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Nuggets of Wisdom for First Time Parents

role of parents in a child’s life family of 4 walking on a beach towards the ocean at sundown with their backs to the camera Middle Class Dad

So you’re finally getting ready to bring a new bundle of joy into your home; this is exciting! Whether you’re having a biological child, taking in a foster baby, or adopting, you’re getting ready for the most challenging time of your life so far.

All first time parents feel nervous when they bring their new baby home. What are you supposed to do with this tiny living thing that you’re now responsible for? How can you keep it happy and healthy?

Let’s talk about it! Keep reading for a few top parenting and baby tips for first-timers.

Not All Advice Is Good Advice

When you’re getting ready to bring a baby into your home, people will start flocking to give you advice. From parenting books to mommy bloggers, even your own friends, and family members, you’re going to be getting it from all angles.

This might seem helpful at first, but it gets overwhelming (and annoying) fast. Everyone wants to put in their two cents (and they’ll continue doing so until your child is ready to move out on their own).

Remember that not all advice is good advice, and even good advice isn’t always going to be relevant to your situation. While these people have good intentions (most of the time), they aren’t you and they don’t know your baby.

It’s true that you’re going to want some newborn care tips, but don’t let all of it get into your head. Take it with a grain of salt.

Ignore Feelings of Inadequacy

New parents often struggle with feelings of inadequacy. When you’re looking at mommy bloggers online, or parents that you know that seem to have it all together, it’s easy to feel like a failure as a parent if you aren’t doing everything that they’re doing.

Keep in mind that these parents are only showing you things that they want you to see. Even when they document their “failures,” these failures are often curated to seem better than they are.

There’s no such thing as a parent who gets everything right all of the time. Your job is to keep your baby happy and healthy. Everything beyond that is secondary.

Many people will tell you that you’re doing something wrong if you’re using clothing items they don’t like, you’re choosing to formula feed instead of breastfeeding, or you’re not potty training on the same schedule that they are.

You’re not a bad parent for doing things differently. You aren’t even a bad parent for making mistakes.

Learn Your Baby’s Schedule

Eventually, you may be able to reach a point in which you’re able to modify your baby’s schedule to match your own. At first, however, your newborn baby is going to have their own schedule for when they need to sleep and eat.

Babies usually have to eat every two to three hours when they’re newborns. This is true even when they’re sleeping (although some people will allow their newborns to continue sleeping for several hours instead of waking them. Talk to your pediatrician about whether or not this is appropriate for your baby).

Learn how to do your housework either with your baby strapped to you or when the baby is sleeping. Many people will say “sleep when the baby sleeps,” and while this is good advice, in theory, it’s rarely practical when you have so many other things to do.

If possible, switch back and forth with your co-parent at night to fit the baby’s sleeping and eating schedule.

Shopping for Clothes: Helpful Tips

Clothes shopping is one of the best things about becoming new parents. But how do you find the right clothes for your baby? What should you buy and what should you skip?

Before you start shopping, keep in mind that many people may be willing to gift you baby clothes. Whether they’re hand-me-downs or baby shower gifts, you’ll likely have a good supply of newborn clothing right away. Always take advantage of this.

When it comes to basics, like onesies, don’t overspend. Get these secondhand when you can and visit “sale” sections of stores. You’ll go through several onesies per day, so you’re going to need a lot of them for every stage of your child’s infancy.

When it comes to “nicer” clothing that you’re willing to spend more money on, make sure that you choose a brand that doesn’t prioritize fashion over comfort. Yes, it’s fine to have the occasional itchy outfit for photos, but the clothing that your baby wears should be breathable and comfy most of the time.

Brands like Hanna Andersson use organic cotton which should help the baby stay comfortable without overheating, even in warm pajamas.

Helpful Baby Products

You probably already have the basics for your baby, but there are a few items that people won’t tell you about that can make a big difference.

We recommend getting a white noise machine. Not only will this affordable little device help your baby sleep, but it can also help you sleep if you’re struggling to keep your eyes shut at night.

Look for baby swings that are appropriate for newborns. They mimic the sound and feel of the mother’s womb which should lull the baby to sleep.

Get a wrap for the baby. Parents can keep the baby close while completing their daily tasks. These wraps are also great for keeping the baby warm.

As long as you have a good back and good joints, consider skipping the changing table. Many parents discover that they end up changing their baby on the floor more often than not. Instead, get a bag with a built-in changing mat so you can change the baby wherever you go (quick tip: it will usually be on your living room floor).

Accept Help and Take a Break

No parent should have to do everything alone. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, turn to your support group for help.

If you need a nap or even a half-hour to yourself for a shower, see if anyone would be willing to come over and watch the baby. You’ll find that many people enjoy taking care of babies short-term.

You’re allowed to take a break from parenting. You’re not a bad parent if you need to offload your infant onto a friend, family member, or even babysitter for a brief period of time.

First Time Parents: Don’t Panic

All first time parents are nervous. You’re bringing a brand new person into your home! It’s normal to experience anxiety and fear.

Use these tips and your own instincts and you’ll be fine. Yes, you’ll make mistakes, but as long as your baby is happy and healthy, you’re doing a good enough job.

For more helpful articles all about parenting and more, visit the rest of the site.

Jeff Campbell