Everything comes with instructions...that is everything except for a baby. Once you become a parent, you have this beautiful baby in front of you and may have no idea what to do next! That’s okay. So many of us have been there before (and are still there now).
From what diapers to buy to sleeping patterns and traveling, there’s so much to consider when you’re a parent. That’s why having valuable resources and insight can make the experience a little easier. We all know it takes a village to raise a child...and sometimes it takes more than one!
Here are some common things that parents often need to know about as they raise their children.
Diapering and Clothes
Diapers are a big part of being a new parent. But, there’s more to know than just putting a diaper on your baby and calling it a day. From the diaper bag to the diapers themselves, you would be surprised at how many things you need to discover!
Cloth or Disposable Diapers?
One of the first things you’re going to have to figure out is whether you want to use cloth or disposable diapers. There are pros and cons to each.
Cloth diapers are better for the environment and less expensive. But, you need to clean cloth diapers versus just throwing disposable diapers away. No matter which one you choose, you can expect to use plenty of diapers from birth until your child is potty trained.
If you decide to go the disposable route, there are many different brands to choose from. Through trial and error, many parents find their favorites and usually stick with them.
Even when you think your child is potty trained, many parents still use nighttime diapers in case their child has an accident.
What You’ll Need for Diapering
Before your baby arrives, you want to make sure you have the following diapering musts:
- The best cloth diapers or best disposable diapers
- The best changing pad or changing table
- The best baby wipes
- The best diaper rash cream
Having a night light handy is also a good idea so that you don’t have to turn on a bright light in the middle of the night. Some parents also like to have a special pail for diapers while others just put them in separate bags and throw them in the trash.
Don’t forget the diaper bag! You’ll want to make sure you have one that fits everything you need. If you have twins, you’ll want to have a diaper bag big enough to carry everything for two!
How to Change a Diaper
Now that you have all the gear, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. If you have limited diaper changing experience, here’s a quick rundown of what to expect once you have all of your supplies nearby.
- Put your baby down on their back.
- Remove clothing so that you can get to the diaper.
- Pull the tabs on the sides of the diaper to get it off.
- Lift your baby’s bottom so you can take the dirty diaper.
- Clean with a wet wipe. Wipe from front to back for girls.
- Use ointment if you notice a diaper rash.
- Put the new diaper down under their bottom. Place the front part of the diaper onto your baby’s stomach. Fasten the sticky tabs and you’re ready to go!
Changing your baby during the day can be easier than changing them at night. Nighttime changing is an entirely different animal that requires the right timing and sometimes even ninja skills. So, keep that in mind!
If your baby has a diaper rash, don’t worry too much, it happens but diaper cream is a must! When you see little red bumps in the diaper area, it’s important to take care of the rash as soon as possible.
It’s important to change diapers as soon as you see they’re dirty and apply a diaper ointment to prevent any more irritation. If you can, let your baby have some time without wearing a diaper to let the irritated area breathe.
Potty training is a big step in your child’s life. Some kids catch on quickly and are ready to start when they’re 18-24 months while others take more time and may not be ready until they’re almost three before they ditch the diaper.
Here are some signs that your child may be ready for potty training:
- Your child can walk to the toilet and sit on it.
- Your child can pull down their pants and pull them back up.
- Your child can follow basic directions.
- Your child can stay dry for two hours.
- Your child seems interested in wearing “big kid” underwear and has an interest in using the toilet.
Clothing & Laundry
When you have a baby, you don’t need an extensive wardrobe because your baby may grow out of the clothes before they even have a chance to wear them. Here are some basic baby clothes to put on your list:
- Long-sleeve onesies
- Short-sleeve onesies
- Baby socks
With babies, you can expect to do a lot of laundry. After all, babies are not known to be neat little humans. You want to make sure you are using a detergent that will be gentle enough for your baby as well as any detergent that won’t fade your baby’s clothes.
Health and Safety
When you become a parent, your baby’s health and safety become your top priority. In the beginning, it can be hard to tell if a cry is just a sign of fussiness, gas, or if there’s a serious problem.
Crying & Colic
One major concern for many parents is colic. The non-stop crying can be hard to deal with for everyone involved. Acid reflux or intense gas can cause colic, as well as other factors. Many parents make sure they are using the right bottles to reduce colic and look for other ways to help their babies.
If you’ve ruled out colic and your baby still tends to cry a lot, there could be several reasons why.
- Too hot or too cold
- Dirty diaper
If your baby is constipated, they may not be getting enough liquids or they may be eating food that is making them constipated. Too much cheese or bananas in their diet can make them constipated.
If you’ve ruled out everything and are concerned there is a deeper issue, see your pediatrician.
Babyproofing your home is vital. Once your child starts to crawl, it’s time to walk around the house looking for potential dangers. Usually, around the time your child hits the three-month mark, it’s time to start babyproofing to make sure you have everything ready for when they get mobile.
Here’s a quick checklist of things to look for:
- Anchor furniture to the wall so it doesn’t tip over.
- Put fireplace screens up.
- Install baby gates at the top and bottom of staircases. You may also want to put one in whatever room you want to keep your baby out of.
- Cover electrical outlets.
- Make sure all cords on blinds are out of reach.
- Make sure carbon dioxide and smoke detectors are working.
- Put safety latches on cabinet drawers.
A good way to make sure you have all your bases covered is to crawl around and see where dangers lie.
Whether your baby is in a stroller or is old enough to run around, you need to always be concerned about sun safety. Always keep these tips in mind:
- Keep babies in the shade when possible.
- If you’re putting them in a stroller, use the canopy.
- Always use baby-safe sunscreen when your child is going to be in the sun.
- Use protective sun clothing.
If your time outside involves water, always be sure to supervise your baby. It only takes a second of looking away for tragedy to strike.
Day-to-day parenting is where it can really get tiresome and sometimes confusing. From bathtime to grooming, caring for babies takes a lot of know-how.
Bathtime can go either way. Your baby could love it or it could be a nightmare! Some kids are afraid of the bath, while others just don’t like it! Whatever the case, bathing is a must. Here’s a list of the things you’ll need for bathing time to be a success:
- Hooded towel
- Baby bathtub
- Baby wash
- Baby shampoo
- Bath toys
Here are some ways to get bathtime on the right track:
- Have all your supplies nearby. You can’t walk away from the tub once it’s filled and your baby is in.
- Fill the baby tub with just about 2-3 inches of water. Check to see that it’s not too hot. Use a water thermometer if necessary.
- Wash hair with a cup. Use one hand to hold the cup and the other to put over their eyes to keep the water out as you rinse.
- Use a washcloth with baby soap or baby wash.
- Take your child out of the tub carefully and put a towel on them as soon as possible.
Trimming your child’s nails isn’t easy. Many parents are afraid that they’re going to cut their children by accident. Investing in a good grooming kit can assure that you have the right tools.
You’ll notice that you need to trim your baby’s nails frequently because they grow quickly. You don’t want to slack off with this task because babies can easily scratch themselves when their nails are too long.
Before cutting, press their fingertip away from the nail so you can see what needs to be cut. Cut only the white part so you don’t go too low and accidentally cut the skin too.
Be prepared to get in the habit of wiping your baby’s gums at least twice a day with a wet washcloth. Once their teeth come in, clean their mouth twice a day or after they eat. Usually, when babies hit the 12-24 month mark, you can use a baby toothbrush with some water.
When your baby starts to teethe they’re very likely to get irritable. As their teeth come in, your pediatrician will let you know when is the best time for the first dental visit.
When your baby has a stuffy nose, clearing it out can be difficult. You can clean their nose using a nasal aspirator. If you’ve never used one, here are some things to remember:
- Squeeze the syringe and put the tip of the aspirator into your baby’s nose.
- Let go of the bulb slowly so that it starts to suction out the congestion.
- Remove the syringe and squeeze out the aspirator.
- Repeat in the other nostril.
Don’t worry if you don’t get it right at first. It takes some practice!
Sleep is so important for your baby (and for you!). Everyone dreams of a baby who sleeps through the night and stays in their crib. But, all babies are different. That’s why the topic of sleep is such an important one.
Doctors will recommend that babies be put to sleep on their backs. This helps to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). It’s also important that when you put your baby in their bassinet or crib, there are no blankets or toys around them. Anything like this can pose a danger.
Here are some things you’ll need to help your baby in the sleep department:
- Baby crib
- Crib Mattress
- Crib Sheets
- Swaddling Blankets
- Night lights
- Glider for rocking your baby
- Baby monitor
When you’re buying cribs and bassinets, you want to be sure they are safe for your baby. Avoid buying from garage sales because you don’t know if the crib or bassinet is safe or if there have been any recalls.
Also, check weight limits, especially for bassinets. You’ll only be able to use these for a short time.
Baby Sleeping Tips
All parents want to know about any tricks to get babies to fall asleep and stay asleep. While there are no magic tricks, there are some things you can try to make it easier on everyone.
Establish a bedtime routine. This lets your child know, even from an early age, what to expect next. Many parents take the route of bath, story, and bed. Everyone is different so find what works best for you.
Put your baby down before they’re asleep. Babies need to learn to self-soothe. If they’re already sound asleep when you put them down and they wake up, they may have a hard time falling back to sleep.
Dim the lights. While you may want a night light, make sure thelights are not so bright that they are preventing your baby from sleeping.
Don’t skip naps. Napping prevents children from becoming overtired. Be sure to keep those naps going through the day if you want your child to sleep better at night.
Remember, all babies are different so you need to find the sleep pattern that works best for your child (and for you).
Many parents worry that their children are not developing at the right time. An important thing to remember in this department is that all kids will develop at their own pace. Don’t get too worried if your child isn’t developing at the same rate as someone else’s child.
Some milestones are typical, but that doesn’t mean that your child has to hit each benchmark. If you’re worried that your child is not developing at the right pace, talk with your pediatrician. They can let you know if you have something to be concerned about.
- Two months: Can lift their head and start to smile
- Four-months: Begins laughing and the first tooth may appear
- Six-months: Can roll from stomach to back
- Eight-months: Can sit up on their own
- Eleven-months: May start saying first words
- One-year: May start taking first steps
How to Help Your Baby’s Development
There are simple things you can do to help your baby’s development. These include:
Reading: Reading to your baby not only helps their minds but is also entertaining. Reading helps to expand your child’s vocabulary and helps them hear different words.
Playing: Babies can learn a lot through playing. It gives them social interaction and teaches them new skills.
Music: Enjoying music is a great way to entertain your child as well as help them fall asleep if you’re playing a lullaby.
Exercise: Exercising can strengthen your baby’s body and mind. Tummy time is an important exercise that can help develop neck muscles.
Spending time with your baby and showing them affection will also help with their development. Remember, this time goes by quickly, so get in as much time as you can.
Traveling with Kids
When you have kids, traveling becomes a new experience. Whether you’re just trying to get in the car to run to the store or have a vacation planned, being on the move with kids is extremely different than traveling solo.
From car seats to strollers and keeping your children entertained while on-the-go, you need to learn the ABCs of traveling with kids.
Car Seats and Strollers
Any time your child is in the car, a car seat is a must. It’s recommended that children sit rear-facing for as long as possible. This can be until they reach age two or they max out the height and weight requirements from the car seat manufacturer.
Children then transition to a front-facing car seat. This can be until they reach 65 pounds or the maximum weight from the manufacturer. The next step after that is a booster seat.
A stroller is also a must, especially if your trip includes lots of walking. You’re not going to want to carry your baby around all day and if your child is old enough to walk, they’re not going to want to walk all day either. Be sure to find a stroller that checks all the boxes of the features you’re looking for from storage to maneuverability.
If you’re planning to bring a stroller on the plane, be sure to check the stroller guidelines so you don’t get stuck at the gate.
Other Baby Gear You’ll Need
Besides the car seat and stroller, there is other baby gear you’ll want to have handy:
- Extra clothes
- Baby carrier or Baby wearer
- Feeding supplies
- Diaper Changing supplies
- Bath Time supplies (for vacations)
If your children are older, you’ll also want to bring along plenty of activities, especially if you’re going to be en route for quite a while.
Before you start on your journey, whether it’s going to be long or short, you’ll want to keep these travel tips in mind:
- Feed your baby before you go. A hungry baby is going to make for an unpleasant trip.
- Bring snacks. Although you’re going to feed your child before you go, you still want to bring snacks for the trip.
- Pack everything you need (and more). You don’t want to have to stop to get something you forgot. You may also want to pack extra clothes and supplies so that you don’t run out.
- Bring a toy or activities. You want to keep your child occupied for the duration.
If you’re taking a road trip, it’s also a good idea to stop to let kids stretch their legs and get some fresh air.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, parenting involves knowing about many different topics. Take your time to learn so that you and your child can have the best experience possible.