Think you’re going crazy because you’re so sleep deprived? Is breastfeeding the bane of your existence? Are you suffering from aching arms because you just can’t seem to put your baby down (because he’ll only scream his head off)?
The newborn days aren’t easy ― that’s for sure. And chances are, if it’s your first child, you don’t know anything about caring for a brand-new baby. We’ve turned to the best experts ― yes, mums who have been there and done that ― to reveal their top newborn survival secrets.
On getting support…
“Find a support group. I’m so glad I did when I was a first-time mum and my baby was so difficult.”
Lee Yun Ni, mum to Xu Rui, 3 months, and Xin Yu, 3.
“You need a group of supportive mummy friends. They’re the only ones who’ll understand as they’ve struggled on that same path ― like waking up in the wee hours to pump or feed the baby, knowing how terrible it is to not bathe during the hot days of the first month, and tolerating the limited food choices during confinement, as well as all the myths about what you can and cannot do.”
Elisa, mum to YC, 18 months, and Jun, 3.
“Not everyone approaches parenting the same way, so choose your mummy tribe wisely. This group of women should share your parenting philosophy. Instead of always passing judgement or making you second-guess your choices, they serve as a strong support system and sounding board.”
Rebecca De Souza, 35, stay-at-home-mum to Liam, 2.
“Tell your husband what you need him to do. Don’t expect him to volunteer. In all likelihood, he has no idea how to help.”
Grace Hwee-Rabani, mum to Delicia, 2.
“Breastfeed while lying down ― so you can drift off to sleep, too. Know that ‘This, too, shall pass.’ It was the best advice my friend gave me. Life will be like hell initially but after 6 weeks, it gets better.”
Chan Lin-Mei, mum to James, 1, and Daniel, 3.
“Feed your baby on demand and not on a schedule, so you’ll get enough sleep. Your baby will naturally scream for milk when she is hungry.”
Audrey Liow, mum to Aprilynn, 3, and Tiffany, 5.
“Don’t stress about breastfeeding. As long as your baby is drinking and growing healthily, you’re doing a good job. A happy mum is equally important.”
Imy Chua, mum to Aiden, 3, and Giselle, 7.
On setting routines…
“Fix a bedtime routine. When baby wakes up in the middle of the night, don’t talk to her, don’t play with her and keep the room dark. This way, she’ll learn to differentiate night and day. For Clarice, it was a warm bath, a gentle massage, changing into her pyjamas, then milk and lights out.”
Blandina Chue, mum to Clarice, 18 months, and Rayner, 3.
“Don’t expect your baby to sleep when you want her to, or eat when you want her to. In fact, throw all expectations out of the window…your baby will do whatever she wants!”
Veronica David, mum to Shauna, 2.
On being happy…
“Enjoy this time. It’s easy to get caught up about how difficult everything is, but take time to enjoy your baby. Look at his little fingers and toes and marvel at this beautiful creature you’ve created.”
Arya Dharmawan, mum to Joseph, 9 months.
“Trust your instincts and ignore unwanted advice. No one knows your baby more than you do. You don’t have to listen to anyone else but yourself.”
Leena Chua, mum to Samuel, 4 months.
More tips about caring for yourself and your baby…up ahead!
On being prepared…
“Make sure all your essential items are packed in your bag before you head out. Wet wipes, diapers, pacifiers, hot water, milk powder, bottles, their smelly pillow…the list goes on and on.”
Serene Chen, mum to Lerine, 1, Kayven, 4, and Javier, 7.
“Always bring an extra set of clothes for yourself. I never failed to pack comprehensively for my baby, but always forgot about myself. You’ll hate being caught with a poop or vomit-stained tee when you’re out.”
Therese Chew, mum to Gerald, 2, and Benji, 5.
“Read all the instruction manuals before baby arrives. This includes the breast pump, bottle steriliser, car seat and stroller. Trust me, the last thing you want to do is to fiddle with these gadgets while carrying a newborn.”
Aurelia Low, mum to 1-year-old twins Jacob and Jordan.
On keeping baby calm…
“As baby is fresh out of the womb, let him stay close to you, rock, sway, let him rest on your chest. These have a calming effect on your baby.”
Maria Lee Figueroa, mum to Titus, 3.
“Invest in a good baby carrier. For newborns, a sarong-type sling is useful. Babies are always happier when they are held close to mummy.”
Ho Wei Ting, mum to Hannah, 6 months.
“Don’t allow too many visitors at once. Your baby will get over stimulated and cranky, not to mention the illnesses they may be carrying. Keep her close to you and don’t be afraid to turn people down ― they can always visit once baby is older.”
Michelle Teo, mum to Yva, 1, and Joy, 4.
“Swaddling helped my baby tremendously. He never slept for more than 15 minutes till I discovered swaddling ― after that, even if he jerked while he was asleep, he kept on sleeping.”
Serena Tan, mum to Jesslyn, 6 months, and Ryan, 6.
On staying sane…
“Rest whenever your baby sleeps ― you won’t get the chance when your baby is awake.”
Gladys Heng, mum to Megan, 17 months.
“If you’re allowed to step out of the house, please do it. You’ll be amazed at how caged in you feel after even a few days at home. Everyone needs a breather, especially if you’re a new mum.”
Karen Yeo, mum to Evan, 3, and Tommy, 5.
“Take a break when you can. Get your mum or husband to care for baby, while you get a massage or even do a quick run at the grocery store.”
Sharleen Lee, mum to Mia, 1, and Raven, 3.