A Step-By-Step Guide for First-Time Parents: How to Survive the First Year

A Step-By-Step Guide for First-Time Parents: How to Survive the First Year

Raising a child can be tough—especially when it's your first! There's so much you don't know, and end up learning "on the job". That being said, there are ways to prepare for the joys (and let's be honest, the struggles) of having a newborn. We've put together our best tips for first-time parents. Here's how to make those first few weeks (and months!) some of the best ever. 

Give yourself some recovery time

You just had a baby...so give yourself a break! Social media and television tells us  that we should bounce back from childbirth immediately. Repeat after us: it's not true. Now that you're a parent, it's time to let go of that pressure. Take some time to rest, recover, and regain your energy. After all, you're responsible for another person now!

Sleep when your baby is asleep

It sounds cliche, but this is so important. You're probably not going to be sleeping through the night, so those day time naps are essential. The dishwasher and laundry can wait...your mental health can't! Newborns typically need up to 16 hours of sleep daily. Take advantage of every single minute and get the rest you need.

Handle the baby with care

Newborns aren't breakable, but there are definitely some precautions to follow when you're handling your little one:

  • Make sure you (and everyone else in contact with baby) washes and sanitizes their hands properly. Your baby's immune system isn't completely developed yet, so she's susceptible to all those icky germs out there (especially during flu season).
  • Make sure your baby’s head and neck are always well-supported. Whether you're carrying baby upright or you’re trying to lay her down, you should always support and cradle the neck.
  • Make sure you don’t shake baby, whether by play or by accident. This can cause bleeding in baby’s brain (along with a whole host of other complications). The best way to wake baby, if there’s a need to, is to blow gently on her cheek or tickle their feet.
  • Make sure the baby is well fastened to her stroller, carrier or car seat. Although she can't crawl or walk yet, you never know when baby's going to roll off a surface.

Create a bond with baby

Take the first few moments and days of your baby's life to encourage a physical closeness with her—it will help with lifelong social-emotional growth. Cradle her, or stroke her gently in different patterns. You can also practice skin-to-skin contact with baby, especially while you're feeding or cradling her. Babies tend to respond well to infant massage, especially babies who are premature or have medical conditions. You can get books to help you practice different infant massage techniques. 

You should also talk to your baby regularly as a means to create bond. She may not be able to respond just yet, but she'll love to hear sounds. You can talk, sing, babble, or even play music.

Learn to swaddle baby

This is a technique you should absolutely learn as a first-time parent. It works well during the first few weeks and helps baby feel safe and secure. When a baby is properly swaddled, their arms are kept close to their body while there’s room to move their legs. Swaddling keeps baby warm and prevents startle reflex which can easily wake her. Use a muslin wrap during the warm months of the year, and a heavier blanket during the winter period. Ask a nurse or midwife in the hospital for help getting started.

Diapering

Whether you are going to use cloth or a disposable diapers, you'll need to change about 10 every day (that's 70 in a week!). Don't stress if your first few changes aren't perfect...you'll get the hang of it. Ask for help in the hospital if you're a newbie...the nurses have seen it all!

Your life changes in every way when you bring home baby. Take a step back and remember the challenges are temporary. The most important thing is you have this incredible, beautiful, bundle of joy that is all yours! Relax and enjoy her...as much as you can! 

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