Important Note: In this article, we reference “partner” and understand that not all new parents have a partner. If you are a single mom or a single dad, we see you and recognize your strength. We hope that this post can support you and help you cultivate strong relationships with your family, friends, and community.
Everybody said, “Your life’s about to change.”
But nobody’s ever truly prepared to become a parent.
Having a baby is a beautiful, surreal, life-changing event. It changes a couple’s life forever. There’s a new human on the earth! Birth brings beauty. It also brings challenging growth for the entire family.
Not only does having a baby change your life, as you…
learn how to soothe your little one’s cries
run on not much sleep
worry about keeping this new person alive
But add colic into the mixture, and the stress on your relationship can get really high. Really fast. You’re trying to figure out…
what’s causing your baby’s discomfort
how to deal with hours of cries and fussiness
Expecting parents wonder, “Will having a baby make our relationship stronger? Will having a baby make our relationship worse?”
But instead of thinking about your relationship with your partner as “strong” or “weak” or getting “better” or “worse”, try re-framing your mindset to look at your relationship after the baby in a non-judgmental way.
Accept that there will be changes in your relationship after baby. And know that you’re not alone. Every single parent goes through this phase of life. To help, here are things you can proactively do to keep your relationship strong after having a baby.
Be Prepared – Learn About Colic Now
About 30% of all babies born will have colic. In an ideal world, you can talk with your partner about the potential of colic before the baby’s born. But the reality is that it’s impossible to know what it’s like until it happens… like many things in life.
There will be lots of opinions. “Colic? It doesn’t sound bad. Oh, but all babies get fussy!”
You need facts.
Try to let any unhelpful comments roll off your back. Instead, look to your partner for support and strength. If you’re a single parent, lean on your support system. Find a trusted family member or friend in a mommy/daddy group who you can talk to.
Having a colicky baby can be a source of strength in your relationship. Bond over the fact that you two are the only ones who really get it.
One of the best things you can do is have some tools on hand to prepare for colic. The ByeByeCry™ sound machine is a perfect plan when you’re expecting a baby. Why? Because it has sounds that can help soothe a colicky baby. And if your baby’s born with no signs of colic, ByeByeCry™ has equal sounds to soothe any fussy baby.
Practice Active Listening – Talk About What’s Hard for Each Partner
Acknowledge that each person has different challenges. Even if you’ve said it 100 times, say it again. Repetition can be a good thing.
Name your feelings
“This is SO HARD. It’s not what I expected motherhood/fatherhood/parenthood to be like.”
Validate the feelings
“This IS hard. You’re feeling sad, unhappy, frustrated...”
“It’s OK to feel like you’re not enjoying motherhood/fatherhood/parenthood.”
Practice positive self-talk with your partner
“We are strong.”
“Going through colic together will make us stronger.”
“It feels like this will never end, but it will. This will not last forever.”
“Even though you may not feel it now, remember that we are both growing.”
Couples grow through what they go through. Maintain that united front with your partner to strengthen your relationship after baby.
Apologize and Regroup
It’s hard to always express your feelings. It’s easy to take out feelings of frustration on those we love the most.
Colicky babies tend to appear pretty grumpy. It can be hard to not feel stressed or be in a heightened state when your baby is upset. When your baby cries for hours on end, it’s hard to feel relaxed. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of negative feelings. Especially when you’re new to the parent game and sleep-deprived.
If you get angry or say something you regret:
Say what you’re feeling in a calm way.
Remember you’re a united front.
Reflect on positive, happy moments and how far you’ve come together.
Sprinkle Your Relationship After Baby With Gratitude & Compliments
A little goes a long way.
When a couple worries about a relationship breakdown after having a baby, it can put a strain on everything. Small shifts in language and actions can go a long way.
Instead of noticing everything going “wrong,” point out what your partner is doing “right.” Compete to be the most thoughtful partner. Proactively do small acts of kindness.
If one partner’s been awake all night with your colicky baby, get their coffee ready as a warm surprise. Draw a warm bubble bath with some candles and relaxing music for your partner to help wash away some stress. If your partner made a yummy meal, compliment the chef. Expressing gratitude for these “smaller” moments goes a long way toward keeping your relationship strong after welcoming a baby.
Make Date Night Work for YOU
Isn’t it frustrating when you read “make time for you” or people give advice to go on a date night as new parents?
The thing is: it’s easier said than done. And no one really gives concrete ways to make this happen. Especially when you have a newborn baby with colic in the mix.
If you can’t “go out” like you used to, make date night with your partner work for you. Here are a few things you can do:
Order pizza & watch a 30-minute sitcom. (With a colicky baby, a full movie might not happen and that’s OK - find something you and your partner enjoy.)
Leave love notes on post-its around the house for your partner to find. Notes of love/gratitude or motivational words. (You’ll cherish these after the colic times are over.)
Have a playlist of your favorite songs – dance to your wedding song in the living room!
Re-create your first date
Take a cup of your favorite beverage and the baby monitor and sit outside under the stars. Whether you have a fire pit or use the Netflix Fireplace For Your Home – doesn’t matter! Cozy is key.
And if you are ready to venture out, call a babysitter and book your favorite restaurant. No matter where you are, the important thing is to be together.
I was once in a team meeting where the icebreaker was that everyone just had to start laughing. Any laugh. Their best random laugh. And it made everyone genuinely laugh out loud.
I’m not saying you need to FAKE it. But the power of laughter is REAL.
Other ways to laugh together could include…
Watching stand-up comedy together
Picking your favorite show together and watching the blooper reels
Finding funny memes to text to your partner during the day
Forget any relationship breakdown after the baby comes. Build each other up with lots of laughs.
Make a Plan for Individual Solo Time
Like date night, planning for “self-care” can feel unattainable. Impossible. Extravagant? “But I have to take care of my baby, struggling with colic.”
The truth: you also need to take care of yourself and each other. If you’re run down, it’s going to make everything even harder.
It’s less about what you do and more about the time. Start small. Work with your partner to find a specific time when you can each be alone. This means you are NOT the main parent in charge of the baby at that time.
Go get the mail from the mailbox. Alone.
Go to the bathroom. Alone.
Hey – you gotta start somewhere! For now, focus on making this part of your relationship a priority now that the baby is here. Then you can work up to that solo spa date with yourself.
Set Realistic Expectations for Mealtimes & Be Gentle On Yourselves
The sooner you can lower your expectations about what meals look like, the better off you’ll be. It doesn’t matter how it looks. What matters is that you’re spending time together as a family. You’re creating a routine. Memories.
Know that you’re not alone. Most likely, one parent will be trying to calm the baby while the other person quickly eats. You’ll take turns. Eating in shifts isn’t fun, but just know it won’t be forever.
A late dinner can overlap with the witching hour. This is tough, especially when you have a picture in your mind of what you want family meals to be like. Have compassion for yourselves because you’re in survival mode. Survival tip: order take-out or pour a quick bowl of cereal together.
And sometimes work schedules overlap. It’s not always possible to sit down at the same time. Just try your best. If you’re a single parent doing meals alone, you’re building a beautiful bond with your baby. A habit that will stay with you long after you’ve made the foundation. Strong relationships take work, so keep going. You’re amazing.
Embrace Physical Intimacy
When a colicky baby is screaming, there’s much less time to be intimate.
Stay romantically connected with physical touches:
A lingering hug in the hallway
Holding hands on the couch
Squeezing in kisses whenever you can
While having sex can improve your mood, it’s not the only way to stay connected, especially during a tough new phase.
Be open, and talk to each other about your needs. Voice what you miss about those days of intimacy before baby. Reminisce about those times. Talk about how you’d love to experience physical intimacy with your partner. Look forward to experiencing more intimate moments once colic subsides.
Even if you don’t have the energy or the drive to follow through at that moment, know that it’s just a phase. You’re giving 100% of yourselves taking care of your colicky baby.
When colic is over, you and your partner will have worked through a lot together. Your relationship will have grown in so many ways. You’ll be able to look back at those memories of your love in the time of colic. And reflect on how far you’ve come.
keeping your relationship strong after baby; does having a baby make your relationship stronger/worse