When you bring your baby home, you will feel various emotions. Excited, worried, tired, and overwhelmed, to name a few. Wouldn’t it be nice if you were provided with a ‘Best Advice for New Parents’ manual? Although this manual doesn’t exist, it would be nice to have one simple book to answer all of your questions!
I’m sure you have already received advice from well-meaning family members, co-workers, and friends. Every parent remembers what it was like to bring home that tiny bundle of joy. As a first-time mom, I look back at those early days with misty eyes and a smile. It truly does fly by!
Advice for New Parents
There is so much information at our fingertips that it can be overwhelming at times. I have listed the best advice for new parents to hopefully help ease any anxieties you may have.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
You’ve heard the old African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” This still holds today! You might feel guilty for asking for help, but believe me, people want to help. It’s in our human nature to help and care for others. You will likely hear from family members and friends who want to help you. Let them! It’s not possible to do everything alone. Whether it’s your mother-in-law doing the dishes, your brother dropping off dinner, or your friend helping with the laundry, don’t be afraid to let your village help you.
Take Time for Yourself
Taking care of yourself is essential to being a good parent. You will have many rewarding and joyful moments with your newborn, but it’s an all-consuming job that can leave you feeling burned out and stressed. It’s important to continue to do things you loved pre-baby to feel balanced and fulfilled. This could be reading a book, going out to dinner with friends, going to the gym, or simply catching up on your favorite reality television shows.
One of the first pieces of advice I heard from a family member was, “Sleep when the baby sleeps!” I rolled my eyes because once my baby boy fell asleep, all I could see were the piles of laundry, the dirty dishes, and the clutter piling up. I thought there was no way I could sleep when there was so much to get done around the house. My mom told me, “The laundry and the dishes can wait. You need to sleep to feel rested and ready to take care of your son.” Once I heard that, I realized she was right. I need to sneak in as much sleep as possible to be the best mom I can be. This is when your village will come in handy! Ask a family member or friend to care for the baby while you get some well-deserved rest. Remember, don’t be afraid to ask for help! People want to help you just as much as they want to hold that baby.
Trust Your Instincts
In the beginning, you will want to do everything perfectly. You may question yourself constantly, which may block you from listening to yourself. So much of parenthood is instinctual. You are that baby’s parent, no one else! Every baby is different, and your way of caring for your baby is not wrong. Do what works best for you and your family.
Take Pictures and Make Memories
It may not seem like it now, but your tiny, snuggly baby will one day leave your arms and walk, run, and climb all over the house. One thing I wish I would have done is to take more pictures and videos of myself holding my baby. I have plenty of pictures and videos of him, don’t get me wrong. But I definitely don’t have as many WITH him. A lot of this had to do with my self-esteem during that time. I didn’t feel that I looked my best, so I refused to be in many pictures. Now I realize that the messy bun and the dark under-eye circles perfectly encapsulated those first weeks and months as a new parent. Don’t be afraid to be in the picture. You will love looking back at them one day. I promise!
The first few weeks and months of being a new parent will be stressful. You know this, and knowledge is power! Remember that everything is a phase, although some sleepless nights seem endless. It feels like forever when you’re in it, but it will pass. Some days will be more challenging than others, but remember that every day gets easier as you get into a routine. You are becoming a better parent every day. Be patient with yourself and ask for help when you need it.
If you compare your baby to other babies, you miss out on what makes your baby special. You might see on social media that your childhood friend’s baby is sleeping through the night or your cousin’s baby is sitting up unassisted. This could make you feel worried about your own baby. It’s important to know that every baby is different, with different needs, personalities, and strengths. Try to focus on all of the amazing and wonderful things your baby is doing instead of comparing them to others. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your pediatrician with questions or concerns. You know your baby best!
Find a Tribe
Parenthood can feel isolating at times. You’re so wrapped up in this incredible life change that you feel like you’re the only person going through this situation. The truth is that everyone needs a support system. As a new parent, it’s important that you find others who know what you’re going through and can provide love, support, and laughter during the challenging moments. Try joining a local Facebook group that can connect you with other parents. There are also social apps for finding new parent friends, such as Peanut and Meerkat. Having a group of parent friends to share stories with and ask questions will let you know you are not alone in your struggles.
Remember, You’re Amazing!
Perhaps the most critical piece of advice for new parents is to be kind to yourself. Take a deep breath and know that you’re doing a great job. Your baby won’t remember if you make a mistake. Keep on going and give yourself lots of grace because you’re learning a brand new role in life. There is no better parent for that baby than you!
Those are some of my best advice for new parents. If you take anything from this article, please know that you are doing an amazing job. If you are struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Your baby is loved, safe, and lucky to have you. You are the perfect parent for your baby!