Some Parenting Tips For The First-Time Parent

Medically reviewed by April Brewer , DBH, LPC
Updated December 8, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Being a first-time parent can be a joyful yet nerve-wracking and overwhelming experience. It can be important to remember that parenting advice generally isn’t one-size-fits-all and that everyone’s experiences as a parent can vary. You may find it helpful to manage your expectations, establish a support system, communicate regularly with your parenting partner (if you have one), care for your physical health, and expect continuous learning. A therapist, whether in person or online, can help you through any doubts or concerns you may have.


Advice For New Parents

Perhaps the most important thing to know as a first-time parent is that being one may not always be easy. The unrealistic expectations that society often places on parents may only increase the feelings of inadequacy and isolation that modern parents can face. Raising children can be a challenge for all parents, so keep in mind that you are not alone.

New parents usually experience many emotions after bringing home their first child. Joy and excitement can be common, as can feelings of fatigue and frustration.

It can be vital to understand that there is generally no one “correct” way to feel. Caring for a child can be an evolving process that will likely produce many opportunities to experience a range of emotions. 

Some of the advice below is more focused on the adjustments associated with bringing a new child home, but you’ll find that much of it applies to coping with the stressors of parenthood in general. Some parents may experience feelings of frustration upon using the advice they’ve been given, only to find it doesn’t work for them. It may be essential to remember that there are generally no absolutes when it comes to parenting advice. What works for one parent may not work for you and your child. 

It can be beneficial to seek help and advice from a range of resources for parenting, including healthcare and mental health professionals.


Manage Your Expectations 

Some new parents can underestimate the ways in which their child’s needs will impact their daily lives. They may also underestimate the adjustments they will need to make to accommodate their baby’s needs. You may find that your old routines are no longer sustainable, or that you need to shift your work habits. You may have less free time to enjoy hobbies or socialize. These scenarios can be common for new parents, so anticipating them realistically may help you later.

Expectations may also extend to how you behave after the child comes home. For instance, new parents may expect to keep their home in immaculate condition while working full-time and taking care of a baby. Attempting to keep up with an overextended workload may not only be unrealistic, but it may also lead to parental burnout. Acknowledging your limits as you juggle various roles can be one way to practice self-care. 

Many first-time parents also underestimate the cost of caring for a child. It can be helpful to assess your budget and spending behaviors prior to the baby’s arrival and make a new budget that includes the increased costs of taking care of your child. 

Establish A Support System

Support from friends, family, community, and healthcare providers can be vital for new parents. There are many ways your support system can help you adjust to your new role and continue to help after you’ve assimilated into parenthood. For example, you can ask for their assistance with cooking, cleaning, and running errands, including taking you and your child to doctor’s appointments. 

In addition to helping with practical tasks, your support system may aid you in other areas of your life. For example, you might ask a friend to babysit so that you can enjoy a date night with your partner.  You may find relief in socializing, playing team sports, or slowly easing back into the activities you liked to do before becoming a parent. In general, you need not lose your sense of self to be a better parent.


Communicate Regularly With Your Parenting Partner

Open and honest communication about expenses, work obligations, household tasks, and personal difficulties can provide a foundation of confidence and trust between you and your parenting partner, if you have one. Effective communication may be challenging at times, especially when paired with difficulties like sleep deprivation and added stress from work. It may take you some time to learn how to productively discuss these topics, especially if they’re uncomfortable to address, even under ordinary circumstances. Navigating these discussions can become easier when both people practice a willingness to listen and empathize. 

Care For Your Physical Health

Studies show there can be a clear connection between our physical and mental health, which may be why caring for both is often essential to our overall well-being. New parents frequently face sleep interruptions, physiological changes associated with giving birth, and neglected nutrition and exercise due to changes in daily routines. 

One way to cultivate physical well-being may be by seeking support from others. For instance, asking a close friend or relative to temporarily help with your newborn’s nighttime feedings and diaper changes can give you a few nights of uninterrupted rest. You could also ask for their assistance in preparing healthy meals throughout the week. In addition to daily self-care, it can be crucial to keep up with any doctor or other healthcare appointments. 

Expect Continuous Learning

Every parent may make mistakes, and perfection isn’t always necessary to be a good parent. For some people, growing as a parent can mean accepting that developing confidence will likely take time. An open attitude toward learning through mistakes is perhaps one of the best ways to strengthen parenting abilities. 

Consider Seeking Support Through Therapy

Reaching out for help and support from friends, family, community, and your child’s healthcare provider can be integral for cultivating a sense of confidence as a parent. Many people also seek the insight of a therapist while adapting to life as a new parent. A therapist can provide you with tools to process and cope with the complex emotions that arise during parenting.

Benefits Of Online Therapy

For many new parents, in-person visits with a psychologist aren’t feasible. Time constraints, feeding and naptime schedules, and physical and mental exhaustion may be just a few of the barriers to therapy that some new parents face. Online therapy generally offers the flexibility to get help on your schedule from any location with an internet connection. 

Effectiveness Of Online Therapy

A 2019 study reported that online interventions for new parents may be effective in enhancing parental bonding, parental satisfaction, and perceived social support. This study joins a growing body of evidence suggesting that online and in-person therapy tend to be similarly effective.


Learning to care for your child may be a process that unfolds each day. It can be helpful to accept that no parent is perfect, and that reaching out for support from loved ones and healthcare professionals can have a positive impact on both you and your child’s well-being. New parenthood can bring with it intense joy and awe, as well as self-doubt and stress. If you find yourself experiencing a sense of overwhelm, a licensed therapist can provide guidance and tools for navigating the challenges of new parenthood.

Explore the complexities of parenting in therapy

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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