30 tips for first-time parents ! What’s your top tip?

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I’m chatting on BBC Newcastle later today as the presenter is leaving to have her first baby and has asked me for my top tips!

It can be really difficult to not feel nervous but my advice is to relax, trust your own instinct and let well meaning old fashioned advice from your Grandma or Mother – in – law to pass over your head if it doesn’t feel right for you and your partner.

So in no particular order…..

I remember saying to people ‘but this baby won’t change my life’ – well how wrong could I be – but how wonderful too as of course having a child changes your life forever. It’s a bit like walking about wearing your heart outside of your body as you love them so much. But babies can be demanding, tiring and exhausting so relax and sit down or even catch up on some sleep when your baby is asleep. No ‘Super Woman Lives Here ‘ T -shirts please !

Don’t get hung up on ‘gurus’ or over read things. Trust yourself & respond to your baby’s needs when they cry and give them all the love you can manage. Babies can’t be spoilt with too much love. They learn to trust the world if you respond to their needs.

Spend time talking, touching, playing and cuddling your baby. The first 1001 days are critical to bonding  & building life long connections between you. If you feel you have Post Natal Depression seek help. DO NOT suffer in silence. You are NOT alone.

Give up the idea of being a perfect parent – just be a real one and do your best. Give up the ‘perfect parent’ on TV Adverts kids push your buttons as they grow and watching a bit of TV and eating chocolate now and again never hurt anyone but don’t use the TV, iPad as an electric babysitter ! Balance in everything.

Never compare your child with other children or to other siblings. They are their own unique and wonderful self. Celebrate, nurture and cherish that.

Give up striving for a totally tidy house – make your house a home instead filled with love and laughter.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. As long as both you and your kids are in clean-ish clothes, unless they are covered head to toe in spaghetti bolognaise, relax –  but make sure they are fed (always keep snacks on hand – fruit, yogurt, cheese, raisins), happy and healthy  and you are doing great as a parent !

There are only two things any new parent needs to know: it’s fine to make mistakes and your child will be OK.

You can never have enough baby wipes.

Buy a drop-sided cot for your first child so that you can still reach in to get them out when you are pregnant with the next !

Put a clock with a very loud ticking sound close to baby to simulate the sound of the mother’s heartbeat

Let people help you.  Let them make tea for you, cuddle the baby, or change them. Get some sleep, go out on your own, or go out with your partner – keep your life going too.

Keep a box of tissues handy in every room to mop up nasty spills.


Keep one end clean and the other fed.

No Cotton Wool Kids 🙂 Don’t wrap them in cotton wool as they grow up. Let them climb things, jump off things and generally play allow them to become independent.

Don’t rush back to the office – I’ve yet to meet a parent who says “I wish I spent more time in the office” – remember you are building memories that last a lifetime. Make them magical.

Let your partner help !

Bringing up kids isn’t a competition – so don’t rush them through their childhood. Also being on a beaker first, walking first is not what it’s really all about !

Go on a decent first aid course – I recommend the very lovely Emma Hammond First Aid For Life http://firstaidforlife.org.uk/

Rock and sing to your baby.

Fit your baby into your routine NOT the other way round.

Dads – please don’t assume that because your partner has had the baby that they know what to do. They are in the same boat as you, with the same information and screaming baby. Work together, don’t accuse each other.

Prioritise time alone with your baby over everything else in the early days, & always trust your instincts.

Never underestimate the power of sleep deprivation. It can turn you into a monster so sleep when your baby sleeps, and share the night feeds !

If you haven’t spent a lot of time around newborns, their fragility may be intimidating.

Here are a few basics to remember:

  • Wash your hands before handling your baby. Newborns don’t have a strong immune system yet, so they are susceptible to infection. Make sure that everyone who handles your baby has clean hands.
  • Be careful to support your baby’s head and neck. Cradle the head when carrying your baby and support the head when carrying the baby upright or when you lay your baby down.
  • Be careful not to shake your newborn, whether in play or in frustration. Shaking that is vigorous can cause bleeding in the brain and even death. If you need to wake your infant, don’t do it by shaking — instead, tickle your baby’s feet or blow gently on a cheek.
  • Make sure your baby is securely fastened into the carrier, stroller, or car seat. Limit any activity that could be too rough or bouncy.
  • Remember that your newborn is not ready for rough play, such as being jiggled on the knee or thrown in the air.

For babies attachment and touch contributes to their emotional growth, which also affects their development in other areas, such as physical growth. So touch them, massage them, stroke them often

Another way to think of bonding is “falling in love” with your baby. Children thrive from having a parent or other adult in their life who loves them unconditionally. It may take time if you had a difficult birth but relax and all will be well.

Your baby will probably also love listening to music. Baby rattles and musical mobiles are other good ways to stimulate your infant’s hearing. If your little one is being fussy, try singing, reciting poetry and nursery rhymes, or reading aloud as you sway or rock your baby gently in a chair.

The risk of SIDS can be greatly reduced if you remember first and foremost that babies younger than 1 years old should be placed on their backs to sleep — never face-down on their stomachs or on their sides.

Use nappy changing time to look into your baby’s eyes and chat and coo and sing and connect.

Enjoy bath time and be gentle  – again use the time to sing, connect, learn about each other and  don’t make bath time a burden – a bath two or three times a week in the first year is fine. More frequent bathing may be drying to their sensitive skin.

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