Having a baby is… scary. No, honestly, you’re probably terrified that you’ll drop them on their head or something and that’s why we’re here – to tell you that it’s okay. All new parents are scared. Terrified, really, which is why we’ve complied a list of words of advice for new parents which will help you through this difficult beginning.
1. Don’t compare yourself to others
It’s perfectly normal to draw from your own parents’ example and you might feel tempted to compare your experience as a parent with that of your sister/friend/mother/whoever, really. Don’t. There is nothing more toxic than thoughts like ‘So-and-so is a better parent than me’. As long as you’re being the best parent you can be and trying to do right by your child, then no one is a better parent than you and don’t you let them convince you otherwise, okay?
2. Enjoy your kid’s baby years
Everyone knows that the first two years of a child’s life can be pretty hectic on the parents, but try to put your duties and worries aside (such as cleaning, groceries etc) and live in the moment. Remember, your baby won’t ever be a baby again, so you really don’t want to miss this.
3. Don’t micromanage. It’s annoying and tiring
The truth is, you’ll need help. From your partner, from your parents or even from a friend who’s also a parent. There will come a time when you leave your baby in the care of someone else for the first time and your first instinct, trust me, will be to call every two seconds and fret and tell them how to do every little thing.
That’s going to be really annoying for the person watching the baby, not to mention energy-consuming for yourself. Now, you probably asked them to look after the baby for a reason, right? To do something, or perhaps just have a night out, relax, take a break. So don’t be afraid to do that. You deserve it.
4. Take time for yourself
In the first few years, you won’t have many chances, but try to do something, no matter how small, for yourself. Have a relaxing bath every week, while your husband watches the baby, or read a book you love or even paint your toenails. Do yoga.
As a new parent, you need to take even a little me-time, to take care of your own mental and emotional well-being. The more stressed out and worried and frustrated you are, the more your baby is going to feel it and you don’t want that.
5. Don’t try to be a picture-perfect mom
Or dad. When having your first baby, you’ll expect it to be like in a movie, all perfect and effortless, even though you’ve been warned it’s not like that. You’ll want to change their clothes each time they get just a little bit dirty. Don’t. It’s not like in the movies – it’s not clockwork and it’s dirty and confusing and messy and so, so much more fun.
6. Some practical advice
Keep your nails short, so as not to accidentally scratch your baby and always keep your hands clean. Wash your hands before handling your baby and always make sure to wash after changing a nappy. In your haste, you might touch your face, food or even the baby’s hands or face, which can lead to infection.
Be careful with the baby’s head in the first few months and also never, ever shake your baby, as that can be fatal. We know you’ve probably heard all this already, but doesn’t hurt to make sure.
7. Your baby won’t sleep through the night
Small babies have an even smaller digestive system, which means that they need feeding every 2-4 hours, which is why they’ll wake you up a lot. In theory, a baby’s sleeping patterns should start settling down anywhere after the 3-month mark, but don’t worry if they don’t. It takes time, as with anything. Also, don’t worry about feeding your baby on the dot. Each child is different and creates his/her own routine.
8. It’s okay to snap
You will find yourself being harsh and snappy with your folks or your partner and you’ll most likely feel even worse about it afterward. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Between the sleep deprivation and the hormones, it’s just a perfectly normal phase that will pass.
9. There’s no book on parenting
Well actually, there are several, but the point is – there is no one-size-fits-all. You have to understand it will be scary and confusing and you will often wonder if you’re doing it wrong, being a bad parent, etc. And yes, it would be easier if there was a tried-and-tested formula for parenting, but there isn’t and that’s okay. Trust in yourself that you will figure it out.
10. Don’t take anyone’s words of advice for new parents too seriously
Not even ours. The truth is, when you’ve just had a baby, literally everyone – parents, neighbors, colleagues and strangers – will chip in their two cents’ worth. Don’t feel like you have to listen to it all, just nod politely and take from that what you need. We are all different.
Remember that you are amazing for doing this and that the bond you share with your child will be like no other. Congratulations!