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50 Tips for New Parents: First-Time Parent Checklist for the First Year

By Red Rock Fertility     Posted January 25, 2019     In

As a new parent, you get parenting tips from everyone. While the advice is well-intended, it can become overwhelming to determine which approach is best for you. Sometimes, all you need is a list of newborn care basics and some on-your-feet thinking to figure out which tactics work for you and your new bundle of joy. Read below for simple first-time parenting tips that you can easily tailor to your lifestyle during your baby’s first year!

Baby Care Tips for New Parents

First-Time Parent Checklist: Bathing

Babies typically don’t get very dirty, so luckily a thorough cleaning isn’t necessary! But just because the process isn’t thorough doesn’t mean it can’t be stressful. What soap do you use? Is the water too hot? How long should a bath be? While every baby is unique in their bathing preferences, try out these tips to make the process as easy as possible:
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  • Buy an infant tub and bath pad to prevent slipping and discomfort
  • Enlist the help of a partner in case another set of eyes or hands are needed
  • Have post-bath supplies ready, such as snuggly clothes and lotion
  • Set your home’s temperature to be warmer so it feels cozy in and out of the water
  • Fill the tub with 1”-2” of warm water, no hotter than 90 degrees
  • Use tear-free and gentle shampoos and baby soaps
  • Be sure to clean the diaper and under-chin areas, as they tend to get the dirtiest
  • Save shampooing for last to keep your baby’s head from getting cold
  • Keeping bath time short can help reduce discomfort and tears
  • Dry off as soon as possible to keep your baby warm and happy

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First-Time Fathers Bonding with Their BabyFirst-Time Parent Checklist: Bonding

Bonding with your baby is one of the most exciting parts of being a new parent! In fact, studies show early bonding improves your child’s future relationships. Bonding differs with every family, so don’t be alarmed if the process is taking longer than you anticipated. Not all infants form a strong or fast bond – and that’s okay. Try these tips for bonding:
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  • Cuddle often to increase skin-to-skin contact
  • If possible, breastfeed as often as possible to release hormones that promote attachment
  • Make loving eye contact during bottle feeding
  • Especially in the first three months, respond to every cry to build trust
  • Have conversations with baby with a lot of smiling, cooing, silly faces and eye contact
  • Sing your favorite songs to share your musical taste
  • Carry your baby in a sling or front carrier for close contact
  • Give your baby a soothing massage with many health benefits
  • Play every day  to help improve motor skills and engagement
  • Gently dance around with your baby to inspire playfulness or slowly dance to help with relaxation

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First-Time Parent Checklist: Clothing

Dressing your baby up or simply getting them ready for bed can be adorable and precious moment. You will find that buying clothes in advance can be a hit-or-miss situation, as growth spurts can shoot your baby from one size to the next very quickly! Read these baby dressing tips to safely, efficiently, and easily get your baby ready:
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  • When buying clothes for the first year, be prepared for growth spurts
  • Buy clothes that zip or fasten in the front instead of the back
  • Avoid clothes that have ribbons or buttons that can cause tangling or choking hazards
  • For dressing and undressing, work slowly and with care to avoid twisting, pulling, and snagging
  • Dress your baby while they are on a flat, secure surface
  • Talk and smile during the process to build trust and soothe
  • Have layers on hand  for temperatures under 75 degrees Fahrenheit
  • In temperatures over 75 degrees Fahrenheit, keep your baby in one layer more than you are wearing
  • If going into the sun, cover your baby with long sleeves and pants made of lightweight material
  • Always keep a blanket on hand for an extra level of warmth just in case a new environment is unknown

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Baby Eating First Solid Food of Mashed BananasFirst-Time Parent Checklist: Feeding

One of the biggest areas where strangers will give advice and tips for new parents is feeding. Everyone has their own opinion on how your baby should be eating, or how you should be feeding them, but that is something only you and your family can decide! Whether you are breastfeeding or using formula, use these tips to make feeding a little easier:
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  • Have a glass of water for mom within reach while breastfeeding to quench thirst that typically happens
  • If breastfeeding, hold your baby in your lap with their legs at your side
  • If bottle feeding, hold your baby and talk to them in the process
  • Avoid propping the bottle for your baby, as these are important bonding moments
  • Never lay your baby down while feeding to avoid choking hazards
  • Burp your baby after feeding by holding them gently on your shoulder or chest and lightly patting their back
  • Between 4-6 months, you baby is ready to eat solid foods (at the recommendation of your doctor)
  • When introducing solid foods, do one food at a time for a few days to rule out food allergies
  • Avoid shellfish, honey, foods with seeds, nuts, whole eggs, and plain cow’s milk until after the first year
  • Prepare a range of mashed foods to optimize nutritional value

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First-Time Parent Checklist: Sleeping

Sleep, or lack thereof, is one thing you know to brace for when becoming a new parent. While this topic may seem literally exhausting, it can be managed with a bit of trial and error. As you learn your baby’s sleep habits and prepare yourself for more days filled with coffee or bags under your eyes, use these baby sleep tips to rest a little easier:
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  • Buy a baby monitor for safety and peace of mind
  • Learn how to perfect your swaddling technique
  • Keep a log of your baby’s sleep habits to discover sleep patterns
  • Understand how much sleep your baby needs throughout their first year
  • Encourage more daytime feedings to reduce number of nighttime feedings
  • Create a structured pre-sleep routine, as babies thrive on structure and predictability
  • Limit the length of naps to 2-2.5 hours during the day so nighttime sleep comes easier
  • Try to place baby in crib while drowsy, not asleep, to teach them how to fall asleep independently
  • Invest in a white noise machine to soothe your baby while covering out any distracting external sounds
  • If you hear your baby crying, wait a few moments before checking in, as they may resettle themselves

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New Mom and Baby Laughing and Playing GamesBaby First-Year Milestones

It’s easy to compare your parenting and progress of your baby’s development with others. Our biggest advice? Don’t! Just like listening to parenting advice, every  family has their own process and timeline, so don’t feel any pressure if you feel like you’re running “behind” schedule. That being said, below is a list of average baby first-year milestones:

  • 2 Months: Baby’s first smile
  • 4 Months: Baby’s first laugh
  • 4-6 Months: Baby can sleep through the night
  • 7-9 Months: Baby can sit up on their own
  • 9 Months: Baby begins to crawl
  • 9 Months: Baby understands how to wave “bye-bye”
  • 9-12 Months: Baby can eat finger food and has more control of hands
  • 12 Months: Baby can stand on their own
  • 12 Months: Baby can say simple words like “mama” and “dada”
  • 9-17 Months: Baby’s first steps

So there you have it! A list of tips for new parents that can be tailored to fit your new family’s needs. Everyone may think they know what you need to do to be the best parent, but if you are reading this, you’re already educating yourself and being the best parent you can be. Good parenting means figuring out the routines, techniques, and activities that keep you and your family and healthy. Having a first-time parent checklist in your back pocket will help you remember the basics and help you enjoy every precious moment during the first year with your new bundle of joy!