Anyone who is about to have his/her first child must admit to being excited and/or nervous. There is so much unknown territory and we want to make it good and right—for our baby and ourselves! Hang in there because here are several tips that can help you rock as a new parent.
Welcome to Parenthood!
As a new parent, your brain can swell with so many thoughts and worries. Try to put aside thoughts of the future (like when your child will graduate or get married), or even thoughts of the near future (like how the laundry and dishes will get done.) Your priority needs to be the physical, emotional, and mental health of both you and baby. Here are the most important things:
Food For Thought
You can rock this new gig, especially during the first month, by focusing on nutrition for you and your infant. If you are able and willing to breastfeed, that’s great. If you’re having difficulty, consult your pediatrician or a lactation consultant. If you choose to bottle feed instead, that’s OK, too. Making sure baby gets enough to eat will help him/her to thrive.
Parents need to keep an eye on eating properly as well. Try and avoid fast food or junk to fill a cranky tummy. If you can snack on veggies and fruit, that’s a great habit to get into—especially because you are role-modeling for your child’s future eating habits. For meals, think about soups, defrosting pre-cooked meals, or making shakes with protein powder and healthy produce. (And, always accept friends’ and family’s offers to cook for you.)
How to Get Some Sleep
Your newborn baby will sleep, perhaps not when you want him too, but he will. And even when you think you’ve got your baby’s sleeping pattern down, it is sure to change. Touch is the most developed sense when a baby is born, so cuddling with your sweetie will be the most likely comfort for him to fall asleep.
Babies sleep, on the average 16 hours a day. Of course, that’s not in a row, and maybe not even more than three hours at a time. They wake to eat and often they wake when their diaper is wet or soiled. So, the first things to check for are hunger and physical discomfort. Once you’ve dealt with those issues, your baby may stay awake for a bit and then fall asleep again or need a little assistance helping her to back to sleep.
Make sure your infant is 100% safe when you lay her down to sleep. She should be on her back, with no pillow, toys, stuffed animals, or anything that could risk suffocation—that includes you. Now it’s time for you to sleep! That’s right, even if it’s for an hour. Take advantage of the quiet time to get yourself some rest. In order to rock as new parent, you can’t be completely frazzled and sleep deprived.
When your child awakes, so will you. And hopefully, you will both feel a bit more refreshed and ready to meet and greet the world together. (The world in this case may mean your living room couch, a blanket on the floor, or a car seat.)
Rockin’ the Awake Time
Now that you’re both ideally well fed and rested (OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration), nonetheless, it’s time for the fun to begin!
- Eye contact. Making eye contact with your baby can get his attention. This simple form of visual contact can stimulate his senses. He will learn that this means “playtime”!
- Toys for visuals. High-contrast colors are great to help develop sight and patterns. If it’s an automatic toy or one you’re holding, move it slowly. Colorful soft (material) books are wonderful for engagement visually and aurally (when you’re reading aloud.)
- Music and sound. Toys that squeak or rattle are stimulating (as long as they are not frightening.) All types of music (played quietly or moderately loud) are beneficial to your baby’s development. Music has shown to decrease anxiety and help build neurological links to learning language and mathematics.
- Talking and Singing. Engage your baby with real words. Sounds are wonderful for development, but speaking in full sentences gives the brain an understanding of linking sounds and words. Singing can be soothing but also introduces your baby to vocabulary using an association with rhythm, melody, and tone.
Hopefully these tips can help you worry less and enjoy more. One of the finest elements of how to rock as a parent is feeling the joy. If you and baby are eating, sleeping, and playing (also learning), it seems like a recipe for happy days in early parenting. Best of health to you and yours!