Being a first time parent is hard – here’s what you need to know

Becoming a parent for the first time is a fantastic feeling. There isn’t anything quite like it in the world, and you’re going to experience a whole range of emotions for the first time.

But as exciting as bringing home a newborn may be, it’s also a scary time – you have a whole new set of responsibilities and need to learn to adjust to the new person that you’ve got to take care of.

In this article, we’re going to take a quick look at a couple of the things you need to know about being a first time parent.

Some babies cry… a lot!

This probably won’t come as much of a surprise, but some babies cry a lot, and there is nothing that you can do about it. This is the way babies communicate. They will cry if they are hungry, if their diaper needs changing, if they are too hot or cold, and really for anything else as well.

Babies can’t verbalise their emotions and needs, so crying is all they have. And while some babies can be content and quiet, others can cry A LOT.

If your baby cries for more than three hours a day, more than three days a week, for at least three weeks then they may have colic. Colic usually starts when a baby is between two and five weeks old, and they often grow out of it when they’re three to four months old.

So what can you do if your baby is crying? Firstly, it’s important to check that nothing is wrong. Are they hungry? Cold? Hot? Does their diaper need changing? Do they need to be winded? Are they uncomfortable? Do they have a fever?

Once you’ve checked these, and you’re sure they’re not ill or in pain (if you’re in any doubt, or they have a temperature, call your doctor), then find a way to try to soothe them. Here are some ideas to help you:

  • Hold them close to you and breathe calmly.
  • Pat or rub their back.
  • Sing or talk to then.
  • Rock or walk with them
  • Offer them a pacifier, if you use them.
  • Take them for a walk in a stroller.
  • Take them for a drive in the car.
  • Give them a warm bath.
  • Put them in a swing or vibrating seat.
  • Play calming music.

Above all, don’t panic. While it may feel like your baby will never stop crying, them will grow out of it eventually. And you’ll soon come to recognise their needs better and more quickly, and what helps to calm them.

And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask family to come and help you – especially if you’re exhausted from lack of sleep. Let them help you with the laundry or cooking, and even give you a break by watching your baby while you sleep, or get out of the house for some peace and quiet for a while.

Remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup, and you need to take care of your needs in order to adequately care for your baby’s.

You will need specific items

Again, it won’t be surprising to learn that you’ll need to purchase specific things as a first time parent. Some of them – like a cot and diapers – are obvious, whereas others – like pushchair parasols to keep the sun off your baby – may not be.

It’s worth researching what you need, and asking friends and family. Then make a list. There can be a LOT to buy, so ask around if anyone has items they don’t need any more.

You can often find barely used (and even new) items on second hand websites. And while you may want to buy new with your first child, you’ll quickly realise it’s much more cost-effective and eco-friendly to borrow or buy second hand.

By planning ahead and buying items before you need them you’ll give yourself more time to source things you want and need more cheaply. If you wait until you need them urgently, you may be left buying new from local stores or online sites with next day delivery.

It’s all worth it

Between the lack of sleep and the crying, the early weeks, or even months, of parenthood can be hard. And it can feel endless at times, especially if you’re exhausted.

But these times will pass. And one day you’ll look back and treasure these early precious week – even the bad times!

Photo by Garrett Jackson