Those soft, chubby cheeks. Those big, innocent eyes. Your heart melts every time you see your baby!

But then come the 3 a.m. feedings. The ear infection that won’t go away. The never-ending diaper changes.

While that new bundle of joy is certainly the apple of your eye, becoming a new parent can be one of the most challenging life experiences. The more you’re able to handle stressors in healthy ways, the more you can focus on nurturing your baby.

Quick! While baby is taking a nap, peruse these nine tips to help you cope with the stresses of newfound parenthood.

1. Inhale. Exhale.

New parents can easily forget the importance of self-care in the hubbub of everyday life with a newborn. Keep in mind that the quality of care you can provide for your baby is equal to your own mental health—so remember to breathe. Learning a few meditation exercises or exercising regularly can help.

2. Trust yourself

It can be tempting to fall into the habit of referring to the vast expanse of online parenting tips and tricks for every concern you have. This pattern, however, can create more stress in the long run if you’re constantly second-guessing yourself. Learning to trust your parental instincts can help alleviate anxiety and eliminate imposter syndrome.

3. Strategize your stress

Realize that not everything is under your control, and sometimes letting go is best. Picking your battles is key when coping with new-parent stress.

4. Embrace your inner child

Don’t forget to have fun! As a new parent, it’s easy to get bogged down in the seriousness of child-rearing. It’s OK to be a kid again, especially when you’re playing peekaboo and laughing along with their silliness.

5. Socialize your stress away

Getting out of the house on a regular basis is key to de-stressing. Hire a sitter, and plan a night out with your spouse or close friends.

6. Ask for help

Your social support systems are there for just that—supporting you. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

7. Reject perfection

Avoid falling into the trap that there is one “right” way to raise a baby. Your child’s needs (and yours!) are unique. Focus on making progress with your parenting and learning from mistakes rather than idealizing perfection.

8. Nap when you can

Taking power naps when your baby is sleeping can be a great way to recharge throughout the day. A newborn’s sleeping schedule can be chaotic, so you want to ensure your own physical and mental health through adequate sleep. A quick strategic nap can help you snooze away stress.

9. Prioritize your partner

If you’re partnered, parenting stress can be especially rough on intimate relationships, but being dedicated to couple time can make a world of difference. Whether watching your favorite show together before bed or enjoying a candlelit dinner at your favorite restaurant, spending quality time with your partner will reduce stress in your entire household.

The bottom line

Achieving balance as a new parent is all about the journey, not the destination. A happier, healthier you will go a long way toward maximizing quality time with your new baby.

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