Newborn care: 10 tips for stressed-out parents

Round-the-clock newborn care can turn your life upside down. Use these practical strategies to handle the new stress in your life. By Mayo Clinic Staff

A newborn can bring a whirlwind of activity and excitement to your life — and plenty of stress and fatigue. Whether you're a first-time parent or a seasoned veteran, consider 10 practical tips to keep stress under control.

1. Take care of yourself

Resist the urge to count caffeine as a major food group or a substitute for sleep.

Instead, eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water and get some fresh air. Sleep when the baby sleeps — and work out a nighttime schedule with your partner that allows both of you to rest and care for the baby. Do something you enjoy every day, either with the baby or on your own.

Good habits will help you maintain the energy you need to care for your newborn.

2. Establish visiting rules

Friends and loved ones might come out of the woodwork to admire your newborn. Let them know which days work best and how much time you have for a visit.

Insist that visitors wash their hands before holding the baby, and ask anyone who's ill to stay home.

Don't be afraid to set aside your social graces, either. Let trusted visitors care for the baby while you get some much needed rest.

3. Go with the flow

Allow plenty of time each day for nursing sessions, naps and crying spells. Keep scheduled activities to a minimum. When you need to head out, give yourself extra time to pack your supplies and change the inevitable out-the-door dirty diaper.

4. Expect a roller coaster of emotions

You might go from adoring your baby and marveling at tiny fingers and toes to grieving your loss of independence and worrying about your ability to care for a newborn, all in the space of a single diaper change.

Chances are, you and your partner are both tired and anxious as well.

To help you stay connected, talk about what's bothering you — such as a strained budget or difficulty soothing the baby. A shared laugh might help lighten the mood.

5. Relax your standards

Hide the broom and leave dust bunnies where they lie. Store clean clothes in the laundry basket — or in stacks on the floor — until you need them. Clean the bathroom with a fresh diaper wipe. Serve cold cereal and peanut butter toast for dinner when you're too tired to prepare a more traditional meal.

Oct. 17, 2012 See more In-depth