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Self-Care

Repeat after us: self-care is not selfish. It is a necessary part of parenting. It is the best way that you can be there -- physically and emotionally -- for your baby and others who depend on you. 

Explore this page to learn more about the importance of self-care, tips for practicing self-care, and resources.

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Self-Care Basics

Basics

Have you ever heard the phrase 'you can't pour from an empty glass'? It means that you have to take care of yourself first in order to take good care of others. If you are healthy--emotionally, mentally, and physically--you are better able to be present for, and enjoy, the people who depend on you the most. 

Self-care is about taking care of yourself so that you can show up for your family.  Self-care can look a lot of different ways and includes taking care of yourself:

  • Physically

  • Emotionally

  • Mentally

  • Spiritually

  • Personally

Whatever self-care looks like to you, give yourself permission to practice it. You're deserving of that kindness to yourself. 

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Tips
  • Why should my baby sleep alone? I feel safer with my baby near me.
    We know that when parents sleep in the same bed as their baby, they are trying to do what they think is best. Unfortunately, co-sleeping is really dangerous. Most sleep-related deaths in Baltimore happen when babies sleep with an adult or with other children. Remember, it doesn't take much for a baby to suffocate. Co-sleeping is a common practice in some cultures. While it is wonderful to preserve most cultural traditions, some need to be adapted. For example, American beds are soft, high, and have a lot of blankets and pillows. These features make them unsafe for babies. If you are worried about bonding, keeping your baby's crib in your room is a great idea! Share a room, not a bed.
  • My baby sleeps better when they’re next to me. What are some other ways to soothe them?
    The sleep habits you set now will carry into childhood. When you put your baby to sleep in a crib from the beginning, they will get used to it. You will also be able to sleep better and more soundly knowing your baby is safe. Here are some of the things that you can do to help your baby sleep peacefully in their crib: Swaddle your baby (NOTE: you should stop swaddling when your baby starts to roll over) Create a bedtime routineUse a pacifier Give your baby a massage The first few weeks with a baby are rewarding, but the lack of sleep can be challenging. Hang in there. It will get better.
  • But isn't my baby more likely to choke on their back?
    Many parents believe that babies are more likely to choke if they sleep on their back. This is not true. In fact, your baby is LESS likely to choke on his or her back. Watch the video clip understand why.
  • What if my baby can roll over?
    Once babies are able to roll over from back to stomach on their own, there is no need to watch or reposition them during sleep. Babies should still be placed on their backs for sleep, but you don't need to worry about keeping them that way. Do not use a pillow or rolled up blanket to keep your baby on his or her back. These items increase the chances of your baby suffocating.
  • My older relatives say that they put their babies to sleep on their stomach.
    You may hear from older relatives that they put their babies to sleep on their stomachs. A lot has changed in the last 20 years and we now know a lot more about infant safety. In fact, when pediatricians began recommending that babies sleep on their back, the number of babies dying in their sleep dropped dramatically.
  • Why do I need to get a crib for my baby to sleep?
    The crib is the ONLY safe place for your baby to sleep. Your baby shouldn’t sleep on an adult bed or couch or with pillows, cushions or stuffed animals. Your baby could be suffocated in these soft materials. Your baby also could become trapped in between cushions on a couch or get stuck between the bed and the wall. These tragic situations occur all too frequently in Baltimore City.
  • Won't my baby get cold without a sheet or blanket?
    Dress your baby in a sleeper for warmth, but do not use blankets or allow your baby to get too warm. Overheating can be a risk for SIDS. A good rule of thumb is to dress your baby in the same amount of layers that you are wearing. If the room temperature is comfortable for you, then it is also comfortable for your baby.
  • Is it safe for my baby to wear a sleep sack?
    Sleep sacks and wearable blankets can be part of a safe sleep routine. Because these are an extra layer, be mindful of overheating, a leading cause of SIDS. You can avoid overheating by following this rule: when inside, dress your baby in the same number of layers that you are wearing. If a room's temperature is comfortable for you, it's comfortable for your baby. Please also remember that not every product that is marketed for safe sleep is actually safe, even if it is sold in stores or online. For example, weighted sleepwear is not safe. Before you purchase these products, it is important to do your research and to ask your baby's doctor. To check if a product has ever been recalled, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Recall List.
  • What kind of crib should I get for my baby?
    Your baby’s crib does not need to be fancy or expensive, but it must be safe. There are many types of stationary and portable cribs (such as a Pack ‘n Play™ or the portable crib given out by HealthCare Access Maryland) that are safe—you just have to make sure that it meets current safety guidelines. When purchasing a crib, look for Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certification. If you borrow a crib, check to make sure that the slats are no more than 2-3/8 inches apart. Widely spaced slats can trap an infant's head. The mattress should be firm and fit snugly in the crib. The crib sheet should fit tightly all the way around and under the mattress. Nothing else should be in the crib with your baby – no quilts, blankets, comforters, pillows, bumper pads, stuffed animals, or soft toys. Car seats and infant carriers should not be used as your baby’s bed. Your baby could get knocked over or roll over. It’s just not worth taking a risk.
  • Why is it important to have a smoke-free home?
    Babies who breathe in smoke are more likely to have lifelong health problems. They are also more likely to die while sleeping. Smoke is a houseguest that always overstays its welcome. Even if you open a window, it drifts around the house and even stays in fabrics and dust. Keep the air in your home clean by asking smokers to go outside. Here are some tips to make your home smoke-free: Ask smokers to smoke outside Get all ashtrays, matches, and lighters out of your home Post a sign on your front door so visitors know not to smoke 

  • Doesn't my baby need to spend time on their tummy?
    Yes! You can provide 'tummy time' when he is awake and being watched. This will help strengthen his neck and arm muscles and prevent flat spots on the back of his head.

Self-Care Tips

Ideas

Self-Care Ideas

Commiting to taking care of and loving yourself is a great investment in your family's future. Here are some ideas: 

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Get Moving

Physical

Try to find a way to move your body. This can include taking a walk or dancing. 

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Be Kind to Yourself

Emotional 

Pay attention to how you speak to yourself. Affirm that you are a good parent and that you are loved by yourself and others.

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Build Support

Emotional/Mental

Sometimes it helps to talk to people who can relate to your experience. Consider joining a parent support group or meet-up. 

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Get a Check-up

Physical

It is important to have a check-up with your doctor every year to get important screenings. One way to remember them is to schedule them around your birthday.

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Rest

Physical

Parenting can be exhausting. Try to find 15 minutes in a day to slow down, or even take a quick nap. 

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Connect to Yourself

Emotional/Mental/Spiritual

Keep a journal and use it to vent, express gratitude, and write affirmations. 

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Set Boundaries

Physical/Mental/Emotional

It is ok to tell people no. When you say 'no' to something, you may be saying 'yes' to more time for your family and peace of mind for yourself.

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Talk to Someone

Emotional/Mental

Everyone can benefit from therapy. A therapist can help you work through difficult feelings and challenges and help you get peace.

Resources
Knowing when and how to ask for help is one of the best ways to practice self-care. Here are some great resources for getting support and building your village.

Self-Care Resources

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Support Groups

Talk to other birthing families about dealing with stress.

Upton/Druid Heights:

410-706-6131

Patterson Park North & East:

443-703-3676

The Family Tree

Call their parenting helpline or take advantage of their drop-in childcare program.

1-800-243-7337

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Pro Bono Counseling Project

Free therapy with a licensed professional for Maryland families, couples and individuals with limited resources

410-825-1001

B'more Fit

Free weekly fitness and nutrition program. 

For Spanish Speakers:
443 800-4581
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Black Mental Health Alliance

Mental wellness support, including finding a therapist and healing racial trauma

410-338-2642

Here2Help Hotline

If you are in crisis, this helpline will connect you to immediate help and services.

410-433-5175
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