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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 December 14, 2018

14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 27% of children under the age of 18 are living with a single parent.[1] That’s over 1/4th of the U.S. population.There is a common misconception that children who grow up in single parent homes are not as successful as children living in two-parent homes.

One crucial detail that was often left out of studies when comparing single and two-parent homes was the stability of the household. There is a correlation between family structure and family stability, but this study shows that children who grow up in stable single-parent homes do as well as those in married households in terms of academic abilities and behavior.

But providing stability is easier said than done. With only one adult to act as a parent, some tasks are inherently more challenging. However, there are a few helpful things you can do to make the parenting journey a little easier for yourself and stay sane while doing it.

1. Don’t Neglect Self-Care

Before anything else can be done, you must be caring for your own needs adequately. Only when you are feeling well-rested and healthy can you be at your best for your children.

Many parents tend to put their kids’ needs first and their owns last, but that will result in a never-ending cycle of exhaustion and feelings of inadequacy. Make time to eat regularly and healthfully, get plenty of rest, and squeeze in exercise whenever you can. Even a short walk around the neighborhood will help your body get much-needed movement and fresh air.

Your children depend on you, and it’s up to you to make sure that you are well-equipped and ready to take on that responsibility.

2. Join Forces with Other Single Parents

At times, it may seem like you’re the only person who knows what it’s like to be a single parent. However, the statistics say that there are many others who know exactly what you’re going through.

Find single parents locally, through your kid’s school, extracurricular activities, or even an app. There are also numerous online communities that can offer support and advice, through Facebook or sites like Single Mom Nation.

Although single moms make up the majority of single parents, there are more than 2.6 million single dads in the U.S. A great way to connect is through Meetup. Other single parents will more than happy to arrange babysitting swaps, playdates, and carpools.

Join forces in order to form mutually beneficial relationships.

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3. Build a Community

In addition to finding support with other single parents, also build a community comprised of families of all different types. Rather than focus solely on the single parent aspect of your identity, look for parents and kids who share other things in common.

Join a playgroup, get plugged in at a church, or get to know the parents of the kids involved in the same extracurricular activities. Having a community of a variety of people and families will bring diversity and excitement into your and your kids’ lives.

4. Accept Help

Don’t try to be a superhero and do it all yourself. There are probably people in your life who care about you and your kids and want to help you. Let them know what types of things would be most appreciated, whether it’s bringing meals once a week, helping with rides to school, or giving you time to yourself.

There is no shame in asking for help and accepting assistance from loved ones. You will not be perceived as weak or incompetent. You are being a good parent by being resourceful and allowing others to give you a much-needed break.

5. Get Creative with Childcare

Raising a child on a single income is a challenge, with the high cost of daycares, nannies, and other conventional childcare services. More affordable options are possible if you go a less traditional route.

If you have space and live in a college town, offer a college student housing in exchange for regular childcare. Or swap kids with other single parents so that your kids have friends to play with while the parents get time to themselves.

When I was younger, my parents had a group of five family friends, and all of the children would rotate to a different house each day of the week, during the summer months. The kids would have a great time playing with each other, and the parents’ job becomes a lot easier. That’s what you would call a win-win situation.

6. Plan Ahead for Emergencies

As a single parent, a backup plan or two is a must in emergency situations. Make a list of people you know you can call in a moment’s notice. There will be times in which you need help, and it’s important to know ahead of time who you can rely on.

Look into whether or not your area offers emergency babysitting services or a drop-in daycare. Knowing who will be able to care for your child in the event of an emergency can relieve one potential source of anxiety in stressful situations.

7. Create a Routine

Routines are crucial for young children because knowing what to expect gives them a semblance of control. This is even more important when in a single parent home.

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If the child travels between homes or has multiple caretakers, life can seem extremely chaotic and unpredictable. Establish a routine and schedule for your child as much as possible. This can include bedtime, before/after school, chores, meal times, and even a weekend routine.

Having a routine does not mean things cannot change. It is merely a default schedule to fall back on when no additional events or activities are going on. When your children know what to expect, they will be less resistant because they know what to expect, and days will run much more smoothly.

8. Be Consistent with Rules and Discipline

If your child has multiple caretakers, such as another parent, grandparent, or babysitter, communicate clearly on how discipline will be handled. Talk to your ex, if you are sharing custody, as well as any other caretakers about the rules and the agreed-upon approach to discipline.

When a child realizes that certain rules can be bent with certain people, he/she will use it to their advantage, causing additional issues with limits, behavior, and discipline down the road.

This article may help you to discipline your child better:

How to Discipline a Child (The Complete Guide for Different Ages)

9. Stay Positive

Everyone has heard the saying, “Mind over matter.” But there really is so much power behind your mentality. It can change your perspective and make a difficult situation so much better.

Your kids will be able to detect even the smallest shift in your attitude. When the responsibilities of motherhood are overwhelming, stay focused on the positive things in your life, such as your friends and family. This will produce a much more stable home environment.

Maintain your sense of humor and don’t be afraid to be silly. Look towards the future and the great things that are still to come for you and your family. Rediscover and redefine your family values.

10. Move Past the Guilt

In a single parent home, it is impossible to act as both parents, regardless of how hard you try. Let go of the things that you cannot do as a single parent, and instead, think of the great things you ARE able to provide for your children.

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Leave behind the notion that life would be easier or better with two parents. This is simply not true. There is a multitude of pros and cons to all family dynamics, and the one you are providing for your kids now is the one that they need.

Don’t get bogged down by guilt or regret. Take control of your life and be the best parent you can by being present and engaged with them on a daily basis.

11. Answer Questions Honestly

Your kids may have questions about why their home situation is different from many of their friends. When asked, don’t sugarcoat the situation or give them an answer that is not accurate.

Depending on their age, take this opportunity to explain the truth of what happened and how the current circumstances came about. Not all families have two parents, whether that is due to divorce, death, or whatever else life brings.

Don’t give more detail than necessary or talk badly about the other parent. But strive to be truthful and honest. Your children will benefit more from your candor than a made-up story.

12. Treat Kids Like Kids

In the absence of a partner, it can be tempting to rely on your children for comfort, companionship, or sympathy. But your kids are not equipped to play this role for you.

There are many details within an adult relationship that children are not able to understand or process, and it will only cause confusion and resentment.

Do not take out your anger on your kids. Separate your emotional needs from your role as a mother. If you find yourself depending on your kids too much, look for adult friends or family members that you can talk to about your issues.

13. Find Role Models

Find positive role models of the opposite sex for your child. It’s crucial that your child does not form negative associations with an entire gender of people.

Find close friends or family members that would be willing to spend one-on-one time with your kids. Encourage them to form meaningful relationships with people that you trust and that they can look up to.

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Role models can make a huge difference in the path that a child decides to take, so be intentional about the ones that you put in your kids’ lives.

14. Be Affectionate and Give Praise

Your children need your affection and praise on a daily basis. Engage with your kids as often as possible by playing with them, going on outings, and encouraging open dialogue.

Affirm them in the things that they are doing well, no matter how small. Praise their efforts, rather than their achievements. This will inspire them to continue to put forth hard work and not give up when success is not achieved.

Rather than spending money on gifts, spend time and effort in making lasting memories.

Final Thoughts

Being a single parent is a challenging responsibility to take on. Without the help of a partner to fall back on, single parents have a lot more to take on.

However, studies show that growing up in a single parent home does not have a negative effect on achievement in school. As long as the family is a stable and safe environment, kids are able to excel and do well in life.

Use these tips in order to be a reliable and capable parent for your kids, while maintaining your own well-being and sanity.

More Resources About Parenting

Featured photo credit: Bruno Nascimento via unsplash.com

Reference

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