Me and my first-born, Hayden.

 

  I can still remember the moment when my first-born, Hayden came into the world.  The amazing sense of relief, love and then…panic!  

What do we do now?  Where’s the instruction manual?    

The nurses in the hospital were so brilliant as they showed me how to give Hayden his first bath and get him dressed in his little outfit for the first time.  Then, as I held him in my arms they left the room.  Aaaaaargh!  What do I do now?Whilst I don’t claim to have all of the answers and there still isn’t a manual that comes with parenthood, this post is designed to assist first-time parents with some of the dilemmas that they face as well as allowing others to add their tips in comments at the bottom.    

    

Put your relationship first.  This seems like an odd one, especially considering the overwhelming sense of love and responsibility that comes with parenthood, but it’s very important. You see, if Mum and Dad are fighting all of the time, it’s difficult to be an effective parent.  One of the first things to go out the window when a child is added to the family is to stop investing in your relationship.  Added to this is the loss of sleep that can make you both irritable and less patient, so you need to look for ways to deliberately add value to each other.  

Get into a routine.  As difficult as this can be sometimes, this one is really important.  After the first few weeks, it is possible to get your baby into a routine with sleep, feeding, bathing and play-time.  This routine will make a big difference in how settled your baby is and makes a big difference with their sleep patterns.  

Once you’ve found a routine that works for your family, try not to break it unless it’s really necessary.  This can seem restrictive, but can also make a big difference in how stressed you and your baby are.  

Learn about SIDS. This site has a lot more detail, but don’t take risks with this issue.  Learn all that you can about SIDS prevention and follow the instructions to the letter.  

Don’t feel guilty about breast-feeding.  Whilst there is little doubt that breast-feeding is best for baby’s health, for many mothers it just doesn’t work and you need to turn to formula to feed your baby.  Don’t beat yourself up over it.  Your baby will still be OK, it’s just one of those things.     

Find a way to get out of the house.  Post-natal depression is a big issue for many first time mums and one of the best ways to work through this is to get out of the house.  Whether it’s a walk around the block with the pram or an outing to the local shopping centre, the sooner you learn how to venture out the better for you and your baby.    

Sometimes this is extremely challenging as it can seem like a military operation just to get to the car.  Nappy bag?  Check.  Bottles?  Check.  Bibs?  Check.  Wash wipes, spare nappies, disposable bags and toys to keep baby occupied?  Check, check, check and check.  

Don’t be put off by the difficulty, aim to get out at least once or twice a week.  

Take advice with a grain of salt.  This includes this post.  You see, parenting is one of those things that many people have opinions about and these opinions are often conflicting.  You will need to find your own rhythm and work out what is successful for you and your baby.  Try not to get too caught up with what everyone else says, but look for the little tips that can help you out.  

Ask questions when you feel out of your depth and find great resources to assist you.  We used sites like Baby Centre a lot in the early days and found them to be very helpful.  

I often say to friends who are about to experience parenthood for the first time that “everything is harder and everything is better”.  Being a parent is a tremendous challenge, but it also rewarding beyond measure. If you are about to start on this journey, I hope that the above tips have been helpful.   

 If you’re a parent, what’s the best tip you would have for first-time parents? 

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