As any experienced parent will tell you, being a new parent is hard. It might be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. But raising a child will also be the most rewarding thing you ever do, so don’t let the hard days (and nights) get you down.
The good news about being a new parent is that anyone who has ever had a child understands and has been through it. That means that there is a wealth of information available to help you not just make it through but enjoy the new parent stage. That’s why we’ve compiled the best tips from parents who have been through it. Hopefully, these tips from experienced parents will help you gain confidence and find more joy in the parenting journey.
It’s hard to mess up
The number one thing to remember is that it’s hard to mess up parenting, especially when it comes to babies. Babies need food, sleep, diaper changes, baths, and love. If you’re providing these things for your child in their first years, you’re doing a great job!
You’ll hear advice from everyone you know and even people you don’t, but you shouldn’t feel like a failure if you don’t apply all of it. And you shouldn’t feel like a failure if you do apply it and it doesn’t work. All babies and parents are different, so trust your instincts and do what you think is best for your baby. This will help them learn, grow, and feel loved, and it will help you to not feel overwhelmed.
Something else to remember is that parenting is like everything else in life: There will always be people who look like they are great at it. There will always be people who tell you you’re doing it wrong or that you need to improve. So you’ve chosen not to breastfeed, or you have chosen to let your child “cry it out” at night so you can get some much-needed sleep. That’s great! It doesn’t mean that you’re a worse parent than someone who breastfeeds or uses a different sleep training method.
Don’t compare yourself to these ‘perfect parents,’ or tell yourself that you’re not doing a good job. Nobody’s perfect, but if you’re doing your best, that’s what counts. What a baby needs most is love. If you’re providing that, you’re winning at parenting.
You also shouldn’t compare your baby to other babies you know. Babies are just like adults: We’re all different. Don’t get discouraged if your child takes a bit longer to say their first word or learn how to walk when compared to your friend’s child. Just because one child walks at 10 months, and another at 13 doesn’t mean one will be smarter or more healthy later in life. What’s considered “normal development” spans a big range, so there’s no need to compare your child to other children of the exact same age.
Rely on your partner
If you and your partner are raising your child together, then rely on them! This is especially true for moms. Let your partner take care of tasks such as bathing, changing diapers, and encouraging tummy time. Leave your baby alone with your partner whenever you need a break.
Make sure you communicate with your partner as well. Make a plan for who will handle feedings and other regular responsibilities that come with having a small baby. This can help both of you bond with your baby and keep one partner from feeling overwhelmed.
Just like it’s important to rely on your partner, it’s also important and totally okay to accept help from the other supportive adults in your life. The first year is the toughest as a parent, and your friends and family understand that you’ll need support.
Take them up on their offers to help with household chores, taking care of the baby, and especially babysitting. While you love your child, you and your partner need time alone and time with each other. If someone offers to hold your baby while you throw in a load of laundry or change your baby’s diaper and play with them while you take a shower, accept that help. Getting a few minutes alone while someone you trust is watching your child can help you mentally and emotionally.
And if someone offers to babysit so you and your partner can have a night out. Accept that offer. You should never feel guilty about taking time for your relationship. You need to spend time on your relationship, and you owe that to your child.
Find other parenting friends
You’re not in this alone! Spend time with friends who have babies. Swap crazy stories, laugh about the funny things your babies do and get advice from them. Even if your friends don’t have kids, there are plenty of parenting groups you can find both online and in your community. Having this type of support group can really help you deal with the ups and downs of parenthood.
Know that nursing can be tough
This one is for the moms out there. While it may seem completely natural, don’t get frustrated if breastfeeding is difficult for you. It isn’t just you; it’s tough for most moms. The good news is that there are so many resources! Find a lactation consultant you trust before your baby is born to help you figure it out.
You should also know that breastfeeding gets easier once you and your baby figure it out. If you can make it through the first month or two, it usually gets easier after that.
It gets easier
The first few months of parenthood are tough and exhausting, and if you are the one who gave birth, you’re also dealing with the healing process on top of taking care of a new baby. Just know that it gets easier! While the first month will probably feel long, and the first two-three months may feel the same way, pretty soon your baby will start smiling and laughing at you. The older your baby gets, the more they’ll interact with you, and the less they’ll need to be constantly held. Time will begin to speed up, and it will only go more quickly the older they get.
So enjoy the moments you have with your baby, and bond with them whenever possible. The time will eventually go faster and faster, and you’ll happily remember their first smile, their first laugh, and so many other important moments.