What I learned in the first 2 years: 12 tips for new parents

Babies aren’t as fragile as you think.

Before having a baby, I was one of those people who was afraid of carrying other babies. Afraid I’d hold them the wrong way, or worse, drop them.

And well, all I can say is that you’ll know what to do. Parental instincts are almost always right. Most babies are stronger than you think.

Don’t worry, you’re not going to accidentally break those cute little fingers, or accidentally pull their arms out of the socket. You do need to take extra care when bathing them, wet babies are very slippery. But otherwise, you’ll be surprised at how strong they really are and how end up just knowing what to do instinctively.

Time really does fly fast. Really fast.

We’ve all heard it right – “the days are long, but the years are short.”

You never know when something your little one does is the last time they will ever do it. There will be a last time they will need your help to stand. A last time they pull your hand so you can go into their play pen. A last time you need to change their diapers. A last time they need your boob.

I still remember when our little one was about 2 months old and had trouble sleeping. The only way we could get her to sleep was to carry her and do an up and down motion. I mean like the bending at the knees kind of up and down and up and down.

I remember thinking, wow, this is like going to the gym. But at least we will only be doing this for the next year or so. It turns out we only needed to do this for a few days.

Babies sleep a lot. BUT, you have to first teach them how.

We learned this the hard way. It doesn’t have to be sleepless night after sleepless night for the first few years.

With the right schedule, planning and discipline, babies can be taught to sleep through out the night. To sleep at the same time every night, to nap at roughly the same time each day.

It’s all about routine and discipline. Proper swaddling, ensuring dark rooms, and having some white noise.

Not all advice applies to you.

One of the challenges of being a new parent is separating good advice from bad advice.

Everyone has well-meaning parenting advice. Based on their own experience, or just based on what they’ve seen others do.

But don’t be afraid to do you. I learned to trust my instincts. There are millions of books, and websites (just like this one!) who are happy to give you advise. And as a new parent, it’s tempting to just go with that they say. Or what friends and family say.

But we’ve learned that you know your baby better than anyone else. Seek advise, seek help if you must. But trust yourself, and don’t get overwhelmed with all the advice.

You’ll worry a lot. All the time, actually. And there’s little you can do about it.

Worry comes with the territory. Over-worry, too.

You won’t believe the amount of time I spent staring out our little one just to make sure she was still breathing. I did this for MONTHS.

No matter how much I told myself not to go overboard with worry, I still did it.

If you’re worried if you are going to be a good parent, you’re going to be a good parent. The act of worrying is evidence enough of that.

You can’t be a perfectionist.

Parenting is about trial and error.

You will make mistakes, there will be a lot of messes to clean up, schedules will not be followed, the best laid plans will not be baby-proof.

But it will get better, and easier. With the right planning, you can even have your baby sleeping at generally the same time each night, waking at the same hour each morning, and napping at generally the same time each day.

Embrace the bumps and messes, the food on the floor and the crayons drawn on the wall. Always remember, Childhood IS life. Not preparation for life.

It’s okay to make mistakes.

Like I’ve said many times, trust your instincts. Sometimes you’re wrong, but don’t beat yourself up over it.

I remember the very first time we gave our little one formula. We hadn’t planned on it, but her weight was going down in the days after leaving the hospital, and we were advised to supplement with formula.

Ok, no problem right. I just go buy some, buy a bottle and we’re good to go.

So, I’ve never prepared baby formula ever in my life. The box says I have to give it in a ratio of 1:1. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me, 1:1 is 1:1, what else could it mean right.

So, it just so happens that I have some measuring spoons for baking. And guess what, I have one that says 1oz. So I sterilize that, and put one scoop of formula for each oz in the bottle.

After out little one is done with the bottle, her FIRST ever bottle of milk she’s taken, I find a little spoon under the box. And guess what, it’s way smaller than the measuring spoon I just used!

By this time, I finally read through all the instructions, there it is in big bold letters – DON’T USE ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE SCOOP THAT COMES IN THE BOX!.

Apparently, 1:1 meant 1 scoop of their own scoop for each fluid ounce of water in the bottle. Did you know that? Now I do.

After some intense moments of consulting Dr. Google, and a few hours of watching our little one intently for any signs of trouble, I finally managed to settle down.

Breast feeding hurts. It really hurts.

And then it won’t. Once you get used to it, it’s going to be wonderful.

Except for the occasional bite. Who knew baby teeth could be that sharp!?

Babies are their own little person. You just won’t be as productive as you once were.

First, the good news: If you didn’t have your stuff together before having a baby, there is nothing like having a baby to inspire you to turn your life around.

But what if you did have you stuff together before having a baby? Well, you’ll find that you have lot less time to do it than before.

Kids have their own schedules. You can work around some of it, like getting their sleep plan on point so they won’t be up all night. But for a lot of things, you will need to adjust.

Even getting out of the house can be its own little adventure sometimes. Even if you become a packing pro and tend to not forget anything when you leave the house, there are always little things, like negotiating with a toddler to wear her socks or shoes.

Google is great. Dr. Google, not so much.

Ah, yes. You are already likely familiar with the curse of Dr. Google. I am sure you have consulted with him many times during your pregnancy.

Trust me, we’ve been there, and it’s just not that useful.

New parents today are blessed and cursed to have the Internet at their disposal. 3 a.m. Google searches to find out about your baby’s red skin will often do more harm than good. In the span of three minutes I let Google diagnose my son with measles, mumps, and Scarlett fever. I’ve learned that I will know when something needs to be attended to by a medical professional.

On the flip side, google and the internet in general is great for other baby stuff. You can search for the best soft books, the best toys, the best baby thermometer and so on, and order it with 2-day shipping all while carrying your little one in the other hand.

You have to take care of yourself, to be able to take care of your little one.

You will become a better parent if you take care of your self. Period.

Here’s something I learned, that has served me well:

  • baby’s needs first
  • followed by parent’s needs
  • followed by parent’s wants
  • then baby’s and kids’ wants

Don’t sacrifice your health. Minimize unnecessary worry.

Love

Love for my little one is one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever experienced.

You’ve probably heard of the joy of seeing your baby’s first steps, their first word, the first time they say mama or dada.

But it’s way beyond that. And it happens every single day.

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