If you’re getting ready to have a baby, then you’re probably doing as much research as you can. Maybe you’ve asked family and friends for tips or read endless parenting books. But even if you’ve already done a lot of research, here are some essential tips that can help you adjust to your newly expanded family.
1. Prepare & Socialize by Taking a Local or Virtual Class
Many soon-to-be-parents feel overwhelmed by the new responsibilities they’ll soon have. If you’re feeling concerned that you don’t know enough about childbirth or caring for a baby, then it can be a good idea to seek out a local or virtual parenting or birth class.
Classes can give you peace of mind by filling in any knowledge gaps you may have. They will also give you an opportunity to connect with other new parents who are probably feeling as scared as you are! Plus, meeting people and socializing can mean new sources of support (and playdates!) down the line.
2. Get the Essentials
Babies need a lot of stuff, and the last thing you want when you bring your new bundle of joy home is to find that you’re missing some essential equipment. You probably still have several months to research the best items, like a stroller, car seat, and more.
It isn’t always possible to get the baby items you need right away, so don’t procrastinate. There are lots of lists online you can use to find out what you’ll need when you bring your baby home.
3. Adjust Your Home for the Baby
Whether you are bringing your baby home to a house full of pets and relatives or just you and your partner, there’s going to be a big adjustment period. Understand that you will need to adjust your home for the baby and make some changes in your routines. Expect the unexpected and be prepared to observe your baby so you can create routines that work for everyone.
4. Get Breastfeeding Support
Because breastfeeding is a natural and healthy way to feed your baby, there’s a persistent myth that it should be easy. However, lots of new moms (92% according to one study!) struggle with it and end up feeling guilty. It’s important to seek out support in case you have trouble breastfeeding. There’s enough shame and fear surrounding parenthood—find a group or individual that can help you through the tough times!
5. Watch for Common Issues
It’s easy to worry about every little thing with your baby, even things that aren’t really a problem. However, that doesn’t mean you should NEVER worry about what’s going on with your baby. Keep an eye out for common problems like cold symptoms, diaper rash, and fever.
It’s also important to get familiar with other potential problems. Childhood allergies can range from mild to severe and can cause other issues later on. Developmental delays can also require early intervention to keep babies from falling behind.
6. Seek Help When Needed
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If your healthcare providers noticed something on your ultrasounds that looks concerning, ask them for help! If you’re struggling with infant care, don’t be afraid to ask friends, family, or your child’s doctor for advice and support. Being a new parent is hard and sometimes scary.
7. Be Kind to Yourself
We are our own worst critics and parents can be especially hard on themselves. You might worry or feel guilty that you haven’t done things “perfectly.” You are going to make mistakes, and it’s okay!
It’s also okay to let the housework go or to forget to check in with friends for a bit. Be kind to yourself. If you and the baby are safe and fed, then everything is just fine.
Remember—Try to Enjoy the Ride!
Getting ready for your first baby is exciting and often scary. It’s really impossible to know what you’re getting yourself into before your child is born since every baby is different. Still, it’s important to prepare as best you can and get the support you need during those crucial first months. Above all, try to enjoy your newborn! Having a baby is a stressful transition, but it’s also one of the most meaningful phases of life. Savor all the little moments and take lots of pictures!