Many families depend on an extensive support system of family and friends to lean on when they bring home a new baby. Unfortunately, this isn’t a luxury that all new parents have. Perhaps you had to move away from everyone you’re close to or need to keep your baby separated from others due to health concerns...whatever it is, it’s important to figure out the best way to raise a baby when you’re mostly on your own.
This is for any mom or dad who is raising a baby either in a co-parenting or single-parent situation without a support network. These are our top tips to get through those early months with a little one even when you don't have a village to depend on.
Raising a Baby Alone? Here Are Our Top Tips!
1.) Join a Support Group
Everyone talks about how it takes a village to raise a child. “Must be nice,” you’re probably thinking. Trying to raise a newborn on your own can be isolating and lonely when you feel like your only friend to help you through the tough stuff is Google.
That’s why it’s incredibly important to find support groups you can be a part of. Not only will this help you through trying times that are inevitable as a new parent, but you’ll also find others who can empathize with your situation. Sometimes you just need to know you’re not alone.
Here are a few types of support groups you may consider joining depending on your situation:
- Postpartum Depression
- Single Moms
- Raising Special Needs Children
- Parents of Multiples
- Coping with a Colicky Baby
Ideally, you would find a support group in your area so that you can interact with others in person. But if you’re in a situation where connecting virtually is your only option (in the time of COVID, for example) you can find many online support groups, too. Forums are a great place to start, but live video support would be ideal.
We suggest contacting your local hospital to get started; Mother.ly also has some great links.
And don’t forget to create your own village!
Support groups are great when you have specific areas of your parenting journey where you need help. But when you don’t have any friends or family around, sometimes you really just need someone to talk to. Getting involved in local parent groups, or seeking out neighbors with children your age is a great place to start. We know it takes time, but the sooner you put yourself out there, the sooner you’ll have that squad you’ve been wishing for.
2.) Share the Load with Your Significant Other
Parents should be sharing the load no matter what, but this is key in a family where there is no outside support. And just because one parent may be working outside the home while another is on leave or a stay-at-home parent doesn’t mean that parent doesn’t need a break.
Here are some simple ways your significant other can help out to ease up the stress of trying to do it all on your own.
He or she can:
- Go out with the baby. This can be as simple as taking them for a walk so you can get some baby-free time.
- Take over one of the night feedings. Even if your significant other works full-time, so do you. It’s just a different kind of full-time work. If your spouse can take the 10/11 p.m. feed or the early morning feed, you can still both get a very good solid stretch of sleep.
Prep the bottles. Though this seems small, it’s so nice to have what you need ready to go. And when your partner uses items like the bökee, a bottle warmer, or a formula mixing pitcher to speed up the process, you’ll also have more time for each other.
Raising a new baby is a lot to handle and it may not be apparent to the one who is working outside the home. You likely have a significant other who is ready and willing to help, but may not know what you need. So communicate! If you expect them to be a mind reader, you’re going to end up disappointed. Be clear in what you need and chances are they’ll be more than happy to give you a break.
3.) Simplify Parenting With Products that Make it Easier on You
Being a new parent is tough. Trying to accomplish everything that needs to get done by day all while trying to function like a normal human being on little sleep means you’ll take any hack you can get to make it all just a bit easier. And when it’s all on you, you need it more than anyone.
We have some recommendations for the top categories where parents can simplify their parenting and lighten the (often overwhelming) load.
- Ease the Bottle Prep - The bökee is one of our favorite products to cut down on the stress of prepping bottles. Clearly the person who coined the term “don’t cry over spilled milk” was not a new parent because the stress of dumping an entire bottle of milk on the floor is enough to put you over the edge. The bökee is the perfect bottle prep accessory to avoid this fiasco. Bottle warmers and electric formula dispensers can be lifesavers, too.
The bökee: The Bottle Prep Accessory You Need
Related: The Best Way to Feed Your Baby Formula at Night
Get More Sleep - This is prime time for wishing you had a loved one living close by who could take over for a bit so you can get some extra shuteye. Fortunately, there are some things you can utilize with your baby so you can both get the sleep you need. A few of our favorites include a swaddle sleepsack, noise machine, blackout drapes, and a bassinet you can utilize bedside.
- Wear Your Baby - We can’t recommend getting a baby carrier enough. These aren’t just for transporting your baby around the neighborhood or running errands (though they’re great for that, too!). Utilizing a baby carrier during the day while you’re at home is a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your baby while also being able to multi-task. Baby carriers will also often lull your baby to sleep giving you some more peace and quiet.
We are all about simplifying the parenting journey so you have more time to focus on what’s most important - that sweet little cherub of yours! For our favorites to help you out read: 9 Genius Products You Need For Your Baby.
4.) Lower Your Expectations of Yourself
Since when have you heard someone tell you to do less, not more?
Hear me out because this is important.
Trying to do it all with a young infant means you’re going to run yourself ragged. You may find that you can keep up the pace you had before your baby was born for a short time, but unless your goal is to self-implode (no), you’re going to need to take it down a notch (or like 7).
So here’s what we suggest.
Focus on what’s most important which is:
- Giving your baby the care, love, and attention she needs. (And they could care less that your house is messy and that you're not wearing make-up.)
- Taking care of YOU. Think about what makes you the happiest and puts you in a place of mental well-being. Whatever that it is, it needs to find its way somewhere near the top of the list.
- Nurturing your relationship. Having a baby brings an incredible amount of joy to a new mom and dad, but it can also be stressful. Making sure you make time for your significant other is a place you’re going to want to put a bit of the energy you have left.
We’re not saying never clean your home, get exercise, etc. In fact those things can be great for your well-being, too. But it’s also not sustainable to try and do it all at a rate that you were doing before your baby was born and that’s especially true if you’re on your own. Be OK with doing less.
5.) Splurge on a Babysitter
Dating your spouse or significant other is a really important aspect of the parenting journey.
When it’s just the two of you caring for your little 24/7 without any help, it can get overwhelming very quickly. And since being exhausted goes hand in hand with having a new baby, there’s often little energy to go around after your little one is finally asleep.
But it’s important to make time for each other during this phase of life. You may feel like you can wait to focus on who you are as a couple when there’s more time. More energy. But it can’t. And news flash - there will always be tough stuff as a parent.
Making time for each other will make you stronger together and better parents, too. Babysitters are a great way to make this happen even without a village to call on.
Babysitter not in the budget? That’s okay!
A babysitter may not be something you can afford right now, and we totally get that! But don’t let that be the reason you don’t put extra energy into your relationship. Plan a special date night after you get your little one down for the night. Backyard drinks, a blanket picnic in the living room, or putting on a Netflix fave are a few simple ways to keep the spark alive.