5 Questions All First-time Moms Need Answered

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Image created by Chaunie Brusie

Becoming a mom for the first time is incredibly scary, overwhelming, and exhausting, even as it's life changing and awesome at the same moment.

I look back on my first year as a mom, and while I definitely remember the tiredness, late nights watching TV while I tried to rock my baby to sleep, and afternoons where I would literally just watch her nap, I also remember a lot of learning.

It felt like I had to re-learn how to live life, and there were so many things I wish I would have known before I became a mom, such as …

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How do I treat a baby's fever?

Seriously. My barely-6-month-old came down with a harrowing case of swine flu, and I had no idea what to do. What medications are safe for babies? When did I need to take her to the doctor? It was all so confusing. Here are a few tips straight from the experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • You can give infants some medications, but the dosage goes by weight, so it really is important to check with your pediatrician before giving it. Our pediatrician usually recommended .8 of a teaspoon for our babies, but again, it's very important to check, as some medications are concentrated and may contain a higher dosage.
  • A “fever” in a baby is not the same as a fever for an adult. Your baby doesn't technically have a fever that warrants medication until his or her temperature is over 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • A cool bath or shower and a light onesie will go a long way.
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is the #1 cause of hospital visits for overdoses, so be very careful with administering.
  • Monitoring the symptoms of a fever is the best course of action, as a fever is actually beneficial to killing off viruses and bacteria and promoting the immune system to work.
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What do I do for a baby's cold?

Along with a fever, baby colds are the worst. You try feeding the baby and her nose is so stuffed up that she can't eat; you try getting the baby to sleep and she's too congested to stay asleep; you try laying her down for a nap and her cough gets worse. You feel so helpless.

Here's what you need to know for those long, sleepless nights:


  • Humidifiers are key. In the absence of being able to give your baby any medication, humidifiers are key for helping ease your baby's congestion. Cool mist humidifiers will help your baby from getting overheated.
  • Vicks on the feet might help. You'll have to check with your baby's doctor, but depending on your baby's age, he or she might benefit from using the ol' Vicks-on-the-feet trick. I was skeptical until we actually tried it, and it works. You put Vicks on the baby's feet and then cover her feet with nice, thick socks.
  • You can suck your baby's boogers right out. I honestly had never heard of such a product, but according to moms I know who use the thing, it's life changing. There are versions of nasal aspirators that require you um, manually, suck your baby's snot out, but thankfully, there are also electric versions.


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Is my baby's poop normal?

Baby's poop actually comes in a surprisingly wide range of colors, from those first black meconium stools to the yellowish mustard seeds of a breastfed infant. But it can be hard to distinguish what's truly normal and when there might be a problem.

Essentially, yellow, green, and brown poop is normal, but any poop that looks like it contains blood, is white, or really light clay-colored needs to be further evaluated. The John Hopkin's Children Hospital also developed a mobile app to help parents distinguish if their baby's poop is normal, which is kind of handy.

You can actually take a picture of your baby's poop and get instant feedback if it's OK. The app is called PoopMD, and it's available for Android and Apple phones.

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What's the best way to get my baby to sleep through the night?

Look, I'm not going to lie to you here: newborns generally don't sleep through the night. I do know babies who have slept through the night right from day one, including my niece, but let's be honest and admit that those babies are the exception, not the rule.

But after having a horrible sleeper with my fourth child, I wish I would have known more about sleep training a baby because I do think that, in many ways, teaching a baby how to sleep is a skill just like any other skill you teach them, like sitting up or learning to feed themselves. Some babies need extra help.

A duo of brothers who happen to both be pediatricians developed an interesting new method to get babies to sleep through the night that just may be worth checking out if you're feeling a little more than sleep deprived.


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Image created by Chaunie Brusie

Honestly. Is it supposed to be this hard?

Oh, Mama. If you're genuinely feeling shocked and sucked under by the wave that can be motherhood, you are not alone. Most days, I stand in my mess of a kitchen and wonder, honest-to-goodness, if life feels this hard to all mothers. There are just certain ages that kids are at that are harder than others, and I suspect those tough moments are also in direct correlation to how much sleep you're getting at night.

{ MORE: Is Venting About Motherhood Actually Making You More Miserable? }

It is that hard some days, but then on others, you will wonder if it's possible to love someone so much and how on earth you ever lived without knowing that little baby before. And that's why we keep going.

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5 Questions All First-time Moms Need Answered

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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1 comment

  1. CM says:

    Other things I would suggest for all first time moms:
    1. Get as much help as possible with breastfeeding from nurses and lactation nurses right away, otherwise it could be a real struggle. Also don’t let anyone make you feel guilty if you have to use formula.
    2. Get all the information out there about vaccines before you just go along with what the pediatricians and the mainstream tell you is the requirement. Look up things like the truth about vaccines, whether to space them out, wait until the baby is older, which vaccines you may not want to do, or whether to vaccinate at all.
    3. Keep a journal or record of all your baby’s major milestones: first words, first tooth, when they sit, when they crawl, stand, and of course when they walk, etc,
    4. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on baby gear or clothes or toys. It’s not going to last more than a year or two. Hand me downs, Target, Walmart, Ross, thrift shops, garage sales, etc. are so much cheaper than Macy’s or high end department stores.
    5. Take lots of pictures! Babies change and grow so fast!


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