Parenting is tough. Every age and stage comes with unique challenges, amazing memories, and learning. First-time parents often ask “Which stage is the hardest?” Truthfully, they’re all challenging and fun in unique ways.
As a mom and registered dietitian, I see friends and clients struggle the most during the infant stage. Moms say the infant stage “flies by in the blink of an eye.” So what makes it so tough?
The Infant Stage
The infant stage lasts from birth through 12 months of age. Babies grow more in the first year than any other stage of life. Moms also experience abundant change — physically and mentally.
Most moms realize that the immediate postpartum phase is tough. You just met a tiny person who relies on you for everything. Add lack of sleep and healing from birth (if applicable) and . . . you see the picture.
The following months may feel like a rollercoaster. You’re joyful about seeing your baby grow and learn, yet frustrated at the constant change, especially with feeding and sleep routines. Some milestones, like introducing food and mobility, can be downright scary.
What About Mom?
Moms need physical and mental support, especially during the infant stage. Friends and family are excited about all things baby. Yet moms receive little guidance around caring for themselves and hesitate to ask for help.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can THRIVE during the infant stage!
How to Thrive
While I’m no parenting expert, I have supported moms and seen them thrive. Dare I say, I thrived. My journey wasn’t perfect, but I’m thankful for the foundation I built during the first year.
Today I’m sharing my top three tips to help you thrive during the infant stage.
>> RELATED READ :: Dallas Moms Pregnancy & Postpartum Support Guide <<
Tip 1: Make Yourself Number One Priority
This tip may go against every parenting book and blog, and I stand by it. Caring for an infant requires energy and strength. You need to physically care for yourself so you’re able to care for others.
Make a list of non-negotiables and builds your needs into the family routine. Here’s what I encourage:
- Shower at least every other day.
- Wear clean clothes daily.
- Wash hair at regular intervals.
- Eat three meals plus as well as snacks with adequate protein and carbohydrates.
- Drink at least half your body weight in fluid ounces (double that amount if you’re nursing).
- Enjoy coffee or tea in the morning.
- Nap when baby naps (as much as able).
- Trade off rocking/soothing baby to sleep with a partner, or ask for help, so you can rest.
- Household duties
- Perform tasks while baby is awake, and use a carrier, lounger, play mat, etc.
- Outline and divide duties with a partner, ask friends/family, or hire help.
- Hobbies and self-care
- Resume physical activity or try a new workout. Be sure to start slow once cleared by your doctor.
- Schedule a pedicure or massage.
- Rewatch a favorite T.V. series or book.
In the early postpartum days, this list may seem full of luxuries. Start small and add as you go and your infant grows older.
Tip 2: Drown Out the Noise
Parenting comes with a lot of unsolicited advice. Well-meaning friends, family, and strangers eagerly share “wisdom” to save you from their perils. Sounds nice, right?
O. M. G. this couldn’t be further from the truth!
While some people share useful information, others share horror stories. Do your best to drown out the noise of unsolicited advice. You do not have to do anything with your baby — that’s the perk of being the parent.
>> RELATED READ :: The Postpartum ABC’s <<
Tip: Avoid responding with “I appreciate . . .” if you don’t mean it. “I’m glad to hear that worked out for you . . .” will suffice.
I also encourage filtering social media. Accounts firmly rooted in a single method of parenting can be harmful to your intuition and confidence. The same is true for parenting books and websites. If something seems too good to be true, it likely is.
Tip 3: Remember, It’s a Journey
The infant stage is full of decisions. It’s okay to change your mind and try something different. You can only make informed decisions with the information available. As you learn more, your views may shift. Don’t fear deviating from norms.
Trust your instincts. There is no single best way to parent . . . and anyone who says different is probably selling something.
On a similar note, it’s okay to let your infant guide the journey. Every child is different, and your parenting style will adapt. Your infant is learning the world as much as you’re learning them. Enjoy the journey!
Time to Thrive
Whether you’re a first-time mom or seasoned mom, you can thrive during the infant stage. Make yourself a priority, drown out the noise, and remember it’s a journey. The tough moments will pass and you’ll find your groove.
Trust yourself, and you’ll thrive!