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

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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.
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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!
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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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