Becoming a mom is an exciting, touching and sometimes stressful experience, especially when the first child arrives. You might worry about everything, from the temperature in the baby’s room or the impact of family members’ visits to the quality of formula that you are feeding him, the shape of his head or the noise made by your neighbors when the child falls asleep.
With so much on your plate, you may risk to overlook all the magic and beauty that maternity holds and slip into a state of permanent worry that can sometimes lead to anxiety or depression.
Learning some parenting tips from people who know what they are talking about – doctors/parenting books authors and some of them, parents – may help you realize that you are actually doing a good job and that nothing is impossible when you’ re a mom.
Furthermore, parenting advice shared by other moms will enable you to look more confident towards the future and enjoy the time spent with your little one – a time filled with joy and emotions.
Here’s our list of parenting tips – we are confident you will find it useful :)
Spend plenty of time with your child, get to know him so you can customize your actions and responses to suit the baby’s needs. After all, according to Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D., author of “Smart Parenting for Smart Kids”, each child is a unique combination of strengths and challenges. And who doesn’t like a good challenge every now and then or, in this case, for the rest of your life? :)
According to Christine Hohlbaum, mother of two children and author of the book “The Power of Slow”, reading to your baby helps her or him build imagination. Moreover, we think this is one the best opportunity to bond with your baby, whether you choose to do it during the evening or in the afternoon. Remember that your baby knows your voice since he was in the wombs and that is one element that can soothe her or him in both peaceful and difficult times.
As a mom you might find yourself shelled by parenting tips in your newsfeed, “kind”, yet unrequested advices from your not-yet-a-mom colleague or nightmare scenarios in forums for new moms. That is why you always have to trust your instincts: knowledge comes first, yet, as Ari Brown, M.D., author of “Baby 411” says, even if you can’t know for sure what’s wrong when your child isn’t feeling well, your gut will tell you that he or she needs to be checked out.
Whenever you feel overwhelmed, angry or desperate, have a break. In any of these states, you cannot respond to your child in a helpful way. According to Dr. Kennedy-Moore, you don’t have to react immediately to very little thing that happens with your child. Instead, a short break can help you think things through and clear your mind so you can act properly.
Despite all the effort implied by being a mom, you cannot have a serious attitude all the time. Acting silly, laughing, making funny faces will not only strengthen the connection with your baby, but will also show her or him that grown-ups are not some frowning guys that don’t know how to have fun.
Just like Raquel D’Apice, the founder of “The Ugly Volvo” blog has discovered, this is easier said than done.
However, answering to all your child’s questions will enable his curious mind to develop and to enjoy exploring the surroundings. Moreover, your child will be confident that you are a reliable source of conversation because even if you don’t have all the answers, you are still always willing to listen.
Be prepared for resistance to food. Your baby will refuse lots of meals by spitting or throwing the food, but if you provide her a variety of foods and if you are patient, the baby will eat when she’ll be really hungry :)
And that’s confirmed also by Connie Diekman, R.D. from “Washington University” in St. Louis.
We know, it’s hard: raising a child while cleaning, cooking, ironing, doing the laundry or shopping seems at times too much to handle. But you need to find the resources to live in the present, to be present in your baby’s life. The moments that pass don’t return so you have to share them with your baby.
Just like Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., the author of “Sleeping Through the Night” says, going to bed early will provide your baby the sleep she or he needs and will also enable you to recharge your batteries for a fresh start in the morning.
Find people you can count on when you need to breathe – people who will speak only when they are asked and who will drop everything to help you out (just like you would do for them). As Lacey Dunkin, single mom of six puts it, “love them hard and thank them often”.
Since the two of you are in this together, allow your partner to read, bath or change the diaper of the little one. This way, the baby will bond also with his father, while you will be able to take a break and reset your engines :)
Show your child every second of every day how much you love him or her and how special he or she is. There is no such thing as “too much love” when it comes to growing a self confident, positive and happy child :)
The relationship with your child is one of the most important relationships of your life. That’s not just because you gave birth to a tiny human being who will become a person, but because the connection between a mother and her child is really capable to resist through time, difficult moments or distance. And sometimes just telling your child what to do isn’t enough. Sometimes, stating your adult rules might be confusing for the small person in front of you. And this can create frustration for you as a mom.
The solution is to become your child’s teacher or, if you prefer the term, coach. This means you will need to show in detail to your child how to behave, that you will help him or her practice a certain behavior and that you will encourage the child at each step of the way by providing constructive criticism when necessary.
Becoming your child’s teacher implies also helping him or her express how he or she feels and putting yourself in your child’s shoes.
A good teacher always listens carefully and uses a confident tone of voice to calm down an upset child. You will need to use open ended questions, don’t interrupt and repeat what you heard as a confirmation that you have listened.
Make sure you provide clear and simple directions that your child will understand and have him repeat when necessary.
Explore choices of how and when your child must comply a request – it will give her or him a sense of control over own life instead of feeling like a puppet on a string.
The results of a teacher working with kids aren’t always visible immediately, so expect small, yet important steps that your child will take in embracing the changes you have designed.
In the end, the most important advice is: think about how you would like to be addressed by a teacher, what type of rules and behavior from your teacher would actually help you achieve a goal and what actions or words from a teacher’s part would discourage you.
Apply the good, remove the bad and just trust your instincts and your child.
Becoming a mom is often different than what you expect after all that reading during pregnancy, because no matter how ready you think you are, sometimes the reality beats the movie :)
One of the biggest challenges of your new status is the lack of sleep. Even if you have a so called “quiet child”, you still need to wake up to feed him, change him, soothe, walk or sing to him or her. And since this is happening, in the first weeks, every 2 to 4 hours, it’s easy to understand how exhaustion can soon be your permanent state of mind.
In order to “survive” the lack of sleep, remind yourself every second that this also shall pass, that is something every mom goes through and that will help you evolve as a person. Putting things into perspective can really help you through this period with less stress on your hands.
The struggle with breastfeeding is one of the toughest you’ll ever have! The pressure to breastfeed comes from everybody – doctors, family, friends, media, other moms – and in the first weeks you may have moments when you will feel like a bad mom because you don’t seem to do it right. But actually you need to think things through. Breastfeeding doesn’t come natural! Not from the beginning! It can take hours and hours of struggle and practice until you get it right. What if you don’t get it right? Well, as Lisa Spiegel (co-director of “Soho Parenting” in New York City and co-author of “A Mother's Circle: An Intimate Dialogue on Becoming a Mother”) and Jean Kunhardt say, “the most important thing is that feedings are comfortable for you and your baby”. Or, in other words: if you're always stressed and frustrated while you're nursing, you’re not doing any good to your child or to yourself.
So if breastfeeding isn't going well after few weeks, get help from a lactation consultant or other moms who have nursed their children. If a month passes by and you are still frustrated, without any improvement after receiving help, there is no CRIME in switching to formula: your baby won’t become ill, be cursed or die just because he or she wasn’t breastfed!
Feeling fat is another challenge you might face when becoming a new mom. The illusion that just like famous movie stars you will be able to fit into your pre-birth jeans in a second after your child is born will actually disappear as soon as you realize you don’t have a nanny, a masseur or a personal trainer who can help you exercise all day long. Don’t feel discouraged! Most moms need at least one year to get into shape. But not into their “before birth” shape. As Jean Kunhardt suggests, "childbirth comes with war wounds. Suddenly, you've got varicose veins, your hips are wider, and your hair is falling out - you may even be suffering from the baby blues."
You can cope with this if you remind yourself that those extra pounds serve an important goal: they are supplies that your body uses for breastfeeding. And if you can’t exercise “like a pro”, choose small steps, such as walking with your baby in the stroller.
As for what your partner might think about your new appearance, which doesn’t want to go away after you give birth, try to give him some credit: he will want so much that you reconnect as a couple, that he might not care about the extra pounds.
These are just three of the multiple challenges you might face as a new mom. Others wait out there. If you keep your calm, be patient, listen to your body and instinct and know your child, you and your baby will be just fine.
The things written in this article have already given you a glimpse of how a child changes your life. Everything from sleeping time to being alone for 5 minutes, changes. But the most important changes, we think, are not those related to your schedule, career plans, daily chores, budget or regaining your silhouette. The most important changes that happen when your first child arrives are the inner ones.
Examples? We’ve got some :)
"Strange as it may sound, one overpowering new feeling I had when I had my first child was, 'Wow, so this is how much my mom loves me!' My love for my own child was so visceral, it made me appreciate my own mom so much more." That’s what Keli Fisher, a new mom said, when she was asked by a magazine about the changes maternity brought her.
Another mom, JeanMarie Morrise, speaks about being offered a new perspective: “you see the world in a different way. It's much scarier and more dangerous now, yet at the same time you get to see things through the eyes of an innocent child, with wonder and amazement. A crawling caterpillar is more entertaining than Dora, a field of dandelions is not weeds - it's hundreds of wish flowers – and lemonade is the best drink ever!"
For Leanne Kaufmann Wellert, another mom, it’s a change in self-confidence: "I was surprised by how confident I've become. When I look in the mirror, I think I look more beautiful than before ever, though I know I look no different. I just feel like being a mom gives me the confidence to not care so much what other people think."
These are the testimonies of three moms which began to see and feel the world differently when they had their first child. And they prove once again that there is nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her child to feel comfortable, healthy and happy. And while spending quality time with your child, learning with and from him and just be present by active listening are few of the most important tools to provide all that, you can get some extra help from other sources.
Learning some parenting tips from people who know what they are talking about – doctors/parenting books authors and some of them, parents – may help you realize that you are actually doing a good job and that nothing is impossible when you’re a mom.
Some of the most delightful moments spent with your child come when you dress him or her in a funny, cute or elegant outfit, when you see her playing cheerfully, when you take him out to long walks just the two of you or when you see your child sleep peacefully with little smiles every now and then while he’s dreaming.
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