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the early days: parents share 10 things they wish they’d known as first-time parents

4 minutes

08/10/2020

First baby? Don’t panic. We asked 10 WaterWipes mums and dads – who’ve been there, done it and bought the baby grow – to share their top tips for not only surviving but thriving during the wonderful, tumultuous, sleep-deprived first year of parenthood.

1. Weetabix is the strongest substance known to mankind.

“Scientists may claim that graphene is the strongest substance on Earth, but they’re wrong. It’s Weetabix. Fail to wipe it up before it dries, and it will say where it’s fallen forever. And ever. And ever. Get it gone quick!”

Tip provided by Elaine, mum to Becky, 3

2. Take sleep whenever you can get it.

“For me, the toughest part of being a first-time parent was the sleep deprivation. It’s like a form of torture, so if anyone offers to hold the baby so you can have a nap, TAKE THEM UP ON IT. I can’t stress this enough.”

Tip provided by Gabriella, mum to Liliana, 4

For more tips on coping with the extreme tiredness the first year of parenthood brings, read our sleep deprivation and baby article.

3. Baby grows are designed to be slid down NOT up.

“Typically, I only realised this after the fact, but yes, baby grows are designed to slide down a baby’s body, not over their head. The key is the extra material in the shoulders, which allow you to pull the neck of the grow wider. Trust me, you’ll thank me when poomageddon strikes!”

Tip provided by Sian, mum to Tristan, 3

4. This bit goes quickly so enjoy it as much as you can.

“It won’t feel like it at the time, but the first-year of parenting really does go by in the blink of an eye. You might not miss the sleepless nights, but you will miss their chubby cheeks and their tiny fingers and, and, and...”

Tip provided by Raphael, dad to Louis, 8

5. Find a song and just keep singing it and singing it and singing it.

“From the day she was born I sang Feed the Birds from Mary Poppins to my daughter as a way of soothing her. She’s five now and I still sing it to her every night. Actually, we sing it together these days, and she drifts off almost immediately afterwards. She just associates it with sleep.”

Tip provided by Kathryn, mum to Cora, 5

6. Have a room filled with muslins and WaterWipes.

“Okay, maybe an entire room is overdoing it, but certainly a cupboard’s worth. That first year of parenting is messier than you could possibly imagine.”

Tip provided by Susanna, mum to Niami, 7

Our newborn baby checklist has lots more helpful suggestions for things you might need during those busy first few days, weeks and months.

7. Don’t spend a fortune on expensive baby clothes.

“They will only wear some of them once before outgrowing them, and some not at all. Save your money for necessities or better still a family outing.”

Tip provided by Gen, dad to Kento, 7

8. Tune out the advice.

“There’s something about first babies that makes people want to offer you their opinion – from loved ones to complete strangers. As well-intentioned as their input may be, it can be a mental minefield for first-time parents, as for every piece of advice you’re offered in favour of something, you’ll find someone else who’s adamantly the other way. The quicker you learn to politely nod, smile and take on board only what you want, the happier your first year of parenting will be.”

Tip provided by Helena, mum to Bethan, 3

9. Check your plush new pram actually fits in your boot.

“Mine didn’t – and boy did I feel sheepish when the deliveryman arrived to take it back to the warehouse.”

Tip provided by Anya, mum to Rowan, 3

10. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

“You may think the other new mums and dads in your life are coping much better than you are but talk to them and you’ll see that they have exactly the same worries and concerns that you do. At the end of the day as long as your baby is happy and healthy then you’re doing great.”

Tip provided by Ricky, dad to Christopher, 2

Visit our parenting hub for more information and advice on the highs, lows and everything in between of first-time parenting. We’re here to help.

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