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Useful Tips for Taking Care of Your First Born Baby

Useful Tips for Taking Care of Your First Born Baby

Congratulations on becoming a parent! Welcome to an awesome, hilarious, challenging, wild ride. My husband and I had 3 kids within 19 months, and I’m not going to lie, those first months with the twins are pretty much a blur. The first weeks with a new baby are a mixture of more love than you ever imagined possible, over-the-moon joy, and complete, total exhaustion.

Here are some tips from my friends and I to make the first months with your first born baby easier.

Items to purchase

1. More isn’t always better. “You don’t need all the stuff they tell you to buy. Keep it simple,” advises Jennifer Thorson of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

2. Hand-me-downs are great. We’ve inherited tons of clothes from friends whose kids outgrew them. As our children outgrow them, we pass them along to other friends who are having babies. This has saved us — and our friends — so much money, and has been especially nice when the kids are growing fast and going through different sizes quickly.

Outings with your little one

3. Get out of the house with your baby. “Don’t be afraid to do things with your kids, even when they are teeny tiny. Bring them everywhere. They will get used to being out and about,” advises Cassidy Bjorklund, a mom of 3 in Moorhead, Minnesota.

4. Fit baby into your life. If you like to travel, continue to travel. Sara Hagenbeck, a mom of 3, shares some of her favorite advice. “The best advice I received was to fit your baby into your life — don’t change your life for your baby…If you travel, travel with baby. If you’re outdoorsy, bring baby with. Then picture you traveling with the special light/sound machine, wipe warmer, giant special toys, bottle warmers…all those extras you realize you don’t really need. From day one at home, bed time has always been simple. Put the baby on his or her bed, no lights/vibrations/music, no toys, because we travel to grandparents houses, hotels, etc. It makes life so much easier that our kids ‘fit’ into our lives!”

5. Bring your child many places. Alison Krueger, a mother in Mapleton, North Dakota, has enjoyed bringing her daughter just about everywhere. “While creating a schedule is helpful, don’t be afraid to go off of schedule to be able to experience things with your child. Take them anywhere and everywhere you can. You learn so much about your child and yourself by experiencing all things. I’ve loved to watch Lia grow and love that at a young age she could hold conversations with adults. She has grown to be a curious and fun child with all she’s gotten to experience with us.”

6. Stroller rides are awesome. All 3 of my kids loved, and still love, stroller rides. Taking them on stroller rides has benefits for parents, too. Getting some exercise and fresh air feels great.

Sleeping

7. Sleep when baby sleeps. “Sleep when they sleep. You’ve gotta get some rest or you won’t do anybody any good. The baby’s going to wake up every two hours, even in the middle of the night, so sleep when they sleep,” says Jason Brookshire, a father of 2 in Hawley, Minnesota.

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8. You’re better off rested. Missy Conrad agrees with catching some zzz’s when you can. “Sleep when baby sleeps! Easier said then done, I know. But you’re so much better off rested.”

Feedings

9. Be flexible. Lynette Triebwasser, a Hawley, Minnesota mother of 3 (including a set of twins), has this advice for parents: “Follow “routine” and not a rigid schedule. Babies are flexible if parents are flexible. The routine can travel with you easily. Also if nursing — nurse as long as it it mutually agreed upon by both parties. If you nurse 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years your baby got what they were supposed to get. Don’t let anyone else tell you how long is the “correct” amount of time — or if it’s even the right fit for you.”

10. You’re not a failure if you quit nursing. Christy Ambrose, a mom in Fargo, North Dakota, offers encouraging words to new moms: “If nursing doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Nursing is frustrating and hard, and can be really painful. And you will probably cry. And all of that is normal, even if it doesn’t seem like it should be that hard, it is! Never let yourself feel like you’ve failed, because as long as you are doing your best, you are doing amazing!”

11. If you want to nurse your baby, seek help. Lactation consultants in the hospital are very knowledgeable and know many tricks to make nursing more manageable.

Soothing your baby

12. You’ll learn by trial and error. All 3 of my kids have needed different things to soothe them. You’ll get to know your baby’s cries and how your baby is best soothed, but it can be stressful to figure out at first. I found the book The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, MD, to be incredibly helpful.

13. Stock up on pacifiers. If you’re going to use pacifiers, buy lots of your baby’s favorites. They often get dropped on dirty floors or lost, and having pacifiers available around the house, in your vehicle, and in the diaper bag is very helpful. You don’t want to be scrambling to find one when you need it.

Get professional medical advice

14. Getting an eye exam is important. Get their eyes checked. This is actually recommended in the first year or less but not communicated very much. Can have a large impact on their development,” says Kara Dietz, a mother of 2 daughters in Fargo, North Dakota.

15. Call your doctor. Touch base with your baby’s doctor or nurse with medical questions or concerns. When you have non-urgent questions about your baby’s health, write them down, so you remember to ask your doctor at your baby’s well-child checkup.

Connect with others

16. Parenting classes can be a great way to connect with other parents and learn great information too. Take a new mom class! Amma Maternity in the Twin Cities is amazing!” says Callon Siebenahler of Shakopee, Minnesota. Rachel Butkowski-Payette agrees. “A new moms class is a must,” she said. 

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17. Offer encouraging words to other parents. Kristen Halden, a mom in Hawley, Minnesota, says: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It really does take a village! And know that everyone is just doing their best like you so support each other, even if it’s an ‘I’ve been there too!’ when they have a tantrum-throwing toddler at the Target checkout!”

Do what works best for your family

18. Everyone will have advice for you. You don’t have to follow it. Elizabeth Hoekstra, a mom from Hawley, Minnesota, says: “Remember, YOU are the parents. Many people will tell how you should raise your kids, but that’s the kicker, they are YOUR kids. Raise them the way you feel works best for your family.”

19. Make your own rules. Don’t follow the “rules” of how to do this parenting thing. There’s no reason you can’t make your own rules and own way of doing things,” is advice offered by Kaila Jones of Twin Valley, Minnesota.

20. Trust your instincts. Go with your gut,” says Kristi Krueger Roscoe, a mother from Fargo, North Dakota.

21. You’ll do just fine. When asked what advice she has for new parents, Missy Daggett, a mom in Alpharetta, Georgia has some great words. “I’ve been asked this question often and my response is always the same: ‘Shredded cheese is easier to sweep up if you let it dry out first; you’re going to do just fine.’ I think it’s important to share that we all struggle and second guess ourselves, but each mom has to figure out what works best for their family.”

Avoid comparing

22. There is more than one ‘right’ way to do things. Audrey Kankelfritz, a mom in Fargo, North Dakota, has helpful advice for parents: “Don’t stress out about your children’s sleep schedule, eating habits, etc. I often questioned myself to wonder am I doing this the ‘right’ way. Honestly, there is not just one ‘right’ way but many. Every child does things a little differently and develops at their own pace. Do not compare your child’s schedule or habits to another. Raising a child is an adventure; you learn what’s best for your children as you go and as you get to learn their personality and abilities.”

23. Each child is different. Kim Benscoter, a Detroit Lakes, Minnesota mother, reminds us of this with her advice: “Try not to compare your babies growth or development with other babies. Each little one grows, learns and creates their own little self at their own rate.”

Document memories

24. Keep a journal. Aja Joseph, a mother in Burnsville, Minnesota, wishes she would’ve taken more time to journal. She says, “Take the time to truly savor every moment. It sounds cliche, but the stages go by so quick. As a new mom, you are often exhausted and sometimes just trying to get through the day. The fact is that one day they will be much more independent, and when they don’t need you to help them potty, feed them, or wipe their mouth, you will miss it! Take the time to journal about each day’s experience, even just a few minutes. So much happens that you will forget if you don’t record it. I wish I done this more diligently because my kids say and do the darnedest things daily!” 

25. Videos and pictures are great keepsakes. Kelly Binfet, a mom in Fargo, North Dakota, “Take lots of real photos in albums and video!” I agree. We got a video camera from my parents as a baby gift, and I love grabbing it and recording everyday moments and special occasions.

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Let others help

26. If you have a partner, let him or her help with baby. Hold your tongue instead of constantly correcting when he or she does baby-related tasks. There’s no perfect way to parent, and if you’re overly critical, the other parent will feel inadequate.

27. Accept help from others who offer a helping hand. When people offer to help you, whether it’s to bring meals over, clean your house, run errands, or hold baby while you take a shower, let them. When people want to help but aren’t sure how, give them specific directions about what you need.

28. Hired help can be great. When our twins were babies, my husband and I hired a college student to come over and clean our house on a regular basis. It was awesome. Then, after the twins went to bed, we didn’t need to spend so much time on these chores.

Other tips to make life easier

29. Childcare can be hard to find. “If you are going to need a daycare start looking as soon as you know you’re expecting,” says Gabe Hagenbeck, a dad in Moorhead, Minnesota. 

30. Don’t stress about keeping things perfect. Ask for help if you need it! Don’t feel like you have to do it all alone. Don’t stress about having a clean house and keeping everything perfect like other ‘super moms’ because they don’t have it all together like they want you to believe,” says Mandy Runyan, a mother of 2 from Park Rapids, Minnesota.

31. Stock up on items ahead of time. Before our twins were born, my husband and I stocked up on many household items we would need in the upcoming weeks for ourselves, such as toothpaste, soaps, and paper towels. This prevented us from having to run a bunch of errands in those first few weeks.

32. Take a shower and put on some clothes you like every day. This helped me feel refreshed and somewhat human during those initial weeks of massive sleep deprivation.

33. Bring a change of clothes with you…for you! When I brought my newborn with me to meet my friend’s new baby, my little one had a massive blowout all over my jeans as soon as we walked in the door. While I had packed several outfits for my infant, I hadn’t packed a backup outfit for me. I learned my lesson and brought clean clothes for myself after that, and still do, even now when my youngest is 19 months old.

34. Don’t rush childhood. “Don’t rush your kids to grow up. This includes once they get to the “preschool” age. Just let them play, and learn how to play with other kids. There is plenty of time later to learn ABCs and 123s…learning how to play and experience things is more important. Don’t be a helicopter parent,” advises Angie Frederick, a preschool teacher in Fargo, North Dakota.

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35. Be patient while they learn. Jodi Schultz, a mom from Moorhead, Minnesota, has these tips for new parents: “Remember that they have to learn everything. Just because you as an adult think something is easy, they know nothing from birth but how to cry and eat and sleep. Don’t get frustrated and expect them to ‘act older’ than they are.”

Take time away

36. Take time away from baby. Meg Barker, a mom in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, had this to say: “Every baby is different. Relax and enjoy the simple moments. Do not forget to take time for yourself and/or date nights.”

37. Go on date nights. Brittaney van der Hagen is a mother in Fargo, North Dakota. Her advice? “Don’t forget to take care of your relationship with your spouse/significant other. It’s so easy to push that to the side when a baby comes. It’s important to continue to find time for your hubby and vice versa. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Dinner. A movie. A walk around the block! Our motto: Date night is cheaper than a divorce!”

38. Don’t lose your sense of self. It’s easy for parents to become so absorbed in parenting that they lose sense of who they are. I believe it’s absolutely necessary to have interests outside of parenthood, and it is possible to continue to follow your dreams while still being a very hands-on, amazing parent. Whether it’s setting some time aside to do a hobby you love, spend time with friends, exercise, or do work you love, I believe being passionate and excited about something other than your child helps improve both your lives.

Enjoy the journey with your first born

39. Put things into perspective. Heather Stephens, a mom in Fargo, North Dakota, advises new parents, “Keep a perspective on things. Having a newborn not the way parenting is forever. Children move through developmental stages quickly, even though some days feel like forever. Every stage has it’s good, bad and ugly.”

40. Enjoy the awesome journey that is parenthood. As difficult as the sleepness nights and adjustments to welcoming a baby into your life can be, life with kids is an amazing adventure every day, and parenthood is truly awesome. Andria Spaeth, a Grand Forks, North Dakota mother, echoes this sentiment, stating, “Remember that life does not END with baby being born. It’s just the beginning and its better than before.” I definitely agree.

Do you have additional tips you’d like to give to new parents? I’d love to hear them!

Featured photo credit: Newborn Grip/Jason Pratt via flickr.com

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Dr. Kerry Petsinger

Entrepreneur, Mindset & Performance Coach, & Doctor of Physical Therapy

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Published on September 21, 2020

The Danger of Overscheduling Your Kids

The Danger of Overscheduling Your Kids

I am a parent of three children aged 8, 6, and 6. Like many parents, I struggle with knowing the right balance of activities for them. I don’t want my kids to miss out on opportunities to play sports and participate in activities that will enhance their lives and help them grow as individuals. However, I also don’t want them to become overscheduled kids, to the extent that they get worn out and stressed out.

There is a balance in providing activities for our children and overscheduling them. The tendency for the latter is prevalent these days. Our lives — and the lives of our kids — are increasingly overscheduled and overworked. Thus, we need to understand the dangers of having overscheduled kids and how to prevent this from happening in our own families.

What’s Wrong with Overscheduling Your Kids?

1. Overscheduling Can Burn Out Our Kids

When our kids are on the go and scheduled to the max from a young age, their potential to get burned out before reaching high school is quite high. The New York Times reported some research on burnout and found that burnout with kids relates to their workload, along with their parents’ propensity to experience it.[1] This means that overworked children are more likely to get burned out than others. Similarly, overscheduled parents tend to have overscheduled kids more often than not.

Burnout

When a person is burned out, they feel overwhelmed and exhausted by what others expect them to get done daily. Children who are involved in too many activities with little to no downtime have a high chance of experiencing burnout. When parents place too many expectations on their kids, they also have an increased potential to burn out.

If you get the sense that your child is feeling overworked or overwhelmed by their daily activities, you need to know which ones can be cut back. If they have too many activities outside of school work, for instance, then that is one area that likely needs to be downsized.

An overworked child will present various symptoms like moodiness, irritability, crankiness, despondency, anger, stomach aches, headaches, rebellion, etc. Cutting back their activities will help to relieve their stress and reduce the said burnout signs. If your kid has severe burnout symptoms, though, then professional help from a pediatrician or therapist for children should be sought.

Downtime

Downtime is key to helping relieve burnout. If children don’t have free time during the day to have any rest, they are more likely to become burned out than others. Downtime means unorganized free time to do what they enjoy or relax. Cut back your kids’ extra-curricular activities if they don’t have downtime in their schedule.

Here are more tips on creating downtime for the children: How to Create Downtime for Kids.

2. Overscheduling Kills Playtime and Creativity

Kids need time to be kids. When their schedules are filled every day with activities like organized ballet, soccer, and music lessons, and they only take a break for dinner and bedtime, then they are overscheduled. They need to have free time after school to relax and play. When they don’t have that and proceed from one scheduled activity to the next, they are missing out on playtime.

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Playtime is crucial to child development. If they cannot get enough time to play, then their ability to develop their creativity decreases. The Genius of Play explains that there are six major developmental benefits that children get from playtime:[2]

  • Creativity
  • Social skill development
  • Cognitive development
  • Physical development (i.e., balance, coordination)
  • Communication skills
  • Emotional development

If children don’t have time to play because they are always on-the-go, then they are missing out on the developmental benefits of play.

Children need downtime after school so that they can unwind, play, and decompress. Research from the Journal of Early Childhood Development and Care showed that kids need to play to deal with anxiety, stress, and worry.[3] Playtime provides an outlet for them to manage these emotions in a healthy manner and helps with the development of their creativity.

Children need free time to play every day. Fifteen minutes at recess is not enough. They need time for it after school, at home, outside of the constraints of scheduled activities.

Solution

Ensure that your child has time to play after school. This is especially important for young children who greatly benefit from playing. Limit organized activities so that your child is not scheduled every day and can play after school. If they have an activity every hour, then it doesn’t allow for playtime.

3. Overscheduling Causes Stress and Pressure

When kids are overscheduled because their parents are so intent on having high-performing children, then they will feel stressed. Parental pressure upon a child to do well in academics, music, multiple sports, and religious studies is a reality for many kids. The children scheduled in all of these activities can often feel stress and pressure, especially when they are expected to succeed in all of them.

It is hard enough for kids to be good or succeed at a single activity. For a parent to overschedule their child and expect superior performance in various activities, that is a recipe for a stressed-out child.

Solution

Parents should not schedule kids in multiple activities with the expectation of superior performance in all. They should also consider the child’s interests. If the child is not interested in one activity, then they are likely to feel stressed and pressured to do it.

For example, if Suzy has been taking piano lessons for four years, and she no longer enjoys learning the instrument, then perhaps it is time to take a break. If Suzy is forced to continue with the lessons and daily practices, then she may feel pressured to continue performing simply because her mom wants her to do so. This can lead Suzy to resent her mother for forcing her to keep on doing something that she doesn’t like anymore.

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Let your child help in selecting the activities that they get involved in. Also, put a cap on the number of activities they are doing. If they have a different activity every weekday, then they are likely overscheduled.

Kids need downtime and time to play, too. If they need to do a new activity every day, that downtime is diminished, considering the time at home or outside of the scheduled activities is limited. This limited time is then filled with homework, mealtime, and bedtime prep. Eliminating activities several days a week will allow the child to have some time to play freely. The younger the kid is, the more time they need playtime. As they get older, they can take on more activities; however, under the age of 13, playing daily is a must for children.

4. Healthy Eating Falls by the Wayside

Any parent who’s busy chauffeuring multiple kids to different activities after school knows how tempting fast food can become. Fast food, however, leads to less healthy food choices. French fries and hamburgers — the staple combo in most fast-food joints — cannot help your child thrive nutritionally.

When families are overscheduled, they tend to go for easy and quick meals. When rushed, many of us make poor food choices because we aren’t taking the time to think about a meal’s nutritional value and a balanced diet for our children.

5. Family Mealtimes Become a Thing of the Past

When we are taking our kids to sports and other extra-curricular activities that fall during dinnertime, the family often misses out on sharing a meal at home.

This is true in our own home. There are certain nights of the week that we have practices, and so we either eat together early (if possible) or eat separately, depending on what our schedules allow.

There is so much value in having family dinners. It provides an opportunity for family members to discuss their day, including their work and school activities. It is a time when technology is set aside so that everyone can truly focus on communicating with one another and catching up on what is happening in each other’s lives. When a kid’s activities are scheduled every evening, then that family time at the dining table gets lost. Dinnertime becomes a thing of the past as we overschedule kids and ourselves.

Try learning more about family time here: How to Maximize Family Time? 13 Simple Ways You Can Try Immediately.

Solution

Assess our schedule during the week to ensure that there’s always time for dinner with the family. Make it a point to establish a dinnertime schedule for the evenings that you do not have prior engagements scheduled. Remember: the time that you have with your kids under your roof is fleeting. Before long, they will be grownups and start living on their own. You need not dismiss or minimize the opportunity to bond with your children over meals.

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Having family mealtimes also allows you to make excellent food choices. This way, parents can create balanced and healthy meals and teach their children about the importance of eating good food for their bodies.

How to Turn Things Around?

1. Fix the Displaced Ambitions

Parents with overscheduled kids often mean well. They want their children to succeed, so they give them every chance to make it happen. They sign them up for various lessons, sports, and activities that may help the kids find success in life.

In other cases, the parent probably didn’t get such opportunities when they were young and felt that they missed out on many things. Hence, they provide those missed opportunities to their kids during their own childhood.

Carla is an example of such a parent. Carla always wanted to take dance and ballet classes as a child. She heard her friends talk about dance classes and performances, and they would even bring recital photos to school, showing their beautiful, detailed costumes. Carla wanted to be in those dance classes and learn ballet and have the opportunity to perform in a beautiful costume in front of an audience. Unfortunately, her family could not afford to give her that opportunity.

When Carla gave birth to a baby girl, she had visions of her little one growing big enough to take dance, ballet, and even tap classes someday. She was looking forward to dressing her daughter in dance costumes and watching her take lessons and eventually performing in recitals. When Carla’s daughter Anna was old enough to enroll at a dance class at four years old, she was thrilled. However, after a few months, it became clear that Anna was not enjoying these classes. She would cry before every lesson, begging Carla to let her stay home and not go to class. Her daughter had no interest in learning to dance.

In truth, it happens to many parents. They would enroll their kid in an activity that they wanted to do as a child but never got to try. Unfortunately, a parent’s interest is not always the same as that of their kids’. The child may humor mom or dad for some time and do the activity out of compliance. But if the child does not enjoy it anymore, they will eventually make things clear to their parents.

Parents should listen to their children. If the activity is something that they do not enjoy doing, ask the children what they think they would like to do, and then eliminate activities that they are not into. Similarly, teach them commitment by finishing a program, but don’t enroll them again in the same class if they absolutely do not want to do it.

Let the kids try different activities at a young age. Sometimes they don’t know if they like something until they try it out.

2. Try Clinics of Camps Before Committing

Don’t enroll your child in three sports at the same time to see which one they like or excel at. Doing so will make your kid overscheduled. Instead, you can use the summer break or preseason camps or clinics to try a variety of activities they are interested in.

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As an example, all three of my children said that they wanted to do lacrosse. We had already tried soccer, and it was not successful for two out of three of them. They would rather chase butterflies down the field or play tag than actually participate in their games. Therefore, before committing to lacrosse and spending a great deal of money on their gear, I signed them up for a sample clinic. It was a one-day program that intended to expose children to the sport and see if they would perhaps enjoy playing it. I was surprised to find that the three kids enjoyed lacrosse, so we signed up for the season. It was nice to be able to see them try out the sport in a clinic before committing to an entire season.

Most towns and cities have parks and recreation department. This is often a good place to check for clinics and camps for various activities. Our local department even offers art and dance classes. Most of them meet between two and four times total, so the children can get some exposure to the activity before signing them up at a private facility for a more long-term commitment.

3. Take an Inventory of Your Weekly Activities

Often, we do an activity without reflecting on how much we are already committed to doing each week. Before we commit to any more activities, we must be willing to look at everything that each family member does. Every child’s commitment is another responsibility for the parent as well. Parents must take children to and from each practice, so you need to consider the drive time for any activity.

For instance, if each of my three kids signed up for three different activities each week, I would be running myself ragged. Three activities for three kids means taking them to nine activities during the week. That doesn’t include the games that will likely be scheduled on the weekends. Three activities for every child, therefore, is too much for our family.

If some practices overlap on the schedule, then you need two parents or responsible adults to transport the children to different locations. Before you sign them up for multiple activities, you need to factor downtime, stress levels, and your ability to take them to each activity in the equation.

Consider the following before your kids can commit to various activities:

  • What is the time commitment for the child each week? Do they have enough energy and stamina for the activities? Do they get enough downtime daily to prevent burnout?
  • Is practice time required outside of their scheduled team practices and games?
  • How long is the travel time for you as a parent, along with wait time during practices? Do you have time allowances for these activities in your own schedule?
  • Does the activity time conflict with other activities on the schedule? Will it eliminate family dinners on a regular basis?
  • Does the child really want to do the activity?
  • What is the motivation for signing up for the activity?
  • Is this activity or commitment going to cause a great deal of stress on the child or other family members?

Check out these time-management tips for parents: 10 Time Management Tips Every Busy Parent Needs to Know.

Get The Kids Active and Involved!

Despite everything, it does not mean that you shouldn’t sign your child up for different activities like sports, music, dance, karate, etc. They are all great activities that can help children develop a variety of valuable life skills. The goal is to enroll them in things that they genuinely enjoy and avoid overscheduling kids by not letting them sign up for too many activities at a time.

More Tips for Scheduling Kids’ Activities

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

Reference

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