7 Pieces of Advice for New Parents Bringing Home a Newborn
Becoming a parent is a daunting experience: Moms and Dads have just been through the physical and emotional traumas of labor, delivery, and are now responsible for a little, completely helpless and dependent human being. For whatever reason, the hospital doesn’t give an instruction manual on how to take care of a newborn, and now parents are navigating without a road map while also attempting to take care of themselves. A little advice for new parents can go a long way, even if it’s just words of encouragement that you’re not alone.
Seven newborn tips for parents bringing a first child home from the hospital:
1. Get Help After Birth
New parents may or may not be ready for visitors to lend a hand when they get home from the hospital. It’s useful to remember that help comes in many forms, whether family members dropping off meals, a weekly hired cleaning service, or asking an available family member to come sit with the baby for a few hours to make naps possible.
Acknowledge in advance that the challenges of new parenting don’t have to be done alone. Get comfortable asking for help, even if it’s something minor like having someone pick up groceries. Little tasks add up. To help make the transition into parenthood much smoother and less exhausting get comfortable with the ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ mantra.
2. Plan for Bonding Time
It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day tasks of washing baby clothes and bottles, trying to handle housework, cooking, and all the other little things life requires. That’s why it’s important to carve out specific time for bonding with the baby. Enjoy skin-to-skin time, read books aloud, sing, and get as many snuggles as possible. The days may seem long now, but the years are short. Try to savor every moment possible with the little one.
3. Don’t Force a Sleep Schedule
Many parents are eager to get their babies on a sleep schedule, largely because they want to get back on their own sleep schedule. That’s perfectly reasonable, but it should be known that sleep isn’t something that can be forced. No amount of praying, patting, feeding, singing, or white noise will make a baby sleep if they do not want to.
Every baby is different, so don’t feel guilty or inferior if a baby doesn’t sleep when the parent wants him or her to. Instead, try to introduce good sleep habits for their age as early as possible. Focus on identifying things that help the baby sleep well, then be consistent with those things as a developing sleep practice.
4. Trust Your Gut
When a baby is sick or acting differently, it’s hard to know exactly what’s wrong since they can’t articulate it themselves. Even pediatricians may offer guesses or estimates day to day. Parents should learn to trust a gut feeling when they think something might be off with their child. It could be nothing, but it’s hard to put a price on peace of mind, especially when it comes to a newborn or very young child. This sound advice for new parents can help when there is not much energy or attention to spare for overthinking.
5. Put Yourself in Time Out
Some days as a parent are harder than others, and this will be one of the hardest jobs many have ever had. When parents start feeling stressed or frustrated, pushing pause on everything to take a time out is helpful to reset the mind and energy. A parental time out can be used to clear the mind, vent feelings, release tension, or take part in a lost hobby. Unclenching the jaw, taking a deep breath, and going back into mom or dad-mode with a clearer mind after a brief reset will be more effective than white-knuckling it through every single minute. Parents can’t pour from an empty cup, and a baby needs its parents to be confident and competent. Developing a mindfulness practice or daily self-investment time is a good way to make a parental time out happen.
When a baby has a major diaper blowout all over the crib, try to laugh.
When they spit out the delicious pureed carrots just prepared for them, laugh. When they smear those carrots all over their high chair tray and face, laugh.
Laughter truly is the best medicine, and no matter how frustrated a parent is feeling, it can help dissipate those feelings quickly and build a bond with the child. This helps parents feel less stressed over life’s little inconveniences and puts everything into a gratitude perspective.
7. Don’t Obsess Over Cleanliness
The sheer thought of a baby eating dirt or something they found on the floor is the new parent horror story. Be mindful but not obsessive over the items and surfaces around a little one. But rest assured that germs are (to an extent) actually good for a baby because that’s how they build immunity. They need to introduce bacteria into their body so they can become healthy and strong.
That’s not to say parents should feed spoonfuls of dirt and under-the-couch-cushion Cheerios to their kids, rather if they drop their pacifier on the floor or happen to get a quick sip out of the dog’s water dish, don’t panic! Try to find the silver lining in that the baby will be all the better for these (hopefully) few and far between moments. Keep the home tidy enough and welcome it as part of the grand adventure of parenthood. As they get more mobile the cleanliness challenges will become more daunting.
The Best Advice for New Parents
Perhaps the biggest lesson for new parents to learn is that things will get easier. Experience comes with time, and each day brings new opportunities to learn and grow alongside a child that will allow both parents and kids to thrive.
Being a new parent can be overwhelming and emotional, especially when getting tons of input, advice, and feedback from others (whether invited or not). The best advice for new parents the Lux.Baby team can recommend is to simply do things one day at a time. Do what’s right for you and your family. This is a short season in life, so find a way to enjoy every day.