5 things we wish we knew as first-time parents

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First-time parents? Planning on having your first kid? Already on its way?

We just had our second one a couple of weeks ago and it’s amazing how we “ignored” almost everything in five years.

But we remembered pretty fast.

And that got us an amazing head start compared to our first time.

We are much calmer parents today than we were five years ago when we had our first son. And we are enjoying a lot more these first few weeks of our newborn when compared to the oldest one. Being calmer and knowing what to expect and do is a MAJOR difference.

We know we won’t be able to make you feel as calmer as we are now. You’ll probably feel this way in your second.

But we want to share with you a few tips, from our experience, that will make you, if not calmer, more aware of what the next few weeks will be like.

Our top advice for first-time parents is to be prepared, and this article is all about helping you be prepared for a few things most first-time parents to ignore.

Often our friends and family seek us for parenting tips, advice, and hacks. Normal questions from a first-time parent​​.

And this is pretty much what we tell them to expect in the upcoming months.

If you want to go deeper, we would advise you to read the following book: First-Time Parent: The honest guide to coping brilliantly and staying sane in your baby’s first year.

We read it five years ago and it was very helpful.

What we share with first-time parents

1. The birth won’t probably be the best thing ever

Some of our friends have that dream that birth will be absolutely beautiful, as if in a movie, with an immediate connection with the baby…

We had that dream also.

But the reality might not be that way and you should be prepared. Especially moms.

The baby will arrive a bit “dirty”, most likely not as beautiful as you would expect (ours looked like an Easter Island Statue due to the usage of forceps).

And probably even smaller and fragile than you ever imagined.

Mother’s comment: This was probably my biggest struggle from the oldest one birth. Since he had a few minor issues, he was taken from me right after birth. I saw him very briefly and he was taken away for almost 20 long minutes. My husband stood with the baby a little longer. Somehow, I didn’t feel the connection and love I thought I would. Probably because I was more concern about his health. At first, I was a bit worried but with the time spent with the baby, it really started to grow in me an absolute and unconditional love. Our second one was a lot faster but it helped that he came straight to my arms after birth.

Whatever happens, stay calm because, especially moms, suffer a lot for not feeling that immediate connection.

Some mothers even blame themselves for not building that immediate connection.

Time will build that connection, don’t worry. With our 5 years old one, it’s even stronger today than it was five years ago.

2. Be prepared for not being prepared

Let’s face it. Everything will be new.

You may have helped your friends’ newborns or even your nephews, but this time will be different.

This one will be on you. The nights will only be yours to face and you should be ready to accept that unexpected things will happen.

And it’s normal. Very normal, in fact.

You’ll be dealing with a person that doesn’t know a thing, not only about the exterior world but also about their own body.

Zero. Nothing.

And, adding to that, they won’t be able to communicate and tell you exactly what they need.

Scary, right?

3. They won’t talk, but they’ll communicate

Let us tackle the lack of communication right now, otherwise, you’ll get depressed with so many tough things coming your way.

One thing that you will learn from a first birth, that you will easily take to your second one, is your understanding of what the newborn really wants and needs when they’re crying.

For instance, if the newborn kicks the air a lot while screaming, it most likely means that he or she needs your help regarding colics.

On the other hand, if your newborn is a bit agitated and…

  • constantly bringing their hands to their mouth;
  • or if you try to give them the pacifier, they suck it really fast and hard, and throw it away;
  • or if you have your newborn close to your chest and he or she is searching for something (the breast, right?) with an open mouth…

These are all signs of a hungry baby. And this baby is asking for food.

If after they end up eating, they are not yet comfortable and are still moaning, it most likely means they need to burp.

So, as parents, being us first-time parents or not, we must pay attention.

Crying is their way to communicate. Don’t freak out and just identify the reason and act accordingly.

This awareness is probably the major difference between the first and the second birth.

And listening is probably one of the most important things a parent can and needs to do. Not only when they’re newborns but throughout their lives.

First Time Parents Need to Listen

In fact, if you want, in the future, your kids to listen to you, you need to listen to them first.

Start on your baby’s day one.

In fact, start before they are born.

Let them know and hear your voices, let them recognize who is and will always be there for them.

The voices with whom they can scream, cry, shout and simply ask for help.

4. The colics will be a nightmare

The colics were an absolute nightmare with the first one and are also with the second one.

Well, with the first one they were a nightmare. With the second one, they are just annoying.

We know exactly what is happening and we can just assist our younger son to get through this.

The body of a newborn is in a daily mutation and a few things we just need to have some patience with. Colics are one of them.

Until they can, independently, expel the gas and poop, they will be uncomfortable.

It is very normal, so don’t worry.

In fact, one thing you can do is to contact the newborn pediatrician and ask for advice on the best things to minimize your baby’s discomfort.

Of course, we can’t answer for what each pediatrician will recommend, we can just share what ours recommended and what’s been working with us.

Not all kids are the same and what works with ours might not work with yours. Talking to your pediatrician is always the best option.

5. Have a schedule for your newborn

And stick to it. But don’t go by the clock.

Remember that this is more about a routine or a rhythm.

If you want your newborn to sleep in the night and being more awake in the day, having a schedule and some rules are really important.

Have specific routines for eating, cleaning, bath, sleeping, everything.

It sounds a bit harsh being them so tiny but it’s really important as it is a great way to avoid surprises.

If the baby is used to a specific schedule, you know exactly what and when to expect almost everything.

Our oldest son only once made a scene outside our place and he was absolutely right about doing it as we failed the eating time.

We knew that was coming and we got it.

During the day, with our newborn, even if he is sleeping, he is sleeping in the living room, lights on or blinds up, TV or music playing, although with the sound level a bit lower.

This is important because he needs to understand the difference between night and day.

And we also want him to be able to sleep under any circumstances.

And the sooner he understands that, the better.

Being first-time parents is an absolutely magical period

It won’t be easy, with lots of doubts and fears, but what you’ll get in return is amazing.

It won’t be immediate, but pay attention to the daily victories your newborn will have.

Each day there will be a first time for something.

Celebrate those.

In fact, there is a great book that will guide you to what you should expect from your baby’s first year.

For more anxious parents, this is a great read that will help you have a better idea about what is ahead of you.

Enjoy your little one.

If you have any questions, feel free to email us or add a comment below.

P.S. As a final note, and this is more for the fathers, you have a very important mission for the first month of the baby: stall the visitors. Let the baby have a quiet time to connect with the parents and with the outside world.

P.P.S. If you still feel you need a bit more information to ease your parental stress, read the 50 truths to smooth your parental stress. You will enjoy and laugh a bit about what is coming your way! Which we will absolutely succeed.

Just like we teach our kids to ask what they want, I’ll ask you to take a second to share “5 things we wish we knew as first-time parents” with your audience. They respect great content.


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11 thoughts on “5 things we wish we knew as first-time parents”

  1. That’s not enough feedings for the majority of newborns and putting newborns on a feeding schedule is dangerous.
    Also the idea that most newborns would go with this schedule is laughable.
    That schedule advice causes much stress for new parents when they should be enjoying their new baby and getting to know that baby and their needs.
    I’m glad this works for your family, but it’s dangerous advice to universalize.

  2. Sasha,

    Thanks for your comment and we totally understand what you’re saying.
    As a general rule of parenting, you’re totally right. No feeding schedule will work for every single family. And we know it.
    As this feeding schedule probably worked for the first couple of months.
    It’s just an idea. A starting point for each family to adapt to their own reality, their individual needs.
    Is it laughable? Probably. For you. As it is for us right now, as well.
    We laugh as well by looking at the hours we were doing when our boy was so little.
    We’re glad he is not there anymore.
    And you’re totally right Sasha.
    No feeding schedule should be universalized as well as most parenting rules.
    That is why we wrote the “We are Practical Parents” manifesto.
    Because we totally agree with you and we thank you for your honest comment.

  3. Try not to change the baby’s diaper from 830pm to 7am??? Thats ridiculous…
    If a diaper needs to be change then change it. I dont care what the time is. Dont let a baby suffer with a wet diaper just because you want to sleep….

  4. I’m a new Mom. The first month has been hard. Love baby. Sleeping isn’t happening. Will only sleep in our arms. Where do you have baby sleep during the day? Hear bad things about the Rock-n-Play (flat head, hip issues, etc), but baby has acid reflux so laying flat isn’t great. What to do?

  5. This article seems to go sideways in terms of interpretation.
    Let us clarify, once again.
    Elizabeth, about parenting, nothing is written in stone.
    There are no rules that fit as all.
    What you’re saying is something we did several times, because the baby was awake and not very comfortable. And we also did the opposite, where the baby had a wet diaper, but he was sleeping so deeply that what was the point in waking him up?
    It’s not a matter of being ridiculous or not.
    If a diaper needs to be changed, change it. About the “need to be changed,” it’s where each parent sets their boundaries.
    And we adapt those boundaries according to a lot of factors, all having the comfort of our baby as our priority. So do you and most parents.
    As we said before, this is not a strick guideline. This is just an idea for a possible schedule, one that we used for some time and worked really great.
    As parents, it’s our task to adapt each schedule to what fits best our life and our baby’s needs.

  6. Hi Emma,
    We know that feeling. Our younger one is so much different than the older one.
    The older slept beautifully where our younger is such a bad sleeper.
    The first month is tough. But things will smooth.
    Let us try to answer your question purely based on our experience. Our baby has a flat head because we didn’t realize he was continually sleeping with his head always bending for the same side. He developed a neck problem during pregnancy, and we only identified it after a few months.
    He still goes on physiotherapy but he is so much better, and you can hardly see his flat head unless I tell you about it.
    Because of it, doctors and physiotherapists told us a lot about the problem and how we could prevent it from happening.
    They were clearly pushing us for more babies, but he looked at the information as something worth sharing with other parents. 😉
    About the reflux that you were talking about, try to have your newborn to burp before getting him/her to sleep. We also have two books raising the bed on the side where the baby has his head to help him breathe better.
    During the day we had him on one of this: https://bassinetguide.com/fisher-price-auto-rock-n-play-sleeper-review/
    To prevent the flat head, don’t let your newborn sleep continually for the same side. We were now and then pushing him to look from left to right while sleeping.
    Hope this helps Emma!
    And, by the way, congratulations on your newborn!

  7. Really nice Article.

    Especially the 3rd point “They won’t talk, but they’ll communicate”. There is a lot of time when you have to understand the sign of your baby.

    Especially when its time to switch your baby from bassinet to crib. There is No age limit set by the APP and CPSC, at what age should baby sleep in the bassinet.

    Hopefully, after doing a little bit search on the internet I found this useful article https://getforbaby.com/what-age-should-a-baby-stop-sleeping-in-a-bassinet/ that helps me to under when to switch baby from bassinet to crib, and in this article, Communication is the key point.

    Again thank for this useful article and information.

  8. There are no boundaries for parents to set in regards to “need to be changed.” A diaper needs to be changed if wet/soiled or the child will develop a very painful rash that can lead to severe complications. I am a qualified professional in early childhood development which includes newborns, as well as having personal experience in caring for a newborn, and I can say while you may have done this for your own child, it’s not the best method and you should not be promoting it.

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