Having a baby changed your life. There is nothing quite as exhilarating. But learning how to take care of him, while coping with sleep deprivation and postpartum hormones, can lead some first-time parents to feel less than joyous. If you're experiencing some post-baby blues, check out these five tips to help you get through the first few months of your baby's life, and your new life, a little more happily.
1. Get fresh air.
Lots of parents suffer from being cooped up in the house all day taking care of their newborn. Ask your spouse -- or even a trusted neighbor -- to be the babysitter while baby is sleeping. A quick trip around the block for a few breaths of fresh air is all it will take to lift your spirits and recharge your batteries.
2. Create a master list of baby supplies.
While there are so many things about having a newborn that you can't control, keeping your house somewhat in order will, no doubt, make you feel less stressed. To make shopping for baby supplies mindless, create a master list of what you need, including the brands and sizes you prefer. This way you or your partner can make those midnight trips to the store.
3. Learn your child's cries.
Hearing your child cry, especially if you don't know how to make her stop, can make you feel like crying yourself. Since not all cries are for the same reason, keeping track of when your baby eats, sleeps, and poops will help you respond to her needs more quickly, which will make both of you a whole lot happier. Mount a dry erase board on your fridge, or keep a notebook by your bedside to record what happens when.
4. Get a babysitter.
It's important to find time to care for yourself and your partner while you're also taking care of your baby. If you don't feel quite ready to leave your baby with a new caregiver, no matter how much you trust her, enlist grandparents, close friends, or trusted colleagues to stay with your little one while you two go out for some grown-up time together. At least take a 20-minute walk together. Or at best, go out for dinner -- if you can stay awake -- and maybe even a movie.
Nothing makes you feel crankier than lack of sleep. While a solid eight hours may be out of the question while your baby is so young, finding time to catch some z's here and there will do wonders for your mood. Put the laundry down and take a nap when your baby does. If you're breastfeeding, consider pumping so you can take turns with your partner for evening feedings. Go to sleep early while your spouse waits up for the late-night bottle. That way, you've already had some sleep if you need to wake up to feed baby in the middle of the night or early morning.
Originally published on AmericanBaby.com, March 2005.