7 Useful Tips for First-Time Parents
Updated: Apr 19
Things to consider if you’re about to become a parent for the first time
So you’re going to be a parent? Congratulations! Welcome to this exciting, challenging and slightly mad stage of life called parenthood.
Being a parent is a life-changing experience. One of my favourite quotes about becoming a parent is from Franklin P. Adams:
“You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.”
In my case, I’ve discovered it’s not much. Although I’m working on that.
Anyway, you’ve probably already been searching online for parenting tips and advice, as well as asking friends and family for theirs too.
But all that information out there might leaving you a bit overwhelmed. You might be wondering where to start with all the preparations or feeling unsure about what you need to buy or do.
Here are my seven useful tips for first-time parents, having learned from experience.
1. Stock your freezer
Before your baby arrives, you might want to put any spare time you have to good use and batch-cook meals that you can freeze and then defrost for dinner whenever you need to.
The first few weeks after becoming a parent are a complete blur. I genuinely can’t remember eating during those weeks. I mean, I did, but I swear I couldn’t tell you what we ate.
So save yourself the added hassle of thinking about and preparing meals, all while you have a newborn to tend to, and get some cooking done beforehand.
2. Fed is best
I know this is said by many people but it really is true and you need to remember that. Please don’t feel pressured into breastfeeding or bottle-feeding by other people.
Do what’s best for you and your baby.
A fed baby is a happy baby, and a happy baby makes for a happy mum and dad. So don’t feel guilty if you can’t breastfeed, your baby won’t latch, or you just plain don’t want to.
3. Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep machine
While we’re talking about feeding...
This machine. Changed. My. Life.
I bottle-fed so when I was thinking about buying this piece of kit I was on the fence about how much I’d actually use it.
All day, every damn day was the answer.
If you end up with a guzzle-guts baby like my daughter, who could go from satisfied to a starving, screaming monster in 0-60 seconds (she’s definitely my child), you’ll thank yourself for buying this machine. Especially when you have a baby crying at 4am.
It can prepare each bottle to the perfect temperature in 2 minutes. Lifesaver.
When my daughter was still bottle-feeding and we would go to visit my in-laws, this was always the first thing we’d put in the car to take with us. Seriously.
4. Don’t overdo it with the nappies
So many people had told me I’d need to have lots of nappies bought in, ready for the new baby and the incoming mess.
I managed to find a decent offer online so I bought loads in preparation.
My daughter was a little chubster when she was born and she quickly outgrew the first size.
I’ve now got around 100 nappies still unopened in their box in my garage in case we ever have another child (although my desire for a second is fading the longer this coronavirus lockdown goes on.
What was that? Oh, sorry, yes, I meant to say, becoming a parent is wonderful and it’s all a pile of roses).
5. Muslin cloths
Although you shouldn’t overdo it with nappies, I have to say that you can never have too many muslin cloths.
And they’re so versatile as well. You can use them as a makeshift bib, to clean up spit-up, as a light cover over your baby in summer…
I used to chuck in a pack of muslins with my Amazon orders to get the free delivery and then people kept giving them to us as gifts as well. When I was still pregnant I used to think we had way too many. Lies.
We had so many and it still felt like there were never enough and that they were always in the wash.
We used to have them lying around all over the house too: one on each sofa, one in the kitchen, one in our bedroom, one in the baby’s bedroom.
So buy lots. You’ll need them.
6. Stick to your guns over visitors
Those first few days in the newborn bubble are completely surreal. You’re suddenly at home with this new life who’s fully dependent on you, and you only get to experience that once.
If you want to enjoy those days alone as a family of three, then don’t be afraid to tell people that.
If you would rather lots of help from family and friends, let them know.
There’s no wrong way to do it but be clear in communicating your decision to friends and family.
Personally, I wanted it to be just the three of us as I needed those first few days to adjust to becoming a parent and to not be afraid to get things wrong.
7. Self-care is important
Last of all, you need to make time for yourself. Whether you’re the mother or father, your own self-care and mental health is important.
Try to agree on something that works for you both, like each of you having a certain amount of time to yourselves each day, when possible, to do what you like.
Take a shower, go out for a walk, phone your friends, have a cup of coffee or a glass of something stronger. Whatever helps make you feel human and like yourself again as I’m not going to lie: parenting is hard. But it’s also extremely rewarding.
So there you have it. Malaga Mama’s advice, or first-time parent survival guide. There will be tough moments in there but generally being a parent will be the most fulfilling experience of your life.
To borrow another quote on becoming a parent, this time by the paediatrician Benjamin Spock:
“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”
What are your tips for first-time parents? Let me know in the comments and make sure to subscribe to the Malaga Mama blog.