Advice for new parents comes in so many different forms.
ESPECIALLY now that everyone has access to the internet 24/7.
However, I feel this is far too overwhelming for first-time parents to comprehend.
Despite the fact that I spend a great deal of my time giving advice to parents about how to raise their children...
I truly believe that the most important thing to remember when becoming a parent is that you should not be striving to be the perfect parent.
So are you ready to learn the top 26 crucial pieces of advice ↓ for new parents?
Now, before we get right into it, I want to say this…
I believe that each child is unique and no baby or child is going to develop and grow in exactly the same way as any other.
Some solutions and advice will work for you, some will not and if you have no experience with babies then it will undoubtedly be harder to decipher what is right for you and your new baby.
So, that is why I prefer to advocate that first-time parents should adopt a parenting ethos with a few golden principles that do not set you up to fail.
HOWEVER! Let me be honest here…
Having a baby is an overwhelming and daunting experience.
But, it is also a wonderful and fulfilling experience, full of love and laughter.
Some of you will take to it like a duck to water and others will feel so totally inadequate that you will wonder why you ever thought you could care for a baby.
And that’s why I created this post. I want to share my Top 26 Pieces of Advice for New Parents to help you navigate the early days with the assurance that you’re doing great.
I am NOT going to tell you how to look after a newborn from a lofty position of years of experience.
BUT I will be suggesting my tried and tested tips that may work for you and your baby.
I will say that again… “that may work”
Not every tip, advice or approach I, or others, suggest will work for you and your baby, which leads me onto my next point…
What Is The Best Parenting Advice?
Trust Your Instincts.
That is the best advice for new parents I can give.
TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.
If it strikes a chord in you and feels like the right approach for you and your baby then give it a go.
If not, move on and try something else.
Having said that, it’s important to have a rough idea of where to begin!
Here is a quick summary of my top parenting tips…
- Be Kind To Yourself (this can be really hard as a new parent, but it’s crucial!)
- Sleep, Sleep & MORE Sleep!
- Accept All The Help You Can As A New Parent
- Know You’re Doing Fine As A First-Time Parent
- Get Out & About
- Establish A Good Routine – this advice is essential for new parents!
- Enjoy Every Minute As They Grow!
- Have Fun!
Now onto my Top 26 Tips for New Parents!
These tips and points of advice will help you to establish a parenting style that suits your lifestyle and parenting ethos.
Remember that your little one will grow up alarmingly fast in the first year, so treasure these early days and start as you mean to go on!
26 Top Tips For New Parents
1. Be Prepared
First on my list of tips for new parents is to get all the kit you will need and your house, baby ready before the birth.
You and your partner do not want to be running around shopping for essential items in those first few days you are home, so make sure you have enough baby essentials to last you a couple of weeks.
Getting a couple online grocery deliveries booked is also a good idea or having a few meals in the freezer that can be heated up easily, will be a great help when you first come home.
2. You Are Doing Fine
My first words of wisdom for new parents are it’s OK not to feel OK.
As a first time parent, you will feel exhausted beyond belief.
Your body is sore and the constant round of crying, feeding and nappy changing that now dominates your day will seem never-ending.
Of course, there are many parents out there who appear to get it right from the start, but the majority (if they were honest) will say that nothing quite prepared them for looking after a newborn.
As a first time mum, be prepared for the fact that many of those wonderful ideas you had before the baby was born, about how you would establish a perfect routine, sleep when the baby sleeps and know how to feed, wind your baby and settle him all within an hour, will almost certainly go out the window.
Even with all the experience in the world, it won’t necessarily go as planned.
Newborn baby care can be tough.
You would have thought, for instance, that I would have just sailed through becoming a parent for the first time.
However, life had other plans.
My son was born prematurely and we were both in hospital for 2 weeks after the birth.
During this time I struggled desperately to breastfeed while others around me were taking it in their stride.
I developed acute mastitis that caused me such pain and a high fever that I had to abandon breastfeeding all together.
After spending time in a special care baby unit my son decided that day time was for sleeping and night time for waking and every time he was fed he would fall asleep after a minute and had to be undressed and tickled, to try and keep him awake long enough to take a full bottle.
To top it all off, I had low blood pressure so I felt dizzy and sick every time I stood up. So all in all, I was rather exhausted and desperate!!
Therefore, don’t beat yourself up if looking after a newborn baby feels like the biggest mountain you have ever had to climb.
It will get better in time and those wonderful moments of bonding and pure love that you will feel for your little one, will grow and strengthen sooner than you think.
I always say the first 6-12 weeks are the hardest and, from then on, things can only get better.
That may sound like a long time, but in your life as a parent it is a tiny amount of time.
The joy and wonder of raising your child and the love you will feel is like no other. Those early weeks are a right of passage as you learn how to take care of a baby but after that, things will get much easier.
Remember if you are doing your very best and that is good enough.
3. Follow Your Instincts
As I mentioned earlier, one of the best pieces of advice for new parents is to follow your instincts.
Having your first baby can be exciting but daunting but from the very start, you should try and take time to listen to your baby’s cues and as always trust your instincts.
By holding your baby and becoming confident in the way you handle them you will get to know your little one.
You will learn instinctively how to look after a newborn baby by exploring what position they prefer to lie in when awake, or to be winded.
As every day passes you will get to know his cries, likes, dislikes and whether he is calm when swaddled, or finds it too restricting.
All babies are different and even in the early days and weeks, getting to know your baby is your most important job right now.
A tidy house and well-planned meal times can be put on hold for a bit. Get to know your baby and enjoy learning about your little one.
Investing in this time will also make things easier later on.
4. Nursing Can Be Hard
Breastfeeding is supposed to be one of the most natural things in the world, but it can be difficult for mums and impossible for some.
If you master it great, if you don’t, I would suggest getting some advice and if all that fails move onto the bottle and don’t look back.
Even breastfeeding for a few weeks gives your baby a great start in life, so hang in there for as long as you are able, but if you are struggling with it for whatever reason the best thing is to move on to bottle feeding guilt-free.
If breastfeeding is not working, the stress of persevering will not be good for you or your baby.
5. Accept Help
Some of the best advice I can give to a first-time parent is that if there is help on offer, take it.
Don’t think that you have to be a super mum and manage a new baby and keep all aspects of your life in order at the same time, as you will be setting yourself up to fail.
So, if someone offers to do the shopping, cook a meal, watch the baby while you take a shower or a nap, let them.
As I said before, the first few weeks are just a transition period and you and your baby will get to a point where life feels more normal again.
6. Acknowledge Baby Blues
Every newborn mum at some point in the early days feels emotional, teary and totally overwhelmed with the task of looking after a baby.
This is perfectly normal as, after giving birth, your hormones are all over the place and they take a while to resettle.
Talk to someone about how you are feeling and don’t bottle up your emotions or feel guilty about them.
If these negative emotions and feelings are overwhelming, then please seek medical advice.
Being a new mum is exhausting for many in this crazy world we live in today, but there is some excellent help out there should you be having a bumpy ride.
7. Take Baby Outside
Another good bit of baby advice is that, as soon as you feel able, it is a good idea to try and take your baby out once a day.
This may feel like a daunting task at first, but it will do you and your baby so much good to get out of the house for a change of scenery and will make you feel like a normal member of society again.
Also as tired as you may be, even a walk around the block will make you feel re-energised.
8. The Essential Baby Bag
Your baby bag will be your lifesaver when it comes to getting back into the swing of things and going about your daily life.
I would advise re-stocking the bag when you return from an outing or at the end of the day, rather than rushing around trying to check you have everything when you are trying to get out of the house.
You really want to be able to grab the bag and go knowing that it has all that you will need.
So make sure you have the following packed and ready to go at all times.
- Biodegradable wipes
- Nappy Cream
- Muslin cloth
- Change of clothing for baby
- Change of top for you
- Age-appropriate toy
- Bottle warmer
Your baby bag will grow with you and your child and will become your lifeline to cope with all eventualities.
As your child gets older, you will have snacks and possibly a small first aid kit to cater for bumps and scrapes and you should always be able to conjure up some form of child-friendly entertainment from your bag.
Trust me on this one. A well-stocked baby/travel bag will be your saviour.
9. Establish A Good Routine
Establishing a good routine for your baby is what all new parents strive for and it is great advice. It will be your overriding goal as you battle sleep deprivation.
The world and his wife will be asking how you are getting on with the ‘routine’ and is your baby sleeping through the night yet?
If the answer to these questions is no, then you will probably feel that you are doing something wrong, or are an inadequate parent.
Take your time.
Most babies will get into a routine by about 4 months old and it is true that once you have one, your life will get easier, but there is no strict timetable by which to judge this.
All babies are different and some settle into a routine better than others and this can be determined by many different factors.
A colicky baby, for instance, will take longer to establish an evening and nighttime routine. As will a premature baby that may have spent time in a special care baby unit where day and night meld into one.
Just remember that every baby is different and rest assured you will get there in the end.
One great bit of parenting advice is that if you have the basic information on roughly how much sleep your baby should have at a certain age and how much milk and what they should be eating on average, that should be enough to give you a foundation on which to build the type of routine that works for you and your baby.
10. Sleep, Sleep, & MORE Sleep!
When it comes to advice for new parents the most sort after solution is how to tackle sleep deprivation.
Lack of sleep and having a new baby go hand in hand.
So if you can, try and sleep when your baby sleeps.
Some mothers find this easier than others, but if you are one of the lucky ones who can nap in the daytime then please do it.
When it comes to caring for your baby at night, the best advice I can give is to keep night time feeding low key, with no chatting or bright lights as even at this early stage your baby will pick up on your cues that nighttime feeds are different to daytime ones.
This is an ideal way to make a start in helping your baby get into a healthy routine for both you and them.
11. There’s No Need To Tiptoe Around
A good tip regarding sleep and babies is that you should not tiptoe around your house, whisper or not flush the loo when you bring baby home.
Being in the womb is not a quiet place and you do not need to turn the volume down on the world once your baby arrives.
Playing music (obviously at a normal level), answering the phone, vacuuming and all the other household noises should carry on as normal.
Obviously, someone shouting or an unexpected bang will probably wake your baby, but if you introduce them into your home with the noise levels that you and your family usually make, they will learn to sleep through them.
You don’t want to be tiptoeing around for years.
12. Bedtime And Night Time Feeding
As a new parent, what you should be aiming for is a good night’s sleep as soon as is practically possible with only short breaks for night time feeding.
A good start to your ultimate goal is to try to make a distinction between night and day time feeding and sleep time by :
- Having a darkened room
- Keeping the lights low for night time changing and feeding
- Little to no talking and then only soft and unexciting when feeding, changing and settling
- Swaddling or placing baby in a sleeping bag for night time sleep
Once you are giving your baby a regular evening bath, it is a good time to cultivate a shift in the mood by introducing a simple bedtime routine even though you know that your baby will wake for a feed in the night.
This will help establish this all-important routine part of the day.
Bath time should be followed by gentle chat whilst dressing, then some quiet cuddle time and a lullaby followed by the early evening feed and putting baby to ‘bed’ in their crib in their swaddle or sleeping bag.
Slow down the pace and turn down the lighting to avoid over-stimulating your baby. This bedtime routine, with the introduction of reading a book before settling, will continue in the same basic form with age-appropriate adjustments for years to come.
One bit of important advice for new mums that I feel has to be said is that please do not have your baby sleep in the bed with you.
With the great bedside cribs that are on the market these days, there is no need to have your baby in bed with you and quite frankly, it is not worth the risk.
13. Encourage Self Settling
Another great bit of advice for parents is to help your baby self-settle.
This is not essential for everyone, but if like me you value your evenings and sleep time, then this is a very good habit to encourage.
From about 12 weeks old, your baby can be left for short periods of time in his or her crib or pram, to play alone looking at a mobile or baby gym and so they get used to not always being with you.
You could then move onto putting your baby down for a nap when they are not totally asleep to allow them to fall into a deep sleep in their crib.
By this age, you will probably have established a bedtime and sleep routine and this will mean that the only new development your baby has to adjust to is you leaving the room before they have fallen into a deep sleep.
Self-settling is very much a personal choice and I would never advocate letting a very young baby cry it out.
Some babies take to self-settling more quickly than others and if it does not work straight away, leave it for a bit and try again a little later on.
At this stage, you should not be getting too stressed out about the rights and wrongs of caring for your newborn but establishing what works for you and your baby.
14. Encourage Your Baby To Sleep Anytime, Anywhere
Following on from the nighttime routine and self-settling, another great bit of advice for new parents is to encourage your baby to be happy to fall asleep in different locations.
Babies should be happy to fall asleep in a pram or buggy, even outdoors when the weather permits.
When they are in a Moses basket, for example, you can have the crib in any room in the house and your baby can nap wherever you find it easiest.
Obviously, naps can also be taken in the bedroom, but these should be mixed in during the day with naps in other locations.
Once nap time is down to one or two a day, you may wish them to be taken primarily in their crib or bed, but if you have mixed up nap locations the transition to this quiet time should be quite easy to manage.
All of this will allow you to have far more flexibility in your daily routine in general.
15. Enjoy Every Minute As They Grow
Once your baby has reached about 4 months old and you are feeling more confident about looking after your newborn baby, you will then be ready to look forward to spending more time playing and interacting with your little one as they develop and become more responsive and aware of the world around them.
Enjoy every minute and start to look at the world through their eyes.
16. Talk And Teach Them To Listen
Always talk to your children from the minute they are born and don’t stop.
Establish a healthy line of communication and take an interest in what they do, who their friends are, their cares and their worries.
You need to be their go-to person.
Your availability for this is all-important. By listening to your children you will teach them to listen to others.
17. Establish A Regular Bedtime
Having a regular bedtime for your children is vital to a peaceful evening for you and your partner.
If you have given all you can give as a parent during the day then you should not feel guilty about having some adult me time.
It is important for you to recharge your parenting batteries and for your children to get the sleep they require.
Establishing a healthy bedtime routine is an investment in your parenting for the next day.
18. Praise Good Behaviour
Concentrate on the positive, praise good behaviour and try not to be indifferent when your child makes an effort to please you and be good.
All children are naturally naughty at times and we, as parents, obviously have to make it clear that such behaviour is unacceptable.
However, whenever possible with very young children, downplay the less desirable behaviour and praise the good with enthusiasm.
19. Say No And Mean It
When you do say no and draw a line in the sand, make sure you can see it through.
Do not give empty threats about consequences to bad behaviour that you are not prepared to carry through.
20. Be A United Front
You, your partner and your child’s primary carers need to provide a united front.
Children are very clever at dividing and conquering.
So, if you don’t agree with your partner on an issue of parenting, never debate this in front of the children.
Wait until they are in bed or out of the way and discuss it. Even if you don’t fully agree with a decision made, back it up initially in the child’s presence and sort it out later.
21. Read Every Day
Another essential bit of advice is to read to your children every day!
Books are vital to your child’s development on every level and such a delightful way to introduce your children to many aspects of life and the world they live in.
I love books and there are so many options to choose from even in the first year of baby’s life.
22. Don’t Be Afraid To Introduce Chores For Your Children
Once your child is old enough, introduce simple chores for them to carry out.
Even a toddler can tidy up their toys at the end of a play session and by encouraging them to follow you around the house while you do the housework or sort laundry is a fun way to introduce them to everyday tasks and the fact that we all have to do them.
In other words, do not become your child’s servant.
23. Be A Parent, Not A Friend
In this modern world, so many parents feel they need to be liberal and super understanding.
For some, this may mean trying to be cool and hanging out with the kids.
The balance to taking an interest in what your children are doing and being kind and loving is to also remember that you are the parent and not their best friend.
Ultimately, until they are much older, you are in charge and you must set boundaries.
Children thrive with boundaries in place and feel lost if they are left with no guidelines within which to function.
24. Apologise When Wrong
As a parent, it is OK to be wrong and say sorry.
We as parents will always lose our temper in an irrational way at some point or make a bad call or misunderstand.
So, if this happens, APOLOGISE.
It is an important example to set for your children that you can make a mistake and apologise afterwards. This will encourage them to do the same and understand that you do not always have to be right.
Do not try and be perfect as they will have to learn to deal with irrational behaviour when they go to school.
Learning how to deal with this in the safe confines of the family is far better for them and teaches them a vital life lesson.
25. Lead By Example
Following on from apologising, is leading by example.
There are many ways that you can show your children how to be a good human being.
You are their guide in how to treat others so be kind, caring and considerate. You will show them the acceptable way to behave and you will, hopefully, apologise when you get it wrong.
If you want to set rules then lead by example. If you don’t want your children to bring their phones to mealtimes or when you are watching a family movie for example, then neither should you.
Without a doubt, if your children witness you displaying acts of kindness they are more likely to behave in the same way.
The way you treat and speak to your partner and members of your family will be their template as to how they should behave towards others.
26. But Most Importantly, Have Fun
And my final piece of advice for new parents is to HAVE FUN.
Laughter is so important in life and encouraging your children to laugh, have fun and enjoy the simple things in life, is vital.
Creating fun things to do with your children does not have to be expensive or elaborate.
Sometimes the best fun can be had on a simple walk in the countryside, a picnic or playing hide and seek in the garden, playing cards or cooking together on a Sunday afternoon.
Designed for busy parents, these sanity-saving cheat sheets provide simple, practical and effective parenting strategies to tame tantrums, create calm bedtimes, support thriving development, and more! See results within hours!
Final Words Of Advice For New Parents
Over the years, some of the most important lessons I have learnt when it comes to parenting and raising children, are to always remember that children do not need expensive technology or toys to make their lives richer.
What they do need are nourishing experiences with you, their extended family and friends where they feel loved, heard and safe.
The final words of advice I can offer is to enjoy every minute with your child as the years of early childhood will fly by and are incredibly precious.
So enjoy, have fun, love, laugh and listen to your instincts.
If you loved this post, and want to share it, there’s a button below to do just that.
Please share this blog as a way of helping others parents on their journey to raising a little human!
PS: If you made it this far, welcome to the dedicated readers section! Be sure to keep an eye on this secret section… as I have some amazing things coming your way!
Paula McLarenPaul Mclaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the child care industry as a Norland Nanny since 1982. Since then, her mission has been to help parents become the best they can possibly be. And each year, she continues to help more families understand their child's development, the trials and joys of parenting and of course, how to care for their little ones.
Designed for busy parents, these sanity-saving cheat sheets provide simple, practical and effective parenting strategies to tame tantrums, create calm bedtimes, support thriving development, and more! See results within hours!
What Is Respectful Parenting? Principles, Benefits & Critics
Respectful parenting is a parenting ethos based on the fundamentals of treating our children as we wish to be treated. So how does it really work?
8 Critical Reasons Why Baby Whines & 15 Ways To Deal With It
When your baby whines, it is their way of saying I'M NOT HAPPY! So it's vital that we decipher what it means so we know what our babies need.