Best Advice for New Parents – 10 Tips

10 Top tips and advice for new parents, from safety advice, to trusting your instinct, seeking help when needed and not buying ALL THE STUFF!

Introduction

Discovering you’re going to be first time parents can be a scary, overwhelming time! There is so much advice out there but also lots of differing opinions on raising children, what to do in the first few weeks and what stuff you need! Well, I have broken it down into ten top tips for new parents. Just the important stuff. No doubt you will have friends and family offering their best advice but it can all get too much sometimes. I have offered advice to many of my friends and family members after raising my son (now 12 yo), and after more than 20 years in the early childhood industry.

Best Advice for New Parents – 10 Tips

1. Safety first!

It’s vital to put the safety of your newborn baby first! This means making it your business to research what the recommendations are regarding safety in all different scenarios. Some examples include:

  • Safe sleep recommendations (you can read my article HERE on keeping your baby safe at sleep time). Red Nose has a wealth of information regarding the most important ways to keep your sleeping baby safe, such as keeping them on a flat surface, placing them to sleep on their back, not allowing any cigarette smoke around your baby, and ensuring they don’t overheat etc)
  • Never shake a baby – parents can get frustrated and sleep deprivation along with a wakeful, crying baby can lead to dangerous situations or poor decision making. It’s important to understand that shaking a baby can cause permanent brain damage or death.
  • Car safety – make sure your baby is rear-facing for the first 6-12 months and have an appropriate car seat professionally installed.
  • Ensure your baby is never exposed to cigarette smoke as this is very harmful to their immature lungs.
  • Feeding and sterilising – seek advice based on the method in which you choose to feed your baby. Whether breastfeeding or bottle feeding, it’s important to do it safely so that you’re aware of the potential for contamination or infection by bottles or equipment that may not have been sterilised appropriately or milk that has not been warmed in the correct way or to the correct temperature.
advice for new parents
There is so much information out there on parenting and so many people probably willing to give you advice. Try not to get overwhelmed. Take one day at a time and trust your instincts as a parent.

2. Trust your gut!

A mother’s instinct is a real thing.

Yes, as a new parent it’s normal to feel unsure and question your decisions, but one thing is for sure; nobody knows your baby better than you do! As you and your baby get to know each other, you will start to learn what is normal for them, for their behaviour and feeding and sleeping habits, and also, what may not be normal. This will allow you to better use your instinct and intuition when it comes to identifying something abnormal for them, or cues that they may be unwell.

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A personal story of when I used my gut instinct when my son Andy was a baby:

When my son Andy was 12 weeks old and still fully breastfed, he woke up one morning and he was a bit grizzly and unsettled. Yes, this can be normal for some babies but my instinct immediately was that something wasn’t right. He didn’t usually wake up unsettled first thing in the morning. I took his temperature and he had a fever of 38.4deg C so I gave him some baby Panadol and monitored him. There were no cold or flu symptoms at all, no rash, no upset stomach, but something wasn’t right. The Panadol took the fever down but after a few hours and a sleep, the fever returned. I called my doctor over the phone who suggested I take him straight to the hospital. Andy’s father thought it was unnecessary and thought I was overreacting to a low-grade fever. I disagreed and took Andy to the hospital.

After several tests, Andy was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection as well as kidney reflux and a left kidney that was not functioning as it should. He was put on IV antibiotics immediately and hospitalised for a week with many follow up tests.

Andy has his kidneys assessed every year and will always have one kidney that does not function at 100%. This kidney is also scarred from that serious infection at 3 months old.

Trusting my instinct that day gave me confidence in myself as a mother and in my ability to advocate for my son and for his wellbeing.

This is not something that can be taught. It is simply a mother’s (or a parent’s) intuition. A gut instinct telling you something. Learn to trust it.

3. You don’t need to buy everything!

Yes, you will need stuff. But you don’t need ALL the stuff! And you certainly don’t need it all right away.

Make a list of what you will need straight away. For example:

  • An approved, properly fitted car seat
  • Some outfits for a newborn
  • A bed (cot or bassinette)
  • Linen for the bed
  • Bottles, steriliser, bottle warmer, breast pump
  • Muslin wraps, burp cloths, sleeping bags
  • Nappies and baby wipes
  • Baby monitor
  • Baby bath wash, baby oil or moisturiser, nappy rash cream

You may want to add to that list but those are some basics. Don’t forget to also pack the Hospital Bag nice and early too! I have a Hospital Bag Ultimate List HERE.

Some things you will need for LATER, but not right away might include:

  • Baby toys and books
  • High chair
  • Clothes as they grow
  • Feeding equipment (spoons, bowls, etc)
  • Playpen, walker

Don’t forget that you can shop frugally if you’re concerned about money. There are many people on Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace selling their baby items (sometimes unused), or you could even ask friends or family if you can borrow what they have.

The cost of having a baby can be high, but you can significantly reduce that cost by buying second-hand items, buying items on special or shopping around and comparing prices, or borrowing from loved ones.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! 

There’s no such thing as a perfect parent and parenting is probably the hardest (and most rewarding) thing you will ever do! There will be sleep training and sleepless nights, there will be advice and parenting tips thrown at you from all directions and an adjustment period as you get used to your new life as a parent. This can often affect a new parent’s mental health and so it is so important to know when to ask for help!

You might be seeking help from a lactation consultant for breastfeeding issues, it might be a midwife or a nurse regarding sleep time, it could be advice about your baby’s general health or it could just be that you are so sleep deprived that you need a break and a good night sleep!

Ask a professional, ask a family member, ask your partner, ask a friend! Just don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it because it will actually make you a better parent.

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Don’t forget to ask for help if you need it! It will make you a better parent!

5. Make time for bonding and getting to know your baby! 

All babies cry, all babies sleep, all babies need to be fed, need their nappy changed and need love and affection, but your baby has their own personality and it’s so important to the health of your baby and their brain development to factor in quality time for bonding, for smiles and sweet talk, for music, kisses, cuddles and love.

It’s easy to forget when you get caught up in the day to day routine of things but don’t forget to just stop once in a while. Get some fresh air with your baby, kiss your baby’s skin, enjoy the precious moments of calm and don’t lose sight of what you are doing – raising your beautiful child in the best way you know how.

6. We’re all winging it!

You don’t have to have it all figured out. As many parents will tell you, WE MAKE IT UP AS WE GO ALONG!! It’s very easy to overthink the whole parenting journey but just take it one step at a time. Don’t overthink it. Keep them alive. Love them. Trust your gut.

Talk with other parents in a mothers group/parents group if you think that will help you but just take things at your own pace and remember there is no magic formula or correct way to parent.

You’ll be making it up as you go along too.. and that’s OK!

7. Take care of your own health; physically and mentally 

Yes, as a parent, you put your baby’s needs before your own, but you also have to remember that the healthier you are as a parent, the better parent you will be. So taking care of your baby means also taking care of yourself!

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It’s easy to forget this one in the new parenthood journey but it is actually vital to your baby’s health.

  • Eat when you can, and eat healthy foods.
  • Sleep when you can! Many people have said ‘sleep when your baby sleeps’ but this is not always practical. Even if you need to ask for help from others, ensure you’re not overly sleep-deprived and exhausted.
  • Do something for YOU every day as a person, not just a mum. FYI – showers are not included. Showers are for personal hygiene. You need something else. It might be a cup of tea and a good book for 10 minutes, some music and dancing, a walk around the block, a coffee with a friend or something else. You do you. Just for a bit. Every day.
  • Talk to people. Staying home with a new baby can be very isolating at times so it’s important to talk to other adults. This could be your partner, a family member, friends or a midwife or counselor. You could even take the baby along but some adult chat is important.
advice for new parents
Remember to go with the flow in the beginning. Things can and will change so it’s important to be flexible and ready for changes in routine, changes in temperament, changes overall!

8. Go with the flow, be flexible

Things can change quickly when you’re parenting. You might think you have the routine sorted and then they start teething, or they are unwell or something else happens and all of a sudden, no more routine.

Be ready for change. Embrace change. Expect change.

It could be a routine change, a temperament change, a change in health or a medical condition.

Try not to get too set in your ways as a parent because change is inevitable. Learn to breathe and just go with it!

9. Every stage has its own challenges; it’s all temporary

It’s interesting that you hear some new parents state: “The newborn stage is the hardest – all the sleepless nights – it will pass.” Or “Newborn stage is the easiest, they just sleep and feed and they don’t move yet”. The truth is, not all babies are alike and as adults, our coping mechanisms are different too. What is hard for one parent may be a breeze for another.

Every age and stage has its unique challenges and it’s up to us as parents to guide and teach our children, as well as recognise each age as having their own set of challenges and deciding how we will face those challenges.

As a newborn, we are faced with potentially more sleep deprivation, but your baby is not mobile yet.

As a toddler, your child will be understanding more and communicating more but they will be exploring everything and probably toilet training.

As a pre-school aged child, your child may be arguing and testing boundaries but they are developing more independence.

Once you get to the teenage years, your child will be able to do most things for themselves but they still need a lot of guidance when it comes to social relationships and responsible behaviour.

The point is, it’s all temporary and every child is different. So it doesn’t mean much to hear from others their opinions on which age and stage is the hardest.

For me, the most difficult times I have had with Andy were when he was teething as a 1 year old as he was so wakeful and very unsettled for weeks on end. It was also when Andy’s father left us when Andy was 3 years old and there was a lot of change, resulting in behaviour changes and tantrums, which I was dealing with alone, while working full time.

The challenges, the stages are unique for every family. And it’s all temporary.

10. Enjoy the journey!

Take photos, take videos and treasure the special moments. The days are long but the years are short..

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As time goes on, you may look back and wonder why you ever sweat the small stuff.

Try to stop worrying and enjoy the parenting journey for what it is. There will be hard days, there will be wonderful days, but it’s all part of the journey!

Take those pics and videos, and maybe even get some printed to display!

Every now and then we just need to leave the chores undone, and stop to giggle, stop to have a cuddle, stop to smile and look in their eyes.

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Parenting is a roller coaster of a journey! Some days are very difficult, others are wonderful but don’t forget to take pics and videos along the way!

Final Words

Try not to get overwhelmed with parenting advice. Have a think about what you value and what your family values might be. There are many different parenting styles and parenting philosophies but the chances are, you will use a combination of different approaches and parenting styles as your child grows.

Hopefully, these ten tips have helped to simplify things for you and given you some things to focus on so you can prioritise.

The birth of your first baby is a precious time. Enjoy it for what it is, as well as the roller coaster journey that comes along with it.

Have you heard any great advice when it comes to tips for first time parents?

Let me know in the comments and I might even add it to my list!

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