Top tips on life as a new parent

Feeling the lack of sleep? Want to encourage baby bonding? Our health visitor passes on her advice for new parents

Try not to be too bossy with Dad!

Ways to boost baby bonding

  • Patience. Don’t get upset if loving feelings don’t come straight away. Relationships take time.
  • Happy thoughts. Think nice things around your little one and note all the things that go well each day.
  • Gazing. If looking into your little one’s eyes is too intense for you, focus at a point above her eyes, or watch her while she sleeps.
  • Massage. Find a baby massage class, or work out your own routines for regular skin-on-skin contact.
  • Nurture yourself. Do one thing a day for you, whether it’s painting your nails or phoning a friend, to keep the focus balanced.

Coping with a toddler while feeding your baby

  • Reassure her. It’s hard for your toddler to see you hold a new baby all day, so say it’s her chance to sit with you too.
  • Tell a story. Use feeding time to read a story to your older child.
  • Encourage role play. If it’s appropriate, let your toddler feed her own teddy and change her nappy and outfit.
  • Show her photos of how you used to feed her when she was little and explain it won’t always be like this.
  • Get her involved. She can help you get ready for feeding by fetching things.

Helping baby-dad bonding

  • Trust your man. Mums need to step back sometimes. Walk away to another room if you feel you’re going to take over.
  • Don’t be bossy. The first few times parents change nappies or hold a baby are always anxious. Let dad do it his way.
  • Build time into the daily routine where he’s alone with the baby, without you hovering. Bath time is ideal.
  • Suggest he has plenty of skin-to-skin contact with the baby. It’s a lovely way to get to know each other.
  • Be patient. Placing too much emphasis on dads and bonding can cause tension.

How to cope with new mum tiredness

  • One thing at a time. Be realistic and tackle the essentials individually i.e. sort out one bill, cook one meal.
  • Nothing but sleep. If you’re really exhausted, make sleep your priority for a few days.
  • Unplug the phone. Constant interruption doesn’t help when you’re tired so let the answer machine take the slack.
  • Ditch the chores. Some days eating and sleeping will be your greatest achievements.
  • Don’t be proud. If you’re offered help, say yes. One day you’ll be able to return the favour.
  • Take it seriously. Rest is essential to help you cope as a mum so when your baby is settled, have a break yourself.
  • Eat regularly and wisely. Soup, sandwiches, beans on toast, cereals etc., will keep you going longer than sweet, sugary snacks.
  • Go to bed very early for a few nights, even if you have to get up for feeds. Lying down for a rest after a bath will help too.

Managing  your relationship after a new baby

  • Be prepared for feelings of disappointment, annoyance and frustration with each other. It’s perfectly normal as you adjust to the change.
  • Spot tiredness signs and make sure you both catch up on rest whenever you can, as it’s easier to be friendly when you’re not shattered.
  • Make time for listening. Prioritise a few minutes in the day to hear each other out, rather than exchange instructions.
  • Use friends and family to babysit regularly even if you just have a coffee together, or walk in the park as you need time outside the home.
  • Be straight about what you want. This isn’t a time for either of you to mind read. If you need a hug, chocolate, or the washing-up done, just say so!

Home-safety basics for parents

  • Cords from blinds are dangerous, so position cots and playpens away from window blinds and keep cords tied up.
  • Make sure the gap between the cot and cot mattress is no more than 4cm, so your baby won’t get her head stuck.
  • Avoid using tablecloths as a crawling baby could easily pull them off.
  • Keep the bath sides clear from toiletries. Things such as a small bar of soap could be a choking hazard.
  • Put non-slip pads under rugs so a baby on the move won’t slide on them.

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