8 ways to maintain healthy habits with a newborn at home

newborn By Matt Erickson
February 13, 2017

When you bring home a newborn baby, it can turn your daily routine upside down. But habits like diet, exercise, sleep and self-care are the foundation of good health. You owe it to yourself, and your new baby, to be healthy as you barrel through this new chapter of your life.

How can you do that? For advice, we’ve turned to an integrative medicine practitioner who also happens to have a newborn son at home right now: Emily Day, an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) in the Integrative Medicine clinic at The University of Kansas Health System.

Here are some ways Emily has managed to continue caring for herself while also caring for her son, Finn.

  1. Keep a routine for your newborn, and work your personal habits around it.
  2. Finn wakes up at 7 a.m. every day. With that routine in place, Emily can wake up earlier each morning and use that alone time to eat breakfast and fit in 20 minutes of exercise.

    This can require some creativity and planning. Emily and her husband have a dedicated space for exercise in their basement, so to work out they need only to walk downstairs, instead of driving to a gym. Emily also tries to prepare her breakfast the night before, so she can just grab it out of the fridge in the morning. (A perfect breakfast for this: some overnight oatmeal.)

  3. Get creative with your food preparation.
  4. Now more than ever, your body needs a diet of whole, nutrient-dense foods to function as it should. But when you’ve just put the baby to bed, you’re feeling exhausted, and you’ve got work in the morning, you might be tempted by the convenient call of processed foods or takeout.

    Defend yourself against this dilemma by preparing some dinners and lunches ahead of time on the weekend. Pop some prepared meals in the freezer. Emily likes to make a big batch of soup or salad that she can reach for throughout the week whenever she needs something quick and easy.

  5. If you’re nursing, don’t forget to give your body the hydration and nutrients it needs.
  6. You’re hydrating for two, so keep a water bottle nearby at all times. And continue to take your prenatal vitamins, because your body needs more nutrients now than usual.

  7. Strengthen your core.
  8. Holding your baby is hard work. It can put strain on your hips and your back, which can lead to chronic pain down the road. It’s hard to care for your baby if you’re in pain! To prevent this, Emily uses her exercise time to build core strength. For help with this, you can go to a personal trainer or ask your doctor for a referral to a physical therapist.

  9. If your baby is struggling to sleep at night, consider hiring a sleep trainer.
  10. They do exist! And they can help your newborn establish a sleep schedule.

    If hiring someone is too expensive, Emily recommends the book “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.” You could even listen to the audiobook while nursing.

  11. Watch your caffeine and alcohol intake.
  12. You’re probably already sleep-deprived. You don’t need us to tell you that. If you’re having trouble falling asleep when things do quiet down, try cutting back on coffee and alcohol. Both can disrupt your sleep.

  13. Get outside.
  14. Go for a walk during the day. You’ll get some fresh air, some sunlight, and some vitamin D – and it can help if you’re feeling isolated. Plus, your baby will like it, too.

  15. Every once in a while, hire a babysitter.
  16. This can be difficult – Emily admits she and her husband haven’t managed to do this one yet. But you and your partner deserve a night out every so often.

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