Welcome to Which? Conversation’s Prepare For Parenthood page. You’ve been on a journey of discovery and now the fun really begins!
Working for Which? means I generally expect to have lots of info on how to get the most from things and make informed choices. Having a baby can throw that all out the window. I made an informed choice about where to give birth and streamlined the kitting-out process by investing in a number of Which? Best Buys. But what do I do now the baby is here?
I found I learned the most by getting to know my baby and sharing things with friends, families and other new parents I met. So, in the spirit of sharing, here are some of my top tips for new parents.
Say ‘yes, please!’ when someone offers to help
I’m very fortunate that my parents live close by and came around every week to change our bed linen for the first six weeks. I had an emergency caesarean and was surprised by how immobile I was, so I relied heavily on people helping me. The fresh bed linen was a small gesture, but so luxurious. I felt like I was living in a hotel in those early weeks, with meals on wheels being brought round by both sets of grandparents.
Use technology to your advantage
I was a bit reluctant to use any ‘development’ apps. I feel babies develop in different ways at different stages. But I loved (and still use) an app called Feed Baby. I used it to document feeds, temperatures, and medicine. I’ve found that so helpful, especially when sleep-deprived and questioning just how long that temperature has lasted or when I last gave paracetamol.
Do a good deed
We’ll all have those days when it’s a miracle you managed to brush your hair/eat a sandwich/make it out the house (delete as appropriate). If you see someone at a playgroup or other parent gathering reach out and say hi. I remember speaking to a lady who had come out for second time in four months and had got two buses to get to the playgroup only to sit shyly in the corner. It’s new to us all and we’re definitely all out of our comfort zone.
Join online support groups
My son is now a year and a half and a fussy eater. I belong to a brilliant closed food group on Facebook (closed being the ideal thing for me – I’m sure my other friends on Facebook aren’t interested in how many pancakes my son ate for breakfast). It’s called Friendly First Foods and there’s a great network of parents sharing nutritious recipes and despairing when the dinner ends up on the floor.
Don’t be afraid to swap and trade
My networks of mums are really good at swapping things out. If it doesn’t work for one baby it might work for another. I’ll never forget a good friend who stepped in to donate her Ewan the Sheep when ours packed in!
I hope I’ve helped guide you through at least part of the maze that is early parenthood with our tips. All that’s left for me to do is welcome you to use this space to continue that journey and share tips and advice with other parents.