Parenting is a life-long journey. No matter how prepared you think you are, there will always be ups and downs. Whether you’re worrying about the changes to come when your child is brought home, or you’re still adjusting to your new role as parent to your little bundle of joy, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed.
If you’ve come to this article, you’re probably looking for advice for new parents (and expectant parents) in your similar situation. You’re not alone; countless other people have looked for tips for new parents at some point in their journey. Doing so doesn’t make you a bad parent. It makes you someone who wants to be the best parent possible.
Before you read this article, take a deep breath. A positive mindset and helpful advice for new parents can go a long way.
Here are 10 important things every current and future parent needs to know about raising a child:
1. Recognize that parenting is a learn-as-you-go journey.
Of all the tips for first-time parents, this can be the most crucial. Know that no person is ever fully ready to be a first-time parent. Parenting is a journey that requires patience and maturity, and many parents don’t feel like they have perfected those skills when a child is brought into their life — especially those facing an unplanned pregnancy.
When you choose to have a child, you’re not just choosing to help your child learn about and navigate the world around them. You’re also choosing to take an educational journey yourself — one in which you learn more about babies, parenthood and life than you have before.
Remember this: It’s normal to have questions and seek out parenting advice for new parents at some point in your journey. The more you look for tips for first-time parents, the better educated you will become — and the better parent you will be.
2. Take advantage of classes before and after your baby is born.
One of the best places to find helpful parenting tips for new parents is at parenting classes. If you are considering raising the child of your unplanned pregnancy, it’s a good idea to start attending these classes early on. That way, you’ll be more prepared if you decide to choose parenting over adoption.
But these classes don’t have to — and shouldn’t — end once your baby is born. The theoretical questions you had during pregnancy will become a more tangible reality when you bring your baby home, and things you never considered before will come to light. Don’t be afraid to seek out parenting advice for new parents from local classes, no matter how old your child is.
3. Don’t forget to take care of yourself.
Helpful hints for new parents don’t always revolve around the baby. While new parents should know how to take care of a baby, they should also remember to take care of themselves at the same time. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when coping with this life change and new addition, but new parents must recognize what is best for them, as well. This is even truer in situations stemming from unplanned pregnancy, when a new parent may have originally had no intentions of being a parent at all.
A stressed, unhealthy parent is of no help to a baby. Don’t abandon your own well-being in trying to anticipate and tend for your baby’s every need at once. Take the time for yourself, whether that’s finding a babysitter for a night off, treating yourself to a nice dinner, or going for a walk around the neighborhood with your sleeping baby.
4. Remember that there is no such thing as a “perfect parent.”
You’ll make mistakes as a new parent. Everyone does. What you need to make sure is that you don’t become obsessed with those mistakes in the moment.
It’s easy for other people to judge parents, especially in this modern age of social media. But, what people curate on their social feeds is not real life. Be realistic and recognize that you’re not going to get everything right the first time. Instead of beating yourself up about your mistakes, take the opportunity to learn from them and move forward in a positive manner. Your baby won’t remember the time you took 20 tries to swaddle them correctly, so don’t waste your time and energy worrying about it in the moment or after the fact.
5. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Similarly, this advice for new parents can save you a lot of wasted worry. It’s common for first-time parents to panic over normal infant acts, like vomiting and spitting up, and even deeply analyze their child’s bowel movements, sleep schedule and eating routine. However, when you worry over every little thing, you will miss out on the spontaneous moments of joy in your infant’s first year of life.
Of course, if you notice any sudden changes that could be a sign of something bigger, don’t hesitate to reach out to a medical professional. In most cases, however, your worries over the little things are just manifestations of your nerves as a first-timer.
6. Give your baby space to cry.
As a new parent, you’ll want to tend to your baby’s every need. This will mean responding every time they cry, trying to fix the situation.
Some of the best advice for new parents? Learn to let your baby cry it out. If you’ve tried everything to get your baby to be quiet, just let them be in a safe location. Babies are designed to cry, and they’ll do so even when they don’t need anything in particular. If you just console and cuddle them, rather than actively trying to solve potential problems, they’ll settle down, and you’ll be able to enjoy some peace and quiet.
7. Let your baby sleep as long as they can.
When you’re a new parent, you’ll want to do everything right. Often, advice for new parents involves keeping a set schedule to help your family adjust to your new addition. However, you have to have some degree of flexibility, especially when it comes to your baby’s sleep patterns.
If your baby sleeps longer than you expect, you may begin to worry that they will get hungry or that something is wrong. But what every parent will tell you is, “Let them sleep!” A baby will wake up when they need something; don’t jeopardize your own free time by waking them up in the middle of the night or during their nap because you feel like you have to stick to a schedule. Take advantage of their sleeping schedule and make it your own, as well.
8. Take time to appreciate your partner.
When a new baby arrives or you are preparing for a new baby, your whole life can revolve around your little bundle of joy. However, if you are co-parenting, remember that someone else is equally involved in the raising of your child — and he or she deserves your appreciation and attention.
It’s a big adjustment to go from a family of two to one of three, and your relationship can easily suffer if you don’t take steps to protect it. Some of the best parenting advice for new parents involves taking the time to be more than just parents — be spouses, as well. Find the time for a date night (or lunch). Space away from your baby is crucial to reconnecting and ensuring you are both on the same team.
9. Remember that every baby is different.
Just as you will compare yourself to other parents, it’s normal to compare your baby to what is “normal” for babies their age — but not all babies are the same.
Take any advice for new parents that you receive with a grain of salt. What works for some people may not work for your family, and that’s okay. Parenting is about learning, which includes figuring out what works best for your family and your baby.
10. Enjoy your new addition.
Finally, don’t think too much about the tips for new parents that are out there. There is no rulebook for being a perfect parent, and there are no prizes for winners. You already have the best prize — your new baby.
Above all else, take the time to enjoy your newborn. They don’t stay little forever, and you’ll find time to fly faster than you could have ever thought possible.
If you find yourself having trouble adjusting to parenting, even after you have researched tips for new parents, remember that you always have options. Contact local parenting classes and support groups, find other local parenting and family resources, or consider adoption to give your child opportunities you may not be able to provide yourself.