Exhausted doesn’t even describe the newborn days. Waking up delirious from sleep deprivation multiple times a night. Struggling with the initial discomfort of breastfeeding, all while recovering from childbirth.
Life with a newborn also made me doubt myself and question every decision I made. I wondered what in the world I got myself into as I wished for easier days (and reminisced about my old life). I wasn’t sure whether I was even fit to be a mom.
Baby tips and tricks
But as with all things parenthood, I learned on the job. I discovered little hacks that made the days easier and more manageable. I researched baby tips and grew more confident and better equipped to handle a new baby. And I reached out to fellow moms and discovered their secrets to surviving the newborn stage.
In short, these are the cool baby tips I wish I knew from the start. They’re quick wins when we need them most—baby care tips for new moms to better manage.
Below are my best baby tips I hope you find useful as well:
1. Onesies can also be pulled down during messy accidents
Nearly every onesie will come with those envelope flaps near the collar. At first I thought this was designed to accommodate different-sized heads and to make it more comfortable for baby to pull a shirt over his head.
Turns out, those envelope flaps are much more functional than fitting over a baby’s head. They allow you to pull the onesie down.
Normally, you’d undress the baby by lifting the onesie over the head. But at some point, you’ll likely face the dreaded poop explosion. One so full it spills out of the diaper and onto the onesie—not exactly something you’d want to pull over the baby’s head.
The envelope flaps allow you to then pull the onesie down over the baby’s shoulders, removing it without going near the baby’s head.
2. Eliminate gas with the elbow-to-knee trick
One of the biggest challenges with newborn baby care after birth is the baby’s gas and digestion.
My little guy had a serious case of gas, so much so that he was difficult to put to sleep. He’d fuss and cry, and I felt helpless with how to help him. I tried gas drops, which only seemed to help a little. I even tried different bottles, hoping that a new brand would ease his troubles.
Nothing seemed to work—that is, until I learned the elbow-to-knee trick.
Now, I had heard about doing bicycle kicks with a baby to expel gas. I tried this move, moving my baby’s knees closer to his chest, hoping he’d toot a little gas out of his tummy. It still didn’t work.
But then I tried the elbow-to-knee trick, which instantly removed my baby’s gas. Every time I’d touch his elbow to the knee, he’d give a little fart, then another when I repeated with the opposite limbs. It seemed like a miracle!
So, here’s how you do it:
- Lie your baby down on his back.
- Move his right elbow and left knee towards each other as if they were going to touch.
- Do the same with the opposite elbow and knee: Move his left elbow and right knee towards each other.
- Alternate a few times until your baby stops farting.
Hopefully each time you connect one elbow to the opposite knee, your baby will fart and expel some gas. This will keep him be more comfortable and better able to sleep.
3. Keep your baby awake no longer than an hour and a half to avoid over-stimulation
Before I had kids, I figured babies sleep anywhere. After all, at family parties, we’d pass babies from person to person, and I never considered whether they were asleep or not.
When I had my first, I did the same. I didn’t follow any type of routine, much less look at the clock to see how long he’s been awake.
The result? He felt cranky and overtired, which made it harder to put him to sleep. I couldn’t lay him down drowsy and awake—instead, I had to hold him in my arms, rock or feed him to sleep.
Turns out, babies can only stay awake for so long. And more importantly, they don’t “just fall asleep” when they feel tired. If they’re overstimulated, hungry, uncomfortable or tired, they have a hard time falling asleep.
I then began to be more conscious of how long my baby was awake. I learned that an hour and a half is about the most a newborn can stay awake. And I looked for sleep cues and didn’t hesitate to put my baby down for a nap, even he’d only been awake for 45 minutes or an hour.
And guess what—he began to sleep better. He was less cranky and overtired and instead seemed to welcome his next nap. When I had twins a few years later, I remembered this handy trick and avoided keeping them awake too long, making them easy sleepers from day one.
Sure, this isn’t always convenient, especially if you feel stuck at home, but it can make a huge difference with how easy it is to put your baby to sleep.
4. Track your baby’s feedings and diapers
Your doctor will likely ask a few questions about your baby’s progress:
- what types of bowel movements he’s had
- how often he pees
- how many ounces of milk or minutes he nurses
And if you breastfeed, you’ll want to track how many minutes he nurses and on which breast. If he’s bottle-fed, track how many ounces he drinks.
For accurate answers, record your baby’s feedings so you don’t have to pull the information from memory.
Track your baby’s diapers as well, including, the kind of poop he had, such as color, texture, and how often he peed or pooped. Not exactly enticing, but necessary.
5. Feed your baby after he/she wakes up
It didn’t take long for me to see that my baby would fall asleep with nursing. I even prided myself for being the only who could put him to sleep—I had “mama’s touch,” I assumed.
Trouble is, he’d only fall asleep through nursing (or rocking). Nap times became horrendous—I’d spend several minutes rocking him to sleep only for him to wake up the minute I laid him down.
This also made nap times short. Forget about two-hour naps—each time he stirred, he wouldn’t know how to put himself back to sleep. I’d either resort to rocking or nursing him all over again, making both of us miserable and sleep deprived.
Then I read Tracy Hogg’s E-A-S-Y technique (eat/awake/sleep/you). Rather than feeding your baby to sleep, you’d feed him after he woke up. At first, I was doubtful. This was, after all, one of the ways I could put him to sleep. But when I saw how much he relied on external sleep aids to fall asleep, I knew I had to try a different way.
I then changed my routine. Rather than feeding my baby to sleep, I fed him after he woke up, which allowed him to try to fall asleep on his own. He stopped tying nursing with sleeping and instead expected to eat when he woke up.
Here’s how it works:
- Feed your baby (eat) after he wakes up (awake) so he’ll have energy for her awake time.
- After your baby has been awake a while, put him to sleep drowsy but awake (sleep). He can explore different ways to put himself to sleep, such as sucking on his thumb or rocking his head side to side.
- Once he’s asleep, you can tend to yourself (you) and repeat the cycle.