Welcome! I'm Cookie's Mom. You can learn all about Cookie and why I blog here: About Cookie's Chronicles. If you're new here, you may want to SUBSCRIBE TO MY RSS FEED. Thanks for stopping by! Pull up a beach chair and be my guest, won't you?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ten Tips for New Moms

It's Monday again, and you know what that means! Time to link up with NorthWest Mommy for Monday Listicles. If you're not addicted already, check out the Monday Listicles movement. Get a writing prompt each week and treat it however you like. Couldn't be more fun!

It's a particularly exciting link up for me today, because I got to choose this week's topic: Ten Tips for New Moms! In case you missed it, you can read all about my rationale for choosing this topic in my post from last week, Guilty Pleasures. (Thanks to Jacqui of Chicktuition for suggesting last week's topic.)

I'm also linking up with Love Links. Join the community and meet some new blogging friends. Link up your favourite post from the week. If you like my post, you can visit Love Links to vote for me.

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Before I get to my listicle for this week, have you heard the news? Since you all know and love Stasha B, I thought you'd want to be in on it. Stasha recently ran a contest to give away one of her limited edition, signed prints as a thank-you to her fans for encouraging her to launch her new photography business. We all know how talented she is and we're all very excited that she's finally taken the plunge! Well, guess who won the contest? Yup. ME!!!! Take a look at what I won!

Thanks so much, Stasha! It's a stunning photo and it's going to look fantastic on my wall. Visit Stasha's new website, Stasha B. Photography to check out her latest creations.

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Now on to this week's Listicle.

I expected this post to be a funny, lighthearted look at motherhood, rather than the more serious and emotional piece it turned out to be. I have many crazy anecdotes from my own mishaps as a new mother that I thought I might share, but for whatever reason, this post just didn't go that way. I'll save those stories for another time: perhaps a post entitled, My Ten Biggest F*Ups Since Becoming a Mom. How will I limit myself to just ten?

Ten Tips for New Moms

1) Labour and Delivery. Let's start at the beginning shall we? You're pregnant. You're full of joy and the promise of a perfect life with your perfect new family. You and hubby have worked out the perfect birthing plan, attended Lamaze classes so you will know how to breathe through the pain, and packed your bag with all of the comforts you will need for your transition from this stage to the next beautiful stage of your transformation into motherhood.

Here's the thing. Things never go according to plan. Plans are great - guidelines - wish lists, is really what they are. You will be disappointed if you expect things to go entirely the way you want them to. Hope for the best, but be prepared for alternatives. One way or another, the baby will come out, and that is all that will matter in the end. When you hold that little bundle in your arms, the unimportant details of how he or she arrived will melt away.

My experience: The breathing lessons were completely useless as I went from no contractions to contractions 2 minutes apart, instantly. I brought a bag to the hospital packed full of things to aid in my "comfort" during labour and delivery, but never used any of it. When we arrived at the hospital we left the bag in the car and once in labour I couldn't let go of my husband's arms long enough for him to go and get it. The only thing I desperately needed from that bag was an elastic band to keep my sweaty hair out of my face! I resisted the drugs, as per "the plan" but just barely and mostly due to circumstance (I couldn't stand the nitrous oxide, I kept telling the epidural guys to "Go away! Wait come back! Nevermind, go away!" and the baby came really quickly). In the end, all that matters is the beautiful boy I now have in my life.

2) Nursing. So you want to nurse your baby exclusively, for at least four years? That is a respectable goal, to be sure. Mine was to nurse exclusively for 2 years. But, once again, life has a way of messing with our plans. Accept ahead of time that there are certain things that are beyond your control. Despite your best efforts, nursing may be difficult for you as it is for many, if not all, moms at least some of the time. This is NOT cause for shame. It is NORMAL. We are told that breastfeeding is the most natural thing we can do as women, so we expect it to just work. In reality, breastfeeding is HARD WORK! We are told all sorts of things about how and when we should nurse our babies, how and when to introduce a bottle, if ever. Wait and see. Breathe. Listen to your heart. Do what feels right to you and what works for the unique pairing of mother and child.

My experience: I wanted to nurse exclusively and did, for fourteen months. It nearly killed me. My son had acid reflux and nursed every 1-2 hours (which meant that I slept never more than one hour at a time) until we finally sorted out what was wrong and got him on the right medication - 5 months later. I listened to advice to not give him a bottle for 6 weeks to avoid so-called "nipple confusion". After that, my son would not take a bottle. No confusion, but still no rest for mom! If I had a second, I swore, he would have one bottle a day right from the start so that someone else could feed the baby and I could have a rest. I had many other nursing struggles along the way and almost quit several times. I finally stopped nursing when it seemed that Jack was less dependent on it, and when my body told me it had had enough. I'm glad that I had the opportunity to nurse my child, but would never suggest that there is a right way to do so or even that nursing is necessary. Yes, it has benefits, but probably way more important is a healthy, happy and connected mom.

3) Sleep. Ugh. We parents torment ourselves for years over the quality of our children's sleep. Scheduled naps and bed times. Sleep training: 'cry-it-out' methods have us alternately feeling we are giving our children the gift of a lifetime of healthy sleep habits and crying our eyes out thinking we are the cruelest parents ever. Try not to lose your mind. Try not to hate your partner, if you have one to deal with, when he or she unwittingly undermines your sleep plan. Be patient with him or her - they are learning too. Stay strong. Be persistent, but be forgiving with yourself and your child. Whatever sleep goals make sense to you, trust your judgement, give them a try. Don't be too hard on yourself if it's not easy or if you decide it's not working and you need a new plan. There is never anything wrong with changing course. In fact, as true as it may seem to you that change is the only constant, you've never experienced how true this is until becoming a mother. Get ready to go with the flow!

My experience: I am not a good sleeper. This obviously affected my decisions with respect to setting up my son's sleep habits. His first five months (with acid reflux and trouble sleeping) had an affect as well. It was important to me that he learn to sleep on his own. Ideally, he would also be able to sleep through noise. We were, despite teasing and, in some cases, judgement from others, very strict with Jack's bed time. Unlike other parents who kept their kids up until midnight so that they could attend weddings and other events, we put Jack to bed at the same time every night without exception. We felt that sleep was that important. We used a cry-it-out method as it was needed, a few times over the course of his first 3 years. It always worked pretty well. It was always very hard to do. Our son is a pretty good sleeper. We're not as strict anymore on very special occasions, but if he's late to bed it's only by an hour or two. We don't feel that he has missed out on anything as a result.

Sleep is another topic that could fill several posts. Whatever sleep problems you run into, know that there is a solution. There is a way to correct anything that goes wrong. Stay educated about sleep concerns and you'll be just fine.

4) Food. Double ugh! You will spend a ridiculous amount of your time preparing food and then shoveling it into the garbage when your baby, and then child, refuses to eat it. It will make you cry at least once. Breathe. This too shall pass. Not slowly, but it will. Over the years, if you are patient, your child will learn to enjoy what food is put in front of him or her. Resist the urge to be a short order cook! Resist the urge to feel you are a failure because your child will not eat broccoli. Your baby will eat if hungry and will, over the course of the week, if you are serving a variety of healthy foods, get all the nutrients he or she needs. This is your new mantra - repeat after me: I, as a parent, decide when and what my child will eat. My child decides if and how much he or she will eat.

My experience: I made all of my baby's first foods from scratch. I recognize this is not for everyone, especially moms who head back to work or have multiple kids or multiple demands on their time. It was, for me, relatively easy and made me feel good about controlling the type and quality of food my child was getting, I used good quality, organic food and still, I think, saved money. As time went on, I tried to expose my child to a variety of foods and flavours. I still try to use good quality food at home an to buy little or no processed food. This is a topic that I could dedicate several posts to. Tomorrow I will discuss a tiny aspect of the problem of getting kids to eat what's good for them.

5) Milestones. Milestones are both joyous to behold and the source of much anxiety for many parents. Know this, new mama. When your doctor tells you that your baby is just fine, it's really true. Your little Joey may not be crawling yet while many of his peers are. He may not be the crawling type. He may just stand up and walk one day. Sally may not be able to colour between the lines until she is five or six. You know what? That's okay! Every child develops differently. Each one has different interests. Encourage your child's interests. Gently help them to experience new things and learn new skills. Recognize your child's efforts and be proud of her accomplishments. Resist the temptation to compare your child to others her age.

My experience: I have been in situations, even with beloved family members, where when speaking about one of my child's interests (for example, noting that my son loves activity books as he plows through one at a family dinner), I have had to endure lectures about what my child should and shouldn't be doing, what appropriate development and learning is for his age, and so on. Someone might simply note something my child is doing and talk about how their child/neice/grandchild/etc can do that only better. I have seen moms shrink in size as some other mom bragged about their child in a way meant to make other children seem slow to develop. Moms, I implore you. Be proud of your children AND other children too. They are all beautiful creatures who will, if we get out of their way, grow up to be brilliant at any number of things they choose.

6) School. As your child gets a little older, you'll face such important questions as, Should I enroll my child in Gymboree? Should he go to preschool? Which one? What about language? Does my child need to be in french or spanish immersion? Most moms agree some form of socialization is good for kids. Yours might get it at home. As to which school, which subjects and what's important for your child to be exposed to? That's a very personal choice. Respect your choices. Trust your instincts about what's best for your child and be okay with it. It absolutely does not matter what anyone else does. Period.

My experience: I did the Gymboree thing for a while, and took Jack to some programs at our local rec centre. It kept him active and that was necessary for his sanity and mine. As an only child, I think he benefited from being around other kids. He is now in preschool. One that he loves to attend. One that embraces play. It didn't matter to me to have him in the best preschool to prepare him scholastically for kindergarten and beyond. I'm still debating which school he will go to, but my priorities at this age will lean more toward where he will be happiest (things like being close to home and friends will be factors) rather than where he will get the best education. A good public school will likely be good enough. (As an aside, this is a difficult decision where I live as we have a ridiculous number of choices when it comes to type of school.)

7) Bad behaviour. Along with socialization, and simply being a toddler or preschooler, comes bad behaviour: defiance, hitting, kicking, name-calling, screaming, whining, running away, not listening, not cooperating... the list has the potential to go on and on. Please don't be too hard on yourself when your perfect angel starts to do bad things. It does not make her a bad kid. It does not make you a bad parent. Into each life a little poop must fall, and as the parent of a toddler or preschooler you will shovel your fair share. Just clean it up and get some good advice on how to avoid stepping in any more of it.

My experience: You may have heard me mention my willful child in the past. I don't know where he gets it from (ahem), but it's a challenge to deal with. Just when I have one problem sorted a new one rears it's ugly head. It's tiring. I knew it would be this way too. I remember him kicking the bejeebers out of me in utero and thinking, This kid is going to be trouble. But I also knew that meant he would be a critical thinker, and that if I could just keep calm and support him he'd do really well in life. I knew it would be tough, and I quickly learned it would be tougher to do on my own. Which brings me to my next two tips...

8) Get educated! Knowledge is power. When you are feeling overwhelmed, remember that whatever you are experiencing many women before you have also experienced. Take advantage of courses offered to new moms. Many may be offered for free through your health region. Check out the multitude of books available through your library on a range of topics related to bringing up baby: some of the ones we just talked about, such as sleep and feeding. Subscribe to newsletters that offer tips and information about child development, where to get help when you need it, recipes, local family-friendly resources and events... whatever will make your life easier! Motherhood will be your hardest and most rewarding job ever. Don't be afraid to use the training manuals!

My experience: I met a group of moms when Jack was 3 1/2 months old through my local health region. We attended a course together that offered advice to new moms on all things related to keeping baby healthy. This combined with an information booklet offered by my health region were valuable resources for me. I also subscribed to babycenter.com for tips on supporting my child's development. If free information and advice was made available to me, I took it! I didn't necessarily follow everything I read or was told, but I made sure I had plenty of information to make informed decisions.

9) Get help! There is no shame in it. In fact, it's one of the smartest things you can do. Find someone in your life, a group of new moms or an organization you trust and use them! Ask them for help, and offer your help whenever you can. As a new mom you will see that one of your best resources is the huge network of fabulous moms out there, both the ones with kids your age and the ones who have been where you are about to go. Don't be afraid to make new connections. Many of these moms will become life-long friends.

My experience: Remember that group of moms I mentioned, the ones I met when Jack was just a tiny babe? We're still very good friends. We all met for weekly playgroups for several years. We still manage a few playgroup get-togethers, though our children are moving in different directions now. Somehow we manage to find time for each other still. We have each been powerful resources for one another. Simply knowing there were others close by that were going through the same things I was going through gave me a great deal of strength to survive some very tough days.

I've mentioned a company called Parenting Power on my blog before. These professionals have offered me invaluable advice when I needed it most. Very empowering. It helps to put the problem in perspective, remove blame from the situation, and quickly move to a workable solution. If you can find an organization like this one in your area, I say, Take advantage of it! Motherhood is at the same time highly rewarding and potentially very stressful. Anything that helps to tip the balance toward the benefits of the rewards and away from the stress of the trials is an investment well made, in my opinion.

10) My final tip to you, new mom, is to love yourself. You will spend most of your time worrying if you are doing the right thing, caring for your family and doing the best you can to care for yourself so that you can continue to care for your family. YOU ARE what they need. YOU ARE who they love. No matter your state. No matter your ability. No matter that all you have to offer your child today is celery and a hunk of cheese. Tomorrow is another day. Do the best you can with what you have today. You love your family. YOU ARE part of that family. Love yourself.

Please know that there is no right way to raise a child. There is only what feels right to you. Educate yourself, yes. Seek advice from friends who have been there, YES! Then, decide what is best for your family.

Be okay.

Everything will be okay.



I selected this post to be featured on Top Mommy Blogs. Please visit the site and vote for my blog!


  1. What a lovely, heartfelt post! Sometimes you sit down to write something and it turns out different. And this one is perfect. Yes, love and trust yourself. Your Little J and mine seem to have a lot in common.

  2. This was very soothing. I had fun with your prompt even though I was a little cranky while writing it.

  3. These are invaluable tips. Great post. What every brand new mom should hear, really.

  4. Thank-you Stasha. Perhaps a tad long. Did your eyes glaze over a third of the way through? No? Third sentence? :) Yes, our little guys seem pretty similar.

    Erica, thanks. It's okay to be cranky. Comes with the territory. Now, can't wait to read your list!

    Thanks Greta! Loved your list too!

  5. Go with the flow is great advice. I had trouble with breastfeeding too and felt disappointed that it wasn't as "natural" as people said it was--it was painful and frustrating. We eventually go the hang of it though. And I did want to go for a year, but just recently had to give that up and start formula. But we're good. You can't always plan for everything.

  6. I love how your approached writing this list. As a new mom, I had so many ideals and impressions, but then when it actually came to the real experience it was different than what I thought it would be; it still is!

    I think the two pieces of tips that I wish someone had told me beforehand were love yourself and ask for help; such wise and true advice you share here.

    This was really a wonderful post, maybe even the beginning of a book you could write?!?!

  7. Yes! Trust your instincts!! That one is huge! You should print this list off and give it to new mothers everywhere. :)

  8. Rach, I just read your post and I'm happy to hear that you are okay with your decision! Your little donut is a healthy, happy girl with a great mom!

    K, a book? My, that's high praise. Thank-you. Something to consider...

    Thanks Jen. I never know if the stuff I spout is really helpful. Good to know I did a decent job. :)

  9. Great tips you've got there! Nos. 2, 3, 8, 9, and 10...erm, actually everything you've written there reaches out to me, and are things that I've thought about / agonized over too.

  10. Wow, I had no idea how similar our experiences, were with new babies - right down to the reflux, the nursing difficulties, the making baby's first foods, the sleep training, and the sanity found in a mommy group. Sister, you are speaking my language!

  11. I think you've pretty much covered everything a new mom would need to know. What a great post for your own prompt! Sometimes deep down we know we should be doing these things but we fail to, for so many reasons. It's nice to be reminded. Thanks! :)

  12. MWPS, thanks! Many of these things are universal, aren't they? That's another thing for new moms to know - that we're all in the same boat, essentially. As new moms, we tend to thing we're going it alone sometimes.

    Amanda, really? Wow! I had no idea we had so much in common!

    Thanks, G. I am quite good at knowing what to do, and then simply failing to do it. :) Writing this served as a great reminder for me too!

  13. Hello and congrats on being featured this week on Voice Boks. I am a new GFC follower. I hope you will visit me and follow back at My 2 Cents
    Have a blessed week.

  14. Great post. I'm stopping by to follow and say congratulations on being a featured member on vB!

  15. Definitely some useful information for new moms! I especially liked number 10...if you get this one down, the rest of them will be much easier!

  16. Best advice, "Everything will be ok."

    It really will.

  17. Great post, great tips, great prompt! :)

  18. This is a great list for all new Moms. You listed some great advice. My sister n law is expecting her first child in January and I can't wait to share this with her.

  19. Obviously you put a lot of thought into your post. I can tell you are a great mom. Food is tough, sometimes they won't eat at all but they won't die...trust me...I fed mine things that I didn't even like and encouraged them to try lots and lots of things. They both still enjoy food and are great cooks!

  20. After two weeks, no one knows your child better than you. Go with your gut, but be mindful of the experience of others.
    Visiting a fellow VB Featured Member. cheers

  21. Such a great post. I love #1 and #2 and I think #8 just sums it all up!! Great job.

  22. I really like this!!! It is actually helpful and sooo true from my experience. Great advice. Thank you for the honesty!

  23. Love your list! Motherhood is definitely a "go with the flow" sort of gig!

  24. Great tips! Wish I would have had your post to read before becoming a new mom! The food one is something that has been especially frustrating for me. I can't even begin to tell you how much food I've... no, they've waisted over the years. And my both my kids are still sucky eaters. Not quite sure how I've failed in that dept. (sigh)

  25. Thanks Valerie and Lisa! It was nice to wake up to the surprise of being featured on VB. Thanks to both of you for following. I'm following you both too!

    Thanks Jacqui. Totally agree. Not that I have it 'down', but I get better at this as I (ahem) age.

    Bridget, thanks! We worry about so much that we don't need to, don't we?

    FinallyMom, thanks. :) Glad you enjoyed the prompt!

    Thanks Marisa. I sure hope it helps your sister in law.

  26. Bestfoodies, that's really sweet of you to say! I try to involve Jack in cooking and baking as much as I can. Hopefully, he'll continue to love it.

    Thanks for visiting, Bob! Congrats to you on being featured as well. Couldn't agree with you more, there.

    Thanks Barbara. You'll be doing this all again very soon! :)

    Lauren, thanks. That's really good to hear. :)

    Hopes, most definitely a 'go with the flow' gig! MAJOR adjustment for some of us (e.g. me).

    Mommy2Cents, the food thing is so frustrating. I'm really averse to wasting food so it has been tough for me. All we can do is our best to set the example and hope that some day they follow it.

  27. Oh, the lack of sleep almost did me in. And nursing was so difficult. Worth it, but oh so difficult. Great tips!

  28. You speak like a well seasoned momma! I have 7 and you know everything you said people tell you the opposite when you are a new mom. Leaving you scared and crazy! We have to take the fear out of parenting babies and wait til they are teenagers! LOL I like the "I put healthy food on the plate and they choose whether or not to eat it" my little guy hated his food. I didn't know til later that he was allergic to most of the foods I was giving him.

  29. Great prompt, great list! Basically, trust your gut!

  30. Wonderful detailed list! Don't you feel like you could write a book now? I felt like I could list 100 things. Great bit on sleep and food - topics I could ramble on about for hours! It all comes down to what you are comfortable with and what works with your kiddo when it comes to sleep / training. As for food, I just give my son what we're having and watch him not eat it (!)

  31. Yeah, I think all soon-to-be-moms should read that list. SO. TRUE. Great piece.

    And the photo you won is beautiful! I went and perused her photography site and such beautiful things!

    Smile and Mama With Me

  32. Elena, thanks. I used to refer to sleep as "that elusive B**ch". I have a slightly better relationship with it now, but it's still hard to come by.

    Thomasina, seven!?! Wow. I wonder about allergies and sensitivities too. So hard to know these things, isn't it?

    Thanks Jamie. Ya, I think that's pretty much what it boils down to!

    Harriet, this made me laugh: "I just give my son what we're having and watch him not eat it (!)" Too funny.

    Thanks Mandi! So excited to have won one of Stasha's pieces. She does great work, doesn't she?

  33. It's so important for mothers to follow their hearts and trust their instincts. Too many rules and not enough intution it seems sometimes! Love your list :)

  34. Dwija, SO many rules. It's hard to hear our own voices amidst all the extraneous noise, isn't it?

  35. Great prompt this week!

    I especially loved this: : I, as a parent, decide when and what my child will eat. My child decides if and how much he or she will eat.

    We have a nanny who, it seems, is fighting us on this one. As a result, my formerly good eater resists fruit and refuses all vegetables. Your words are a good reminder to keep offering them no matter how many tomes they are refused. And to set a good example!

  36. Love yourself. That's the best advice--maybe the only advice--that any of us need (whether we're parents or just, you know, people). Without that key piece, none of the rest of it will matter in the long run. I'm crossing my fingers on that whole "eat a variety of foods" thing - my kids still think they should get 85 gold stars for eating one piece of carrot. Not one carrot, one PIECE. Ah well. Great list, great post.

  37. I'm so glad you posted this. I am one of those people that deathly fear motherhood and am not even sure if I want kids due to my self-diagnosed inability to care for them properly. It makes my boyfriend quite sad. I'll have to keep these tips in a safe place should the time arise when I need them.

  38. What a very comprehensive and thorough list, Cookie! You give great advice. I wish I had been able to participate this week.

  39. What a list! I was half-expecting some simple one-liners... but you gave a thesis on some of those. Oh, how it resonates with me. Very nicely done. :)

  40. Thanks Peeper! Good luck with the nanny situation! I haven't got a lot of outside interference to deal with (which also means, very little babysitting - sigh), so I have it easy that way.

    Mannahattamamma, thanks. We've used sticker rewards too. They work great temporarily, don't they? And then we to work to convince Jack to do the thing for no extrinsic reward - just because it's the right/nice/healthy/appropriate thing to do. Either way, we end up there.

    Kerry, we're ALL deathly afraid of at least an aspect of parenting, and we all figure it out. You'll be fine, and fine IS good enough. Good luck to you if/when you decide to have kids. Best job ever! :)

    Jennifer, thanks! Sometimes you just have to take a week off! I get that.

    Thank-you San! I may have issues with being concise. Just glad to know it isn't putting people to sleep. :)

  41. What excellent and well-balanced advice! I experienced many of these and agree with all of them whole-heartedly. And good for you for sticking with your guns on the sleeping thing despite others' teasing. We get the same response with our anal sleep schedules, but we also hear lots of "I wish we could do that."

  42. Kid Id, thanks for your words of encouragement! It was tough, but I really think our hard work in the early years is paying off. He's a good sleeper.