By: Ally Barnes
My hubby and I are expecting our first baby, and to help get us prepared, I’ve been asking friends for their best advice.
My sister says the only thing I need to buy brand new is a car seat, and that I can get everything else second hand in great condition—and that I should expect one really bad hour a day, one reeeally difficult day a week, and one reeeeeeally hard week a month.
I thought it’d be fun to get some advice from other too. I asked them: “What was the most valuable piece of advice you heard before becoming a parent?” Here’s what they offered.
Vicki – For morning sickness keep dark chocolate in the fridge. Worked for me.
Sue – A baby never died from crying.
Kylie – If he/she is crying, he/she is breathing!
Felicity – Focus on meeting your baby’s emotional needs. The rest will fall into place. I recommend the book, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Laura Markham.
Sleep & Feeding
Brett – Never wake a sleeping child. The mother should sleep when the baby sleeps. Don’t worry about the house or anything, other than the baby.
Sam – A friend told us, “If they want to sleep, just let ‘em sleep!” Everyone sees that differently, but we found it worked for us.
Craig – We read a book called On Becoming Baby Wise – Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep. It helped us cope more than anything else.
Christina – Routine is key! I was hardly ever sleep deprived. #BestAdvice
“Remember that when they are 21 they will sleep through the night” ~ Michelle
Michelle – Don’t wake your baby to feed them. BUT don’t listen to advice, follow your own instinct. Remember that when they are 21 they will sleep through the night, they will be toilet trained, they won’t suck their thumb, and most importantly they will be able to talk and walk! Don’t push them to do things until they are developmentally ready to do so. Most of all ENJOY.
Dena – After becoming a parent, in the early days it was “night feeding is down to business”. No eye contact, no talking, no stimulation of any kind. That way when there is no longer a physical need to eat, they’ll know there is no other reason to wake up. IT WORKS. Best, best advice ever.
Karen – Breast feed if you can. If you’re the only person who can feed baby you’re guaranteed regular rest times. If baby can have a bottle others will sometimes give it and you’ll probably do a load of laundry.
Sara – Get the baby used to a complimentary feed ( from a bottle- either breast milk of formula) if they are able. It takes the pressure off psychologically, so that if you DO get sick the baby will already be used to another person feeding them with a bottle! Thanks mum – best advice ever! (She was a midwife).
Learning & Developing
Anne – Read to your baby every day.
Kerrie – Read to him/her every day, into the ear – it helps the child hear the sounds.
Chris – Never let school get in the way of your child’s education!
Sam – One thing I was told in antenatal classes is you don’t need to buy a whole lot for a newborn. Marketing will tell you you need all this stuff, but they really only need a couple of things to get by, like a car seat, mattress and a good cot.
Angela – New cot mattress (and if you have one, bassinet mattress) is essential and recommended by health experts.
Brett – Buy as much leather as possible – leather clothes for the mother, leather couches at home and leather upholstery for the car. (Fabric and vinyl are more easily stained and damaged, leather is easier to clean).
Lyndall – Don’t buy nappy bins…waste of time and expensive refills. Don’t bother with a wipes-warmer either.
Nathan – If you’re going disposal nappies you should probably get those new as well – you don’t want to be re-using those.
Nicole – Recycle (get things second hand). Thankfully I have not had to buy anything. And no one would know. Not that I care. But I’ve had big blessings. God provides.
Look After Yourself
Pamela – You can’t pour from an empty cup so look after yourself.
Suzie – Be kind to yourself, you are not Superwoman. It’s OK to have bad days – just don’t stay there. Pick yourself up and keep going. Also, ASK for help from families, friends and professionals.
Rosemary – My mum said that a calm mother will have a calm baby…..she was right (in my case).
Leanne – In the early days, never stand when you can sit, and never sit when you can lay down. It will be exhausting – so make sure you rest when you can.
“If friends offer to help with cooking, shopping, chores, say yes!!” ~ Joarden
Lesley – Have a shower, get dressed, put on your make up, do your hair and go for a walk with your baby. Don’t just get stuck indoors all day. Share the workload with your partner, friends and family who are willing to help.
Joarden – Don’t try to be a supermum. It’s all about you (including dad!) and baby. If friends offer to help with cooking, shopping, chores, say yes!!
Marie-Anne – Accept help if offered.
Kerrie – If you get offers of help in any way, take them.
Rachel – Stressed mother equals stressed baby.
Al – Be kind to yourself!! A happy mum = a happy family!
Firuze – Trust your instincts.
Joarden – Do it your way!! Whatever suits you and your baby.
Sandy – Stick to your guns. Mother always knows best.
Jo – Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re a first time, hypochondriac parent. Babies have health problems too sometimes, and with some GP’s you need to push for a referral to a paediatrician, because they (often) write you off as ‘just a first time parent’.
Aline – Wing it and use your instinct.
Sandy – My advice – your kid is OK and you will get through everything. No-one has written a book on raising YOUR kid, so forget the baby books! Find your own groove and go with it. You will all be fine.
Handling the Tough Moments
Vicky – Take 10 seconds before you react.
Jane – There is no such thing as a perfect parent.
Ashley – I have four kids aged 6 and under. It can change so fast from hour to hour. When it’s all dreamy and lovely take it. When it’s crazy and stressful just know it will swing back again soon!
Amanda – Children can bring out the best and worst in you… take each day at a time… pray often… seek help when needed… it’s good to know you’re not alone… you will be overwhelmed by the love you have for that little person. All the best.
Karen – “In an 80yr lifespan, each stage is VERY short. I understand it won’t feel like it when you are in the middle of it, but trust me.” Advice from a wise older lady at church. It did help. ❤️
Amy – The first thing you need to learn as new parents, is *patience*.
Duncan – The hardest part for any new parent is the first six weeks. You’re trying to find your feet. But there comes a point in that sixth week, where you get a little bit of extra sleep, and you’ll turn the corner and it starts to get a bit easier. Look forward to it.
Keeping Things in Perspective
Beverly – It was the statement, “ONE DAY YOU’LL SEE”.
Karina – Don’t worry about every little stage. They don’t last.
Talia – It’s okay that your dishes are piled up to the roof, your washing is still in the machine and your floor is covered in mess as long as your child is fed, has a clean bottom and is happy most of the time.
Claire – Parenting is like starting a new job or learning to drive a car. You gain skills and learn via a process, and over time, with practice.
Sonia – “This too will pass”. “Don’t sweat the small stuff”. “Life’s a marathon, not a sprint, pace yourself”.
“Enjoy the moment because they change so quickly, and new challenges and blessings will arrive every day” ~ Roslyn
Susan – Someone shared with me years ago: “It doesn’t get easier, it gets different”. My kids are now 14 and 16 and I still live by that. Embrace it and enjoy the different seasons.
Roslyn – Try and remember it’s just as difficult for your little one to adjust to this new world outside, as it is for you to adjust to them being outside. Enjoy the moment because they change so quickly, and new challenges and blessings will arrive every day for the next however-many years.
Eva – “Life doesn’t get easier with kids, it just changes.” Words to live by!
Christine – My mother always said, “This too will pass”. It was true. Not always in our preferred timing, but true nonetheless.
Erin – The days are long but the years are short.
Sandy – Go on date nights with your partner.
Carol – Look at your spouse when they or you get home and see how they look. If they seem like it’s been a hard day for them just give them a hug, an “I love you”, and ask them if they need a few minutes’ alone time. Don’t blast the person coming in the door with how horrible your day was – and [conversely] don’t blast the person in the home about how horrible your day was. And be honest; if it’s been a hard day and they don’t pick up on it, tell them you need a few minutes.
Suzie – Get the father involved in everyday routine.
Sara – Get your husband involved from day one.
Gerda – Treat your children equally! Then there’s very little sibling rivalry.
Enjoy & Make the Most of it
Angela – Enjoy it! In between the hard bits it’s the best fun ever!! The way they look at you and light up from inside, just because it’s you, is something pretty amazing that makes it all worthwhile.
Rob – Enjoy them while they are little and don’t wish their lives away—because all of a sudden, they are grown up.
Faith – Enjoy every day: “This is the day the Lord has made!”
Leanne – Enjoy the early years, the good and the bad.
Joarden – Enjoy every minute, they grow super-fast!!
All That Advice
Bret – Listen to everyone’s advice – say thanks – and then do things your way anyway!
Kim – You are the parent and it’s ok to say “I have no idea”. There’s help – and heaps of bad / unhelpful advice out there too: smile and nod.
Karina – Best advice I heard was, “You’re going to get a lot of advice – take the pieces that work for you”.
Maree – Everyone has THE best way of doing things or advice. Politely listen and thank them and glean the bits that work for you and your child (and it will be different for the next one).
Karen – You can drive yourself nuts getting conflicting advice from different people. I chose to take advice from one person I trusted, and whose kids I thought were lovely. That worked for me.
Julie – Take all advice, then chuck it! Each baby, all parents, are different. Find your own way of doing things.
Jane – Listen to advice, thank them for it, and say, “we have been given so much good advice, we will try a few ways of doing things to find what suits baby and us”.
Article supplied with thanks to Hope 103.2.
About the Author: Ally is a breakfast show producer at Hope 103.2.