My daughter will be turning a year old in a few weeks, and barring any last minute parenting failures, she will have made it to the 12 month mark safe, healthy and uninjured (although she did fall off the couch once and almost choked on a French fry twice). Making it to the one year mark is an accomplishment my wife and I are particularly proud of. We learned very quickly that raising a child is not easy, and from the looks of it parenting will only get harder, but whatever happens from here on out we can always say that we survived the first year with our sanity intact (experts believe that 75 percent of parents do not). So to celebrate here are 6 tips for surviving the first year of parenting.
Tip #6: Start diaper hoarding early
Yes, I said diaper hoarding. Diapers are expensive and after a few months it will feel like your baby is pooping directly into a wad of dollar bills. My advice is to start buying diapers as soon as you find out you are expecting. During her baby shower my wife raffled off a gift basket of… well I am not exactly sure what she raffled off, I guess whatever it is women enjoy these days (Reese Witherspoon movies?). The point is my wife held a raffle for anyone who brought a pack of diapers to the baby shower. At the time I was annoyed because I had to carry a huge load of diapers to the car, but it all paid off when we did not have to buy diapers for the first 6 months of parenthood!
Tip #5: Learn to be an expert diaper Changer
I know what you’re thinking, and yes the first two tips are really about diapers. The first year of parenting is dominated by diapers and poop. And learning how to change a diaper as quickly and efficiently as possible will make your life so much easier. When my daughter was first born I would fumble around with the diaper, make a mess and always get poop on my hand. Messy diapers are cute at the beginning, but that charm dies out very fast. Changing a diaper is like going to the DMV, you just want to get in and out as quickly as possible. Nowadays, I can change a diaper in 5.8 seconds flat. I am also positive that I could change 10 diapers in under a minute. I have never attempted to do it, but if you would like to let me borrow 10 babies, I’d be happy to try.
Tip: #4: Become a baby whisperer
Babies love to cry. They cry when they’re happy and cry when they’re sad; they cry when they’re hungry, and cry when they’re full. My advice is to master as many techniques to quieting a baby as you can. Learn the swaddle, the shush, the football hold, the football hold and shush, and the mother of all techniques the swaddle combined with the football hold and shush (and no I am not making these terms up). Dealing with a crying baby is one of the most helpless feelings a new parent has to deal with and learning how to quiet your baby is a confidence builder. Once you successfully do it a couple of times you cannot stop. I remember trying to shush every baby within an arms distance. But I should also warn you these techniques only work on newborns, after 7 or 8 months your baby will laugh of any attempts to get her to sleep.
Tip #3: Make your own baby food
If I didn’t mention it before, I will mention it now, babies are expensive. I wish I could say we make our own baby food because it’s healthier, safer, and the responsible thing to do, but I can’t. We make our baby food because it’s so darn expensive to buy it! Those $1 or $2 dollar food packs start to add up over the course of a month. When our daughter was ready to start eating baby food, we waited a few months before cooking her food at home. Making the food seemed like a daunting task. It was something we did not want to mess up, but it ended up being easier than we expected. There are many recipes online, but the basics are boiling or steaming vegetables and fruits, putting them in a blender, then straining and freezing the food. I personally think the homemade food taste better than the store bought food, and it also has the added benefit of making me feel like a responsible parent.
Tip #2: Read up:
Parenting is a skill and not an innate sense that you are born with. Learn as much about parenting as you can so you can to sharpen those skills. I advise that you try to practice proactive parenting. Think about the parenting style that you want to have and find a way to implement it. Do not be passive and wait for parenting opportunities to hit you in the face because you may not react the way you should. Read a few books, and talk with your parenting partner about the challenges of raising a new born. It is easier to know exactly what you will do when a parenting situations arises, instead of reacting on the fly. I know that it is difficult- my daughter recently start throwing things. She will throw her bottle and pacifier as far as she can. But I have thought about this behavior, and even though it is frustrating, I have a plan of action in my head and know what I should do (take her back to the hospital).
Tip #1: Enjoy every minute of parenthood
I know it is cliché; I know it is trite, but my last tip is to enjoy every moment. Parenting is a gift, and I advise that you relish every moment; every smile; every hug; every kiss. The moments fly by faster than you realize and will quickly turn into months and years. You do not want to wake up 20 years from now and realize that you were not the best parent you could have been. The first year of parenting will fly by. Your baby will go from sleeping 20 hours a day to not wanting to sleep at all. Enjoy every moment, try to keep your sanity, and with in the blink of an eye you will be planning your child’s first birthday party, while celebrating the fact that you survived your first year of parenting.