10 Things a New Mom Can Learn from a Seasoned Nanny
by sheri lopez
Many first-time moms struggle with the uncertainty of not knowing how to care for their new bundle of joy. Although it is perfectly normal for a new parent to not have a clue about infant care, a new mom or dad may not really grasp that and may feel defeated by parenthood as soon as they bring their new son or daughter home from the hospital. New moms may feel pressure to all of a sudden know how to parent, not fully understanding that parenting is a process of learning that takes time to develop starting from the moment when their newborn is placed in their arms for the first time.
Of course a new mom wants to be the best mom that she can be, and there is plenty of educational material out there at her disposal to learn from. But it doesn’t help that often what one article or source may say about a topic, you can find another that supports the complete opposite. So what can a seasoned nanny with well over 20 years’ experience teach a new parent? As a seasoned nanny and newborn care specialist, I am often in the homes of families with newborns to not only care for the infant, but to also support the new parents who are embarking on the totally overwhelming journey of raising a child.
1. Listen to Your Gut
Over the years I’ve discovered that moms really do develop that inner voice when their baby is born. They just need to learn to hear it and not doubt what they feel. A mother’s instinct is natural.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions or Seek Help
No one is perfect and a new mom should never be expected to be. Asking for help is okay and doing so does not mean that you are a bad or incompetent mom. Quite the opposite is true, in fact: to ask for help when it is truly needed shows that a new mom has the wisdom to know when she can’t handle something on her own.
3. Crying Is Okay
I kind of laugh when I talk about this, but I do make it a point to share with new moms that babies cry. Not to state the obvious, but this is how they communicate and relieve stress. Crying is okay and it will not hurt the baby. I encourage new moms to listen to their gut and trust that with time they will learn what their baby’s cries mean. I also share that crying for Mom is good too! I often get funny looks when I say this, but to me it is true. Crying is a good way to let go of stress and cleanse the soul.
4. Your Baby Will Sleep through the Night
New moms often want to know when their baby will sleep through the night so that they too can get some much-needed sleep. Of course there is no answer to this question because each baby is different. I just encourage new moms to hang in there because sooner or later it will happen.
5. You Really Do Not Need Every Baby Products
If new moms purchased all the stuff out there for their babies, they would be broke. There are some products that I do suggest to new moms, but I consider many to be a waste of money and not worth buying. I am sure that we all can come up with a list of items that we think a new mom would need for her baby and the items that are cool, but many of these items not practical and will end up in a closet or a garage sale.
6. Dads Are Really Good at Helping
A new mom does not have to care for her baby alone. The baby wasn’t created alone and caring for it should be a team effort. Some new moms need to learn to let go of the control and care of their newborn and let Daddy help out. New dads have shared with me over the years that they often feel left out when their child is born because so much of the care is provided by Mom. It’s healthy to let Daddy bathe, feed, change diapers, cuddle, sing to, and talk about cars and football with the baby because dads need time to develop their bond with the baby too. Plus, this gives Mom time to do some things for herself, like put on makeup or visit her friends.
7. Know when to Say “No” to Relatives and Guests
When a newborn comes home from the hospital, relatives, friends, and neighbors are eager to meet the new addition. However, there need to be boundaries in place to assure that the baby and new mom do not get overwhelmed. As much as everyone wants to see, hold, and cuddle the new baby, it is best to wait a few days to adjust to one another before visitors come over. There are some new moms who are not able to say no, so I share that for the health and well-being of her baby it really is best to hibernate for a short period of time and if anyone gets upset by this, they really will get over it.
8. Learn CPR and First Aid
I am very passionate about parents and caregivers alike being safety certified. I believe CPR and first aid is something that every parent should learn. I hope that there is never be a need to use these skills, but I tell parents that it is better to be safe than sorry. Knowing these skills can potentially make a difference in the outcome of an emergency.
9. Keep a Development Milestones Journal
It is easy to forget when milestones actually happen if you don’t document them at the time they happen. Keeping a journal is a fun thing to do and will provide a fun walk down memory lane in the years to come.
10. Develop a Routine
This can be a challenge for some new moms who are used to coming and going all hours of the day. I share with new moms that developing a routine is a healthy thing to do for their baby and that their baby will actually thrive on it. As much as it can be mundane to do the same things at the same time day after day, to a baby that represents security. Of course, flexibility in any routine is essential.
Being a new mom is a full-time job in itself and one that is both rewarding and challenging. As nannies and newborn care specialists, we have the privilege of helping new moms and dads become the best parents that they can be, and I think that is pretty awesome!