July 11, 2013

By Gabrielle. Dreamcatcher via Megan Morton.

You might be noticing a tragic lack of Raleigh-Elizabeth’s witty words these days, but her absence is the result of a pretty wonderful happening: a baby! His name is Hunter and he is, of course, adorable and loved. Congratulations, Duttweilers!

Personally, I really miss her Do I Really Need A… posts, especially this one as I’m currently packing up all of mine and feeling like I need a heavy purge! And who could forget the fiery discussion after this one?

Friends, if you have a minute to send Raleigh some tried and true new mom advice about getting through the first few months, I know she will appreciate it! What were your favorite products? Unforgettable milestones? Forgettable moments? And what do you wish someone had told you when you were in the throes of all-night feedings and spit-up on every cute shirt you owned?

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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jill July 11, 2013 at 9:26 am

Don’t put any pressure on yourself to be or do whatever it is people are telling you that you need to be or do. Well-intentioned loved ones were telling me to sleep when baby sleeps, but because of postpartum anxiety I couldn’t sleep so I felt like I was failing everyone around me.

Just let your life be whatever it needs to be at this time and be confident that it won’t stay this way forever…give it 6 months.

Also for middle of the night feedings I would turn on a movie or show, so that I had something extra to look forward to when I was waking up at 1, 3, and 5 am. I watched all seasons of Gossip girl in the first couple months after my 2nd baby was born. Congrats on the little one!


2 Raleigh-Elizabeth July 11, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Hah! This is great. I can’t tell you how often I want to beg someone exactly *how* they think I can sleep when the baby sleeps! It sounds like great advice, but exactly when do I shower? Eat? Fathom an adult conversation for at least a few minutes, even if it’s just by text message? I’m so sorry for your post-partum anxiety. And I’m grateful for your honesty – I think no matter where we are post-partum, your general wisdom applies to all of us. Thank you!


3 sarah July 11, 2013 at 10:15 am

i agree with the earlier comment about having a movie or show to look forward to during times when you otherwise would not want to be awake/feeding/etc. netflix-ing the office was a lifesaver during the early days with baby #1 :)

and this might not work for anyone else, but during super frustrating awake middle-of-the-night time i kept repeating to myself ‘you’re paying your parenting dues.’ my dad had said that to me at one point, adding that it’s an experience that every single other new parent has been through, and you’re just joining the ranks. it’s a limited time, and will be gone before you know it.

i’ts hard, but try to remember that you only have to do what works for you. everyone will have advice, but your baby and your body will tell you what you need to be doing. everyone does this mom thing differently, and that’s what makes it so great.


4 Raleigh-Elizabeth July 11, 2013 at 1:34 pm

“try to remember that you only have to do what works for you. everyone will have advice, but your baby and your body will tell you what you need to be doing. everyone does this mom thing differently, and that’s what makes it so great.” — there’s very little I feel I confidently know so far, but this about sums it up. Sing it, sister.


5 Micah July 11, 2013 at 10:54 am

Totally agree with the comments above – none of the advice I was given worked with my firstborn. I finally threw it all out the window and just let him be him and me be me. Sleep when you can sleep (ignore “sleep when baby sleeps”), take care of yourself, and don’t feel bad if you can’t get to laundry, showering, cooking, etc. It takes a transition time to figure it all out. Let people help if they volunteer to cook or clean or do laundry. And I found that a Kindle works great for late night feedings as I could still hold it with one hand – my husband had to work so watching TV didn’t work for us as it was too loud. And lastly, let that babe sleep on your chest and just breathe him in. Enjoy!!!


6 Raleigh-Elizabeth July 11, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Hunter spent the afternoon hanging out on my chest, so I agree with all of this great advice. : ) Thank you!


7 Ann July 11, 2013 at 11:17 am

Congratulations on your new little one! Those first few months are tough and it’s OK to say that. They’re also really special and incredibly fleeting so enjoy those quiet moments and nap with your baby instead of getting another load of laundry completed — laundry will always be there, but your baby won’t be this age forever.

I wish I had an Ergo carrier with my first and skipped baby food and done Baby-Led Weaning instead.


8 Koseli Cummings July 11, 2013 at 11:30 am

Congratulations, Raleigh-Elizabeth! So happy for your family.

I don’t have any advice, only congratulations…the biggest thing that drove me crazy (and still does) was (is) well-meaning but unsolicited advice about motherhood, babies, feeding, diapering, sleeping, eating, etc.

I guess I would add that the other big realization I’ve had is that the highs are so high, and the lows are so low. And that’s okay.

Best wishes! I’m sure you’re an amazing mother!


9 Raleigh-Elizabeth July 11, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Thank you! You’re always so sweet. When I was getting an earful about how I’m failing my child from a lactation consultant (Hunter is tongue-tied, and so we’re breastmilk-by-bottle feeding because, for a lot of reasons that boil down to being ours and ours alone, we don’t want to get his frenulum snipped.) Anyway, when my lactation consultant was taking real issue with this decision, and half the mothers I know agreed (and loudly), one of my editors put it this way: “Repeat after me. I am his mother, and I. Know. Best.” Saying it a few times always feels a little empowering, and right now, I think that’s half the battle. : ) (At least, that’s half my battle! The other half is exhaustion.)


10 Carly July 12, 2013 at 1:20 am

That’s so so true about you, the mother, knowing best. There’s no such thing as a ‘baby’ – what you get is a person with their own needs, personality and temperament, and how could anyone know him better than you? I think a lot of mothers think they know ‘babies’ because they know their own children so well – I’m not sure that they’d think they know ‘husbands’ just because they might know their own pretty well! Congratulations and best of luck in getting some rest!


11 Megan M. July 11, 2013 at 11:32 am

Congratulations to you and your family! :)

With my firstborn, she ended up having her longest stretch of sleep in the early evening while we were eating dinner, and then she would be wide awake from about midnight to three. I had to Google some sleep schedule advice and this is what worked for me:

Try to get the baby in a feed, play, sleep routine (so you don’t fall into the crutch of him falling asleep while feeding. It will still happen sometimes, of course.) Give him “sleep signals” that he can rely on, like dimming the lights in the house when it’s dark outside. With my girls when it was time to sleep, I would read them a story, sing them a song, and then put them to bed. At night I would give them a lavender bath, story, and song. You want to put them to bed when they’re obviously sleepy but still awake, so that they learn about putting themselves to sleep.

A related thing that I read in “Bringing Up Bebe” (a book about French parenting) was that you should use “the pause.” When the baby cries, don’t rush over to him right away. Pause, give him a chance to self-soothe, then go to him if he’s still upset after a minute or two. You’ll quickly pick up the difference between a general cranky cry and a “I need help NOW” cry, so if you know it’s the latter then you can adjust your response.

The pause is also helpful at bedtime. The “cry it out” technique is controversial, but in my experience, when an infant is crying at bedtime, you should wait. I would wait five minutes, go in, soothe/check to make sure there was no spit up or wet diaper situation, quickly fix, and then leave again. Then I’d wait another five minutes. That way the baby knows that mommy/daddy are still there, but it gives them a chance to learn to put themselves to sleep.


12 Raleigh-Elizabeth July 11, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Too funny – I just went back to my copy of BUB today to read about le pause, too! Hunter is very groany-loud as he falls asleep (and in his sleep) and not rushing up to get him has been good for both of us. Most times he’s able to fall back asleep right away, and when he’s not, I’m there to swoop in – but not before I’ve given him a chance first. I figure this: life’s hard out there for a shrimp. He’s brand new, he’s still figuring out this whole outside-the-womb thing, and I’m figuring out this new-mama thing. The least we can do is give each other a chance every once in awhile, and since no one loves sleep more than I do, I really want him to be able to enjoy it and own it… and then, eventually, enjoy not waking up every three hours to eat!


13 Angela July 11, 2013 at 11:42 am

The advice I always give is don’t make any major life decisions during the first year of your baby’s life – no getting married, divorced, no moving, changing jobs, anything like that. That first 12 months you and your husband are sleep deprived and completely stressed. Your hormones are wacko. You and he will find yourself doing things and saying things that are completely unlike who you really are so make sure you don’t do anything you can’t undo later.


14 Raleigh-Elizabeth July 11, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Hah. So, my husband came home from Afghanistan the week before Hunter was born. In the next three months, we’ll find out if he’s staying in the Marine Corps – and if he is, we’ll be moving at some point in the next 8-12 months. If he isn’t, we’ll be moving in November, period. To ? job in ? location. So… while I completely agree with the wisdom here, man, does someone have some stability they can lend us? Because our next year is going to be eventful to say the least.


15 jen July 11, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Had baby three months ago – movers left with all of my stuff today. We’ll be in a new state in two days, and we’ll close on our new house two days after that. Best part: Baby is asleep on the floor right here next to me. He doesn’t care that he has no bed or that everything about our whole world is about to change. He’s just happy to eat and sleep and do the things that babies do. (For me, it’s a bit crazy; I’m tired and ready to be unpacked already, but it’s been oddly calming to have this little person who is just happy to BE.) Moral of the story: It’s not all bad to have great change in that first year!


16 Maria July 11, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Get a baby’s first year calendar and an exercise ball. The calendar will make it doable to keep up with all of Hunter’s milestones (way easier than trying to scrap book them at them time!). You can use it to fill in a scrapbook later.
The exercise ball is for when he’ll only sleep while you pace the floor. The motion is pretty similar and it gives your legs a break.


17 Raleigh-Elizabeth July 11, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Maria. That. Is. Brilliant. An exercise ball it is!


18 Jessica July 17, 2013 at 8:19 am

I spent the first 3 months of my son’s life on an exercise ball. My friends would get motion sick when they came over to visit me because I was bouncing the whole time. Gotta love a fussy baby! :)


19 Dani July 11, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Ignore the lactation consultants!


20 Laurel July 11, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Second. They are nuts.


21 Janelle Dunn July 11, 2013 at 7:02 pm



22 kc July 11, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Agree! Baby needs to eat! Don’t let anyone make you feel any guilt regarding this. And Mama needs to eat. Whatever you want, whenever you want. I remember eating enchiladas at 2am and that is ok! Say yes when people offer to bring you food.


23 Laurel July 11, 2013 at 2:34 pm

My little Lukas bear is 4 months old and being his mom is incredible. I love every inch of him. There are a few things that have helped so far, but the biggest thing by far is accepting that everyone thinks they know the right and wrong things to do with babies. I am constantly figuring out through trial and error what works for my son and not feeling guilty about the rest of it. Ya know what? I breastfeed but also supplement with formula. I let him cry in public if necessary. Sometimes, naps don’t happen. I also take time for myself; a hot bath, a long bike ride, a trip to the salon. And I’m finally starting to be okay with those things because they work for our family.
One thing that worked well for us is ear plugs and having Papa as the “first responder” during the night. I was super jumpy to every fuss and coo, and our little guy wasn’t getting the chance to self-soothe between sleep cycles. So, I slept with ear plugs and Dad (who sleeps like a stone) was the one to assess whether he needed to be tended to. Much of L’s fussing at night was in his sleep, and a few nights of doing this got him to sleep through the night-7:30pm-6:30am.

Also, know that when you feel totally overwhelmed and are crying, thinking that maybe, just maybe you totally suck at this mom thing, I have felt that too. And it passed.


24 melissa July 11, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Congratulations! So much fun and love awaits you with a new little one. You have sage advice here, I hardly have anything to add. Perhaps I would add just something I wish I’d done which is to ask for or accept help before you get to a breaking point. If help is offered, in general find a way to accept it. And I definitely second what someone said about sleep deprivation and decision-making. The lack of sleep made me crazy for awhile, and that was not fun, but things got better after that stage ended. Enjoy your sweet new baby!


25 Melissa @ Hilltophausfrau July 11, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Congratulations, Raleigh!

Oh dear. After my first baby, I’m afraid I probably lost my mind for a while. I wasn’t sure if I had post partum depression, or was just sleep deprived (looking back, prob a mix of both). Advice: don’t expect much more than keeping the baby alive. Forget trying to excel at anything. You WILL emerge back into civilized social patterns, and not feel gross and tired all the time (you may not be feeling this way! Which is great.). You will get your body back. Things just might not all go back to the same places ;) Keep your sense of humour. Consider your partner a teammate – help each other through the first year.

Oh I could go on and on! Bottom line – take lots of pictures and really treasure the good times!


26 Meg July 11, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Congratulations on the new baby!!! Hardly any advice to add since there are already so many brilliant ones here, but I hope you enjoy every minute of this stage! There are plenty of hard moments but it goes so fast, it really does!


27 Emme July 11, 2013 at 5:16 pm

I realize you laughed off this advice–but, truly, SLEEP WHEN THE BABY SLEEPS. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t showered (you can shower with the baby in the bathroom in a bouncy chair later), your adult conversations won’t make any sense if you’re sleep-deprived, and you will feel generally overwhelmed/exhausted after about two weeks (which, ironically, is about the time people seem to think you should be back to normal… ha ha).
So, just do it. Lie down. Close your eyes. And train yourself to sleep when the baby sleeps. Do NOT worry about what you aren’t getting done. You’ll be far more productive at other times if you’re well-rested! Best advice I ever got! (Once you try it for a week or two you’ll realize it’s true!)


28 Ellen W July 11, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Congratulations on the addition to your family!

I remember crying the first week I was home after both of my sons were born and feeling like my life was over and nothing would be normal again. The first 2-3 months are tough and hormonal, but as you get into a routine things do get better. I agree finding a tv show to watch during the long feeding sessions is helpful – I think I watched all of the West Wing on Netflix after my younger son was born. Not all babies love the swing, but for us it was a godsend and whenever the boys were fussy (like when I was away from the house and he would not take a bottle) it would calm him down. Well worth all of the batteries we went through. Finally, I had a great lactation consultant and she was the first person I would call when I had questions about whether medications (prescription or OTC) were safe for me to take while breastfeeding.


29 Janelle Dunn July 11, 2013 at 7:00 pm

After 6 babies, I’ve come to know one thing for certain: This too, shall pass. Both the good and the bad. Yes, a colicky baby WILL eventually quit crying. Yes, they will not take the pacifier to college – you will either have an easy time getting it out of their mouth, or stumble across the thing that worked for you and THIS baby (every baby/mom/family is different).
And, they will some day say their /th/ sound – much to my sadness. They will prefer to sleep in their own bed, and will be missed in middle of the night snuggles. They will learn self-control and no longer throw tantrums, but they will also not always look so stinking darling stomping that tiny foot. Be easy on yourself, your mate, and your child.


30 Theresa July 11, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Lactation consultants had me on the edge of postpartum depression. Nothing like a health professional making a new mom feel like she is failing her baby. I’m happy you have a good support system to stand behind your decisions! Joining a new moms group really helped me. Also, Aden and Anais blankets (and later the sleep sacks), Sophie the giraffe teether, we even bought a strap to tether her to the stroller. Also, keep any pacifiers you have even if Hunter doesn’t use them now. They are lifesavers when he is teething later. Submerge them under water to fill the nipple, then freeze them. Congrats!!!! I love his name :)


31 Julia @ Calm Cradle Photo & Design July 11, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Congratulations! Such wonderful news! Everyone says to enjoy those newborn days because they are so fleeting, and that’s true. But it took me two babies to realize that the tough moments during those days are just as fleeting. Just when you think you can’t possibly survive another night sleeping in one-hour increments, the baby starts giving you two blissful hours at a time. Scary fevers don’t usually last for more than a few days. Difficult developmental stages shift quickly into fascinating ones. Enjoy the wild ride!


32 Rachel Peters July 11, 2013 at 8:46 pm

I wish someone would have told me the following:
1. You can actually put the baby down, it will survive.
2. Ask for help as soon as you need it.
3. Take them to places where people don’t often see babies, and share the tiny amazement (nursing homes, airplanes, foreign countries).
4. Trust your instinct, he is your kid. He was made to be raised by you.


33 Emily July 11, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Yes! You can put the baby down. If he isn’t crying, he is fine. I needed to hear that one big time.


34 KatieB July 11, 2013 at 8:51 pm

I had a mantra while my 2 year old was a newborn that I continue to chant to myself.

“A million things had to go just right for this child to be conceived and born. And they did, the vast majority of which I had little to do with. This beautiful creature of a human being is growing perfectly into just the person he is…and I have very little to do with that. So just enjoy getting to be the one that watches him grow and be.”


35 Emily July 11, 2013 at 11:33 pm

I have a gym-friend who had her first when I had my fourth. She once commented, “Having one must seem so easy to you now. You must think I’m silly for struggling sometimes.” Hah!

Having a baby in the house ALWAYS takes more time than you think it should. After they turn 1, you magically start being productive again (my baby is 14 months now). I have done more in the last two months than in the 6 before that.


36 Sonya Moris July 12, 2013 at 3:15 am

Congratulations! Take care of this new human being and raise him well!


37 Andrea July 12, 2013 at 7:06 am

Take all your expectations and the well meaning advice given to you and throw it out of the window. Then take your baby, live one day at a time and find out what works for you. Congrats!!!


38 Sara July 12, 2013 at 8:55 am

My first was a screamer and during one weepy phone call to my mom across the country she said something that I have hung on to ever since: You can do anything for a minute.

Sometimes, you’ve just got to get thru the new baby things one minute at a time. Sometimes you need to get thru life things one minute at a time.

This advise has served me well ever since.

Congrats on your new joy (and challenge!)! :)


39 Corinne July 12, 2013 at 9:31 am

Congratulations! We miss you around here. Some days it will feel like you will never be able to shower, sleep, or eat a complete meal again. But you will! Don’t listen to anyone who says that things don’t get better (they have forgotten how busy it is to have a newborn). This is such a special time, try not to stress about the little things and enjoy your baby. Don’t compare yourself to others either, I have found this rarely productive. Best wishes!


40 Raleigh-Elizabeth July 12, 2013 at 10:58 am

Y’all, this is the best advice. I can’t thank you enough. I’d go through it all one by one and respond to you all individually, but there’s this whole I-have-a-newborn thing that’s kind of eating up my time! Plus, I’m actually trying to sleep when he sleeps after the wisdom you’ve shared here : )

I’ll be back soon – in the meantime, thank you so much for all your kind and wise words!


41 Martha July 12, 2013 at 12:32 pm

I just had my fourth (2 weeks old today). There is a lot of great advise on here. How I am feeling, make friends with cozy pajamas and a heating pad. Kiss that baby. Do what feels right to you, that is motherhood. Congratulations on your little miracle.


42 Whitney July 12, 2013 at 1:09 pm

How sweet! I have missed Raleigh-Elizabeth’s posts! I’m not a mom yet, so I have zero advice! Congrats R-E! :)


43 Hazel July 12, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Lots of great advice here. Just had our second & I would add:

- it really does go by quickly & all the intensity won’t last. This time around I am enjoying & savoring the baby-ness more because I know it’s over in a flash. I didn’t get that the first time as much because the days were long but the months were fast.
- babies loved to be carried & the baby K’tan is very easy & swaddles them close to you so it’s easy to get things done if you need to
- find a moms group for invaluable support & forming close friendships (you can really bond during this time). I don’t know what I would have done with my mama support group & now our kids are growing up together & have known each other for 3 years.



44 Adrienne July 12, 2013 at 11:32 pm

My babies came to me through adoption, so I cannot give advice on healing or breast feeding. But I can share a bit of advice on enjoying these newborn days.

Belly naps. Oh, how I miss those belly naps, the feeling of that baby snuggled on you chest as you drift in and out of sleep.

Showers. We rarely bathed or babies, but rather showered with them instead and it was wonderful. You can take your baby in the bathroom with you, leave him in the carrier or bouncer while you shower, and then grab him for his shower and miracle of all miracles, you are both clean at the same time for a brief moment!

Take a million photos, and make sure someone is taking photos of you with your baby, even when you are just snuggling on the couch in your pajamas. They will be your treasures in the years to come.

Congratulations! Babies are truly miracles.


45 Gia July 13, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Welcome Hunter! Congratulations to the whole family. There is already an amazing wealth of advice above so my only tidbit is listen to your instincts. No one else knows better than you how to care for your little one. On the hard days ask for advice, on the good days, share the news with a friend, on the days you just get through, remember they will pass. Lots of wonderful wishes for a stupendous life-long journey. Welcome to the world little one!


46 Jennifer July 13, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Raleigh, I currently have an 8-day old son, a 15- month old daughter, and a 30-month old son. I have learned do much in this beautiful baptism by fire. The most important is this: you, at your best, are the BEST mother for THIS person. Period. Therefore trust your instinct and your desires for your son over and above all safe advice and online articles or books. This little boy babe doesn’t just need a mother, he is designed to flourish best with YOU. And regardless of what is common to all new humans, your son is as unique as you believe him to be; let him teach you, his best possible mom, just what he needs. You’ll make a great life together.


47 Jennifer July 13, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Oh, and “safe” should read sage! Dang iPhone autocorrect!


48 angie July 14, 2013 at 2:39 pm

so much great advice above :)
i’m loving that dream big catcher! might be making one of those this week for my crew!!


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