Advice for New Parents

Plenty of folks offer new parents nitty-gritty baby tips for getting the job done. I’ve written some myself and trust me—you’ll need ‘em! But here’s something different…tips to help you thrive, grow and truly enjoy your journey as a new-parent-to-be.

Trust yourself.

Some first-time parents get emotional whiplash flipping between feeling like you’ve got the job nailed…and like an inept rookie. But, you know what? You are the newest, shiniest link in an unbroken chain of successful parents that stretches back to the beginning of time! Believe me, things get much stickier later on (fears, unfair friends, teen traumas, etc.). But for now, you will be a total success if you just keep to the basics: love, touch, singing, milk and patience.

Be kind…to yourself.

If you’re like many first-time parents, you’ve barely ever touched a newborn—before you had your own—yet you think you should automatically be a baby care expert. Please, ask that “judge” in your head to take a hike. Be as supportive to yourself as you would be to your best friend. That’s a sure path to greater satisfaction and happiness, and some of the best advice for new parents.

Get as much sleep as possible (maybe my best advice for new parents).

If parenting is a big balloon of joy, exhaustion is the pin that pops it! Your sleep success can make or break a mood. After 30 years in pediatric practice, I have seen over and over again how sleep deprivation can reduce a mom or dad to tears. It makes you feel alone, incompetent, edgy and causes serious accidents and sickness. The 5 S’s are a simple tool to help boost baby sleep…and so is SNOO, our smart sleeper; the safest, most effective baby bed ever made! (OK, I may be a little biased, but…really it is!)

Accept all the help you can get as a new parent.

Never before in history have moms and dads been expected to care for their newborns…all alone. We always had moms, aunts and older sisters living with us to help out. And when both parents work, they're even more pressed. So, my advice for new parents? Don’t hesitate to ask or pay for help. You need…and deserve it. Lean on your friends and family, look into SNOO, or hire some help. You’ll get more sleep and enjoy your beautiful growing family more fully.

Be flexible as you get used to being a new parent.

You will naturally find that some parenting philosophies make more sense to you than others, but if I were to make a bumper sticker for parents, it would say “Be flexible…or die!” It is great to have ideas and plans, but our children are here to challenge all of our preconceived expectations. Another quote I love is from a man in the 1600’s, “Before I had children I had 6 theories on how to raise them. Now I have 6 children and no theories!” Stay flexible especially when things aren’t going as planned. You may be surprised how “just rolling with it” can keep your good mood going.

Don’t lose your sense of humor when you become a first-time parent.

Remember, perfection is found only in the dictionary. So, forget dignity, forget organization, be gentle with yourself and…laugh, laugh, laugh! Laughter raises your spirits, lowers your stress and is exactly what this doctor orders!

Take care of each other. And do some fun stuff!

Caring for your baby is only half your job; the other is giving your main squeeze some TLC. Step out for dinner or a walk when a family member comes to visit. Find time to cook together, cuddle on the couch and maybe even…wait for it…you know! [Read More: Sex After Birth]

Live. Life.

It’s become almost as annoying to be told “the time goes so fast” as it is to hear “sleep when the baby sleeps.” But it’s true! If your head's caught in the past or the future, you will miss the miracle that is your baby’s first year of life. Hold her close and feel her heartbeat. Lose yourself in her smile. Be truly present when she says dada or mama for the first time. There are few, if any, happier moments in life. Enjoy and thrive!

Final Words of Advice for New Parents

Those are some of my best tips for new parents that I’ve been doling out for decades. Above all, remember that if you’re doing your best first-time parent, you’re doing a great job. And if you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Some resources you might consider: If your newborn isn’t sleeping, check out my Newborn Sleep Tips and Habits. If you’re having trouble with your own mental health, don’t hesitate to use one of these Mental Health Resources for New Parents. You’ve got this!

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