Parenting is one of the most rewarding, but also challenging, experiences a person can go through. The first two years in particular are filled with new milestones and changes - for both parents and child.
This blog post is designed to help new and expectant parents navigate those first two years as smoothly as possible. We'll provide tips on how to prepare practically, mentally, and emotionally for parenthood; where to find helpful resources when you need them; and what to expect during those early months and years. Congratulations on your upcoming arrival (or recent addition) - read on for advice from experienced parents!
When your child arrives, don't forget clothes to keep them warm and cozy! At Squid Socks, we offer unique, sticky baby socks that stay on even the most energetic of tots.
Finding Your Support Network
One of the first things to do when preparing for a new baby is to start thinking about your support network. Do you have family or friends nearby who can help out? Are there any babysitting co-ops or playgroups in your area? It's important to have people you can rely on, especially during those early weeks and months when you might be feeling sleep-deprived and overwhelmed. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help when you need it - most parents are happy to lend a hand (or a shoulder to cry on).
Check on Facebook and other social media networks to see if there are any parenting groups or meetups in your area. It helps early on to hear opinions on local child care options; who are the trustworthy baby sitters, the experienced pediatricians, and which day cares have the best amenities.
Post-partum depression is a real obstacle for mothers as well. If your insurance covers it, consider researching a qualified therapist to have on retainer in case you need it. Parenting is stressful, and having access to talk therapy can be incredibly helpful to keep you calm and collected in this challenging time.
Consider Your Home
Another practical consideration is your living situation. If you're renting, does your residence have enough space for children as they grow older? Are there any safety hazards in your home that need to be addressed before baby arrives?
If you own your home, are there any renovations or updates that need to be made to accommodate a new family member? Taking care of these things in advance (or at least planning a roadmap) will help reduce stress later on.
If you feel like you may need more space (or different space all together), here are some things to think about when considering moving your family. How much square-footage you'll need in your home to accommodate your growing family greatly depends on two things; how many kids will you be having in that home, and will you and your partner be working from home there as well?
As a great deal of the working world embraces working from home, this will affect your work life balance as you return from maternity/paternity leave. Will you have enough space to work comfortably and grant your child enough space to develop and explore as they grow up? This is definitely something worth considering if you or your partner will be working from home as you raise your child.
Understand What to Expect
Understanding the major milestones of child development can help you prepare to meet your babies needs as they evolve. It can also help you understand why your baby is crying, and how to best support them.
During the first few months, babies sleep a lot - usually 16-20 hours per day! They'll need to be fed every few hours, and will probably have their days and nights mixed up (so don't be surprised if they're wide awake at night!). Newborns also have very small tummies, so they'll need to eat often.
Around six weeks, you can start to introduce a bedtime routine (bath, story, etc.) which will help signal to your baby that it's time to sleep. At this age, they'll also start smiling and making cooing noises.
At three or four months, babies start to develop a stronger sense of identity and become more aware of their surroundings. They might startle at loud noises, and become more interested in people and objects around them. This is also the age when many babies start sleeping through the night.
From six months to one year, babies really start becoming mobile - they'll learn to sit up, crawl, and eventually walk. During this time, they'll also be working on their pincer grasp (the ability to pick up small objects between their thumb and forefinger), and will start to feed themselves and eat solid foods like veggies and meats. Eating chewier foods like baby carrots and celery can be beneficial to a child's dental development, so don't be scared to let them try new snacks!
Preparing for Parenthood Emotionally
Of course, it's not all practicalities and logistics when it comes to preparing for parenthood. It's also important to start thinking about the emotional and mental aspects of raising a child.
Are you and your partner on the same page when it comes to parenting philosophies? Have you talked about how you'll handle discipline, sleep training, screen time, etc.? It can be helpful to read books or articles on different parenting styles and decide what feels right for you.
There is no one "right" way to parent, but it's important to be on the same page as your partner to avoid conflict down the road. This isn't just important for your relationship, but for the development of the child. Setting clear, reasonable expectations and habits early on in a child's development is critical for their emotional development. Consistency is key in all things, not just parenting!
Last but not least, try to enjoy the ride! Parenthood is a wild and wonderful journey filled with ups and downs. There will be days when you feel like you're doing everything right, and days when you question everything you're doing. That's normal! The most important thing is to stay flexible, go with your gut, and reach out for help when you need it. Congratulations again - we wish you all the best on this amazing adventure.