Expecting your first baby? With so much advice out there for new parents, it can be hard to decide how to prepare for the arrival of your newborn. To help you get ready for the journey ahead, here’s a list of useful tips for future parents!
Start a Budget
Before your baby arrives, consider starting a baby budget. Writing down the costs of having a baby can give you a clearer idea of what to expect and how much money to set aside. As you’re considering how much to budget for a baby, think about one-time baby expenses like cribs and strollers, as well as ongoing items like diapers, formula, clothes, and other necessities. Many of these items can be requested as baby shower gifts or part of a baby registry checklist. Don’t be afraid to buy certain items second-hand, either! One great piece of budgeting advice for new parents is to use the 50/30/20 budget approach, where you save 50% of your income for household bills and necessities, 30% for things you want, and 20% for savings and debts.
Design a Nursery for Your Household’s Needs
Many soon-to-be parents love setting up a nursery for a new baby. However, babies don’t need a lot of space for the first year or so, and many expensive baby items often create more clutter. Prepare your home in phases based on the baby’s development and your available space. If you live in a smaller home or apartment, there are plenty of space-saving ideas for baby rooms you can try. Keeping these ideas in mind can also help you budget out your baby room ahead of time and focus on the essentials.
Do Some Research
First-time parents often flock to parenting books, blogs, classes, and advice from other parents around them—and that’s okay! But it’s still important to keep in mind that no two families are going to have the exact same experiences. You’ll still want to do your own research on breastfeeding tips, baby-proofing ideas, baby developmental stages, car safety, newborn hygiene, and so on. When it seems like there are too many opinions and things get overwhelming, trust your gut! In time, you’ll learn what’s right for you and your family.
Create a Baby Schedule…
One helpful piece of advice for new parents is to create and stick to a daily routine. Creating a baby schedule can not only help you adjust to your life as a new parent, but it can also establish a routine with your newborn. It may benefit you to create a loose checklist of things to know before the baby arrives, including information on when and how to prepare bottles, change diapers, and put them down for naps. Having all the essentials in one place can give you something concrete to turn to when things get overwhelming, and even form the blueprints of your own parenting book to be used with future children.
…But Be Flexible
Baby schedules can help establish a daily routine, but when the baby comes, remember that you’ll need to go with the flow sometimes. Newborns can’t be expected to understand schedules, much less stick to them! One key parenting challenge is learning how to adapt to the unexpected, so if you find that part of your routine isn’t working, don’t be afraid to try something new. Benefits of being flexible include reducing parental burnout and teaching flexible thinking to your children when they’re older.
Give Yourself Grace
Raising a baby comes with many unique challenges for new parents—especially during baby’s first year. Newborns need to be fed every few hours. They’ll cry and keep you up at night. You won’t be able to take them everywhere you go. You’ll have to make time to take care of their needs as well as your own. All of this may leave you feeling frazzled or worried that you’re doing everything wrong. Self-doubt is actually one of the most common feelings among new parents, so know that you’re not alone. It takes time to get the hang of having your first baby, and making mistakes is only human—it doesn’t make you a bad parent. Always remember to give yourself grace and be patient with yourself.
Since newborns require lots of attention to get a healthy start, new parents often forget about their own needs. But as the baby’s primary caregiver, it’s important you don’t forget the importance of self-care. Eat, sleep, drink plenty of water, and take care of your personal hygiene. Read, socialize with friends, pamper yourself, meditate, and find other ways to stimulate your mind and body as you continue healing. Say positive parenting affirmations every day. A new baby can shake up your life in all kinds of unexpected ways, and taking care of your emotional, spiritual, and physical needs don’t make you a bad parent.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
As a first-time parent, it’s important to remember that you won’t be going through the difficult times alone! It’s perfectly okay for new parents to ask for and accept help and parenting advice. If you have a partner, they’ll take care of the baby when you need to rest, eat, shower, or just get some time to yourself. Lean on your friends and family, or hire a babysitter to give you time to go out and have a peaceful evening together to re-center. Consider joining a parenting support group or having a Doula if you want helpful tips for new parents or a place to share your experiences and decompress.
Enjoy the Love
Bonding with your baby is one of a new parent’s greatest joys. The kind of love that parents have for their newborns is incomparable to anything else—embrace those powerful feelings! Take lots of baby photos. Talk to them. Play soft music for them, and sing. Read them a story (even if they can’t understand it yet). Dedicate time for skin-to-skin contact. Take every opportunity to make memories with your baby. After all, they won’t be little forever—live in the moment and enjoy the things that make bringing a child into the world worth all your hard work.
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