The fun news is that my husband and I are about to be an aunt + uncle to our first niece or nephew this summer....due right around Benjamin's b-day! We're ecstatic for them, and for our children to have a cousin close to their ages. As they take flight into their new roles as parents, I began to reflect upon all my husband and I have learned so far. They say to teach is to learn twice, so here are our... Top 10 Parenting Tips arriving in good timing for us to review too for baby number two!
1. Don't feel obligated to let everyone hold your baby, or come over to see your new baby until you and your partner feel it's a good time. There's a lot of adjustments/changes going on with your new family, which justify you being as protective as you want and need to be. I know many people will feel as if it's their right to see/hold your new child, but you should really try to avoid feeling pressure to give in to anything you don't feel comfortable with. Your baby will pick up on this stress and not be happy, so put he/she first by speaking up for your instincts.
2. Invest in a NICE glider/rocker for you and your child. Our comfy upholstered glider/ottoman was pricey, but soooo worth it from the day we brought home our infant, to today when we find our now toddler climbing in it for story time.
3. Ignore baby/child sleep advice! My husband and I are both convinced that babies each come with their own sleep schedule that shouldn't be forced. Not only is it very confusing, it's like interrupting nature! As much as people love to make comments on babies/children staying up too late, sleeping too much, or during the day- who cares, it's what they need at that given time for healthy brain development, growth spurt, or to fight an illness. At about 2 mon. we finally ignored everyone's advice by immediately putting him down to sleep whenever he first yawned or showed signs of sleepyness, and by 4 mon. (typical time) our son was sleeping 8-10 hrs. through the night, and by 15 mon. taking a reg. 3 hr. nap during the day and sleeping 12 hrs. per night. Good night to that!
4. I know this one is controversial, but I've chosen to include it anyway. Immunizations are fine, fine, fine. I can't tell you how much I worried and researched over this topic. I of course am solely speaking as the parent of our one healthy 18 mon. old child. I am not a doctor, but simply wish to share the experience we've had with our son who has had all of the scheduled shots on schedule except for the flu shot at 1 yr. which I read NOT to combine with the other shots also given during that visit. For his flu vaccine I came in a little less than a month later for the first round (they split into 2 shots for kids) of the preservative-free flu shot and another month later for the second. One month after that was his 15 mon. visit, so perfect spacing/timing with all of those. Also, our dr. chooses NOT to administer the MMR shot at the 1 yr. visit since the side effects are different from some of the other shots given at that time. Since the MMR shot is the supposed shot with all of the autism worry we liked that he was just a few months older when he got it, but still do not believe any of the autism claims to be well founded/proven enough for us to risk him getting infected with a life-threatening illness.
5. No TV before the age 1. We read numerous articles that support this practice, as well as the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) who recommend no TV until age 2. We felt like 2 was a little extreme, so we decided on age 1, after he'd already passed many of those physical and mental milestones like grasping objects, sitting up, rolling over, walking, etc. since we wanted those to be his main sources of entertainment. I'm so glad we practiced this early because our son is now only briefly interested in watching TV and still gets MUCH more excited by actual interaction.
6. Brush teeth in the tub. This recommendation came from our dentist. He suggested this time since they're already all wet and can be easily distracted. We started with fluoride-free toddler toothpaste on a wet washcloth when his first teeth came in and are just now about to switch to a toothbrush. Works like a charm. While on the topic of hygiene, read on if you have a boy...it will be very handy for you to keep a stack of washcloths/rags nearby the changing station for when they unexpectedly go number 1! :O
7. Don't turn down hand-me-downs. If someone would've asked me while I was pregnant (with our first) if we were interested in used baby clothes, I would've politely declined. I just assumed they would be....well, used. After our son hit about 5-6 mon. of age and we had spent lots of $$$ on dressing his rapidly growing body, we decided to consider some offers and guess what, MOST of them were really cute and in great condition!
8. The day-to-day tasks of a parent often seem endless. That's why this cool "One Minute Rule" is worth trying. I heard about this from another blog and love it. It's basic principle is that accomplishment feeds on itself and we can do a lot in a small amount of time. So simple, but so true! Check it out in its entirety here. I also HIGHLY recommend playing music as often as possible. It really doesn't matter what kind- your kid will dance to whatever you do! We have a cheap-o iPod speaker set that I keep in our kitchen and so far it's worked great and has been such a fantastic mood booster.
9. Hold back on urges to buy your child the latest and greatest toys/play equipment, etc. because they will slowly begin to take over your house! They can also be big wastes of $ when you consider how long your child will actually be interested in them. One trick we practice is rotating our son's toys out by hiding some of them under the stairs every so often (kids start to forget what's not in front of them every day), so when we pull them back out again, they're like brand new. I've also done a couple of blog posts on how to create fun play things out of stuff found around the house and best of all...they're free! Don't forget museums, music and swim classes are all healthy forms of entertainment too.
10. Enjoy your time as a parent by giving your children your fullest attention whenever possible. This applies whether you work outside the home or not, as the gift of your time is the most important gift to them ever. This idea of solely tuning into my child took me a good while since I once was a queen multi-tasker, but am so glad we've now found our own unique rhythm to really connect/bond with one another. Yes, being a parent is very time consuming but just remember that the stages of a child's life are temporary and they'll eventually need you less and less as they grow older. I love this quote by Hester Mudis..."Don’t make a living at the expense of life. There is no such thing as a nonworking mother.” as itreminds me that it's worth sacrificing my career momentarily, since we can never get those precious first moments back. It's also so true what they say about scheduling in time for yourself, and making dates with your spouse. A little goes a long way~
That's it, our Top Ten 10 Parenting Tips in a nutshell. And when all else fails, just follow your instincts! Hope these help all of you parents-to-be out there, or bring new perspective to you current ones.