Congratulations! Welcome to the world of parenting!
If you’re new to parenthood, it can be tough to know what the best advice is. There’s never a shortage of “well meaning” relatives and friends – and Facebook strangers – ready to give you unsolicited advice, but who should you trust?
With so many tips out there it’s hard to make sense of all of them.
In this post, I’ll share with you 9 key pieces of good baby advice, that have not only helped me but friends and family also.
These tips will help take some weight off your shoulders as a parent and also provide advice on how to deal with things like overwhelm or sleep deprivation – two things we all deal with as new parents.
Lets get started
1. Sleep When The Baby Sleeps.
This is probably the piece of advice I heard the most while I was pregnant. That along with “treasure every moment.”
Which I don’t disagree with, but there has to be some moderation.
It’s all very well sleeping while the baby sleeps, but there are basic life necessities like showering and eating you have to fit in somewhere. Eventually you will run out of plates to eat off and clothes to wear if no one does the washing.
“Frantically run round trying to get as many jobs done as possible while the baby sleeps” described my first year much more accurately!
Because if you sleep when the baby sleeps, you have to adult when the baby is awake.
“Sleep when baby sleeps” and other generic parenting advice may or may not work in your situation.
There are a million scenarios where generic parenting advice will NOT work for your life. It’s okay to pass it by; it’s not meant for everyone. Figure out what works best for your family’s needs and be prepared to change it up at times if it’s not working.
2. Be Patient And Kind With Yourself
At the end of the day you are not perfect. Parenting is hard work and you will fail many times. Despite what people may want you to believe there is no such thing as the right way.
This advice applies to everyone, but can be especially difficult for new parents who are struggling with processing all the things that come with parenthood. Be patient with yourself when you make mistakes or get overwhelmed. It happens to all of us. The most important thing is that you keep striving to do a good job and build a good relationship with your child.
If you find yourself being overwhelmed on a regular basis, reach out to friends or find a therapist who specializes in postpartum counselling. There are several online options these days, so you don’t even have to leave the house.
Don’t pay too much attention to social media.
3. Make Room For Me Time
As fresh parents we think that our newborn baby needs us all the time – and thats true to some extent, but it’s not healthy for anyone to not have some time for themselves.
In that first month especially when your more acquainted with the middle of the night than you’ve ever been, sometimes the best thing you can do is leave your baby safely with another family member while you catch up on a little sleep yourself, or even get some fresh air.
It doesn’t have to be huge. Gather your best friends together for coffee or treat yourself to a baby free trip to the grocery store.
I know everyone gives this advice, and as new moms we rarely take it, but it’s so important. That is why everyone mentions it! If you get in the habit of making yourself a priority as a new parent, you can continue it through your child’s life. Make it a habit early on.
4. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
You are not failing as a parent if you ask for help.
All parents of infants struggle with a lack of sleep. Even if your baby is a fabulous sleeper now, trust me around the corner is developmental leaps, a growth spurt and a cold ready to shatter that sleep schedule.
Whether this is your first child, or you have other small children to care for as well the baby phase can be a really challenging time. If you have offers of help from friends and family, TAKE THEM! Don’t struggle on for the sake of being polite.
As I discussed earlier, friends and family will often want to shower you with advice, and this can sometimes be great advice, so it’s worth taking it all in and then making the best decision for your baby.
They may be able to help you with practical tips, or show you a better way of doing something you’ve been struggling with (like navigating a child car seat!).
Avoid taking advice from people who are constantly negative or passive aggressive. Especially avoid advice demanding you let your newborn “cry it out” because that’s what they did 20 years ago before they realized how damaging it can be.
Trust me, your new baby is not getting spoiled; you’re forming a bond, and you are great parents.
5. Be Creative
As new parents we often get stuck thinking inside our box; however this limits us immensely.
As science develops and we learn new things about baby and child development, we have to change our way of thinking a bit – and that’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay… it’s progress! We always want to give our babies the best care.
Be aware that family members may struggle to see you breaking traditions and doing things differently to how they did. Some may even view it as an insult to their parenting technique. Although you may find this annoying, try to remember that their hearts are in the right place.
6. Lean On Your Partner
If you have a partner, your relationship may change significantly after your baby is born. Each person deals with a new baby differently, and you may have each had different ideas in your head on how things would go. Perhaps it isn’t going how either of you pictured… that’s likely the case!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, the best way to ease the situation is to talk to your partner about what you need help with. Being stressed about needing to do “all the things” can lead to frustration in any relationship.
Let your partner know what you need from them, using clear, concise language. When you notice either of you are getting upset (with each other), take a step back and breathe. Revisit the topic the next day if necessary.
You won’t have as much time to spend together as a couple, so make the most of any quality time you do get. Having a baby is a great excuse to slow down and enjoy the small stuff.
In the early days it may feel like you are in survival mode and just trying to make it through the sleepless nights. Make sure you keep talking to each other, and find humour where you can. In time these long nights will be a cherished memory.
7. Trust Your Gut Instinct
The best parenting advice I can give to any new parent is: trust your gut instinct. A mother’s intuition is one of the strongest forces you’ll experience, and it isn’t to be ignored. If you feel like something is “off”, chances are, it could be. At the very least it’s worth getting checked out.
I love this article from Parents Magazine about what mother’s intuition is and why you should trust it.
As first time parents it can be intimidating to trust your instincts. Everyone seems to know so much more than you do about raising a baby. No-one however, spends as much time with, or knows your baby as well as you do.
Don’t let self doubt stand in the way of you advocating for your child. Trust in yourself and your ability as a primary caregiver. You wouldn’t be reading advice articles like this one if you weren’t striving to be a better parent, and your baby is fortunate to have you.
8. It May Take Time
If you are a first-time mom you have probably been inundated with stories about how special bonding time is, the love you will feel for your new baby, and even how easy it was to transition into motherhood. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for everyone.
Some moms don’t feel the same bond with their baby immediately. and that’s actually perfectly normal. It’s not talked about much, but I think it’s important to normalize it.
If you are struggling with motherhood, it doesn’t mean you’re failing.
This is also true for partners. I was fortunate to feel a bond as soon as I held my little girl, but after a difficult pregnancy and traumatic birth my husband really struggled.
He didn’t feel able to discuss it with me at the time, but he felt quite numb for several weeks after the birth and wondered if he’d ever feel that deep parental love.
He now cherishes and adores our daughter, and those first few weeks are a distant memory. So don’t worry if you don’t feel it straight away, as you start to care and nurture your baby, it will come.
Give yourself grace. Have plenty of skin to skin contact and take time to form a bond with your baby. You will need to learn about your new body and theirs, and to understand that you are doing everything you should to be a good mom… even when it doesn’t feel like it.
9. You Will Need To Adjust To Parenthood
Becoming a new parent can be wonderful one day, and then feel like one of the most stressful times in your life the next. Take some deep breaths in the hard times and as you go through this transition, try to remember “this too shall pass” and realize your life will become more manageable as time goes on.
It can also help for your partner to become aware of what you need from them; just make sure they are clear about their expectations too. Don’t forget to take care of yourself and prioritize time for yourself – and time as a couple. Prioritizing these two things will go a long way
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