Life Lessons: Surviving Year One
For new parents, few things are as intimidating as the thought of taking your newborn home for the first time. There are so many questions and so many concerns. Will you know what to do when Baby cries? What if you forget how often Baby needs to eat? Will Baby sleep? No matter how many books you read or how many classes you take, you’ll discover your baby is one of a kind. Which means it will be hard to know the answers until you are actually home with your baby. “I read all the books, took all the classes, spent tons of time online. Once I got home with my daughter, I figured out what worked for us. But it was really scary feeling so unsure about everything in the beginning!” says Allison Sherwood, Overland Park mom.
As you embark on the journey of the first year with a new baby, having the support of friends and family will be very important. Being equipped with tips and advice from parents who have been there and done that can’t hurt either! Here are some tips from metro area parents on how to survive the first year with your new bundle of joy:
- Trust your instincts. No one has ever raised your baby before—your baby is totally unique and original. If you feel like something is off, even if others don’t agree, feel free to seek out some support. Talk to your moms group, your pediatrician or call a nursing hotline. Trust your gut instincts and do what you need to do to feel confident and comfortable while caring for your baby.
- Babies are not one-size-fits-all. Whether you are bringing home baby number one or baby number five, you will encounter totally unique experiences. “I really thought bringing home baby number two would be just like baby number one—just more diapers. Wow, was I wrong! Hardly anything was the same. I think that was the biggest adjustment in having two little ones. Realizing that the whole saying about ‘every child is different’ really is true!” says Brandy Rollins, Shawnee mom.
- Don’t sweat the milestones. Your pediatrician will tell you that milestones are a general guide. Each baby hits milestones at different times. Just because your friend’s baby walked at 10 months doesn’t mean your child is behind if he or she doesn’t walk until 14 months. Communicate openly with your pediatrician about any concerns, but don’t stress out about your baby’s following his or her own timeline.
- Let go of guilt. As a parent, you’ll always find things to feel guilty about. The guilt can be hard to overcome and can steal the joy in your first year with Baby (and for years to come, if you let it). Try hard to let go of the guilt and focus on the positives that are right in front of you. “When I started staying home with my kids, I felt guilty all the time about how dirty the house was. I spent my time playing with them instead of cleaning. I finally had to let go of the guilt or I wouldn’t enjoy playtime! And I probably would have felt guilty for not playing if I spent that time cleaning. I swear, the guilt is always there,” says Kim Bradley, Olathe mom.
- Love grows. In those first few moments of holding your newborn, you will feel your heart can’t possibly love anyone more. But love grows and evolves, just like your baby. “I worried so much that I wouldn’t love my second like I loved my first. But of course I did. It doesn’t feel like taking any love from the first one—it is just like you grow in your ability to love and suddenly have more than enough love for them both,” says Cassie Sanders, Kansas City, KS, mom. Realizing that the days ahead will contain just as much love and laugher as the first few days can allow you to relax and enjoy the ride.
- Get the gear that makes life easier. So many cute gadgets are on the market to help parents. From baby carriers and bottle brushes to night-lights that monitor Baby’s breathing, there is a gadget to fit every need. If shopping is your thing, buy the gadgets that make sense for your family. If you are more of a pick-and-choose parent, identify the gadgets that actually take some work off your plate and make your life a bit easier. “I never thought about it before I had my son, but I discovered those bags to steam your pump parts after using them. It saved me so much time at work when I had to pump during the day,” says Stephanie Reynolds, Kansas City, MO, mom.
Melissa Bellach is a freelance writer and mom of two living in Overland Park.