Congratulations, you have a baby on the way! You can expect all kinds of “top-notch” parenting advice from everyone, from your mother-in-law to your next-door neighbour. Some of it will be helpful, but it’s wise to take it with a pinch of salt for the most part. Times move on, and with it, so does parenting trends and styles.
Being a first-time parent comes with its own unique set of challenges. You have to adjust to a different sleep routine, adapt to having an extra person in the house and embrace responsibility on a whole other level.
Not sure where to get started? Here are our top tips:
It takes a village
You might be familiar with the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child,” but have you ever considered what it really means?
For generations, children have been brought up surrounded by grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunties and uncles, and then by extension, close friends and their children. We learn our native culture from the heart of our families, and your newborn is no different.
Although it might irritate you that all anyone is interested in is holding your baby, it might give you an extra 2 minutes in the shower that you would struggle to get otherwise. At the same time, if you need help with laundry, cooking or washing up, all you have to do is ask.
Leave your pride at the door
Baby’s produce a lot of fluids. Everything from dribble to vomit to poo-spolsions, you name it, they’ll produce it! Where at one time you may have been house proud, your baby is your number one priority now.
So if there is paperwork building up on the side, your bins are full, or the washing up is still in the sink – you can get to it another time. Your baby will grow in a blink of an eye. Cherish each and every moment.
Take advice on the chin
We all have our own ideas about parenting. Some you will decide before your baby comes, and others will change as soon as they arrive. You can bet your bottom dollar that everyone you encounter will have their own ideas that they wish to impart to you too.
There’s no universal parenting handbook. Every choice and decision is yours, and what works for your family might not for someone else’s. So own your choices, and don’t worry about offending others in the process.
Get to know your baby
Welcoming your little one into the world is an emotional, beautiful and sometimes overwhelming experience. You might feel like you are staring at a face so familiar and yet so new that you can’t imagine life without them as soon as they are snuggled up in your arms.
Taking time to build up a relationship with your baby is so important. It allows you to understand their feeding cues, how they react to different situations and helps you to develop a bond. Whether you embrace skin on skin and breastfeeding or follow a different path, you and your baby are on this journey together. They will surprise you, but equally, they will look to you as an emotional anchor.
Establish a routine
Routines are the basic foundation of any child’s development. They help to build expectations and boundaries, as well as leave little room for surprises. Settling into life with a newborn will take time. You are getting to know eachother and are quickly adjusting to life together.
Starting off small will help establish good routines for the future. This could look like this:
- Setting a bedtime: although it doesn’t have to be concrete, having a time to aim for will help with sleep later as your child grows
- Bathtime: not only does a soak in the tub get your baby clean and fresh, but it prepares their body for bedtime. Our bodies naturally cool down in the evening, so stepping out of the bath speeds up the effect!
- Oral hygiene: from wiping gums with a soft, moist cloth to introducing a soft-bristled toothbrush, taking care of your baby’s gums and teeth is essential for good oral hygiene. As they develop, you can begin to introduce toothpaste and later move on to an electric toothbrush for kids. Just remember to focus on cleaning each tooth and supervising your child throughout the process
- Storytime: stories are part of your fabric. They help you to learn language and communication skills and open a world beyond your own understanding. Reading to your baby as early as possible will give them all the skills they need as they develop
Find time for yourself
Having a baby is a massive milestone in your life. This tiny human is dependent on you for everything from changing their nappy to breastfeeding, bottle to being placed in their cot.
Finding time for yourself becomes harder to come by, and without a supportive partner or network around you, you can quickly burn out. You feel pressure to sleep, and yet struggle to close your eyes. You feel like a stranger to your friends but also secretly want to lie down in silence as you soak in the bath.
Having a moment to yourself is beneficial for your long term emotional wellbeing and mental health. So don’t feel guilty. Embrace those moments gladly, and enjoy time with your loved ones as often as possible.
Try not to neglect your partner
Priorities shift when a baby comes along; it’s only natural, but stealing time with your partner is essential to cultivating your relationship. Dads can especially feel neglected when newborns arrive, so have a coffee while your babe sleeps, hold hands, and get lost in eachother all over again.
Get outside as much as possible
Having a brisk walk or stroll around the park does wonders for the soul. Fresh air and soaking up vitamin D rays are good for you and your baby. So make the most of it!
Becoming a first-time parent doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With the proper support and positive attitude, you’ll be ready to take on the challenge in no time. You’ve got this!