Advice for new parents isn’t in short supply. Books, the internet, family and friends, even total strangers, are brimming with rules, oft-changing research and cautionary tales. Preparing for parenthood should not feel like researching a PhD; you don’t need to know it all – no one does. But here are eight tips that will help make the early weeks a little easier.
1. The right kit
Becoming a parent comes with a shopping list, but you only need the basics at first. One of the best parental guidance tips is to wait to see what you will actually use before filling the house with expensive items.
However, there are a few things that are essential for the first days. The hospital won’t let you leave without an approved car seat. You should also have adequate sleeping arrangements such as a cot, crib or Moses basket, plus a sling or pushchair for out and about and nappies – lots of them.
It really doesn’t matter if the house isn’t vacuumed or you eat the odd takeaway. You will be tired, and newborns don’t need much apart from plenty of milk, sleep and cuddles, so don’t aim for much more than that early on. The important thing is for you and your baby to get to know each other.
3. Dress for comfort
The drawers may be stuffed with gorgeous little baby outfits, but in the early weeks practical items such as vests, front-fastening sleepsuits and onesies are far easier. Comfortable and soft for the baby (not to mention practical), and with the added benefit of being easy to wash. There’s nothing wrong with you spending a few days in comfy pyjamas either.
4. Think about feeding
However you are feeding your baby, it will happen often and it can take a while. Before settling down, make sure you have everything you need to hand. This includes all the baby-feeding equipment, but you might also want your phone, a drink of water, the biscuit tin, TV remote or a book. This is a perfect chance to enjoy a box set or catch up on some reading while making the most of some well-earned sofa time.
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5. Accept help
If family and friends want to pitch in, let them. Cooking (fill the freezer if you get the chance), shopping, putting on some washing or just making a cup of tea can all make life easier. Put off visitors if you are too tired, though – even well-meaning guests can be overwhelming. There is plenty of support to be found online, too. Try the NHS and the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) for tips and reassurance.
Finally, if you feel you aren’t coping do talk to someone – a trusted friend or relative or your health visitor – as they might be able to help.
One of the oldest pieces of parental guidance – and one of the best – is never to waste an opportunity for rest. Sleep deprivation can be hard, so nap when your baby does. Forget housework, silence your phone and close your eyes. The baby will wake you when he or she is ready.
7. Plan your financial future
A new baby puts things into perspective – and this often provides parents with an opportunity to review and revise any financial plans. After all, you now have a dependent. It makes sense to have a life insurance policy in place, as well as to think further down the line and consider making a will and pension provision. This can help you look forward to the years ahead without extra worries.
8. Enjoy it
This is an amazing time. Enjoy the cuddles, take pictures, don’t try to rush ahead. Babies grow up fast.