Bringing a new bundle of joy into your home is exciting, but any parent can tell you that it’s also scary (especially if this is your first time taking care of a baby). Whether you’re adopting, bringing in a foster child, or having a biological baby, you’re now responsible for making sure that this infant is happy and healthy.
Don’t worry. First-time parents always feel unprepared, but we’re here to help with a few tips. Keep reading to learn all about a few quick tips for caring for a baby.
1. Take Advice With a Grain of Salt
First and foremost (and this might seem ironic): take any and all parenting advice that people (or magazines) give you with a grain of salt. You’re going to be given a lot of unsolicited advice from people who think that they know best, but not all of it is going to work for you.
When it comes to babies, everyone thinks that they’re an expert. Most of the time they have good intentions, but plenty of advice is bad advice. It might be outdated, ineffective, or even downright wrong.
When it comes to receiving advice that you didn’t ask for, you can be gracious without accepting it at face value. Try to ignore criticisms about your parenting unless you’re harming your baby.
2. Learn Your Baby’s Behavior
During the first few months of your baby’s life, you’ll start to see their “personality.” All babies are different, and while there are general “rules” that each baby follows, there are exceptions.
Some infants will have sleep schedules that all parents dream of. They wake up at acceptable times, they eat, and they go back to sleep right away. Other babies are up and down all night driving their parents mad.
You’ll learn how to identify your baby’s cries if you pay attention. Cries may vary based on what the baby needs. For example, a diaper change cry may sound different from a hunger cry.
You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your baby, so take advantage of it by learning their habits.
3. Baby Clothing: What to Do
Baby clothing is going to infest your home from the time that you announce that you’re bringing a new baby in. Your closets will be full of it. You’ll have hampers overstuffed with clothing.
When it comes to brand new babies, keep it simple. People will gift you plenty of clothing before you ask.
Avoid over-spending on basics. Onesies are essential during your baby’s first year of life, and you’re going to go through a lot of them. Not only is your baby messy during this stage, but they’re also growing nonstop.
You should thrift as many of these basics as you can.
When it comes to more expensive clothing, wait until the baby’s growth slows down. Pick comfortable items that won’t irritate the baby’s skin. You want to pick breathable materials, like cotton.
Some brands (like Hanna Andersson) prioritize function while others prioritize fashion. It’s okay to have some of both in your baby’s wardrobe, but function is more important.
Remember the importance of ease and accessibility. Your baby is going to go through a dozen diapers per day at first, and you want diaper changes to be a breeze. Snaps and easy-slip outfits will be a live-saver.
4. Accept Help
No one ever said that parenting an infant was going to be easy. New parents are often exhausted and overwhelmed, but they also often resist help. Don’t do this.
It’s okay to take time away for yourself every once in a while. If you have a strong support network of friends or family members, it’s likely that at least one of them will want to take care of your baby from time to time.
The most important thing is that your baby is safe and cared for. As long as you leave all of the baby’s essential items with the person who is caring for them, you’re still being a responsible parent.
Even having a helper around for an hour while you nap or shower can make a huge difference.
5. How Gentle Is Gentle Enough?
Your baby is fragile, but not as fragile as you think.
Newborns need you to support their heads when you carry them. Their heads are too heavy. Cradling often comes naturally to new parents, but if you’re unsure, don’t be afraid to talk to other parents for advice.
Babies have delicate skin, so make sure that there’s nothing abrasive in their environment. You also want to keep it as clean as possible because their immune systems are still developing.
Otherwise, you don’t have to be too careful with your newborn. Current parents will tell you that it’s more than appropriate to put your baby in a wrap or Baby Bjorn and carry them with you while you go about tasks.
6. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
It’s normal to have anxiety about your baby and caregiving abilities when you have a newborn but learn how to relax as best as possible. You’re going to make mistakes, but that’s normal.
If you do something “wrong” that’s relatively inconsequential, it’s okay. Your priority is keeping your baby happy and healthy. Everything else is secondary.
Babies will scare and surprise you. Take those surprises in stride and keep moving forward and learning.
Remember, billions of people have done this already and billions of babies have grown into healthy adults. The odds are in your favor.
Taking Care of a Baby Is a Challenge (But a Good One)
You’re more than capable of taking care of a baby. It’s scary, but once you create a routine and get used to having your tiny new friend in your home, you’ll wonder why you were so scared in the first place.
Use these tips and your own instincts and you’re sure to keep your baby (and yourself) safe and happy.
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