We are often asked for advice, and we have plenty! No shortage of opinions here. We were recently asked for our favorite advice specifically for new parents. Here are our responses. Share your own advice in our comments section!
Whatever your views on parenting, your approach or philosophy, make sleep a priority. It takes work to prioritize sleep – there are a lot of other exciting things to do besides sleep, so often as parents, we have to choose to forgo fun outings or activities in order to let our babies sleep. But when sleep is going well, everything else is so much easier and more enjoyable. It’s easier to make decisions you feel good about, easier to manage a fussy baby, easier to be a loving spouse, a good employee or boss when you (and your family) are well rested. Sleep is a critical part of good health, along with nutrition and exercise, so it pays to start establishing healthy sleep habits early on.
Give yourself a break the first few months. Babies need a lot of sleep, especially as newborns, and you can’t worry about bad habits the first few months. Your job as a new parent is to maximize sleep in a safe manner, and focus on establishing full feeds. You are supposed to respond to your baby, hold your baby, help comfort your baby. Don’t expect too much too soon. But do be prepared to change your behavior and habits around sleep as your baby’s sleep patterns mature at approximately four months old.
Be kind to yourself. Being a parent to an infant (even when it’s not your first) is really hard work. Everything becomes about taking care of someone else and it often feels like you – the parent – no longer matter. That makes for a few lonely months – even with the best support system in place. So, give yourself a break. If the laundry is in a heap on the floor – let it sit there until a friend or family member comes over and put them to work. Same with the dishes. If you have to eat frozen meals, take out, or plain pasta for a while until you get some help, that’s ok! Try to find time to take a shower, get out of your PJ’s and take a nap! And know that this too shall pass. The first few months are the hardest and aren’t always filled with just love and joy, but are often filled also with frustration, tears, and worry. All of that is normal! Try to have realistic expectations and don’t be afraid to ask for help – from friends, family, and professionals!