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The New Baby Advice You Need to Hear
(...but no one wants to tell you...)

It seems everyone wants to give new baby advice. The 18-year-old college student...the single-40-year-old-still-living-with-his-parents-cousin-once-removed...the lady at the checkout counter...

Need I go on? Baby advice seems to flood through the most surprising (and often unwelcome) sources when you become a new parent.

However, as essential as diapering and feeding is to your baby's well-being, there is another (deeper) level of parenting you'll have to conquer. Most people will avoid this non-pragmatic, emotional-level advice, not wanting to offend.

Not me!

I want your mothering to be as deeply rewarding as possible. I want your baby to be blessed beyond the token "clean diaper".

So...I'm stepping out beyond the crowd of advice-givers and diving into the waters no one else dares to swim.

My years as a social worker working with broken families demands it of me. My love for my own children compels me.

So let's go swimming...


New Baby Advice #1:
Learn the Difference Between Caring and Loving


new baby advice
Scientific studies have shown that without loving touch and meaningful communication, perfectly healthy babies develop severe mental handicaps that eventually cannot be reversed.

Human children need more than animals. They have emotional needs that must be met for proper development. Those emotional needs are met by love (not just care).

You can only care for so long without love. Many mothers care enough to give birth, but then, when life gets tough, the "caring" starts to fade.

Diapers stop getting changed, neglect (or worse, abuse) kicks in, and the babies are given to someone else to "care" for. That's what our foster care system is here for.

At the end of the day, they didn't love their child enough to place his emotional or physical needs above that drug...that relationship... that social outing...that TV show...and the child was neglected.

As I worked to find foster families who will love these hurting children, I realized I was searching for more than a "good caring home". I wanted a loving home for these kids.

Anyone can change a diaper or feed a bottle. A mother (and a foster mother) is called to love her baby in a unique and specific way.

Your baby needs a loving mother. And you're it!

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How do I love my baby?

  • I love her by getting up in the middle of the night to feed her. That's hard! I'm tired! But by continually providing that care, by disciplining myself to give it, she grows to understand that I love her...and the bonding begins.
  • I love her by taking time during the day to smile, talk, and sing to her. A few minutes at a time, stimulating that little brain, bonding our hearts together.
  • I love her by putting myself to bed earlier at night, occasionally saying No to late-night activities so I can fully rested and alert while caring for her during the evening.
  • I love her by setting aside time for myself and my husband, keeping me refreshed. The more un-stressed I am, the longer I can handle crying without getting frustrated. A full emotional bucket takes longer to empty!
  • I loved her before she was born. I avoided alcohol and drugs.
  • As a nursing mother, I love her by avoiding foods I know will make her gassy. I love her by choosing foods that will make my milk as nutritious as possible and taking my prenatal vitamin.

    advice for caring about babies 1
    My second-born Elena
    rewards me for giving her
    the care she needs.
      Not breastfeeding? No problemo. Love your baby by offering regular feedings and having formula available and at the ready when needed.

In summary: I love her by considering her above myself. How will what I'm doing affect my children? Will it bless them? Or hurt them in the long run?

This self-sacrificing new baby advice isn't very popular these days. Moms want to hear that they can continue to live their life the way they've always lived it.

But my experience as a foster care social worker has revealed what happens when moms keep that philosophy. Broken lives and damaged kids.

Motherhood is a new chapter in your life. Don't hold on to the old, embrace the new and watch your family flourish.

Does this mean you don't consider your own needs? No. It means you consider your own needs through the lens of your baby's needs.

For example, I'm an introvert at heart (yes, it shocks people). I know that if I don't get up and have time in the morning to myself before the kids get up, I will be cranky and short-tempered all day long.

I can't get up if I go to bed late! So, in service to my children, I discipline myself to go to bed early. That way I can get the time I need in the morning, so that I can be happy and patient with them during the day.


SIDEN0TE: This also applies to marriage. Cameron and I will inevitably start squabbling if we don't get the time away to talk and laugh together. So, it is in service to my children, my husband, and myself that we go on regular dates and get-aways. See how we keep our 10+ year marriage alive and kicking.

Everything I do holds immediate or eventual consequences for her. Loving my baby means that I think those consequences through and choose for her betterment, and not just my own convenience.


New Baby Advice #2:
It's All About Choices, Choices


advice for caring about babies 2
{Photo by Nico Maessen}

I remember calling my mother one afternoon in tears. I felt incredibly stupid about this new mom-job. I didn't know how to do this. Wasn't I supposed to magically "know" what she wanted when she cried?

How could I have missed this important skill! (I didn't consider that this was practically a stranger, and that I needed time to get to know her, just like in any relationship.)

I was panicked. If I couldn't handle her now, how would I survive toddlerdom or (terror of terrors) teenagehood? What was her new baby advice?

God chose you to be Lauren's (and now Elena's and Isabella's) mother.
There is no one else in the world better equipped to do this than you.
You are her perfect mother.

But then, before I could puff out my motherly chest, she added...

Every day you have to choose to be that mother.

YOUCH! This may sound ridiculously simple to you. Actually...it is ridiculously simple.

But have you actually thought about it? Have you considered what you can do today to make that choice?

The Quiet Time

Establishing a Quiet Time routine with your baby helps build independence and will start great habits for when she's older.
So here's my confession: I don't always make those good choices. Sometimes I shout. Sometimes I have to sit in the bathroom a while, calming down. I make mistakes - and so will you.

Perfection is not the goal. The goal is to keep moving up the mountain. Keep working to balance sacrifice and celebration.

  • Perhaps that means letting the dishes go and playing.

  • Or perhaps that means doing the dishes instead of playing. (A clean house keeps your baby healthy, happy, and safe.)

Take this new baby advice to heart: seek to balance your life between nourishing relationships and keeping responsibilities.

You can't continue to give and give without needing to fill up occasionally. However, make sure occasionally doesn't turn into every-hour. He won't be so needy forever, but for right now that extra sacrifice is necessary for his longer-term well-being.

flower logo

Give your infant the proverbial piece of pie, and keep the crumbs for yourself. But don't forget to take those crumbs! They, however small, will give you the sustenance you need to continue providing the tender loving care only a mother can give.

Still reading? I'm proud of you! Many mothers can't stomach this new baby advice. It's hard to hear that YOUR life may need to be put on a hold a while.

The fact that you finished this article is sign that you are willing to hear and accept hard things. And that is a sign of a great mom.


All the photos on this page can be found at www.flickr.com and were used
according to licensing requirements.

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