20 Best Tips to Being a New Parent

by Jennifer Polk, MA, Ed.

  1. Prepare Ahead of Time: Before the baby arrives, both parents need to take a first aid/child CPR Class.
  2. Baby Proof, Baby Proof, and more Baby Proofing: IKEA and Home Depot have great items to help you with this. Look for electrical outlet covers, drawer and cabinet latches, baby gates and many other required items.
  3. Emergency Bag: This is different from the everyday diaper bag. This bag is left in the car and used only during emergencies.
  4. Contents for a baby:

    • Backpack
    • (5) spare diapers
    • (3) bibs plastic backed (for droolers)
    • Baby wipes
    • Large zip lock bag (used for dirty diapers)
    • Sun screen
    • Vaseline
    • Baby cream
    • Liquid hand sanitizer (every time a person wants to hold the baby I suggest using this, also carry some in your regular diaper bag and/or purse)
    • All the above should be kept in a large zip lock bag (so if anything ruptures, it won’t contaminate the other contents)
    • Baby hat
    • One cool outfit and one warm outfit for the baby
    • Extra baby blanket (Can be used to put over the stroller if it is too sunny, windy, rainy, or you are trying to get the baby to sleep. You can also use it to cover up if breast feeding, to clean up messes or to keep the baby warm. One use I’ve found is to put it in a crack in the car window for shade or to cover the car seat on hot days so when you get back to the car the seat is cool.)
    • Extra shirt for yourself (Believe me you will use it!)
    • Snacks and a bottle of water. Pack items that will not spoil for awhile
    • Extra pacifier
    • Extra baby toys

    Contents for a Child:

      Remove the diapers, pacifier, baby toys, outfits, and baby cream from your emergency bag and replace those items with:

    • (5) large zip lock bags
    • one child’s outfit
    • A baby portable toilet seat. We bought ours at The 99¢ Store. (It’s great to have when potty training, long car rides, camping and/or if you are a dad with a daughter and you don’t want to expose your child to the Men’s Room.) I have to admit I’ve used it once myself during a nightmarish camping trip.
    • Make sure you put the waste in the zip lock bags and find a trash can. For toilet paper, you can use the baby wipes.
  5. Little Tikes Swing (Toys R Us $20): You can use this item from baby to five years old. Make sure you attach it into studs of wall. My daughter loves her swing it is in her room. It really helps to relax children.
  6. Baby Bath Seat (Toys R Us $15): Baby must be able to sit on their own for this item. Having the baby in the seat frees your hands up to soap up the baby. Don’t leave baby alone in tub, even in seat.
  7. For teethers: Freeze fruit. To avoid a noisy rejection, make sure your baby has had that fruit at least twice before.
  8. Tips on sleeping: Don’t let your baby sleep with you, even if you are breast feeding. Get your baby used to sleeping in their own crib. When bringing the baby home for the first time, new parents have the tendency to be very quiet when the baby is asleep. Just go on with your normal activities. Babies will sleep through anything. Don’t get them used to dead silence because then they will expect it every time. This is true for many things. Babies and children in general stipulate to certain behaviors. For example: If you peel fruit, cut the crust off sandwiches, or other little niceties, ask yourself one important question: ARE YOU WILLING TO DO THIS THE REST OF YOUR LIFE??
  9. Routine, Routine, Routine: This is very important to babies and pretty much all children, that plus consistency really do make for a happy baby and even happier parent.
  10. Talk, Sing and Sign to your baby: Babies have been known to communicate using American Sign Language before they can talk. My daughter produced her first sign at 10 months. There are many benefits to teaching your baby some signs:
    • The baby can communicate their needs which decreases their frustration.
    • Research has shown they tend to talk earlier and have a larger vocabulary.
    • Long term research has shown children have an increase of 11 points on an IQ test and higher scores in both reading and language tests. Here is a website that has an ASL dictionary. I started with just 2 signs at first: more and all done. Here are some other suggested signs: food, drink, bathroom, play, I love you, mother, father, dirty, sleepy, sick, happy, and sad. Website for American Sign Language
  11. Diaper Rash Prevention: Let baby go without a diaper 5 minutes a day. They love it and this really cuts down on the rashes.
  12. Clothing tips: Loose, 100%, cotton items with no tags. Wash all items in mild detergent before wearing them. To get the most wear for each item, buy clothing a little bigger then what the baby/child wears. Become friends with other mothers and have baby outfit swapping parties.
  13. Baby Classes: Join a baby class. Most Community Colleges offer these classes for FREE. I’ve made many friends and have learned many useful things from the baby class.
  14. Ident-A-Kid: This is an organization that for a small fee ($4.00) they will take your child’s picture, finger prints, description, and DNA and produce a card for you to have. This is in the worst case scenario that your child gets kidnapped/lost you will have all the information for the police right at hand allowing them to put out an Amber Alert much quicker. As you child grows they change and I suggest you up date the card once a year. Website for Ident-A-Kid
  15. Emergency Release Form: This is a letter you can make on your computer that states the person that is in charge of your child has full authority to grant medical attention to your child. Have your doctor’s name, phone number, address, any allergies your child might have, and insurance information. When allowing anyone to watch your child, even family members, give them this letter with your signature and date. Have them sign it too. As the law states, unless it is a life threatening injury, hospitals will not touch your child without the consent of the parent. (Believe me, from personal experience, 15 hours of waiting in the ER room with a split chin with my grandmother, the letter would have been really useful.)
  16. Breast Feeding Pillow: Great for the obvious also great for tummy time for your infant and once they start learning how to sit it helps with stabilizing them. It is round like a donut and can be bought at Toys R Us or Target.
  17. Memories, Memories, and more Memories: When the infant first comes home from the hospital take their picture with their favorite stuffy. Take their picture every so often with the same stuffy. As they grow you can see the great changes in these pictures. My daughter is five and we have 9 pictures of her and Ducky. We bought a multi frame picture holder and framed them. Another great idea is dress your baby up in their cutest outfit, take a picture of them, when they have out grown the outfit put the picture and the outfit in a hope chest for when they are older. They will get a real kick out of seeing themselves in such a small outfit. It might even be worth framing. Growing Chart is a must. My last suggestion is: From day one from the hospital start a baby diary. You don’t have to write in it everyday. Just write in it when the baby or child does something remarkable, funny and/of cute. You will love to read it when the child is 5 and they love to have you read it to them over and over again.
  18. Tips on toys: Make sure the toys you buy are age appropriate and if possible educational. Don’t buy toys that have a lot of very small pieces. Side note: If you can put the piece down a paper towel roll your child can choke on it. Store half of them in a closet and the other half in an easy accessible container (No lid). Once a month rotate the toys, so they don’t get bored. Each toy has their own little container or bag. For example there is a small box that has my daughter’s Barbie dolls in it; there is a bag of Lego’s, and a bag of animals. These all go into the toy box. She is allowed to have two items out at one time. Once she is finished playing she picks them up and puts them away before getting anything else out. Does this sound too anal? Well does constantly picking up mess after mess up sound like fun to you? It doesn’t to me. Start teaching your child at a young age they have to be responsible for their things. Help them at first but when they are capable to pick up on their own they should. Once every four months go through their toys/clothes and get rid of the ones that are no longer age appropriate or broken.
  19. Sickness: Have the 24 hour nurse hotline number handy for the middle of the night emergencies. Most health insurance plans carry this program. Pedi Pops are also good to get if your child doesn’t like taking cough syrup. For fevers, Baby Tylenol is a good thing to have on hand, but also call the nurse hotline before administrating it. If baby has a fever, is cranky, and pulling at its ear it is probably an ear infection. Some babies get a fever when teething too. Hand washing is a great habit to get into and to teach your child.
  20. Sun Protection: Have your baby wear a hat and get used to putting sunscreen on them everyday and re-applying frequently. Most sunburns happen on overcast days.
  21. Cherish every moment: Babies grow up fast and when they are toddlers and want you to play tea party or the Dinosaur game again for the hundredth time just remember, one day they will not want to hang out with you. Even more sadly, they will be embarrassed to be seen in public with you. So play those games with a smile because those times are fading fast!

Information published on The Rainbow Babies website is not a substitute for proper medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or care. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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