Our series “Raising Them Right” offers up useful tricks and tips for navigating the challenges of parenthood. Advice for new parents can go a long way, and these 15 tips and tricks will help any new parents feel more supported in their parenting journey.
If you’ve got a new baby, then the chances are your life has suddenly turned upside down. But fear not: All it takes is a few expert-approved tips and tricks to make caring for a newborn a whole lot easier.
While parenting a newborn is a magical experience, it can also be overwhelming and stressful. “You suddenly find yourself in charge of a tiny human and at the absolute bottom of the learning curve,” says Julia Beck, founder of Forty Weeks and It’s Working Project.
Whether it’s sleeping when they sleep, using a baby sling, or getting some fresh air, we’ve rounded up some practical tips and advice from parenting experts to help you enjoy your little one and keep your sanity after a new baby arrives.
1. Sleep when they sleep
Parenting newborns is exhausting. Night feeds, diaper changes, and irregular sleep patterns mean it can be hard to get enough shut-eye. That said, it’s hard to function on all four cylinders if you’re sleep deprived. “When the baby sleeps, you should sleep, even during the day,” advises Charmain Jackman, licensed psychologist and mother of two. “Find a comfortable spot, and put on a relaxing playlist and an eye mask.” Even if you find it hard to nap, just having some quiet time will make you feel refreshed.
2. Get expert help
If you need extra help with your baby, whether it’s a lactation consultant, doula, or overnight nurse, keep a list of experts you can call on when you need them. “It will save time and energy if you line them up and even interview them well in advance of the arrival date, so all you need to do is reach for the phone,” Beck says.
3. A bathroom sink makes the perfect tub
A huge bathtub and a slippery, wriggling baby are not a good combination. A perfectly sized and much more manageable alternative? The bathroom sink. It’s also easier to bathe a newborn with an extra pair of hands, so ask your partner to help you.
4. Save your knees at bath time
If you bathe your baby in the tub, the floor can be hard on your knees. “Don’t waste money on a special kneepad for bath time,” says Stephen Gross, parenting expert and author of The Simplest Baby Book in the World. “A couple of towels folded together or a folded bathmat do just as good a job.”
5. Use zip-up PJs
Another of Gross’ top hacks for new parents — if you want to keep your sanity — is to put your baby in pajamas that zip up. There is nothing more frustrating than having to fiddle with snap closures, especially at night.
6. Bounce on an exercise ball
Soothing a colicky baby can often seem impossible. One of the best ways for a new parent to calm a newborn is to bounce gently on an exercise ball while holding them upright. Put on your favorite TV show, and it’s a win-win situation.
When the baby sleeps, you should sleep, even during the day.
7. Invest in a baby sling
Carrying your newborn around in a sling is an excellent way to bond with your little one; it also comes in handy when you need to wash dishes or vacuum. And going for a walk is much easier with a sling than hauling a pram around.
8. Get a baby swing
A baby swing can be a godsend when you have to get things done or really need a break. The rocking motion and melodies will keep your tiny tot relaxed and happy.
9. Treat yourself to a cleaner
As a new parent, you likely won’t have the time or energy to tackle housework, but that’s OK. Treat yourself to a cleaner once a week or a couple of times a month. It’s one less thing for you to worry about.
10. Max out tummy time
Some great advice for new parents is to start tummy time early on to help strengthen your newborn’s neck muscles. Simply lay them on top of you, which is also a good opportunity for all-important, skin-to-skin contact and baby bonding time.
11. Learn to say ‘yes’
While your instinct might be to tell everyone you’re OK and don’t need support, the answer should be “yes ” to every offer of help — whether it’s providing you with a nutritious hot meal or taking the baby for a walk so you can rest. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and also accept support from your friends and family,” Beck advises. “Don’t feel bad — there are no prizes for attempting to go it alone.”
12. Give yourself a break
The No. 1 tip for new parents from experts and parents alike is to go easy on yourself and don’t set any expectations. “So what if your house is a mess or you haven’t showered for a few days?” Beck says. “You might feel you’re getting it all wrong, but there is no right way to raise a newborn.”
In fact, feel free to go so far as to reward yourself for a (parenting) job well done. Remember: There are no rules.
13. Stay off social media
Instagram and other social media platforms are filled with images of parenting perfection, which can make you feel like a failure. Take our advice and take a break for a while — you’ll feel much better for it.
14. Get some fresh air
Stepping outside for some fresh air is a great stress reliever. “Avoid cabin fever by getting outside every day, even if it means spending a few minutes by yourself in your backyard or sitting on the steps of your porch,” Jackman recommends. Putting your baby in the stroller or sling and going for a walk will also make you feel more relaxed and reenergized.
15. Tick one thing off your to-do list every day
You’ll likely have a never-ending list of errands and chores when you have a new baby. Trying to do it all, though, will likely leave you feeling overwhelmed. Instead, pick one item from your list to do each day. This way, you’ll put a dent in the list and enjoy accomplishing something concrete.