all the moms out there, please don’t feel like you’re not a good friend. I often experience my best friend, a mom to two growing boys, apologizing to me for not being as present in our friendship as she was pre-motherhood. As much as I might wish we had more time together, I’m in awe of her ability to parent, work, and still make time for me. The time we do spend together is all the more special, and my respect for her is even greater than it once was. No apologies needed, ever.

    • Rebecca says...

      Abigail,
      Your comment really warmed my heart- you sound like such a wonderful friend. I love hearing stories about friends leading different lives who are nevertheless able to support and celebrate each other’s choices and life circumstances. Im 35 weeks pregnant with my first baby and one of my closest friends has disappeared from my life as my pregnancy has progressed. I understand that sometimes we need to take a break from friendships but the same thing happened with this friend when my dad died 18 months ago. It’s been very painful both times. It’s made me treasure the people in my life who, like you, have been able to really see me during both grief and pregnancy. Anyway, thank you for being the person who sees your friend as a parent, in her professional life and in your friendship. I’m sure this means the world to her- you sound like a special person.

  40. So many smart, wise, and different ideas! That’s what it’s all about.

  41. Erica says...

    32 weeks and 4 days here….these posts are getting me through my anticipation for my first’s arrival. Thanks for everything for the last 10 yrs, COJ. <3

  42. Anna says...

    I learned from a friend to describe each new parenting decision as “an experiment.” It’s been both liberating and comforting for me, an someone who is an over-thinker and tends to get paralyzed by all the pressure I put on myself. I try to adopt this mentality in the face of especially overwhelming choices, often loaded with So. Very. Many. Feelings, like deciding between daycare options for my toddler. It’s an experiment, I’ll tell myself, when I notice I’m starting to go down the dark hole of trying to get everything right the first time.

  43. Andrea says...

    I was barely 19 when I had my son and his father abandoned us and I had to move back home. As silly as this sounds, when our family would go out to eat I’d ALWAYS order my meal when everyone else’s had just arrived! My mom taught me this, because inevitably you’ll have a fussy baby and this way every one enjoys a hot meal! It was brilliant. Everyone has such great advice but this is what literally popped into my head. It works people!

  44. Aja says...

    I’ll be 34 weeks tomorrow so this is very timely for me as well! I am a high risk mom-to-be dealing with a lot of anxiety so I have to admit that some of these concerns are things I truly hope to be the worst of my new mom worries (not to belittle any of them!). Loved the inclusion of Mindy’s comment about her preemie and am hoping to read more in the comments from other high risk moms. Would also love to see some COJ posts covering this topic in the future as the experience has been hard to navigate.

    • Rebecca says...

      Trust your gut instincts, and you’ll be fine! Exhausted, but fine! Good luck with your sweetie!

    • Abby says...

      Aja, I’m a new mom of a preemie and I FEEL you. I was so happy to see Mindy’s comment included too. I have lied about my son’s age countless times and am happy to hear that I’m not the only one! I’ll be thinking of you and know that the Cup of Jo community is here to support you. xoxo

    • Hilary says...

      Aja, my heart goes out to you. I was in your shoes about this time last year. What helped me was finding a therapist who specializes in matresence (your MFM likely has a list of a few good ones), scheduling daily downtime without screens or phones during bed/couch rest, staying away from google (easier said than done!), nurturing houseplants, and sharing everything with trusted friends. Also, never go to an appointment alone! You probably have lots but find someone who can do the work of advocating and notetaking and offering some comfort.

      In some ways, you’re getting a head start on one of the bigger projects of motherhood— learning how to love your child deeply and be ok even when you don’t have the kind of control that could always keep her safe or always keep him healthy or always keep them happy. Hang in there and take deep breaths.

      I’m rooting for you and your baby! Take gentle care of yourself <3

    • Chivonne says...

      Hey mommy to be! How exciting. I had a very challenging pregnancy, ended up with a C-section on 36 weeks so I remember the anxiety. So here’s my advice… stock up on freezer meals, you won’t have time to cook and you have to eat properly (especially if you’re planning to breastfeed), watch out for PPD – (I had it and luckily my clever OB saw it on my 6 week check-up, took control and sorted me out), embrace sweat pants & tank tops, get some standby bottles – even if you breastfeed, you never know if it might be needed and finally.. It’s not easy in the beginning, sleep deprivation is very real, but embrace your maternity leave, it goes by so quickly, I wish now I stressed less and just enjoyed all the experiences more.

    • Aja says...

      Thank you all for the sweet responses! I’m so grateful for the advice and words of solidarity <3

    • Inge says...

      I had 2 pregnancies with bleedings and other problems so lots of anxiety too. My babies ended up only 2.4 and 2.1 kgs. Make sure you have a doctor you trust completely. I had a trauma after the first birth, gave birth to my second in a different hospital. I told my second doctor I had 2 wishes:
      – be awake at the moment of delivery (I had C-section and full anesthetic with my first. Hearing about health issues when you’re recovering from full anesthetic is really confusing, afterwards I didn’t remember everything that was said. Luckily my husband was there too.)
      – I wanted to be with my baby as much as possible. In the first hospital, my bed didn’t fit in the NICU so I saw my child only 2 times in 2 days.
      Being able to be with your baby when you want to, to talk to them, ment so much to me. I too often have the feeling other new moms take a lot for granted, if I’m honest. I was just so grateful they were alive and didn’t have any very severe health problems at the time. Nothing else mattered.

  45. Naomi says...

    Be honest with yourself about postpartum depression. I knew everything you’re supposed to know, but didn’t realize my own PPD until 4+ years later…

    • MissEm says...

      Same

    • Rebecca says...

      Sending love. I got PPD with my second and did not get treated until she was 3 and I was separating from my husband. I knew something was wrong. Nobody took me seriously and the ability to fight for myself had drained out of me. Within a week of medication, the lights came back on. I wish I’d done it sooner.

    • Meghann says...

      Me too. I don’t have any good advice on how to find someone you can trust so much that you can tell all the truly gruesome thoughts going through your head. I wasn’t honest about those till years later. My son is now 10 and it still makes me cry to think of how long that lasted.
      Much love to you all.

    • Silvia says...

      So so so true. Thanks for this comment.

  46. Beth says...

    Love to dream suits instead of swaddling. Who wants to be wrapping in the middle of the night? Plus you can change them without waking them.
    Sniff them! That delicious smell only lasts such a short time.
    We have mothers groups assigned by the local council in Australia and they are a godsend. Form a moms group with other mothers within walking distance (if you can) whose kids are the same age. You need a mom squad! If your council doesn’t do this out feelers our Facebook/doctors whatever- it is the best to have a supportive group and mine are now some of my besties.
    Coffee always!
    And when the shit hits the fan – add water! Either give your baby a bath or if you are losing it put the baby somewhere safe and take five and have a shower .

    • Tricia says...

      I used to call it “Hydrotherapy”, some thirty-odd years ago – even when my babes turned into toddlers, and beyond: bathing my babies soothed them. Turning my toddlers loose in the tub: magical relaxation (for all involved). Turning the little rugrats loose in a swimming pool in the late afternoon/evening: sedative for both mental and physical states.

    • Gilly says...

      Ditto to Mums Group! I can’t imagine doing it without them – we all lived within walking distance and walked everywhere together everyday. The group chats with everyone at the same stage was life saving……these are some of the closest bonds I still have. We meet for dinner every month and with the kids once a week. Love my mothers group x

  47. S says...

    It’s ok to be angry and sad & take awhile to bond. If the bad days start to outweigh the good please reach out, it is normal & not your fault. Write your mum guilts down as a list then burn it!

  48. Sarah says...

    At different points between one week and one year I ended up needing three things – a lactation consultant, a sleep consultant, and a therapist. Motherhood is extraordinary but it is also hard. You will be exhausted. Don’t be afraid to say you need some help.

    • Hannah G says...

      My husband and I got marriage counseling at three months. Long overdue, but sleep deprivation makes any old arguments worse and we needed help to work through them.

    • Jenn T says...

      We got marriage counselling, too! Starting at about 10 months, and with our baby along for the ride since we don’t have any help at all (which probably contributed to things). As my husband says, “We just need a tune up.” It’s been extremely enlightening and helpful.

  49. Chrissie says...

    I’m a mom of three kids and my number one piece of advice is: don’t change their diapers during the night unless their outfit is wet or they have pooped. Diapers these days are tremendously absorbent and can hold a lot of liquid. Slap a generous helping of desitin on their bums and then change it again in the morning. With My first son I was nervous (duh!) and so I went through the whole rigamaroll in the middle of the night which, I think, caused him to fully wake up. With my other two kids, we’d hear them start to stir, keep the lights off, feed them and put them back to bed and it was like they never FULLY woke up. All three kids were up in the night as often but my oldest was the only one to be AWAKE like: HEY DOES CARSON DALEY STILL HAVE A SHOW LETS BE UP FOR THREE HOURS AND FIND OUT. While the other two would go right back to sleep! Game changer!

    • Madi says...

      I scrolled down just to say this! Fully agree.

    • Bonnie says...

      I second this advice, and even had the pediatrician tell me the same thing; diapers hold a lot, so don’t change them at night. You’ll just wake them up more than they need to be. Feed, burp (if needed) and right back to sleep (for both of you, hopefully!)

    • Amy P says...

      Yes – and Huggies and Pampers have special night time diapers designed for this as well! My son was a heavy night time wetter and those diapers meant we could go much longer without waking up and changing everything. So worth it.

    • Kate says...

      100% agree. I

    • Em says...

      YES TO THIS. Totally agree, we did this too. Helps them eventually sleep through I reckon. Lots of butt paste and a good nappy. Gold.

    • Ker says...

      This is the exact advice I needed right now! I have a seven month old and we’ve been up for an hour every night around 2am for a few weeks, partly because I’ve been changing wet diapers that could maybe (probably? hopefully?) make it until morning. Thanks Chrissie!

    • Callie Kurtz says...

      100%

    • Olivia says...

      Hahhhahhaha spot on!

    • E says...

      Hahaha I love this, great advice!

  50. Beth Ann says...

    My first baby was severely tongue tied and breastfeeding was just impossible. But as a first time mom, I became obsessed with trying everything to get breastfeeding going well. I was maintaining an unsustainable routine where I would attempt to nurse her, then I would pump, then bottle feed then repeat. I. Was. Exhausted. Finally, a friend came over and said “Your daughter needs a happy, rested mom more than she needs that breast milk.” This changed everything and it’s been my ultimate litmus test over the years. If something I’m doing for my daughters is seriously negatively impacting my overall well-being, then it’s not “good” for them either, even if the books say it’s “best.”

    • Sasha L says...

      This.

      I’m such an advocate of breastfeeding, breastfed myself and as a birth doula I’ve helped lots of women breastfed. But my gosh, it’s not the ultimate goal in mothering. You don’t need to die on that hill. Choose what you think you want to do, give it a good shot, get help, move on if necessary. And whatever your experience, don’t judge other moms about how they feed their kids. Or anything really. What they are doing has absolutely nothing to do with you.

    • Lindsey says...

      I had a very similar experience with my first. Oh, how I wish someone would have said those words to me!

    • K says...

      Yes.

      My mom and my husband finally gave me the same talk. I was losing my mind trying so hard and failing. I felt so guilty about it at the time, but now I know it was the right decision for us.

    • Michele S says...

      This! It took my pediatrician saying something similar to help me realize that what it was taking for me to get breast milk for my kids was NOT worth it. For me, I had to pump 30 minutes every 2 hours. INSANE! My pediatrician said something like think about whether it is impacting your ability to parent, and scale back so that it isn’t. Well of COURSE it was impacting my ability to be the parent I wanted to be. So I scaled back.

    • Anna says...

      We had a very similar problem, spent a fortune cutting the tie, stretching his mouth for 6 weeks and seeing a lactation consultant way too many times. The “triple feeding” is *brutal*!! We gave up and switched to formula and I only wish I hadn’t stressed so much. It’s okay to not breastfeed!

  51. Sasha L says...

    Reminiscing with my parents a few weeks ago and realized that my sweet Aunt had five children in five years, and another cherished Aunt had five in four (twins!). Startling realization that by gosh those children didn’t receive a whole lot of individual attention….. Growing up on ranches with horses, cows and rattlesnakes, not only did mom have her hands full raising kids, but was also helping on the ranch, cooking huge meals to feed them all plus hired hands, driving so far for any thing at all. The nearest doctor was more than an hour away.

    Shockingly, all happy, well adjusted, successful kids who survived their childhoods!! And my aunts did too, such happy and loving women. And they survived cloth diapers with all those kids.

    It might be possible that we are over thinking, over parenting, over hovering and over beating ourselves up about whether we are doing a good enough job. Good enough is really ok. The harm that all this worrying about being the best mom and giving our children the best 24/7 can’t possibly be good for us, or the kids. Here’s what good enough might look like: cold cereal for (insert meal), the words “go outside and play”, followed shortly thereafter by “I don’t see any blood, you’re ok, smooch” and “Mommy is doing important work on her phone for the next ten minutes. Anyone who interrupts her will NOT be watching the shark show in an hour.”

    Whatever job you think you’re doing, truly, it’s good enough. Give yourself a break.

    • Andrea says...

      I second a previous comment that Good enough is really ok.
      It really is.
      My son is 7 1/2 and sometimes I feel like we are the only family who isn’t over scheduled with “kid-enrichment” activities. I truly believe it really is ok to have unstructured time to see where the day takes you (for kids and parents alike).

      This weekend my son tore through yet another pair of sneakers so I had to scramble to find a last minute replacement. To my surprise, this morning I woke to find that he had created a diorama out of the shoe box – a full underwater scene with fish and eels and seaweed. This spontaneous art scene popped out of my baseball obsessed child and, as my mind runs through memorable moments so far in my parental journey, I am realizing most have happened during the unstructured pauses in the day. Don’t forget to take a moment and enjoy this moment in your child’s growth. It really is amazing.

    • Lisa says...

      Thank you, I needed this :)

    • Mandy says...

      Love this ⬆️⬆️⬆️
      Well known Australian childhood expert Maggie Dent talks about “good enough” parenting and sums it up as “80/20” – 80% good parenting and 20% that you let slide. Such a relief to not be tied to the expectation of 100% perfect!

    • Sarah says...

      I love this comment. We all truly need this perspective! 💜

    • Kristen says...

      Sasha – Yes. Thank you for this comment and perspective. As a solo parent who decided to adopt my daughter without a partner (many do and still not a cultural norm) – I am aware of so many “shoulds” of parenting and specifically “mothering” (which is why I like the word “parenting.”) I remind myself often that my daughter is happy, healthy and thriving – the end – full stop – absolutely good enough.

  52. KL says...

    Something that turned out to be really helpful for me was to pick a formula that I felt comfortable with BEFORE I had my daughter. I didn’t know if I would end up needing or wanting to use it, but I figured I’d rather do the research before baby came than after. Turns out, I needed to put my daughter on formula and having the brand/type already picked out saved a LOT of additional stress, anxiety, and work (I’m thankful she took to it well).

  53. Stephanie Brennan says...

    I always give the same advice when asked (this comes up a lot at baby showers) and it is this: don’t follow anyone’s advice! LOL. Know that you know your baby best and truly trust your gut. Of course other mother’s advice is helpful and can be great — but mother’s intuition is a real and powerful thing. Believe it. Believe yourself.

    • rosa says...

      THIS!

  54. Meghan says...

    There are few things worth going into debt over, but I believe maternal happiness is one of them. It’s like a health crisis, in that it’s worth whatever it takes to fix the problem. I’m not suggesting being financially irresponsible, but I am suggesting throwing as much money at the exhaustion and loneliness of modern motherhood as you possibly can. I have three kids now, so I have learned the hard way to be shameless about getting as much rest and help as I can possibly find. Get babysitters, a nap, an exercise class, massages, a night with wine and friends, a new journal, therapy, a latte — whatever you can barely afford to help you feel more like yourself. Because as someone put it so well — you are the only one who can give your kids a happy mom.

    • Eva says...

      You are SO RIGHT on this. It IS worth a little bit of debt getting off the ground. Maybe one day our government will put it’s money where it’s mouth is: “FAMILY VALUES, yada yada” but until then: mama take out a loan and take care of YOURSELF.

  55. Jen says...

    It’s ok to go back to work and it’s also ok to want to go back to work.

    • Cs says...

      Agreed! (Believe me, I wish I could have felt that way and been one of the mothers who was happy to be back at work!!) I would like to add that it is also okay if you don’t want to go back to work. I had to go back and I did, but I found it SO HARD!!! Some work friends and colleagues made me feel terrible for how I was feeling, but I couldn’t help it! I missed being at home with my baby and if I’d had a magic wand and could have done it, I would have been at home for years. You do what you have to either way, accept your feelings either way.

  56. There is probably no greater advice during the early months than ”sleep when they sleep.” But I would add that water is more important than coffee…. and that miraculously, the sound of shower will drown out the sound of a baby’s cries….a temporary, needed respite for any mom!

  57. Jen says...

    “Tomorrow is a new day”

    Somehow, when they finally go to sleep, all is forgiven and a fresh start for both parent and baby/child awaits each morning.

    And it’s not a terrible idea to read allll the books – and decide for yourself which are the “best bits”.

    • Dee says...

      Gosh this proves the rule that all babies are different as this hasn’t been my experience- I remember the absolute DREAD of the oncoming night. Getting them to sleep, well ok, they’ll be awake again in 40 minutes. With new babies there are no tomorrows just endless endless nights.

  58. April says...

    My advice to new parents is get dimmer switches for bedside lamps or table lamp next to wherever you’ll be feeding in the night. It’s so nice to keep the lights low, but still see what you are doing!

    • Kristi says...

      YES! And if you can’t get dimmer switches installed, or don’t want to buy a new lamp, there are WiFi-enabled outlet plugs or light bulbs that allow you to control the dim level on your phone, set schedules, etc.

    • Rebecca says...

      I always say the same thing! It’s not hard to have an electrician switch a switch to a dimmer switch, if you aren’t one to dabble in electricity. The BEST thing hands down that we had in the baby’s room.

    • Laura says...

      I had a little reading light clipped to my headboard and I kept all my feeding and diaper change supplies in my bassinet (in a side pocket) so I never had to get out of bed. I really think this helped my daughter figure out night from day at an early age. She’d wake up to eat, but usually go right back down without a fuss because I don’t think she was every fully awake.

  59. Angela says...

    The most freeing advice for me has been “no credit, no blame” ! This applies to parenting kids ages 0-100! We do our best to love and care for them, but at the end of the day they are their own people!

  60. Chelsea says...

    It’s okay to wear a nursing tank and pajama pants everyday for the first 2 months and spend most of your time in your bed feeding your baby and binge watching Netflix. Some moms love going out to eat and exercising daily with a one week old baby, but I did not feel that way at all. After my self-imposed two month cave dwelling I felt much more confident and a little more rested and ready to face the world!

    • Elizabeth says...

      Yes!!

    • Tricia says...

      I think you are the healthy norm.

  61. Lisa says...

    My top ones
    1. For newborns / babies – give it two weeks. Anything, sleep problems, feeding problems. Babies change so much that something that is difficult now can be completely different in two weeks. With my eldest, I had an emergency c section, then my milk was delayed coming in and he wasn’t feeding properly and nursing was SO painful. I thought I’d try for two weeks (and got help from a lactation consultant) and my son ended up breastfeeding for nearly a year

    2. Second the video one. I assumed that so many of the cute things my kids did would last forever but they don’t, and I regret missing videos of things like my son making a chirping bird noise. One day I’ll get around to compiling them into a longer video … one day

    3. Same on the smell thing! I love the smell when my daughter pees in a new nappy. She looks like she’s getting ready to start using the potty so it might not be for much longer.

    4. For toddlers (and probably for older kids as well), when they’re giving you a hard time it’s probably because they’re having a hard time

  62. Lora says...

    When I was married, I received the advice, “At the end of the day, your husband needs love and food.” And it felt super old school. But in the years since then, I’ve thought about it a lot. At the end of the day, he needs love and food. I need love and food. And once our baby was born, I thought about with her too, both when she was little little and now that she’s a toddler. “She’s cranky – love or food?” Cuddling her to my chest or laying down so we are eye-to-eye during a tantrum; warm milk or helping her find her stash of snacks scattered on the floor. It’s not the answer to all issues, but it often calms her/me enough that the other needs (ahem, sleep) become more obvious.

  63. Jaime says...

    So needed this blog post and why I love this blog! . I’m a new mom with a 9 week old and every day wonder if I am doing things right. Book marking this to come back to! :)

    • Tis says...

      You are! Great job. :)

  64. Bren says...

    There is so much great advice on here! I have a 3 and 5 year old, and I am currently pregnant with twins, so in a lot of ways I feel like I am starting over again with this new challenge of two at once! One of the biggest things I’m learning, is to surround myself with people that are FOR me! It’s amazing how many people have said to me “You’ll never leave the house alone with all your kids again. It can’t be done.” And I’ve left those conversations SO discouraged. So guess what? I decided to find the moms who told me it CAN be done! Will it be like a circus some (most) days? Absolutely. Will I sometimes try to go somewhere, but then just turn right back around and come back home? Absolutely. But I’ve learned to get rid of the negative people around me because they aren’t helping my anxiety about jumping from 2 to 4 kids overnight. So I guess my advice is this…why can’t I be a trailblazer? Why can’t I take all my 4 kids to Target by myself?! I’m not saying there won’t be crying or poop explosions, but can’t I still try?! Find the people who tell you to go anyway!! Those are my people and those will be your people too :)

    • Emily says...

      YES!!!!! I have twins and get so tired of people saying negative things about how busy I am, how hard it must be, etc. I wish we could all come to it with a little more encouragement to strangers. Instead of telling a mom with more than one child “you have your hands full”, say “ you’re doing an amazing job!”
      I agree to find the people who will be on your team and be all in for adventure.

    • Ali says...

      Yassss!!!!! I have 2 month old twins and a 2 and 4 year old and was inundated with so much negative commentary- and i am here to tell you to ignore it all and if it feels good or sounds fun to you and your family, go for it! It can be done! Also- for what it is worth, both my husband and I say that having twins is easier than we thought it would be! Big hug! You can do it! It will be great! My older girls and I play a new fun ‘game’ called “stick to me like glue” and they cling as hard and as in weird a position as they can to my legs when I say “stick like glue”. Perfect for parking lots, street corners, etc. Find something each day that helps you get centered and calm and remember that whenever things go a bit haywire. Again, you’ll be great!!

    • Katey says...

      And as a twin, myself, I am just realizing how those comments negatively impacted ME! Most of us struggle with low self-worth in a capitalist society (because it costs a lot to be alive) but as a twin I had a double helping of sensing I took too many resources from my parents. Too much money, too much effort, etc.
      I wish people approached news of babies (twins, whatever) from a humanist viewpoint; twice the joy, the love, and twice the sublime.

    • Lesley says...

      I am 38 weeks pregnant with twins. This was insanely comforting. I’ve received so much (unsolicited) negative commentary! These are my first children, so I’ll never know any different, and you know what, I’m sure it’ll be fine!

    • Bren says...

      Aww this is super encouraging!! Thank you for sharing that!! I love the stick like glue idea!! hahaha!

    • Sarah says...

      (Fists pumping in the air) “YESSSS!!!” I have twin toddlers and a 5 year old, and if I had a dime for every time I heard, “you’ve got your hands full!!” , much less all the negativity. The only positive advice or comments I received while pregnant or with newborns was from OTHER ACTUAL PARENTS OF TWINS! HA! just goes to show who really knows their stuff. You have so much to !ook forward to- best of luck and see you at Target!

    • Ali says...

      “See you at target” hahahahahhaha 👌🏻🙌🏻👏🏻

  65. Emily says...

    The hands-down best advice given to me was when we were meeting my son’s pediatrician. He had two rules for accepting families/babies into his practice-he wanted us to vaccinate and he encouraged me to nurse. He had practiced pediatric medicine in remote parts of India and firmly believed these two things were crucial to raising healthy babies.

    He turned to me and said, after you have the baby, your primary role is to nurse. ..

    I will never forgot how he slowly turned in his chair and looked at my husband and said, And your job is to support her in nursing. When the baby gets up in the night, you bring him to her. While she is nursing, get her a glass of water. When she finishes nursing, take the baby from her and burp him and change him and put him back down. Nursing requires immense energy, rest, and hydration. She needs her partner’s support to be successful.

    It makes me teary to this day realizing what he was doing-he was instructing my husband in how to be my partner in an act often thought of as belonging to the mother. And he was setting us up to be partners as parents.

    • Kristen says...

      Similarly, at one of our first pediatrician appointments — when I was still scared to put our tiny baby in what seemed like a gigantic car seat — our wonderful doctor spent only a few minutes looking at our son and then started a much longer conversation with “And how are you doing?”
      We talked about who did what when the baby woke up at night, if we’d been outside, if we’d seen friends, and when each of us would go back to work.
      The clear message was: “Your health is as important to me as your child’s.” It was so kind.

    • Valentine says...

      This makes me teary too! My husband did this of his own accord, and I don’t know how I would have survived those first few weeks if I had been doing it alone. We were partners in parenting! I don’t think I changed more than a couple diapers myself until he went back to work! ❤️

    • alle says...

      Wow will share this with every new dad I come across, Thank you.

    • Rose says...

      And if you don’t want to nurse? If it hurts? If it’s triggering? If you can’t? If you’d rather split the labor of feeding with your partner? Is your child going to be unhealthy? I’m glad it worked for you and I like that he encouraged your husband to parent. Nursing can be a wonderful bonding experience— but it isn’t crucial to raising a healthy child, and doctors should tell patients that it is. Fed is best.

    • Emily says...

      Hi, Rose-luckily my child’s pediatrician was a good match for our family because I did wish to nurse and did. In his experience practicing pediatric medicine in various parts of the world for over 30 years, he felt as if nursing was a component to overall health of both mother and child. Would he be the pediatrician for every child/family? Clearly no but he was good for us. And my goodness, I do agree that nursing can hurt, be triggering, be tons of work for the nursing woman, and feel burdensome. Maybe it’s because of all of that that those who do nurse feel such pride in it. I felt deeply proud when my baby gained weight and I knew I was feeding him from my body. I don’t think we should diminish the pride that comes from nursing because some women cannot nurse or do not wish to. It matters that women who nurse feel supported and proud, particularly when we’re among encouraging women in a community giving advice to women about to have babies. I feel so strongly that as women we should encourage one another to feel our pride, particularly pride in our bodies and our physical efforts, and not view other women’s experiences as a comment on our own or as a statement of “better than” or superiority. That’s how we silence women, I think, especially as it relates to the physical realm.

      I am grateful that our child’s doctor verbalized the importance of my partner doing everything he could to support my efforts in nursing (or, as you say, “split the labor”). I know many women who go it alone nursing at night and it can be so depleting. I had a traumatic birth experience and wasn’t conscious at my child’s birth and my husband was not present in the delivery room. Nursing saved us, literally, in that it helped me heal from a heavy bereft feeling because of my delivery and it helped my husband connect to our child and to me because he was able to do something tangible for us after he had felt powerless during the birthing process. And it did not come without intense effort and tons of support from the angels on earth called lactation specialists and nurses. I am so happy we had a doctor who looked after my well-being as a nursing mom and who gently and wisely nudged my husband into having a bigger role in that effort.

      I would love to reorient around women who share positive nursing experiences and realize that we are not always commenting on those who do not nurse. That is not what I am sharing here at all and it was never what my child’s doctor shared with our family.

      Be well.

    • cg says...

      @Rose, you use formula. We adopted, so there was no chance I would be nursing. In fact, my child was in an orphanage the first year of her life, if she got any breastmilk, it might have been that first day she was born. Otherwise, it was formula, formulated milk, with all sorts of nutrients and vitamins, and it works. Ppl say breastfeed, it’s the best, it helps build immunity, etc. Of course, sure. But if you can’t there are other ways to help build immunity and strength… don’t rely on the sanitizers too much, let the kid get a little dirty, 5 sec rule, it’s ok if someone sneezes on the child. And most of all, don’t feel guilty or let others guilt you.

    • LW says...

      I can understand why the pediatrician believed that nursing is essential for a healthy child, if they were basing their advice on the circumstances in rural India (of the past) or anywhere, where clean water isn’t possible. Most formula that makes financial sense are in powdered form and require water. Formula mixed with questionable water versus breast milk obviously breast is best. Also, in environments were money is tight having a “free” source of food makes sense.
      However, for many of us those reason listed above doesn’t always hold true. As mothers/caregivers we need to do what is best for our family and ourselves.
      Breast feeding was very difficult for me emotionally. It added to my PPD.
      I wholeheartedly believe that Fed is best. The pressures that is placed on mothers to breast feed needs to stop.
      My advice to a new mother is to that there isn’t a right path to raising a child. The differences in how we raise our children will give us a diverse and interesting group of people. Do your best and as long as your decisions/actions is rooted in love, your best will be good enough.

  66. Elise says...

    I still use this Cup of Jo oldie but goodie on a weekly basis; “your partner is not the energy, the baby is the enemy!”. I can’t remember the author, but thank you 🙏🏻 cracks us parents up and breaks that tense toddler atmosphere x

    • Erin says...

      I always remember this goodie too!

  67. Lauren says...

    Reading this as I feed my 7 week old and agree with everyone! A few things I would add from my personal experiences over the past two months are (1) get a recommendation for a great lactation consultant before you give birth if you hope to breastfeed and have them come to your home as soon as possible after birth – they are goddesses on earth and breastfeeding can be incredibly difficult and gut wrenching – also supplementing with formula is not the end of the world and won’t make it impossible to breastfeed down the road if you want to do that. (2) if you are going to read a book on patenting, read Cribsheet by Emily Oster. (3) diapers with wetness indicators (we have been using pampers pure) are really helpful in the early days if you are concerned about output. (4) seek out new parent groups in your neighborhood and go on walks with other new parents – babies are a great way to meet new people in your area and get out of the house!

    cheers to everyone on this wild journey of parenthood – you’re doing great!!

  68. Courtney says...

    This is a little off-topic, but I would really LOVE if A Cup of Jo profiled women who are caring for elders in their lives. My mother in law is going to be moving in with my husband and myself in a few months, and I’m desperate to hear stories about other women in my situation. Bonus points for someone who is trying to start a family while also caring for a parent! I feel I’m always turning to COJ for life advice and man, I could use some here.

    • RLG says...

      Yes! My sisters and I are navigating this tough space in our lives where we are both caring for our own young children and how to guide our mother through the vulnerable years she is facing. I would especially appreciate advice on how to help seniors navigate cyberspace without unwittingly being scammed.

    • Kate says...

      GREAT suggestion. Seconded!

    • Tori says...

      This would be really interesting.

    • Ashley says...

      ditto! and also, sending love your way, Courtney <3

    • G says...

      Single mum of 4 caring for elderly parents here. One thing that helped me was to think of them as children too.

      I used to feel a whole load of emotions when things get difficult & I seemed to be the only adult in the house or during specially-challenging times like difficult nights with newborn, baby blues, stressful work periods. But I realised part of my anger was because I expected my parents to behave like adults all the time. I found it can be difficult for them, as their minds may be fixed on how things should be done or what is right.

      So I stopped expecting them to be adults, & expected them to do exactly what they would do : e.g. complain about changes to the telephone, disagree with a decision I made for my kids, insist on certain traditions I don’t really care for. While things aren’t actually better, they FEEL less difficult inside my head. That made a large difference to my emotional & mental well-being.

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      This is a great idea, very relatable.

    • Amy says...

      Yes, this. Our parents’ generation and before them had very little experience with starting families while simultaneously caring for aging parents and it shows–the resources for it, culturally and logistically, are totally inadequate. The scope of caregiving that is thrusted on our generation is on another level. While caring for the elders in our lives can be a beautiful thing, for my family it has been tense and extremely challenging. It can be a lonely experience because it seems like no one wants to talk about it.

    • Hannah says...

      My dad is a huge advocate for elder care after going through the losses of…well…all my grandparents. Dialogue about aging in place and end of life care is so important. He’s put together a website, podcast, and eBook on things like medical directives, home adaptations, wills and so on. I feel so much more aware and informed after he started talking more about what he went through with his parents and as he started working with the Council on Aging in Nashville. I would very much look forward to an article focused on elder care and would also refer everyone to his website: http://agingcaringandyou.com/

      There’s a lot of good info and resources there.

    • Valerie says...

      My sister and I just completed our first six months of caring for our 86-year old mother who has health problems and fairly advanced dementia. I moved them both (and their dog) to my home in Mexico where I have lived for 30 years for too many reasons to go into here. Let’s just say the learning curve has been vertiginous. Interestingly, I have found parenting tips such as the many wonderful ones shared here are more helpful than most blogs, articles, Pinterest pins, books, etc written specifically for caring for elderly parents. Many of the challenges are the same…sleeping, eating, dressing, ups and downs, asking for help, tuning out well-meaning but clueless advice. The one piece of advice that changed my attitude completely? “If I am angry, frustrated, tired and confused, what must it be like for Mom?”

    • Erica Nicksin says...

      I had sort of a similar situation minus the family starting. My husband and I moved to another state and lived with his mom who was having some health problems for 2 years. It was not bad at all, (besides moving from a huge city to a town with 2 stop lights). The thing that saved all of our sanity was probably having mostly separate living areas. Thankfully she wasn’t one to intrude and we tried our best to do whatever we could for her. Actually when we moved away I realized that it actually brought my husband and I closer together. Now we go to our jobs and do normal everyday stuff. But having someone else you care about and care for made everything seem a little more wonderful. As someone without children maybe it’s the same sort of feeling as having a child. Except they drink coffee and can use the toilet themselves. Good luck! Make sure to always have each others backs and don’t let anything come between you. Some mothers in law are good at that. ;)

    • Emma says...

      Yes! Please do this. I have two young children and no support at all from my family – quite the opposite. As my previously very positive mum has got older, she is now very negative and critical of my choices – yet gets emotional if I don’t call her or visit…but I don’t want to.

    • Bee says...

      I moved into a larger rental when 7 months pregnant to accommodate my mum who had been diagnosed with dementia. Some things that helped for me after the move:

      1) Be open & honest with your husband. I went out with my husband for an ice cream a week in & we both shared what was/wasn’t working with the living arrangements, concerns, stresses etc. Work on solutions together. Do this ice-cream meeting regularly.

      2) Let your MIL have a sense of independence. Depending on individuals, your MIL may be feeling bad for intruding & also mourning her loss of independence. Don’t be shy about asking for her help around the house. It makes her feel valued/ part of the household & takes chores off your hands too.

      3) Help identify activities in your neighborhood that may be suitable for your MIL. Assuming she’s physically able to get around, suggest some to her so she can start to establish her own network of friends in the new neighborhood. Her going out & having friends creates more breathing space for you as well.

      4) Don’t forget to take care of yourself too. Make sure you have alone time for yourself as well as with your husband. Caring for an elderly (especially one with medical issues) can take a lot from you emotionally. Be kind to yourself.

      All the best & don’t worry too much about it! Who knows, you may yet enjoy having your MIL around as a tag-team partner when you need a breather from the new baby!

    • agnes says...

      I would LOVE a post on that topic. I cared for my mother for a few months before her death (she was ill, I knew she was dying); and my father who lives on his own is starting to need care aswell. It is all so exhausting, and I have my own life to live (my son is 5). Could we share about that topic? Thank you, this is sucha a great community, a true support.

    • Meghan says...

      Hey Courtney –
      My husband and I moved in with my in-laws when our first child was a 1yo and now we have a 5yo and a 7mo! It has mostly been great, but I would say top things to do:
      1. Communicate openly about boundaries (you might also need to create boundaries that you didn’t think about before!) They are constantly changing as well…for example: My mil has severe diabetes and uses a walker. She wants to watch the baby, but I feel uncomfortable leaving them together alone. She has a history of falling with other grandkids in her arms and it isn’t safe for either of them. I had to speak with her about this and although she was sad about it, she understood. Boundary created – BOOM!
      2. We have it set up where we are living in separate spaces, but mostly see each other everyday. Breaks for both parties, if possible, are good.
      3. Winter is hard – prepare for winter
      4. You will all see each other naked at some point. Either get over it now and have a good laugh when it happens…or buy a beautiful robe for everyone involved :)

  69. Hanna says...

    Know that it is ok to not immediately bond & feel that all encompassing love with rainbows and butterflies that so many mothers say they experience. Not all of us have that experience and that is also ok and totally normal. I felt an obligation and duty to care for them but not “love”. I remember googling “I don’t love my 6 week old, is that normal” and being relieved that there were others that had felt the same. It was the same with both my 2nd & 3rd child. When one meets a new person/potentiaI partner/friend, one doesn’t love them unconditionally from the get go. Those feeling develop as you get to know the person. I’ve chosen to view newborns in the same light. One’s relationship grows. I love my children more than anything & they are my everything. These feelings will come, have faith :-) Note: I’m not referring to post partum depression.

    • Jennifer says...

      This!! I struggled so much with not being “in love” with my daughter right away. I’m a 4th grade teacher and I had to go back to work for the last week of school this year, bringing my 3-week-old with me. Even though it was so stressful, I’m so grateful I went, because I saw my class again. I remembered how long it takes to learn the needs of a class and how to love each of them best (usually 2-3 months). Why would I expect it to be different with my baby? Of course it takes time to get to know and love someone! Giving myself the space to develop love for my daughter, instead of expecting immediate bliss and beating myself up for not feeling it, made all the difference in the world.

  70. Ro says...

    These are all so wonderful, including the comments! My kids are school age but my main advice is always to remember that your baby/child is a person. That babies aren’t a thing the way cats are a thing, they are just people. Expect them to be as different and as complex as any adult.

    • Ana Devine says...

      Absolutely incredibly true. Beautifully put!

  71. EmilyR says...

    My three babies are in college and high school now, and they’re wonderful people. I remember those baby years as very, very tough ones that certainly didn’t bring out the best in me, but I kept going and tried my best. We were living far from family and old friends, and I wish I’d had someone to say to me, “You’re doing fine. It’s going to be okay.” Now, I try to extend that kindness to moms everywhere, especially people I can see are struggling. It’s difficult for everyone, at some point. No one is a perfect parent. Be kind to yourself.

    • Tricia says...

      I, too, was far away from family and friends when we had our three (now adult) kids. I found a great CVIP (Community Volunteers for International People) group at Michigan State three decades and three babies ago; my acquaintances from that “Couples Supper Club” and I are still in contact today. And our next move introduced us to like folk via a Newcomers Club (do they still have that? They should!) One of my life BFF is from my first luncheon with Newcomers.

      All this is to say: there are fun and funky and maybe eye-roll group gatherings out there (church? library? yak & yarn? Pony Club/USPC???). We have moved a lot in our married life, before and after kids. It is a worthy and prudent practice to venture out and experience the groups in your community. The first date is always the most intimidating.

  72. Claire says...

    When my son was about 5 months old and I was struggling through a particularly tough week, my mom said to me, “just because it ‘goes by so fast’ doesn’t mean you have to appreciate every second of it. Sometimes, being a mom absolutely sucks.”
    It was so helpful to hear that. I think there’s so much pressure to soak up this time when they are little because once it’s gone it’s gone. I get that. But there are parts of early parenthood (and likely all parenthood) that are just plain crappy. It doesn’t make you a bad parent to sometimes hate parenting. And occasionally hating parenting doesn’t mean you hate your kid. Allow yourself the freedom to say “this sucks. I hate it,” and know that you and your kid will come out the other side just fine.

    • K says...

      This!! Thank you for sharing this. I heard so often how “it goes by fast”
      that I found myself feeling so guilty when I didn’t treasure every single moment or needed a break, when I already spend so much time with him. It has taken a lot of therapy and journaling/self talk to get past this (heck, mom guilt is real. I still feel it but it’s gotten better). He will be okay, I will be okay. And although the past is gone, I’m enjoying the present for different reasons just as much.

  73. Maggie says...

    Everything is temporary was our mantra and still gets us through rough days. Baby won’t cry forever, you WILL get out the door eventually (but may be late), they won’t always insist on only wearing one single shirt.
    Also, seek out a friend whose baby is the same age, within a few weeks. Join a moms group, chat up someone at the coffee shop with a new baby, just find another mom of a newborn. With every kid I leaned on my friends with babies the same
    age, within a month of each other. Because although I’d been through it before and have plenty of friends who have to, there is nothing like being in the thick of those first few weeks and it helps to have someone who is in it too.

  74. Ann-Marie says...

    These are so great, and perfect timing, as I’m about to hit 22 weeks preggers, first time. One of my fave bits of advice (which very likely came from this blog) was about your relationship once the baby comes: “Remember, your husband is not the enemy. The baby is the enemy.” That always makes me laugh and I’m sure I’ll be using it plenty once baby comes. Thank you Joanna and team for the best mom advice!

  75. ellie says...

    My husband and I are pretty noise averse, and of course brought home a daughter who had epic colic (I say this as a pediatrician who has been around a few crying babies). In fact, my poor hubs one day, two months in, asked me with all earnestness: “how old are they before they can be awake and not be crying?”. My heart broke…and I made him promise not to divorce me. Anyway…the advice: he started wearing little cheap foam ear plugs. I thought we would be turned into child protective services, having never worn them and thinking they were ‘that good’ (as in we would never hear her again). Turns out: they are genius! They knock the decibels down just enough so you don’t snap at each other, you can calmly change the diaper, etc while your wee one screams away and you no longer fantasize about throttling them and then feel guilt and shame for your evil middle-of-the-night-but-secretly-we’ve-all-had-them thoughts. We both adopted them for the worst 5 months of our gorgeous girl’s life, and ever since I’ve sworn they should be handed out at all hospitals and birthing centers before you head home with your new infant. Try it! The tension in your neck, shoulders, soul will thank you.

    Oh! The other advice? I had horrible postpartum depression and after trying to give away my daughter (to my sister, with a promise to pay for college) I went to therapy and the gift that woman said to me was: ‘newborns suck’. For the love of all things good and forgiving, she gifted me the mercy to forgive myself for not loving every second of it.

  76. Rebecca says...

    Love this. My mom gave me my favorite advice, which she got from a nurse when my older sister was born: you are their parents. Ask advice when you need it, but never forget that you know them better than anyone.

  77. Emily says...

    I have 18 month old twins and the last few weeks have been so. damn. hard. They just hit a new level of independence and opinions and high energy while also having more mom clingyness and I feel like I’m going to explode sometimes! I wish future me could come back and say: this is how you go to the grocery store now… this is how you get them to not take a full hour to fall asleep at nap time cause they’re chatting… this is how you get them to eat more than yogurt. No one else can really tell me, I have to figure these things out but I really wish there was a magic genie of future me to come help out.

    • Emily says...

      I found 18 months so challenging, and I just have the one. Sending you good thoughts until they turn that next corner. (PS 20-23 months have been SO fun)

    • Elise says...

      O.V.E.R.N.I.G.H.T

      That’s how long it took our 18 month old to hit this phase. Wow it’s rough 😭

    • Liz says...

      Emily,
      I have twins and I found this age to be so hard! For me, everything got a little easier once they turned two. At 18 months they were into EVERYTHING and always running in opposite directions.

      If you don’t do this already for the grocery store (or any big store) park near the shopping cart corrals so you can plop them in the cart. Lifesaver.

    • Tis says...

      I mentioned this casually to a new mom and it blew her mind, so I’ll say it here too: if it’s possible, grocery shop at night by yourself. It’s almost empty, you’re on your own, herbal tea in hand, elevator music…serene perfection!
      And also, totally OK if they’re only eating yogurt. Truly.

    • Sarah says...

      I read somewhere that 18 months to 2 years is ‘peak parenting’ – old enough to have opinions, big enough and independent enough to cause mayhem, but still too small to play on their own, or to reason with. I’m right in the midst of this phase now and she is SO CUTE but the idea that I am peak parenting has really helped get through the tougher and more exhausting moments!

  78. Christine says...

    Formula is not poison.

    • Emily says...

      WORD

    • Anna says...

      AMEN!

  79. Carina says...

    What helped me the most was my midwife telling me: “You’re the mother of your children, you can’t do anything wrong.”
    And the mantra: Vomiting children are thriving children (in German it rhimes: Speikinder sind Gedeihkinder.) :-)

    • Hannah G says...

      Gina Hamaday is spot on! For me it was: Thou shall not Google. Mommy forums can be so terrifying at 2am! A “plan of action” was so helpful for me before my baby was born: follow your gut, then check the book, call your mom (or trusted older woman)/call your pediatrician. (Not always in that order). And remember, “this too shall pass.”

  80. Chauniqua Powers says...

    Actually I DO have to breastfeed! It’s free easy convenient and best for baby. Soooo I’d like some support! We go to great lengths that those who don’t nurse don’t feel “shame” but the real shame is that we don’t normalize this as a culture, so that we’re used to seeing breastfeeding every day everywhere. Then peoples’ issues and “resentment levels” are going to drop, as well as the people who “just don’t want to”. I’m praying for it!

    • Meg says...

      OF COURSE, if you choose to breastfeed, you have to feed when your baby is hungry. And you should NEVER be shamed for doing so. I don’t think anyone in this community would argue with you on that. But nursing isn’t necessarily the best for every family (whether by choice or not – and, yes, it is a TOTALLY valid to choose not to, it’s an enormous amount of time and work!). But you’re missing the point with the advice here – I think you should look at the responses below on this point, and the mental anguish that is caused by a lot of the pro-breastfeeding push. Support for moms isn’t a pie – supporting formula feeding moms doesn’t take away from support for breastfeeding moms. Both are possible and it’s important that in supporting one, we don’t mentally harm the other group.

  81. Fay says...

    Oh wow, Emma Straub’s advice is basically everything! Just want to keep the message “everything is temporary and every kid is different,” on loop in my head. Seems to fit so many of the baby/toddler anxious thoughts that hit me through the day. Thank you for this! And, also, thanks for the Vacationers, Emma Straub-one of my absolute favorite books!

  82. Ali says...

    In the everlasting words of Elle Woods, J.D. – “exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy…. (Happy people don’t shoot their husbands)” . Don’t underestimate the power of moving your body! When you feel ready, find a low impact workout, ideally with mindfulness components, that gives you time to yourself (with a sleeping baby in a stroller or strapped to you works well too), a reason to get out of the house, makes you feel strong and capable, and gets those endorphins flowing:). Walks with a podcast and a nice coffee, Barre3, or many yoga studios with postpartum classes are great options. Big love to you all ❤️

    • Ali says...

      wanted to add that PPD/PPA is a powerful, chemical thing and not something that can be ‘beat’, for example, by exercise. The above idea is one thing that worked for me as a part of an arsenal of many things to help me maintain a sense of self and connection to my body when my body was being used for so many things for others (feeding machine, bed, etc)

  83. Katrina says...

    No one ever died from being tired.
    Both my kids were tough (colic and low birth weight), no one ever died from being tired was my mantra for years!

  84. Jessie says...

    Resist the pressure to feel like you have to do something — embark on a house project, make a photo album, work, clean — while caring for a newborn. You don’t. It’ll only make you crazy and make you feel like you’re not measuring up. Your only job is to sit still, snuggle, take walks, give baths, take more walks, watch tons of movies and plow through books while breastfeeding.

    • anson says...

      True – with agency’s like Care.com and others you can hire someone to clean or cook or even nanny while you are there so you can get your own things done. Even if it’s only once or twice a month. It is worth pulling money from the budget for this occasionally when it can save your sanity. Plus it only makes sense to get help when we need it.

  85. Amanda says...

    The best new mom advice for me came from my mom:
    Wait. Watch. Wonder.
    Rather than rushing to see why my newborn was slightly fussing, I would just wait a couple of minutes… he would often magically calm himself without my interference. When he was a toddler, rather than helping him on the slide at a park, I would sit back and watch and wonder at him meeting other kids and learning to slide on his own. And this advice still works with a 7 year old!

    • Amanda says...

      I love this, thank you for sharing.

  86. Hannah says...

    It’s discouraging to see the “you don’t have to breastfeed!” Advice on here without any pro breastfeeding advice. This contributes to a culture that can’t bear to see out breasts used for their purpose. How about “it’s ok to breastfeed!” Or “you actually don’t have to cover while breastfeeding- its normal” or how about “if you have problems breastfeeding see a lactation consultant ASAP, they can help”

    • LAUREN says...

      THIS !!! 100%.

    • Vicki says...

      It’s great that you support breast feeding, but saying its ok to use formula is not against breastfeeding. Its supporting moms like me who put baby to breast in the delivery room, and visited the lactation consultant and pumped every two hours and who cried rivers of tears of disappointment and relief when my lactation consultant suggested that formula might be the best road for me and my child. Even with this blessing from her, I felt shame making a bottle in public because I couldn’t breastfeed. So saying forming is ok supports me any other mom who chooses formula for any other reason. People suggesting that formula is ok are not shaming breastfeeding mothers. They are trying to make space for every mom to feed their child. We should support all moms feeding their baby in any way they can and in any place they can.

    • Bethviola says...

      I think this sentiment is totally true. Breastfeeding is amazing. It is free, it is the healthiest, it is bonding, it is everything.

      But for those of us who tried (and tried, and tried, and TRIED) and went to a dozen lactation consultants, and who breastfed for over an hour followed by pumping, followed by cleaning the pump parts only to do it all again 10 minutes later and still couldn’t feed their babies enough food, there is no shame in throwing in the towel. I tried with all three of my babies, I started supplementing at different times with each, and it was only with my third who was actually the best breastfeeder that I didn’t feel guilt, shame, and like a bad mother. Somehow with her, I finally just felt relief and happy that she was eating as much as she wanted. Once I swtiched to supplementing, instead of worrying and pumping and hoping and trying another tincture, I got to spend time with my babies just watching them and marveling in their strange newness and beauty. Supplementing was a gift for me, a person who was determined to be a milk machine. I hope others try as hard as I did, but only if they absolutely want to. I wish I had not been so hard on myself.

      There is certainly stigma with breastfeeding, but with the population of women who read this blog, there is also stigma about formula.

    • Elga says...

      Agreed! Also things like: “you have no milk” is the breastfeeding equivalent to “your baby head is too big” for natural labor, it makes no sense except in rare rare rare cases, and “it’s not supposed to hurt, there are ways to fix this”. “Look up for support for breastfeeding and surround yourself with people who understand your choice”.

    • Sarah Prestwood says...

      Hannah, I feel like the CoJ community is pretty well versed in the benefits of breastfeeding, so much so that for some of us it can feel like a major failure NOT to do it. That was certainly my situation with my first. There was no mystery about how preferable it was to breastfeed, so when I was having a REALLY hard time with it, I felt so much pressure not to give up. It was important for my mental health that my mom, husband, even my LC, let me know it was not a necessity. Breastfeeding and the pain and stress associated with it was the reason for my crying every day for at least a month. Even the smell of formula made me feel sick to my stomach, like it was the smell of failure. I totally agree with the benefits of breastfeeding needing to be loud and clear, but I have gotten that message very clearly from society and my healthcare providers, and have never felt any judgment for doing it in public. For me, permission to stop was the most important thing. I actually did go through with it for all three but it was so valuable to know I wasn’t a failure if it didn’t work.

    • Meaghan says...

      I get your point, but I don’t think women who have been able to breastfeed understand the deep emotional harm some of the pro-breastfeeding literature causes those women who can’t. I wanted to breastfeed SO BADLY, and I tried EVERYTHING (pumping constantly, 3 different lactation consultants, all the supplements money could buy, etc., etc.). But I simply couldn’t produce enough and my baby would have starved. Despite that reality, I felt like an absolute failure and sunk into a depression for the first months of my baby’s life. I can’t ever get those back. The thing that turned me around was when the pediatrician and the lactation consultant told me I didn’t have to 100% breastfeed to be a good mom; that my baby was ok with formula and breastmilk (and then only formula when my supply completely tried up at 6 months). As someone who breastfed in public, OF COURSE we should support breastfeeding moms, and OF COURSE you should be able to feed your baby ANYWHERE. No one is saying don’t breastfeed if you want to. They’re just saying that if you can’t or don’t want to, that’s ok. The fact is that the public statements now are overwhelmingly pro-breastfeeding, with formula seen as a far and away second choice, and moms who can’t/don’t want to breastfeed are seen than less than. That’s unacceptable and leads to mental anguish that is completely avoidable. If I had seen the statement above over and over during my pregnancy and when my son was born, it would have made a world of difference. In fact, now, in hindsight, I’ve internalized that, and I can say with confidence that I will never put myself through that again for baby no. 2.

    • JDM says...

      Chiming in here as another one who tried and tried and cried and cried and was unable to breastfeed either of my children, even with the support of a brilliant lactation consultant, wonderful partner, pumping every 2 hours for 12 weeks, and prescription medication not approved in the US. I live in a very earth-mother type of community, and I definitely felt judgment from other moms when I mixed formula in public. “BREAST IS BEST” was hammered into my head almost constantly. I still regret how much time I spent trying to make it happen. I could have spent that time enjoying my babies instead of trying to force my body to do something it isn’t equipped to do.

      Saying that breastfeeding is free, easy, and convenient — none of those things proved true for me. As to whether it’s unequivocally best for babies — the proven benefits for babies in countries with clean water and good nutrition are surprisingly slim.

    • Meaghan says...

      Another point, because I can’t respond to Elga directly – too little milk is a thing, and it’s much more common than people think. Saying that it’s a myth is incredibly harmful as it reinforces the belief that you can just “try harder.” Before formula, babies died from malnutrition. And they still do in places where formula can’t be used. We need to be willing to let all women make the best and healthiest choice for themselves, without judging them. Please don’t judge other moms who are trying their best by relying on “facts.”

    • Ginger says...

      This is a friendly reminder that you can have a baby through fostering, adoption or a surrogate–so some of us cannot see a lactation consultant. Let’s not assume that formula feeding dismisses the normalization of breastfeeding. It’s ok to use formula! We all want healthy babies!

    • Elizabeth says...

      Truly, I do not understand why breast feeding has to be such a loaded topic that is divisive to women. If you want and are able to nurse, do it. If you don’t want to and/or unable to nurse, don’t do it. When, oh when, will be put this baby to bed (pun intended)?

    • amanda t says...

      I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I knew and know how great and beneficial it is. I also wanted to be that super mum. I was totally going to breastfeed. I also was very proper with my diet during my pregnancy, and I wanted that, too. No coffee, sugar, processed foods, sodas, take out etc. it was hard at times, but I was a trooper. Breastfeeding was hard. I persevered. But it was making me unhappy and stressed. So I stopped. Not because I had to try and try and try cause I had no milk etc. I just didn’t want to anymore, it was making me sad. As simple as that. My now toddler is absolutely fine and healthy, and so is mama.

    • Elga says...

      I see the following scenario happen every day (and that’s why I compare to vaginal labor vs c-section, it’s absolutely necessary to have a c-section sometimes, but there must be a motive): a baby cries sometimes after feeding on the first days, the mother is scared and interpret s that as not having enough supply, gives a bottle “only once” because baby is “hungry”, so the baby sleeps after formula (of course, since it is heavy), the mother is reassured that she has not enough milk, and the baby starts no to properly suck because of nipple/flow confusion so starts stimulating her less and getting unfulfilled by breastfeeding, and then it becomes true that she doesn’t produce enough. Sometimes women are misled by doctors who get them some formula while curiously being supported by the brand. Sometimes they listen to old myths. Sometimes they just don’t have enough support and doubt themselves all the time. Sometimes people tell them it’s ok to give the baby pacifiers and bottles ‘just sometimes’ but sometimes, it’s not.. We have to trust that our bodies can do this. Sometimes, it can’t but it’s extraordinary, not a common thing. What a crazy species of animal would not be able to feed their offspring from birth 50% of the time after birthing only one or two children!

    • Lauren says...

      Elga, I’m gonna say “citation needed” for all of your claims. Anecdotes are well and good, but they shouldn’t be used as absolutes. For the sake of it, I’ll go along with your statements that c-sections and formula are only needed in rare cases. I had a c-section after 18+ hours of labor—I was tired and got an infection, which was messing with my baby’s heart rate. My dilation hadn’t increased in 6 hours. Maybe my body could have done “natural” labor if we waited longer–but why ? An intervention made sure that me and my baby were safe and healthy. I started supplementing with formula and pumping around the clock because that is what made my baby full and satisfied. Could I have “tried harder” to breastfeed? I’m absolutely sure I could have. But again, why? I was a happier and better mom to my baby the way I chose. I don’t think I will change your mind, but I hope that you will consider what other women are saying and that there are many routes to health and happiness.

  87. Laura says...

    Follow your child’s lead. They are great communicators if you listen. If they are asking to be picked up, pick them up. If they are hungry, feed them. If they sleep best snuggled close to your body, tuck them in next to you. As a mom of a four year old and a seven month old, I realize this time around that the hard stages of parenting truly don’t last. Your kids will become independent on their own time. My daughter who insisted on being picked up and rocked to sleep now happily climbs into her own bed and sleeps on her own. These intense moments where they need you are so fleeting. Soak it in.

    • Amy says...

      My favorite comment 💕

  88. Emily says...

    I have discovered that I love my daughter more than anything in the world AND I don’t love parenting. Owning that has been very freeing. I realized that I can be her haven in a crazy world without having to take on every little thing in her life. My husband obsesses about her nutritional needs and her sleep patterns enough that I can give her chicken nuggets for dinner or keep her up an hour past bedtime when I feel like it and know she will be fine. My mom teaches her numbers and colors, her daycare teaches her to take turns and use her words, and Daniel Tiger teaches her about the dentist. I don’t have to be the one to do that. I just have to love, love, love her, model curiousity and kindness, and always be in her corner. And I am damn good at that.

    • Josie says...

      Wonderful! I wish I knew this when my kids were little.

      Your daughter is lucky that you realized this and are so authentic with her. Best thing I’ve read today.

    • Marlena says...

      This comment wins the day. Let others help you mother your children! It saddens me to NO END to watch new mothers around me spin in circles trying to be everything to their children at all times in every way – only to burn out in spectacular fashion. I always had “other mothers”, as I like to call them. Women and men who mothered me in areas that my own mother wasn’t necessarily the best at. And I have allowed my village to do the same for my 4 kids, with gorgeous results.

  89. Louise says...

    Your friends who have babies who are good sleepers got lucky. They don’t know something you don’t know. They just got lucky.

  90. Sarah says...

    At 39 weeks tomorrow this was a very welcome post!! Thank you so much. Bookmarking and rereading your Parenthood archives :)

  91. Katie says...

    I wish someone had told me that postpartum baby blues is probably unavoidable. I’m sure for some very lucky magic unicorns, it never happens to them. Once I was home with my baby and the tourbus of family members came through, I didn’t realize that the performative aspect of mothering was preventing me from fully acknowledging the (totally normal) emotional roller coaster I was on. New mamas feel a great expectation to live up to everyone else’s view of mamahood. It took a very genuine and honest girlfriend to tell me “hey you have symptoms of babyblues. and that’s ok! everyone gets them.” And with that statement of truth, I was able to embrace my blues and openly cry through every Julie Andrews song, baby book story, and twinkle little star. I was able to talk about it and start the healing and move forward.

  92. Katie says...

    I’m a first time mom with a four month old and one of the best pieces of advice I got was “Just get up and go. Strap that baby on or put him/her in the stroller. Even if it’s only for five minutes. Move.”

    Fresh air makes everything better. Seriously.

  93. emily says...

    The videos!! I can’t even handle how much I love seeing videos of my baby when she was smaller. I wish I’d take a video on the first day when she was making all those funny little newborn noises. And 100 to the strawberry tip. My mom and husband are horrified by how much I let my toddler do on her own, but what’s the worst that could happen? She might eat some strawberry leaf? Way better than me having to cut them for her all the time.

  94. Laure Hammond says...

    This poem gave me such comfort in the early days. It is also the reason I made sure my son knew I had two names. Mama and Laurel.

    The Strength of Motherhood
    Written by: Bunmi Laditan
    Motherhood takes you to heaven and hell every day. It erases your past and amplifies it at the same time. It destroys and rebuilds you, slowly and carefully: replacing the cracked, broken bricks with stronger ones with no anesthesia.
    Motherhood kills the old you; it doesn’t care who you think you are, only who you must be in this moment to meet the needs of the ones you invited into this world.
    And somehow, by feeding that child, loving that child, wiping that child’s tears from their damp cheeks, pouring water over that child’s head as you sit beside them, uncomfortable and damp next to the bathtub, you become the gentlest of warriors.
    Motherhood is a bridge that you walk alone, but as you look to your left and to your right, you see others on their own bridges, navigating the rickety planks of swaying wood. And as you see them struggling just like you are not to fall, it gives you the courage to take one more step.
    Motherhood is painfully lonely, but at 3 o’clockin the afternoon whether you’re sitting on the living room floor with a child who doesn’t know your real name or at 3 o’clock in the morning with a child who needs your steady tapping on their pajama-ed back, you’re not alone because all over the world, mothers are doing the same thing. Their minds wander through the garden of their imaginations and memories, dreaming of sleep and rest, but powered by the fiercest of love.
    The love that one pours into their child doesn’t come from the heart. Anyone can be in love. Anyone can be infatuated. The type of love one has for their child comes from the center of their bones. It’s the type of love that doesn’t need reciprocation to burn hot. It’s the type of love that never keeps score. It’s the type of love that powers nature in her infinite beauty and ruthlessness.
    When a mother says, “I love you,” she doesn’t mean “I love how you make me feel” she means “You are my world, my sun and my moon and not life or death can change that, wherever you are I will find you whether it be across seas or lost within yourself. You are my breath and the light inside my eyes.”
    Motherhood, while almost never glamorous, is always beautiful.

    • Amy says...

      Wow. Thanks for sharing that.

  95. Erika says...

    Have you heard of 5 year journals? You write just a line or 2 a day and can easily see on one page what you wrote a year ago, 2 years ago, etc. I have found it to be a very manageable way to keep a record of the big happenings or small daily memories you want to preserve.

    • SB says...

      My mother kept a journal for each of my brothers and I until we were 6 years old (when we would be old enough to remember things). Sometimes there were 10 entries in a summer and sometimes there were 5 entries for a whole year, but it is truly one of my most cherished possessions. To know about my life, but also to see my mum’s experiences and her side comments. I will definitely be doing this when I start a family :)

  96. SN says...

    33 weeks and bookmarking this page…. this somehow feels different than the well-meaning but at times overwhelming advice we’ve been bombarded with from family and friends. Thanks COJ folks!

    • Amanda says...

      All you need to know is that “fill in the blank” may work for some, and for you, or maybe not for you. Everyone is different so don’t stress. You’ll work through what works for you, your baby, and your family. Congrats!

    • Blythe says...

      34 weeks and doing the same! Congratulations mamma!

  97. Karen says...

    Treat yourself gently, as you would a student learning a very hard new thing. You not failing at anything – not sleep training, not nursing, not dealing with your MIL. You are learning—learning how to be a mother to your child.

    • Leah says...

      I’m a first time mom of a 4 month old and the feeling of failing is probably the #1 thought in my (granted, very sleep-deprived) brain at all times right now. If anyone has tips to help get rid of this feeling, I’m all ears.

    • C says...

      Leah, imagine yourself as if you were a friend coming to you with these concerns. Confess your failures aloud to yourself the way a friend might confide in you and then respond the way you would to a friend. This worked really well for me because I always respond to my friends with understanding and support but gave the same to myself. Treating myself the way I would treat a friend in the same situation made a huge difference in how I judged my own behavior and changed the way I thought about my parenting.

    • Caitlin says...

      Leah, those feelings of failure are so real and so hard. If it helps, here’s what helped me: My mom would always notice the little baby milestones (reaching for something, making eye contact, calming down when I held him, etc) and say “Just look at your baby! He’s doing so well.” It helped me notice and appreciate the things that were going well even when it was so so hard (and even when there were a dozen other things NOT going well).

      Of course it’s the best if someone else can do that for you, but I also imagine it would be possible to make a mental habit of saying that to yourself. Hugs. You’re doing a great job!

  98. Reg says...

    meditation can be so helpful to keep grounded–especially during trying times and sleep deprivation. it given me more awareness.

  99. Lorraine says...

    Babies go through phases. When my older child was a newborn, I remember feeling utterly forlorn by his unexpected mood/sleep/temperament changes, thinking, WHY? NOW WHAT WILL I DO? I THOUGHT I HAD IT FIGURED OUT! Eventually you learn that these little humans are constantly changing, and many of these changes are temporary. Eventually I found out about developmental “leaps” and I felt more hopeful from then on. Read up on the leaps!

    Also – self-care isn’t just “important” or “good for you.” It is critical for your own health and mental clarity.

  100. Jessica says...

    So this might have just been me, but when I had my first son it didn’t cross my mind to buy duplicates for the diaper bag. For the first six months, I packed and unpacked diaper cream, pacifiers, Vaseline, his hat, wipes, etc. Every. Damn. Day. FACE PALM. Friend, if you haven’t already, march yourself down to Target, spend the extra money, and buy yourself duplicates of everything you need for the diaper bag.

    • Amy says...

      Wasn’t just you. Smh at myself.

    • Chivonne says...

      LOL! I had the bottle FACE PALM.. was so hellbent on breastfeeding that I had only two bottles and then unfortunately had to stop breastfeeding….

      Ugly crying and washing my tow bottles hysterically 2h00 in the morning, steaming, disinfecting for the next feed when the baby daddy woke up saw this and asked me why I don’t just Buy. More. Bottles!!

  101. Ana says...

    I love this post and the great advice. I am a new mom of a perfect 7-month old and here are the best advice I received while pregnant and my top four for anybody out there that may need them.
    Best advice received:
    “You can read all the books you want nothing will prepare you for your first night home with your baby. You will not know what you are doing really but you will figure it out because we all do” – from a friend (Dad of two) – This turned out to be so true and so comforting.
    “Babies will be Babies” – from a Cup of Jo – Whenever things go sideways which happens a lot these days, I remind myself this helpful mantra and manage to laugh more often that not.
    “Whatever works for you is what you should do” – from a friend (Mom of three) – As a new parent, I doubt myself a lot and I started noticing how incredibly judgmental people can be. When my self-confidence falters, I just remember that I (only) know what is best for my family!
    “Do not buy PJs with snaps! Ever, period!” – Mom friends (all of them)
    My Top four advice:
    “Beer is great to boost BM production and enjoyable in moderation” – Breastfeeding can be a bit isolating when hanging out with friends so being able to partake with one BM boosting drink is tasty, freeing and enjoyable.
    “Be kind to your partner, when in doubt chose the humorous road because this little nugget will test your team-player and communication skills like never before” – I am still working on this one! :)
    “Do not underestimate the power of a warm shower and clean, well-fitting clothes and a little make-up” – I made a point to shower and dress somewhat decently everyday and generally felt so much better afterwards.
    ” Do not buy PJs with snaps! Ever, period! Yes, really!!” – I did not listen to this one! But zippers are much better at 3 am for obvious reasons.

  102. Jennie says...

    My best advice for surviving the newborn stage came straight from Cup of Jo, maybe the post on her baby shower? In those early days, when you and your partner are more likely to snap at each other, remember: your partner is not the enemy! The baby is the enemy! Makes me smile and it’s eerily true, every time.

    • Emily says...

      I used to say this to my husband when we were stressed in the early days!

    • KL says...

      Hahaha! My husband and I would yelled this at each other at 3am maaaany, many times during those early months. It’s fun to laugh about that now! Thanks for the memories!!!

    • kathleenicanrah says...

      I bet it was me that left that comment! It is still the BEST advice. THE BABY IS THE ENEMY. (now, the children are the enemy.)

  103. Susannah says...

    Advice for mama-hood that is also precious (though sometimes hard to remember) for human-hood: Say “yes” when it’s easy and “no” when it matters. This extends from everything to “can I have another peach?” (sure! really, why not?) to “we have three birthday parties scheduled on one day” (the world won’t end if you miss one. or all.)

  104. Laura says...

    Two things come to mind: 1. A fed baby and happy mom is best. I spent a lot of time hooked up to my pump trying to increase my supply. A really wish we had started supplementing with formula earlier.
    2. Whenever my child is going through a particularly annoying phase (e.g. sleep regression, a spike in tantrums, etc), I find it really helpful to tell myself, “this is developmentally appropriate. My child is supposed to be doing XYZ at this age.”

  105. AnnaChristie says...

    I found freedom in recognizing that a lot of parenting advice & guidelines are grounded in fear or worst case scenarios. Plus, information over-load is real. I’m learning how much my intuition & common sense can be reliable guides for my particular children & situation. Often confirmed, in such encouraging ways, by the tribe of wise, seasoned parents in the trenches with me or a little ahead on the parenting journey.

  106. KL says...

    A couple of things that helped me in the early baby days, but especially in the later months (because those later months can still be as hard): changing all the bulbs in my house to daylight bulbs and getting rid of a lot of excess furniture we weren’t really using. Our tiny, crowded condo felt very dark and constricting to me, and I was (am) dealing with PPA and some depression, so giving myself space inside my home was HUGE. I felt like it helped me breathe a bit more when the weather was so bad you couldn’t get outside. The one tip that I tell everyone and wish so bad that I knew was that new babies sometimes cry a bit in their sleep, and if you give them a few seconds, you may find that they are doing this cry-in-their-sleep thing, not actually waking up and crying because they need something.

  107. B says...

    You dont need a diaper bag the size of a carry on. You dont need to pack your whole house in a bag to-go. Remember the full house scene when they tried to take an afternoon carefree ride? Haha. I keep a diaper wipes and a disposable bag in my car, that’s it. I have seen people pack their lives up for an afternoon at grandma’s. Please dont. Car rides are for songs and imagination. Visits are for conversation and socializing. Toys, over packing, and what-if situations keep people from really going out and enjoying their time.

  108. Sara says...

    I also had my first child when I was 21. I watched a lot of Teen Mom as well and even though I wasn’t a teenager it was comforting to see young mothers going through struggles similar to mine. That was 9 years ago – I had forgotten about that show and it feels like a huge accomplishment to think back on that time and see how far I’ve come! That’s the beauty of motherhood – nothing lasts forever. It grows and stretches you and changes you unlike anything else.

  109. cg says...

    If your parents/in-laws/well meaning aunties and “aunties” break one of your parenting rules, ask yourself if it’s really worth it to get angry or to bring it up. Some things are worth it (please don’t smoke in front of my child), other things, not so much (we’re not feeding her any sugar… spies mil spooning ice cream into toddler’s mouth). In the scope of a life span, one teaspoon of melted ice cream didn’t make my daughter into a sugar monster. Now she has wonderful, memorable grandma-granddaughter traditions.

    Ask. Have a questions, not sure about something, need emotional back up? Ask. Just when you think you have your kid figured out, they will go and change up on you. Rinse, repeat. You are not alone in this parenting thing. It’s ok to ask yourself “Holy sh!t, why did I think I could do this parenting gig?” Talk to someone you trust.

    Last but not least, like all others who have said this, but can.not.be.reiterated.enough: Try your best not to compare. It’s hard, but try with all your might. Know that one kid’s progress and strength isn’t for all kids. Find progress and strengths in yours and be free to feel good about it. Remember this for a lifetime.

  110. JMarie says...

    I’m one of those people who always has a ridiculously long to-do list. Hands down the best advice I ever got was to keep my ambitions for maternity leave simple–1) Get out of the house every day (walking outside to get the mail counted!) and 2) Take a shower every other day. It was funny how by focusing on these two things, a lot of other challenges related to being a new parent got sorted out.

  111. Allison Cooper says...

    A tip to caregivers of colicky babies – When the umpteenth hour of crying is about to totally unravel you, a pair or earplugs can do wonder. You will be a super-parent-extrordinaire and maintain your sanity by rocking your sweet baby with the bliss of muted screaming.

  112. Kelley says...

    Thank you for this, especially the last quote. I had my third in February and it’s so much harder than I thought it would be to navigate the needs of a five month old, four year old and seven year old at the same time. Social media can be a source of sharing, but also make you question yourself. It’s good to hear it’s hard for everyone in different ways and to give myself some slack.

    • RobberSoup says...

      Congratulations! Mine are 10, 7, and 5 now, and are playing together happily while I have a cup of tea. Hang in there! My advice for all parents: try to be the person you want your kids to grow up to be. For me that is: not perfect, but kind and curious.

  113. Elizabeth says...

    LaTonya’s advice is really great. I spent hours on the couch watching Veep and Parks & Rec. The familar faces and hearty laughs made me feel less isolated and helped keep me awake.

    I appreciate Mindy’s advice too. I was reading Kelly Oxford’s second book last night, and someone tells her in her early 20s that she doesn’t owe strangers explanations about what she’s doing. It is a revelation for her.

    Finally, I love what Robin said. When I scroll through old videos, the mundane ones are mesmerizing.

  114. ximena says...

    My best advice would be “know that it’s absolutely normal and it is OK to feel how you are feeling (anxious, sad, overwhelmed, etc.). It doesn’t mean you are not happy and in love with your baby”

  115. Jennie says...

    I so long for the days of having a newborn; I miss those special times when you get to be amazing by doing some of the simplest, smallest things and witness the amazing that comes on the simplest, smallest ways. In no particular order, here is my advice:
    -Motherhood is empathy on steroids and you can’t empathize unless your needs are met first. Take care of yourself ask for and receive help.
    -You know more than you think.
    -Everyone around you wants you to succeed.
    -There is no wrong way to feel. If you do not feel a rush of connection and bond instantly with your baby there is NOTHING wrong with you. The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy and delivery are complex, and in dire need of research funding. Things go awry. If you feel isolated, depressed, scared, sad, etc. tell people, tell your Dr.
    -Your baby loves you. If you have a child that is not smiling, making eye contact, seems disconnected, that child still loves you. Yes, it is important to discuss that with your Dr. but know that child still loves you, you are that child’s everything and you are doing a great job.
    -You are doing a great job.

  116. Carol says...

    Please remember…your parents probably really want to help..and (most times) their advice is given with love…and a desire to help….we remember those days home with a newborn, a newborn and a toddler, a newborn a toddler and a preschooler, a newborn, a preschooler and 2 in elementary…give them jobs…my mom would cook and freeze food for me and my father always made sure that the floors were vaccumed and mopped…such a blessing that I now give to my kids… someday hopefully you can do the same for your kids.

  117. L says...

    When your baby naps: relax first, do chores after. Even if you lie down or read for just 10 minutes, at least you’ll feel like you’ve had a break. Then you can empty the dishwasher.

    I’m super Type A. I used to get my son to sleep and then run around the house like crazy, trying to get work and chores done while he slept. Inevitably, as soon as I (finally) sat down, he would wake up. It was completely exhausting. So sit down and put your feet up first – you deserve it!

    • Michelle R. says...

      YES! I used to eat cookie dough and watch Ellen while my baby napped! Sanity first, fitting into pre-baby pants is wayyy later…

  118. Bridget says...

    We have had a surprisingly challenging time going from one to two. I wrote this note to myself recently –

    Do not wish away time
    Even the days that are ninety degrees and swamp humid
    The nights where no one sleeps soundly and the slow, cacaphonous days that follow
    Even the long weeks with the anxiety that prickles on your neck and flutters in your chest
    The mysterious headaches through which you wish you could fast forward
    I wish I could counsel you from years to come
    This will be fine, this is not fatal
    Do not miss the sticky cheeks
    Do not lose sight of sweaty curls pressed to sleepy foreheads
    These moments will pass and pass and pass

    • Caiti says...

      Thanks Bridget. I have a 7 month old and almost 3 year old, and the last couple of months have been especially rough. I’m so tired, and do find myself wishing I could fast forward through time.

    • K says...

      Thanks for this! I have a 4 week old and 2.5 year old (with lots of sweaty curls). I want to be a happy mum not sad tired mum for them both, and while I’m not necessarily enjoying every second of every day, I’m definitely more consciously trying to turn stress and tiredness into something better for all of us (husband included)

  119. Caitlin says...

    Yes to lying! Not just in regards to parenthood though! My husband often marvels at my ability to not let my mother-in-law’s comments/suggestions/criticism get to me. I simply reply to her with lies!
    Yes that’s a great idea.
    You’re right, I’m going to start doing that!
    etc
    With no chance in hell that it’s happening. Keeps us both happy!

    • Katie says...

      Brilliant!!!

  120. Lynn says...

    If you’re a breastfeeder and experiencing a painful clog, and you have a partner, warm the boob and then ask him or her to suck it out. Don’t wait a day trying this or that method. No shame.

    Also, it’s okay to say no when people want to visit. I like my place presentable and smelling good when people come over. Often it wasn’t. I didn’t want people over when the baby napped because I felt trapped into doing nothing when I could be sleeping or cleaning. Just say no if that’s what you prefer. I preferred going for walks with people. The baby liked the stroller and I needed to pump blood through my legs.

  121. Laura says...

    My semi-joking advice for parents of newborns is to ignore advice and to not bother asking questions from anybody with a baby over a year old. You’ll find that they’ve forgotten everything from that period! That goes double for anyone with more than one child.

  122. Deanne says...

    Two things that really helped me were:
    I think it’s important to find one Mama friend who will listen without judgment and nod along in tough moments when you say, ‘This sucks. I want my old life back.’

    I had a great friend who told me for the first year of my daughter’s life, I didn’t need to ‘bring anything’ when I came for lunch/dinner/ a visit. ‘Just get both of you out of the house in one piece. That’s more than enough.’

  123. Lucy says...

    Infant care should be considered an OSHA violation. No pay, no breaks, difficult working conditions. It’s OK to feel resentful of the hard work and even of the baby. It really does get better!

  124. Laura says...

    Breast feeding is hard for some, but for others it can be an amazing experience. So if it is hard in the beginning push through, and ask for help from other mothers or a lactation specialist bc you can get there! I have never felt more powerful, and centered than how I felt breastfeeding. Yes, it was not easy in the beginning but once I go the hang of it it was such a natural and beautiful way to bond with my baby . Go into it open and you do what works best for you and your baby. And remember it can change. We supplemented a little in the beginning but eventually didn’t need to. It all changes quickly and before you know it you’ll be sharing meatballs with your toddler for dinner :)

  125. Emily says...

    To expound on the “taking things out on each other” advice… whatever happens between the hours of 12am and 7am is forgivable and forgotten. Nights can be rough. It helps to talk ahead of time about having a mutual understanding so that the morning can be a safe place without harbored feelings from the night before.

  126. Sarah says...

    This isn’t advise for a newborn, but I just realized this and maybe someone else could benefit from the knowledge: if your toddler figures out how to climb out of her crib, and you are forced to accept the fact that after 7 sleepless nights that she is not, in fact, ready for a big girl bed, then you can disassemble the bottom of the crib and put the mattress on the floor with the four walls of the crib intact around it. She will not be able to climb out of this and will again feel safe in her room instead of screaming all night. You have gained another year (I hope?!) of cribhood. Go back to sleep.

    • Kelsey says...

      Help me understand how she won’t be able to climb out of or under that! I’d love to make use of this advice RIGHT NOW. 🙏🏻

    • Kristen Anne Semanision says...

      This is an incredible tip!

    • R says...

      thank you!! my toddler is quickly approaching this and 100% no where near ready for a real bed. i needed to hear this

    • Anneka says...

      AHHHHHHH where was this comment a month ago!!!!! We’ve been struggling hardcore with this transition, even moving the bed with the higher back forward which didn’t work. After a month we’ve finally all slept through the night 4 nights in a row. Gah.

  127. agnes says...

    I knew I should NEVER have started to cut the top of strawberries!

    • Kim says...

      Ha ha! That one stood out to me as well! I have two kids and if I don’t cut the top off they take only one teeny bite of the berry. I’m forever saying, “Eat all the red!”

    • Julia says...

      My version of this– we first introduced a bottle to my infant straight from the fridge, and she liked it! Now it’s almost two years later and we never heated a single bottle. So many hours saved!

    • Karen says...

      My mother used to peel grapes for my little sister…. bless you moms

  128. KA says...

    Read books—grown-up books that don’t have babies or advice in them. Good fiction. Those early days with a newborn can be wildly lonely and isolating, but having a book to read with characters I was rooting for and intrigue I was wrapped up in made that loneliness seem lovely. Those early postpartum days turn a person inward, which, if that’s not usually your thing, can feel claustrophobic and isolating. Filling some of that inward space with a novel seemed to light a candle in the dark places. Remembering that there were good kinds of being alone (reading) made those long, early days feel much more calm and relaxing.

    • Anja says...

      Love this! I read so many books while on maternity leave, often on the Kindle app on my phone with a baby sleeping on me, or while breastfeeding!

    • Maria Smit says...

      I second this! There is always some time to read! And it is such a nice escape. The back-lit e-reader is your friend. I read when my baby has fallen asleep on the breast after nursing. And a good book also makes it easier to go to bed early (to survive the night feedings and 5:30 wake up times) and read a little.

    • Amy says...

      Agreed!! Reading cozy mysteries (e.g. Louise Penny) was my lifeline to feeling like I was still myself

  129. Lauren says...

    We are parents to an almost-three-year-old-child.

    My advice is focused on the labor+delivery, and breastfeeding processes. (labor trigger ahead: but everything turned out ok) I have been to known to not really study for things in school. Both of my parents have always told me that I’m good at a lot of things, but that if I don’t have a seemingly inherent ability to do something well out of the gate, then I likely won’t spend my time focusing on that subject any further. Is this a fair shake for things like calculus, knitting, or skateboarding? No, but I now see it is in fact very true.

    But, when we found out we were going to be parents, I STUDIED pregnancy, labor, delivery, breastfeeding, and all things new parent. I took prenatal yoga, cut out caffeine completely, took my vitamins, walked everywhere, meditated, drank a greens-packed smoothie every morning and on and on and on. Despite all of this “training” and studying, and dreaming and wishing for a classicly beautiful birth story, it was not what we had expected. I labored for a very long time without medication, turned within as I could, and still, deep down, knew that something wasn’t right. I could write a very long book on all of things that happened, but essentially, our child’s head had tipped too far forward when they were dropping in to the birth canal, and they became wedged against my pelvic bones. I was 9cm and pushing for hours, but as the doctor told us later when showing us the dent in our kid’s forehead, they weren’t coming out without assistance, no matter how “hard” I tried. As a result of the surgery, and some severe hemorrhaging, I lost too much blood for my milk to be able to come in fully, and I spent the next six weeks, a shame-filled, pain-filled, wreck that I’d let my child down in all of the ways possible. That somehow because I couldn’t deliver them “naturally”, or feed them fully from my body, that I had broken our relationship from the start.

    But, I can zoom out now, nearly three years later and see this: I did my best. I worked as hard as I could. I loved my child so much, that I listened to those around me, and decided fed+loved was best.

    So, my advice is this: you can study, plan, and try your best to prepare for parenthood. But, it WILL throw you curveballs you simply cannot anticipate. What you can do, is listen to yourself and your loved ones, when they are gently whispering that you should cut yourself some slack, because you’re likely doing the best you can.

    For me, that meant letting myself cry really hard the first time we had to supplement with formula. Then I realized over the next few days how much better I felt mentally and physically, that I’d taken this massive self-imposed burden off of my shoulders. I remember walking through the park a few weeks later, on a stroll all by myself, and glancing down at my watch with panic that I’d been out too long, and that I was starving my child… (OH WAIT, NO I’M NOT, THEY HAVE BOATLOADS OF FORMULA TO ENJOY AT HOME! WHAT A RELIEF!!! keeps walking through the sunshine ALL ALONE!).

    The early days/months/years of parenthood are a special kind of challenging. One you cannot study for, but that you will gain the skills for by living it. So, go forth, and (as my wife and I say to each other when we are feeling low about something) remember, “you aren’t TRYING, you’re DOING!”

  130. Kristin Jones says...

    The “white lie” advice is brilliant and so freeing.

    • agnes says...

      I agree. I wish I had used this technique much earlier in life.

  131. Brielle says...

    This means so much to me right now! Thanks, CoJ! Currently 34 weeks along and getting more antsy by the day to meet my baby and embark on this utterly new and incomprehensible (to me!) journey. P.S. Jenny, I love your recipes and writing. I made the green asparagus salad from “How to Celebrate Everything” for dinner last night and will definitely have that in rotation when my little one comes along because it was so easy and delicious.

  132. Karin says...

    A spin on LaTonya Yvette’s advice – figure out your library’s e-book service and set up an account for your phone (accessible one-handed and in the dark). I got hooked on romance novels in my baby’s first year (all the popular contemporary fiction had long hold times, but there is ALWAYS a romance novel available). Besides keeping me company/awake during night feedings, this habit had two additional benefits:
    a) speed reading a happy romantic comedy made me feel like I was getting something done when so much of my life was spent just sitting (yes, I know, feeding/caring for a newborn is doing something, but it was SO hard to just sit after being an efficient, busy human – finishing a book felt like a tangible accomplishment).
    b) the shift from “woman” to “mother” was a really hard one for me – After spending 30+ years defining myself and my role in the world, it all changed overnight. Tapping into my femininity via romance novels allowed me to cling to the non-mom parts of my persona while my body healed and I figured out all the new expectations and requirements of my role as mother.

    • Kim says...

      YESSS! Library e book service has changed my life and my bank account.

    • Mallory says...

      I read the entire Game of Thrones series on my iPhone (back when they were smaller!) while nursing/bouncing/burping/rocking my newborn. Did it take 5 years off my eyesight? Perhaps. But it let me single-handedly (literally, one hand involved) escape my reality and let me think about something beyond baby needs and my changing identity for a few hours at a time.

  133. Katherine says...

    Use books like “What to Expect” as references for what to do when something goes wrong not as manuals for raising your baby. I made the mistake of thinking all the problems they described were going to happen. A few of them were issues (and the books were helpful for resolving) but most of the challenges described didn’t come to pass. The first few weeks might have been better had I not been trying to borrow trouble.

  134. Jordan G says...

    I spent too much of my twins’ first year just stressing over every milestone and seeing every part of their development as a measurement of my motherhood skills. (“Why aren’t my children walking yet? I must be a bad mom! I didn’t do enough tummy time!”)

    Eventually I thought to myself – at the end of the day, what kind of people do I want to raise? I decided the most important things were that they be kind to others and that they try hard at everything they do. I wrote it on a paper and hung it in the playroom – “Be kind and try your best.” It served as a visual reminder to me to stop obsessing over comparison and focus on the developments that really matter!

    On a practical note – Aquaphor as diaper cream. I didn’t discover this until another mom told me about it when my twins were 3 months old, and I never looked back. The rashes went away and I never had to wash that white diaper cream from my dried out hands again!

  135. Ashley says...

    Pee first. The baby is crying and you feel like you need to get there with lights and sirens. But go pee first! You don’t know how long you’ll be trapped under a sleeping cutie. Your bladder control isn’t what it used to be-don’t test it! ;)

    • Amy says...

      This is the best advice. A+

    • Kim says...

      Great advice!

    • Zoe says...

      Hahaha, this is great advice.

    • Lia says...

      Agree!!! Figured this out quickly!

      Also, now that my kids are older, when I want to escape their bedroom at night I tell them I have to go to the potty, and that I will come back to check on them when I am done. This is usually the one excuse they will tolerate for me leaving them. I take my time, and usually they are asleep by the time I am done.

    • Sarah says...

      Amen!

      Along the same lines – maybe even brush your teeth and quickly drink some water – it may be a long time!

    • Amy P says...

      Definitely used to grab a snack before heading in. You just never know if it’ll be two minutes or two hours. I used to consider swapping my night stand for a mini fridge ;) Never did it, but I probably should’ve after seven years of getting up at night with babies/toddlers!

  136. Rosie says...

    YOU (and your partner) are the best parents for your children. There will be no shortage of opinions from well meaning family members and friends but only YOU, and you partner, know your child best and what works the best for your family.

  137. Maddy says...

    I second an above comment with something my bestie said to me, “now is not forever.” Sometimes you feel like will I EVER sleep again? In moments of tiredness will he/she EVER learn to sleep, settle down, eat better, wipe their bottoms, etc. But alas, the hard moments of your “now” can quickly change in one day or with one new development.

    Also, do what feels best for you and your partner and do not allow judgment for what you’re doing to cloud any experiences. I spent far too much time worrying over what was “right” according to others instead of what was right for our family. In that, reserve forming opinions or oversharing, because you never know someone’s story.

  138. C says...

    It’s ok for babies to cry. If you need to, put that baby down somewhere safe and walk away for a few minutes. It’s ok to do this. It’s ok to do this. It’s ok to do this.

    • Emma Bee says...

      I think the original poster probably meant put your baby down for a FEW minutes, while you take a few deep breaths.

    • Andrea says...

      C-1000%! It’s such an important thing to remember and let yourself do. I know nurses who make it their business to tell all mothers in the hospital that safely ignoring a crying child for a few minutes when you feel ready to lose it is acceptable. Hurting your child is a far worse outcome than stepping away from the crying for a few minutes.

    • Sarah says...

      Letting a baby cry for a few minutes while you take a bathroom break, take a few deep breaths, finish eating your lunch is most definitely ok. Letting a baby cry/scream for an hour(s), that’s different. Some babies fuss themselves to sleep. It’s different than the “can’t catch her breath” hysterical crying. You know your baby and you know when you need a moment to yourself.

    • Greta says...

      It’s ok and healthy to put the baby down somewhere safe, so you go scream into a pillow/pee/take deep breaths… come back to motherhood in a better headspace. Related, letting your kids wait an age appropriate beat is good for them, patience is a virtue.

    • Laura says...

      Consuela — that article doesn’t say anything about how long babies are being left to cry for or how often to cause long-term effects. There’s a difference between letting yourself take a 10-minute breather and repeatedly ignoring a distressed child for long amounts of time. When you’re sleep deprived and struggling, it can be the hardest thing to step away from your child, but this is the best thing a mother can do for both herself AND her baby.

    • Kara says...

      Consueala, I think C is referring to those moments where you’re at your wits end and have tried everything to comfort your baby….it IS ok to put the baby in a safe space for a few minutes and walk away to take some deep breaths (particularly if no one is there helping you; unfortunately so many of us no longer have a “village” to help us raise babies). In fact, I’ve found this is a good rule of thumb for parenting all ages…my kids are typically better off if I take a minute to calm myself and then come back to help them. It ends up in less tears for all of us.

      Re: babies crying and needing comfort, I highly recommend investing in and using baby wraps and carriers! So often babies just need to be cuddled and touched, and it allows you some freedom at the same time. My Solly baby wrap and Beco Gemini carrier were my #1 necessities when my kids were babies!

    • Kiana says...

      Also, feel free to put headphones on or ear plugs. When a baby cries, it’s instinctive to pick up the baby and cradle it on your chest where their screaming mouths are right next to your ears (ack!). Sometimes, the sound of their crying can make you too stressed out to focus on what to do or how to react in a safe way. Putting on headphones or ear plugs still allows you to hear your baby and comfort them physically but you can hear your own thoughts too and focus. This is obviously not advice for a baby that’s hurt or sick or hungry. Just for a fussy little one who is very vocal about it. :)

    • Consuela says...

      Agree with the earplugs idea- this lets you take care of baby without losing your mind. But no, it’s not ok to leave your baby alone. We’re attachment based creatures. NO other mammal would leave their infant alone even for “a few minutes”. We’re completely capable of taking care of our babies without leaving them!

    • Maria Smit says...

      I had a colicky baby who cried inconsolably. At one point my partner and I just didn’t know what to do any more. We couldn’t think straight. We were lucky to have my parents living close by so I called my mom to come over RIGHT NOW. But if you don’t have that luxury, leaving your baby to cry safely in her crib for a few minutes while you take some deep breaths in the garden/balcony is the best thing to do.

    • Rose says...

      Consuela, have you been in the presence of many mammals as they birth and raise their babies? I grew up in a farm and I witnessed cows ignore their calves (which had to be bottle raised), cats abandoning their kittens and dogs literally eating the runt that they just birthed. Just saying!

    • Amy says...

      Absolutely!! ANYONE is capable of accidentally hurting their baby when tired or frustrated and still crying despite being fed, changed…There’s no shame in putting them down in a safe place and coming back in 10 minutes. If you’re worried about this, discuss with your pediatrician! They will not think there is something wrong with you for getting frustrated.

    • Avi says...

      My babies slept with me for MANY years, I breastfeed them exclusively, I don’t believe in sleep training (for myself, but I also function well on no sleep and don’t have a job out of the house so I can nap if I need to after hard nights, I don’t judge anyone else for sleep training), I do baby lead weaning, I meditate with my kids, we kiss on the lips, etc. We do nearly every form of attachment parenting you can think of and I can STILL say with full certainty it is ok and safe to leave babies alone to cry for a (subjectively short) period of time. My 3 very loved and attached kids are not emotionally damaged from the times they cried in their car seat without being held by me because ummm I had to keep driving the car! Nor are they damaged when I can’t get to them for 10 minutes if I have to help a sibling in the bathroom. In fact the baby usually falls asleep at that point waiting for me because the only reason they were crying is because they’re tired anyway! Sorry, no single article can prove a short period of time crying damages human beings in any way. And even if it does, don’t we all make parenting mistakes that somehow damage our kids? That’s life! If it isn’t the 10 minute crying session in infancy, it will be the time we overcomplimented their toddler drawings, thus leading to long term approval seeking and low self confidence! Can’t win at everything 😆

    • Amy P says...

      Consuela – lots of mammals leave their babies alone for hours, usually to procure food. There’s been a lot of reminders this spring to not rescue “abandoned” fawns or elk calves – their moms go off during the day to feed themselves (you know, so they can feed their babies), and don’t return until dusk to avoid leading predators to them. Rabbits do the same.

      Letting your baby cry alone for 2-10 minutes while you pull yourself together (physically and/or emotionally) in order to take better care of them is not at all neglect. Also, some babies fuss for a minute and then fart and feel better ;)

  139. Lori says...

    I completely agree you don’t have to breastfeed and if you choose not to, don’t feel guilty. Your baby will be fine and so will you. On the flip side of that, if you want to and are having a hard time, don’t give up. There is help available. I had someone from the Breastfeeding Center in my city come to my house and help me and it was life changing. It was painful and hard for three months but I have never been more determined. Then it was wonderful for the next two years!

  140. Meredith says...

    IT’S HARD FOR EVERYBODY. Different things are hard for different people, but I guarantee you there is some aspect of motherhood your seemingly perfect friend/acquaintance is struggling with.

    • YES. I have a 2 year old and am also due in four weeks. Yesterday, our toddler wasn’t satisfied by any food we offered as her snack, but she needed to have one before dinner, but we didn’t want to spoil her dinner … It sounds like nothing, but it was everything at the time.

      I said in desperation to my mother-in-law, who was watching this play out, “I just feel like I never know the right thing to do.”

      And she looked at me with such love and said, “Duh.”

  141. Courtney says...

    I read Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott (highly recommend – it’s a beautifully written memoir about her first year of parenting; Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr is also fantastic) and Lamott inspired me to start a google doc journal of little moments I shared with our infant. It’s now over 50 pages of entries that range from one or two sentences to several paragraphs about our two daughters. There are no rules – I don’t write whenever something happens – it’s just a place I can drop a memory when I can or have the time (mostly on the google docs phone app while on the go). I also go to Janet Lansbury whenever I feel stuck with a parenting question. Her podcast, Unruffled, and her website and books are pure gold for respectful parenting.

    • KL says...

      My husband set up an email address for our daughter, and I “g chat her” every now and again with different things I think she (and I) would like to read one day!

  142. Jana says...

    Go see a pelvic floor physical therapist!!

    • Megan L Scarborough says...

      This! Peeing your pants should not be a thing you just accept as part of motherhood.

  143. I especially loved Emma’s advice. Parenting in the era of social media is both a blessing and a curse. It’s so much easier to play the comparison game and of course you tend to focus on the things other things are doing (walking, eating anything and everything, etc) that your kid isn’t doing but overlooking things your child figured out faster than others. So I’d suggest taking a break from social media or really limiting how you use it if it you come away feeling more complicated emotions that positive ones.

    One practical thing – I’d recommend the ap “one second everyday” to new parents (or parents at any stage!). If you have a newer iPhone, every photo is a short video. You can choose a live photo from each day and the 1SE ap makes a video out of those photos. I took a photo almost every day of the first year of our son’s life and now I have this amazing video and I can watch him grow before my eyes. I watched it so many times during the first year – my husband called it mommy porn. Ha.

    • Emily says...

      Yes! 1 Second Everyday app is amazing!

    • Lauren says...

      YES 1SE is the best! We are eight months in with our first and I have already forgotten how tiny he was and the video from the app is the perfect way to preserve those memories in a manageable and easy-access way (and it has to be easy access because I also watch it ALL.OF.THE.TIME – even when he’s right in front of me :) )

      Love this article and the comments – was feeling like a crappy mom for getting mad / frustrated at the little guy because he wouldn’t nap yesterday, but this community always makes me feel better. Doing my best and THAT is perfect parenting. That’s my top advice: good day, bad day, meh day, they all happen, and it’s all going to be ok in the end :)

  144. emily c says...

    sooo agree with keeping the “it’s temporary” mentality!! so true and so helpful to keep in mind for piece of mind!

  145. Sara says...

    Emma Straub’s advice is one I give my kids, too because it worked so well for me when they were teeny tiny and I felt underwater.
    When they’re miserable with whatever thing is breaking their hearts, I remind them that it’s temporary. It’s a thing I can promise and they can trust in. Whether it’s removing a splinter (temporary!) or a friend being a jerk at school (temporary!), life is never just one thing and both joy and pain will come and go. :)

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      Agree. This advice still comforts me in the teenage years.

  146. Jeannie Rodriguez says...

    My favorite quote that I tell new moms (and myself!) is “There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a great one.”

    When I see something another mom did that makes me feel like I’m not doing enough (bento box lunches, remembering “dress like a super hero day” at school), I tell myself “that is how she’s a great mom, I’m a great mom in other ways”…

  147. Meagan says...

    A few weeks before their due date, I send friends a link to a youtube video about how to strap a newborn into a car seat. I joke this is my PSA to new parents. Seriously though newborns are so tiny, and getting the car seat tightened correctly isn’t as simple as buckling it together. Someone sent me this video before my first. Buckling her into her carseat for the first time in the hospital I was so glad to have watched it. The video… https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TDnVE6t-vbc

  148. Heather D says...

    As a new adoptive mama to a 4 year old from the foster care system, I find myself at a weird place in the parenting game. I avoid parenting books or blogs altogether and just ask my friends with kids. Nothing feels as good as the understanding you get from someone who has walked in those shoes!

    • Hayley says...

      Congratulations, mama!!! Good luck as you navigate it all! Sending you so much love!

  149. Emily says...

    I was advised to remember that everyone chiming in with their stories and helpful/not helpful tips just wants to help (or maybe they just want to reminisce). For baby number 2 I was more self-assured and felt stronger not to simply smile & nod. I nudged to another topic if somebody recommended something that contrasted the GI specialist’s advice, or if they told me I looked tired etc. Remembering what the other person is trying to do helped me not be upset about what they came out with!