Becoming a parent can be a scary thing for some and exciting for others. No matter what end of the spectrum you are on, it will be the experience of a lifetime. Lately, my friends have been having kids left and right; as an experienced mother of four, that means my phone has been buzzing for some assistance. I never mind giving tips, if it is something I have been through---but with my oldest now old enough to babysit for family friends, I am happy to say that my pacifier and potty training days are behind me. In other words, advice is pretty much all I can give 'em!
Here are some great tips to help any new parent enjoy the first couple of years of their new child.
1) Mom Can't Do It All Alone (Nor Should She)- Didn't the Mr. partake in creating this little one? Well, then he can and should take care of the little one, too. Create a schedule of taking turns: One parent gets up to feed the baby one night, and the next day the other parent takes her turn. Moms, you are not the only one who should be sleep deprived! Also, changing diapers shouldn't be a one parent scenario, everyone should get their fair share those poopy things! It sounds silly, but it is good for both parents to take part in these activities so they both interact consistently with the baby and don't burden one with all the hard work. I give more tips on how to create a balance like this in my book, The Day I Took Off My Cape.
2) Call For Help-It is so important that you have people who you trust around you while you adjust to your new role. If it is a family member, a friend or a nanny/babysitter, all parents need a break from time to time. Going to a quick dinner and a movie can mean the world to new parents. As baby gets older, a brief adult(s)-only vacation to break up the monotony is another good way to refresh yourselves to continue enjoying your new role in life. In order to give, you must have something to give...don't wait until you are fully depleted and walking around irritated to take a break to refresh oneself. We all need it and new parents, even more so.
3) Get Outside-Once your ob-gyn and pediatrician give you the green light, mom and baby need to start walking. This will be great exercise for parents and it will be great for baby. Join a 'Mommy and Me' group where you can take your little one to be around other babies. This will keep your child active (which can help them rest better and longer) and it also gives parents the opportunity to share their experiences with other moms, dads and caregivers.
4) Embrace Constant Change: Babies are very unpredictable and their sleeping habits may change on you in the blink of an eye. Same for their eating routines. Growing little ones, especially during a rapid growth spurt, may want to eat more and sometimes, for longer periods of time. Also, don't be surprised if your little angel becomes fussy at some point. Always be prepared. Learn what soothes your little one to calmness and/or sleep. When they start polishing off that bottle and then wanting more, begin to add an ounce more of formula/breast milk until they are satisfied. Fussy babies usually have a reason for their griping; if it is gas, talk to your pediatrician about changing their formula. You have to think on your feet constantly. If you weren't on your P's and Q's before baby, you will be shortly...unless you like the sound of loud cries in the background.
5) Trust Your Inner Parent: Yes, that little voice inside of you has some valuable things to say. I don't know what happens when you become a parent, but it's like a switch goes off and you know your child better than anyone else you've ever met, purely based on instinct. You can read all the books, get advice from family and expeets...and all of this information will help guide some of your decisions. However, at the end of the day, you do know best and you have to trust that when you have your child's best interest at heart.