Caring for young children is something you can’t truly understand until you’ve been through it. The experience is unique for everyone, but suddenly taking on responsibility for another individual can be terrifying, especially with all that’s going on around you. Here are a few tips to keep in mind during those first few years.
Parents need healthy, nourishing meals too! Even though you may have little time to spend in the kitchen, by eating right, you keep your energy up to deal with anything that could come your way. Whether you opt for premade freezer meals, meal kit subscriptions, or takeout, try to map out a loose plan to keep you and your partner well-fed and healthy during the early days and throughout your child’s development. Having nutritious snacks on hand is a good idea too, so you can grab a quick bite whenever you have a spare minute.
Have a friend who’s willing to drop off extra food for you? Maybe a parent who’s excited to spend time with their grandchild? Your friends and family would love to pitch in where needed. Many people—especially those with kids themselves—know that the first few stages of parenthood can be challenging. Feel free to accept those meals and take the opportunity to catch up on some sleep if grandma has the baby. After all, it takes a village!
New parents are often unsure about how best to care for their child. But the truth is, there is no right way. Different babies and children need different approaches, and if they’re loved and cared for, they’ll turn out just fine. Some worry is normal, but if you’re feeling stressed out and filled with anxiety, make sure you talk to someone, whether it’s a trusted friend, family member, or professional, to help you sort out these emotions and productively manage them.
Babies and children can at times seem impossibly fragile. How are you expected to bathe, change, carry and play with these tiny beings without hurting them? It’s natural to be concerned, but children are generally just fine with normal handling. A little bump here and there is unlikely to cause lasting harm and is something most tots experience at some point or another. That said, if you’re worried about a particular incident, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor or a healthcare professional, even if just to put your mind at ease.
When the nights feel endless with a crying baby, you haven’t had a minute to yourself in days and when it feels like you might never sleep again, remember that this too shall pass. It might feel like forever, but slowly, babies and toddlers begin to lengthen their naps and drop their feeds. You’ll become more attuned to their needs, making your interactions more joyful and fulfilling for both of you. As they grow and become ever-so-slightly less dependent on you, you may find you even miss the newborn stage!
Becoming a parent isn’t easy, but it’s also one of the richest and most rewarding experiences you can have. Remember to take care of yourself, and reach out to others if you need support, whether it’s a helping hand or a listening ear. And try to enjoy and cherish the early stages of life as much as you can—they only stay young for so long!