So I thought I’d share my top 10 tips for new parents.
I have been working with babies and their families for quite a few years now and conversations often revolve around similar topics. Like do you get poo’d on or peed on? (Yes, it’s fine if it’s from a baby not so fine from anyone else) how did you get them to go to sleep so fast? (wrap them shush them and stay calm- they can sense your fear) You must be so patient? (no, I am in fact very inpatient generally, I am very stubborn and I like to win) Can you come to my house at 3 am and settle him? (ah no.)
Read my top 10 tips for new parents here and add your top tips in the comments below!
1. You can never have enough nappies.
Stockpile those things before baby arrives and honestly Huggies make the best newborn nappies. Use any old nappy later when your baby is a bit chunkier but those little skinny newborn legs need a teeny nappy. I have tried all the brands and for the newborn stage, Huggies are the smallest fit, which is so important if you want to avoid leakage! We always have a supply in the studio because they are little and hideaway nicely in wraps and outfits. I actually think their wipes are the best too, but I have to admit I haven’t really experimented with other brands too much because I trust what works.
2. Your boobs are not taps.
Nobody told me when I was pregnant with my first child that my boobs would leak milk. I just thought it would only come out when the baby sucked and the rest of the time it would be like a closed tap. I was so wrong! haha, in case I am not the only one who didn’t know- your boobs are gonna leak- especially in the first few months while you are both adjusting to feeding. They’ll leak when you hear a baby cry, when they are too full or I swear sometimes they just leak for fun! Breast pads are your friend!! I don’t have a recommendation on a brand (I mean I had my last baby in 2003 so..) but I do like the ones that come individually wrapped so you can keep them sterile and in your bag for emergencies.
3. Fed is best.
The number of times I have had new mums in tears over breastfeeding is incredible. I can totally relate, I had the hardest time feeding my first baby and it did not come easy. Just because it is natural doesn’t mean its gonna be easy or feel natural. It was the most uncomfortable and painful part of having my first baby, more than childbirth, for me. My daughter refused a bottle for at least 5 months and left me cracked bleeding and in agony. I was just lucky to not get mastitis. I had no help from nurses or doctors who were trained to push breastfeeding as if it was the only option. I am a big believer in trying it and pushing through the first few weeks while you get the hang of it, but, I am also a big believer in maternal mental health and if breastfeeding is drastically damaging your relationship or experience of motherhood, then there is nothing wrong with bottle feeding and even formula feeding. If you do have more children try again, even if your first experience sucked (no pun intended haha!) My second child, latched and fed like he’d been training for it for 9 months in the womb. It was a peaceful and lovely experience and the total opposite of my first time.
4. Dummies, pacifiers whatever you want to call them.
Now midwives will scare you that your baby will get confused if you give them a dummy and they won’t breastfeed. This could be true to a degree but I haven’t seen it. What I have seen is babies use their mums as a pacifier. Of course, this is fine and breastfeeding is not just for food etc, etc I get it, but sometimes mum just needs a break! Some babies are just suckers, they like to suck a lot and some don’t really care. So many parents will tell me that their baby won’t take a dummy and I always ask if I can try- even if it’s just for the photoshoot. It can make the difference between getting the shot or losing them to a full meltdown! Parents are often surprised that they will take it from me, it just takes a bit of persistence and it helps to hold it in for them to learn to latch. Soothies are my go-to dummy in the studio followed up by Jollypops. Jollypops are good because they are individually wrapped and pre-sterilised so you can keep a few in your nappy bag.
5. Babies love noise.
I know it goes against instinct but trust me babies love noise. Vacuum cleaners, hairdryers, washing machines, and any white noise maker you can get like the Baby-shusher. They’ve been inside the womb with all the noise of blood wooshing, heartbeats and stomach gurgles for 9 months so keep the tv on, turn on the vacuum and watch them not even flinch!
6. Burrito baby
All babies love to be wrapped. Nice and snug. Yes, they may seem like they don’t like it because they are always getting their arms out but that is the point. The familiarity of pushing against a firm surface calms them down, I can’t even count the number of times a crying baby has settled as soon as they are wrapped up nice and tight. The trick to this I find is to wrap them in something with a bit of stretch in it so they can wiggle and push without getting out.
7. Don’t worry, your love will multiply.
I remember like it was yesterday, pregnant with my second baby, watching my first baby while she slept. I whispered and cried and promised her that I would always love her the most, that the new baby was never going to change that and she would always have my whole heart. I was terrified that a) I wouldn’t love the new baby as much as my daughter and b) that I would love the new baby more. I felt like I was cheating my daughter and undeserving of my soon to be born son. Motherhood is tough. All I can say is that once my son arrived I loved him so much, equally to my daughter and nothing changed about how I felt about her. My heart really did grow with enough love for them both. I was also suddenly OBSESSED with getting photos of them together. There is something incredible for parents to have images of both their babies together. I think it stems back to the feeling of equal love you have for them. I see this all the time with my clients and I always make an extra effort to get multiple cute shots of kids together even though, as most of my parents will tell you, it is often the hardest part of any session! Totally worth it though!
8. If you’re struggling, ask for help.
We don’t talk about it often enough, but motherhood is not always the blissful experience it is portrayed to be. The changes your body goes through to make a baby are crazy and it is ok to not be ok. I struggled with postnatal depression after my first baby. It was horrible, awful and isolating. It was certainly not spoken of as much in 2001 as it is now and it is still not spoken of enough. If you are feeling persistent feelings of dread, fear, anxiety, panic, anger or anything that tells you to harm yourself or your baby, please know you are not alone and you can get through this with help. Reach out to someone you trust, your GP or baby health nurse. There are lots of resources online too. Don’t try and tough it out, it’s ok to get help.
9. The hardest stage is always the stage you’re in.
Being a mother of teenagers (very nearly adults) I often get asked by my newborn parents which stage is the hardest? The hardest stage is always the stage you’re in. I look back now with a fondness for those newborn days, the cuddles, the feeding, the simplicity of it all. At the time I thought I was going to die! The sleep deprivation, the inevitable (often false) sounds of a crying baby the minute you get in the shower, the poop and never-ending nappy changes, the bleeding nipples etc, etc At the time I couldn’t wait for it to pass, I wished it away. But the truth is each age and stage comes with its own highs and lows and you will feel nostalgic for it all at one time or another. Try and savor it, even when its tough, one day you’ll miss it.
10. It will all go by too fast.
I know you’ve probably heard it from your own parents or friends but it is so true when they say that the days are long and the years are short. It feels like yesterday I was a new mother, I wish I had slowed down a little more, played a little more, cuddled a little more and memorised it all better. One day when your kids are older and off on their own, it feels like a break-up. These people you have spent every minute with for 18 or so years suddenly are more interested in everything and anyone around them than they are in you. The same ones who would never let you use the toilet or shower alone only a few short years ago now will spend most of their time away from you (even if it is just in their rooms on the phone) it is bittersweet. I know this is also just a stage and they’ll come back around but believe me, it really will all go by too fast.
Of course, all the above advice is based on my experience and your experience may be different. I’m not a doctor just a newborn baby photographer and obviously another mum just handing out advice. The most important thing I can tell you is that you’re gonna be ok, trust your gut and if something feels wrong, speak to a professional.
Whats your best tip for new parents? Drop it in the comments below.
I’ll be over here taking the pretty photos of all the cute babies and if you want me to take some cute photos of your baby, get in touch, I’d love to meet you and hear your story too!