Surviving the First Year
The joys and challenges of life with your new baby
While you have imagined what life would be like with this addition to your family, you may not have anticipated that a baby could really be so much work. It is a 24/7 job and you are always on call. Call upon the assistance of family and friends as you work around the clock to take care of and love your baby. Whether you are a first-time parent, or bringing a new brother or sister home, you may find valuable a reminder list of what to do and expect during the first year of life.
Surviving the joyful, magical, exhausting first year of your baby's life
- Help your baby develop a sleep routine. Create a sleep time ritual. This includes keeping naptime and bedtime at a consistent time each day.
- Learn as much about your baby as you can. Find out which skills your baby will develop and when. Spend time observing the way he looks at the world and how he responds. Is he shy? Curious? Able to let you know when he is tired or has had enough? This will help you understand all his behaviors.
- Remember, every child is unique. Be sure to follow your baby's lead to figure out the best way to comfort, play, and communicate with him. While you may have had experiences with other children, refrain from thinking that your baby will respond in the same way as another. Even siblings in the same family are different from each other, and these differences can be seen as early as at birth.
- Make family time a priority. Play with and read to your baby every day. Plan time each day to spend with your other children, if you have others, and let them know that you love them equally. With a newborn, don't expect too much from yourself. Housework may need to wait while you take care of your family.
- When you have questions, ask. Even when you know your child well, you may still have questions and concerns. Ask your pediatrician when you need advice. Seek a friend or relative to give you help when you are tired, frustrated or just need someone to talk to. It helps to share those special moments, or those difficult days, with another adult.
- Take care of yourself. Eat a well-balanced diet, exercise, get regular medical checkups, and, most importantly, try to get enough sleep! Accept offers from those you trust to baby-sit and take an occasional break. When your child goes to bed, take time for yourself to relax, nap, read a book, listen to music, take a bath, or call a friend.
This information was compiled by Sunindia Bhalla, and reviewed by the Program Staff of the Massachusetts Children’s Trust Fund.