The internet is full of helpful parenting tips for new parents and well-meaning advice from many sources. Much of it is good, but always keep in mind that no parent’s experience will be exactly the same. Every child is different and that means that every parent’s reality will be different.
Even the experiences shared between you and your partner will be different, because we are all human, with our own perceptions and ways of seeing and relating in the world. Despite those differences, we at JuJuBe have attempted to compile some of the best baby tips for new parents we could find, in hopes they will be useful for all parents, everywhere.
Sometimes it’s easier for a woman to accept the idea that she’s about to be a mom than it is for a dad. After all, mom is experiencing the reality of her new role with every change that happens in her body.
Dad is sort of the outsider, watching from the sidelines. That means for men, the knowledge that they are about to be parents doesn’t quite hit home until they find themselves holding a newborn and staring down into that tiny face.
Despite these differences in processing the parenting experience, it’s important for both moms and dads to mentally prepare themselves throughout the pregnancy for the life changes that are coming.
You will no longer be a couple, but a family of three. Your life will no longer be yours but will revolve around the tiny human you’ve birthed into the world. It’s a big mental shift, which means you’ve got to start making it early.
This might not seem important, but trust us, it is! There’s something about becoming a parent that forces you to look at life differently. You have a new appreciation for your days and the time you’ve been given.
Taking care of yourself physically is one of the best ways to be present and available in your child’s life. If you have poor health habits, not only does it interfere with your ability to parent them well, you risk passing those poor habits on to your child later in life. Healthy habits help create healthy children.
A child is a big responsibility. You can never be truly “ready”, but you can do your best to be as prepared as possible. That means keeping your finances in order, creating and sticking to a family budget, setting aside funds for family emergencies, and making sure you’re able to provide a stable and loving home for your new little one.
You’ll know you’ll need to set up a nursery, so your infant has a place to sleep, and that you’ll need to purchase a variety of necessities before the little one arrives. Plan ahead so that you have the funds and the time to get everything you need without having to worry.
You’ll need stuff like:
- A car seat and baby carrier
- A crib (second-hand is perfectly fine)
- A bassinet or side-bed
- Baby clothes and diapers
- A changing pad
- Bottles and pacifiers
- Breast pump and breast pump bag
- Blankets, burp cloths, and bibs
- A diaper bag (like one of our diaper bag backpacks, perfect for mom and dad)
- A stroller and playpen for outdoor excursions
- Age-appropriate baby toys
- Baby bath and toiletry items
- A baby bathtub or bathtub seat
Think of these as more like suggestions for what to purchase before the baby arrives. What you end up actually buying will largely depend on your personal budget and your personality as a couple. If you and your partner lean more minimalist in nature, you might find you can make do with a lot less stuff.
The goal is to do what works best for your home and fledgling family. The most important thing is to simply start preparing before that baby arrives. You don’t want to wait until you’re tired and sleep deprivation hits you, that sucks all the fun out of it!
Second-Hand and Gently-Used is Your Friend
We know it can be tempting to rush out and spend money on brand new things for your spanking new addition. However, there’s nothing wrong with going second-hand or gently-used, especially on larger items or on apparel.
Remember that babies grow so fast, sometimes they don’t even get to use things or wear things before they are too big for them. By going the second-hand route, at least you’re not out a lot of money when that happens (and it will).
Ideas for what to purchase as gently-used include:
- Large furniture like a dresser set
- A crib or bassinet
- A changing table
- A stroller and car seat
- An indoor/outdoor playpen
- A rocking chair or recliner
- Clothing (especially if you like name brand clothes)
- Shoes (baby feet grow faster than anything)
Know Your Limitations
Once your new addition arrives, it’s important to know your limitations. If you’re aware your patience gets shorter as the evening wears on, but your partner is a saint at sundown, try trading off on parenting duties during those hours so that you can have some downtime.
If you know you sleep like a rock through the night, but your baby needs to eat, set alarms to help wake you for feedings or make a deal with your partner to wake you and take turns.
When you know your limitations as a person, you can put plans in place to help mitigate them and ease some of the stress that comes with being a new parent.
Accept Help When Offered
You might have lots of well-meaning friends and family that offer to help you, but you hesitate to accept. Some of them might offer to watch the baby for a few hours so you and your partner can have some alone time or offer to prepare meals, so you don’t have to cook as you adjust to your new normal.
Some might offer to babysit so you can nap or offer to give you a ride to your next doc appointment because they know your partner has to work that day. Whatever the offer is, consider taking it.
If you are blessed to have family and friends circle around you and offer you help, that’s a gift. It really does take a village to raise a family and that village can be a lifeline and sanity saver if you will allow them to be.
Sleep When Baby Sleeps
Some new parents laugh this off during the expecting stage, but then embrace it whole-heartedly once the baby arrives. Our best advice is don’t laugh it off. Seriously, sleeping when your baby sleeps helps.
It’s the best thing you can do for your mental and physical health, so that you’re rested and better able to tackle the demands of being a new parent.
Keep Baby Awake During Feedings
We know, they look so cute when they’re sleepy and milk-drunk. But if you want to establish a good sleep and feeding schedule, it helps to keep your little one awake while eating. A full tummy helps babies fall asleep and stay sleeping longer in between meals, which means more time for you to sleep too.
Build Routine into Your Life
Babies thrive on routine and stability. If you begin building it into your life early, it makes it easier to stick to as your child grows and life and parenting demands get more hectic. Even if you’re more of a free-spirit that doesn’t care much for schedules and routines, we can guarantee you that your baby needs them.
Try to keep in mind that becoming a parent means your life is no longer your own. Life is now about what’s best for your child. Routine and stability help children know what to expect in their world and make them feel safe enough to explore it.
Use the Grain of Salt Rule
New parents will find themselves inundated with well-meaning advice from all directions on how best to raise and parent a child. The best thing you can do for yourself and your sanity is to take it all with a grain of salt.
Some of it will be great advice, and some of it simply won’t work for you and your family. The beauty (and nightmare) of being a parent is that you decide what’s best for your child, no one else.
Mom and Dad Both Matter
Strive to give your bundle of joy plenty of time with both parents, especially in the newborn bonding stages. Your smell and how you sound and feel to your baby will be very different than your partner, but your infant needs to forge bonds with you both in order to fully thrive.
Plus, it makes life easier when you can equally share parenting duties without your little one having a meltdown because they are super attached to one parent, but not the other.
It’s also a good idea to bring other friends and family members into the circle early on too, so that your baby becomes comfortable with different people.
Trust us, it will save your sanity and your emotions when you are ready to have your first break away from your little one as a couple.
Don’t Forget Your Partner
And on that note, don’t forget that you have a partner in this new thing called parenting. You should never lose sight of the fact that before you were parents, you were a couple and you loved each other dearly. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that in the upheaval that comes with becoming a new family.
That’s why it’s important to be intentional about spending time with your partner, making a point of appreciating them (and telling them so), and having alone time to enjoy, just the two of you.
Schedule a regular date night and even schedule sexy time. While it might feel totally unsexy to no longer be spontaneous, making time to put each other first does wonders to keep your bond and connection strong and united.
There’s No Parenting Manual
Though it would be nice, unfortunately, there’s no parenting manual that will teach you how to be a mom or dad. It’s kind of a “learn as you go” gig. If you didn’t have good examples in your own life of parenting, you may struggle at first as you find your way.
Parenting support groups can be helpful and so can forging connections with other parents who have kids the same age as yours. You can watch how they parent, gain wisdom and advice, and model the types of behaviors you want to teach your own child.
You Will Mess Up
Messing up as a parent is almost a rite of passage. If you don’t mess up in the first week of having your baby home, you’ll do it soon. There’s no getting around it. We are all human and we are all flawed. Becoming a parent doesn’t immediately make you perfect.
In fact, it often just highlights all the ways we are imperfect. The best thing you can do for yourself is realize that you will screw things up from the outset and be prepared for those moments when they come.
Be Kind to Yourself
One of the hardest tasks every parent faces at some point is being kind to themselves when they mess up. Parenting is tough. Difficulties are a given. When you overcome that first parenting obstacle and are standing on that mountain top looking down at the fruits of your labor, bursting with pride, it makes every one of those hardships worth it.
Be kind to yourself as a new parent and realize that even if you do everything wrong your baby’s whole first year, you probably haven’t scarred them for life.
The important thing is to keep learning and keep growing in your role as a parent, so that as your baby moves from toddler, to child, to teen, you can keep being the best mom and dad you can be.
At the end of the day, as long as you’re giving your baby plenty of love and attention, you can’t really mess this parenting thing up.