Some Tips For The First-Time Parent
Updated July 20, 2021
When you’re going to be a parent for the very first time, it is understandably a scary process. You’re constantly looking online for insight into what people think is good vs. bad. You’re reading all the books, and reading every piece of advice that websites have to give.
And there are so many different styles out there: helicopter parenting, attachment parenting. How can you possibly know which of these types of parenting best fits you and your lifestyle until you’re in the situation?
The first thing you should know as a parent is that you don’t know what you’re going to do until you’re in the situation yourself. You can say until the cows come home that helicopter parenting is not the right style for you, that you’ll never let your kid co-sleep or watch television, and that you’ll always feed them the best food.
But the truth is, every child is different, and every parent is different. While certain skills work for one person, they might not necessarily work for another person – and that’s okay! The key is discovering what works best for you and your child, and if that means going against what you always thought you would do as a parent, so be it…and everyone does it with at least one thing or another.
Advice For New Caretakers Of Newborns
Parenting a newborn can be a terrifying experience. You may be thinking how overwhelming it is to be 100 percent responsible for this little person who cannot do a thing for themselves but doesn’t look at it that way. That’s the surest way to paralyze yourself, and it’s not necessary.
Before you know it, you and your baby will fall into a daily routine that works best for you. At first it can be scary, but once you’re in the habit every day of feeding them over and over again, it becomes less of an obligation and more a duty of love and devotion.
Yes, they're solely dependent on you as their parent, but that’s not what becomes important. What does become important are those moments you share when you bond over watching them try new foods, and then spit them out all over you. Or when they become a toddler, and you can enjoy family dinners around the kitchen table. As it is in many cultures, food becomes a joy the two of you can share together. Yes, we need it to survive, but how many of us even think of food that way as an adult?
Something important to remember, too, is that parents who seek out help as first-time parents tend to feel less overwhelmed. Don’t try to take on everything yourself, and don’t feel like a failure if you can’t. They don’t say “it takes a village to raise a child” for nothing! Raising a kid is hard work, and you can ask for help when you need it.
Here’s a great tip for breastfeeding mothers: you will thank your past self a hundred times over if you prepare in advance for a feeding. Make sure you pee first and grab your phone so that it’s within reach. Some moms have marathon feeders who then fall asleep, and then they're paralyzed with nothing to do out of fear of waking the baby. You may want to grab a book to read, but if the baby is lying on your arm (and chances are they will be) then a magazine that you can flip with one hand is probably easier.
Don’t forget to grab yourself a drink to stay hydrated, so you can keep making that precious milk, and a snack if you think you might get hungry, and you suspect the feeding session will go on for a while. And if you are a parent who's partner is breastfeeding– offer support constantly!
Everyone knows that when you’re the parent of a newborn – and, for many parents, this extends until the child is at least a teenager – the desire for uninterrupted sleep becomes a yearning we never knew we could feel so strongly. However, you will do much better with losing sleep once you accept the fact that yes, you will lose sleep. Being angry or stressed out about it only makes it worse.
For working parents, going back to work on three hours sleep a day is something we never thought we could do, or at least haven’t done since we pulled an all-nighter going to parties in our younger days. Everyone finds a way to survive it, though. If you’re not breastfeeding, grab yourself an extra-large coffee to help you slog through it. If you are breastfeeding, ask your partner or a family member to help out so that when you get home, you can take that well-deserved nap.
And the parenting adage of “sleep when the baby sleeps” cannot be stressed enough. It’s so important that you put your old hang-ups aside about going to bed at 6:00 at night, only to be up again at 10:00, or taking several naps throughout the day. You will feel infinitely more well-rested if you sleep when the baby sleeps than if you decide to tough it out and just go to bed early or on time.
Your baby is more than likely not on the same schedule you are, unless you are incredibly lucky, so if you force yourself to go to bed at, say, 9:00, and your baby wants to eat at 10:00, you’re going to have a much harder time convincing yourself to get up. And it will be all the more frustrating for you if the baby happens to have a witching hour when you’ve already gotten an hour of sleep, and your body is yearning for more.
Something else important to know as a parent of a baby: you don’t have to be quiet just because the baby is sleeping. In fact, you’ll thank yourself if you aren’t. Don’t forget it’s noisy in the womb, too – they could hear everything that’s going on outside your body, so why quiet down now?
Go about your daily business, and do what you need to get done while the baby sleeps. Vacuum the house – yes, including the baby’s room. Get the dishes done. Make that phone call you’ve meant to make. Not only will you feel relieved that you were able to get your tasks done, but you are doing a world of good for your baby who will be able to sleep through the noise as they get older, rather than needing total quiet to sleep, which may not always be possible.
Don’t Worry About Your Weight
When you’re a new birth parent, the last thing you should be worrying about is losing the baby weight right away. Your day will come. Right now, making sure you are healthy so that you can take care of your baby, and making sure that your baby is happy and healthy, are your two top priorities.
Once that day finally comes, and your baby has matured to the point where you can start taking back some moments for yourself (usually during mid-toddlerhood), that’s when you can focus on losing the weight. And remember, with the pregnancy and the parenting that you have been focusing on, during that time you have been getting older. And getting older usually makes it all the more difficult to lose weight.
Experts recommend that you remember that it took you around 40 weeks to gain the baby weight, so expect for it to take just as long to lose it. Don’t get frustrated if you haven’t met your ideal weight within three months. Sometimes, when you’re stressing out over dealing with tantrums all day, you’re going to want to splurge for those cookies or that piece of cake, and that’s okay.
As long as you are persistent and consistent during the other days of the week, you will eventually see the pounds fall off. You just have to keep at it and don’t let yourself become discouraged. It may take longer than you initially hoped, but it will happen. Don’t lose the faith.
Are you a first-time parent who is looking for more advice? Consider reaching out to one of our counselors at BetterHelp for more information.
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