10 Must-Know Tips For First-Time Parents
You're having a baby, thinking about having one or your little one is finally here. Whatever stage you are at, congratulations.
Being a new parent is exciting, worrying and amazing all in one and if the thought of looking after a child 24/7 scares the hell out of you don't worry, everyone has been in your position and no one knows what they are doing, but no one tells you that. If it was as hard as everyone makes it the entire human race wouldn't exist.
Billions of people have raised children successfully and you will too. In the meantime here are 10 must-know tips for first-time parents.
1) Sleep when your baby sleeps.
You may have been told this a thousand times already, but the advice is sound. Your baby won't be in a routine to start with so make sure to sleep as much and often as you can because you will be up at all times of the day.
When my baby was born I didn't take this advice on board and I would wait until I was tired to sleep, then my baby would wake up at the exact time I was ready to drift off.
2) Babies cry, get used to it.
Babies cry. Even the best babies in the world cry. They do so to let you know that something is wrong or they need something. I was given the following advice by a friend: "looking after a baby is easy, when they cry they either want food, to be changed or they're tired". I wouldn't say looking after a baby is easy, but the other part of the quote is true (your baby could also be teething).
If you don't know what your baby needs, check their nappy or change it, try them with a bottle or breast and then finally try rocking them to sleep, it will be one of the above 99% of the time.
3) Declutter your home, your sanity will thank you for it.
Babies take up your entire house. I had 2 spare bedrooms before having a baby and I thought that would be enough, but I was wrong. If you start running out of room you will need to either get rid of your valuables or invest in self storage units.
I'd recommend the later as when your baby is old enough and you can get rid of some of their toys and equipment that they no longer need you can get your household items back from storage.
Having a cluttered home with a baby is damaging to your state of mind. By getting rid of the clutter your home will seem cleaner for longer which is great because you won't have much time to clean in the first few weeks.
4) Give your body time to recover.
Many mothers feel they have to be doing everything right away, but they shouldn't as they just gave birth and even in normal deliveries it can still be taxing on the body.
There is no shame in getting others to help you, even if it's to look after your baby for an hour while you nap in another room. The quicker you can recover the better you will be able to look after your newborn.
5) Leave the house.
Leaving the house for the first time with a newborn can seem like a daunting experience but the sooner you get it done the better. The longer you leave it the more difficult you are going to find it.
One tip I would give when leaving home for the first few weeks is to make a checklist to make sure you have everything you need. This could be a spare outfit, nappies, wipes, baby changing bags, formula if your bottle feeding, a flask for hot water, a flask for cold water and anything else you can think of.
A checklist is something I swear by and I wouldn't leave the home without checking one.
6) Move your baby when sleeping.
Babies tend to have a favourite side of their head to sleep on and because their skull is so soft it can dent and misshapen their head if they are left on one side of their head for too long.
If you notice your baby laying on the one side to often make sure to change their head position when the baby is sleeping otherwise they could develop "flat head syndrome" which is very costly to fix.
7) Accept help from family and friends.
I've already covered this slightly in the recovery section, but I'll stress it again, being a new parent is a daunting task and if any other family members can help out then be sure to accept it.
Help can come in many forms, it could be advice, it could be looking after the baby for an hour or it could be something as simple as bringing you a hot meal. Don't feel too proud to reject help, everyone needs it one point or another.
8) Forget the cleaning for now.
I'll keep this point simple. Don't worry about cleaning your home or worry about cleaning up for guests. During your first few weeks as a parent all you will have to concentrate on is making sure your baby is happy and healthy, and one more thing, guests can make their own drinks when visiting too.
9) Don't ignore the baby blues.
Not everyone gets the baby blues, I didn't but one of my closest friends did and she felt terrible about admitting it. Feeling like you can't cope is a terrible feeling, but it doesn't make you a bad parent. Don't worry too much, the baby blues will pass, it's just your hormones balancing out.
10) Get some "you time"
Leaving home for the first time without my baby was a weird feeling, but it was also rejuvenating. Just because you're a parent it doesn't mean that you have to stop having some time to yourself. An hour here and there on your own will make a huge difference to your mental health.