The one piece of parenting advice new moms need to know

First time parents are magnets for unsolicited advice, much of it as bad as it is unwanted. (No, I will not be dipping his pacifier in corn syrup, thank you very much.) Although well-meaning, a lot of the folks dispensing advice to new and expectant parents aren’t exactly qualified. To help balance the confusion many new moms and dads feel, we assembled a panel of experts who are qualified to speak on different aspects of parenthood.

Here are their biggest pieces of advice for first-timers:

Sue Atkins, parenting coach and author of Parenting Made Easy—How to Raise Happy Children:

Atkins likes to keep her advice for new parents as simple as possible: Relax when you can, rest when you can and don’t try to do too much. She suggests new moms trust their intuition and disregard any unwanted tips dispensed by well-meaning relatives.

She says guilt should not be part of a new parent’s baby experience—and she doesn’t want new moms to feel like they’ve got to rush around cleaning the house when the baby finally takes a nap. She’d like to see moms devote those precious moments to relaxing rather than dusting. So go ahead and delegate the chores if possible.

“The key is to find me time,” she tells Motherly. “If you’ve got a sec, put your feet up. You’ve just had a baby!”
Dr. Shimi Kang, child and adult psychiatrist and author of The Dolphin Way: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy and Motivated Kids-Without Turning into a Tiger:

This Harvard-trained doctor says first-time parents should surround their new family with people who are not perfectionistic or competitive. Instead, the best people to invite into your home will provide emotional support, practical guidance and positive role modeling during those early days. A social group with people from different ages and backgrounds is ideal, as it brings different perspectives to your parenting circle.
“Build a positive community of support,” says Kang, who notes that doing so takes intention and effort, but it will be worth the work. “Surround yourself with honest, genuine people.”
The community you build will not only support you in those confusing early days—you gotta text those poop questions to someone!—but also prevent the feelings of isolation many new parents report.

Nina Howe, professor of early childhood education at Concordia University:

“Relax, listen, watch and interact,” Howe, an early childhood education researcher, tells Motherly. “You want to get to know your child and you do that by listening to them, learning their different cries, what they mean and how to interpret them.”

Howe suggests parents watch how their child responds to the different ways the parents are trying to provide comfort to figure out which one works best. Just don’t overlook opportunities for meaningful connection in the process.

“Interact. Talk to them. This child is a person and will respond, particularly to the mother’s voice,” she says. “Because let’s not forget the baby’s been inside the mother’s tummy for many, many months.”

It may feel silly talking to a child who can’t understand what you’re saying, but rest assured, love is a language even the youngest babies pick up on.

Gail Bell, co-founder of Parenting Power:

Bell’s advice echoes the other experts who want parents to, above all, relax. She says new parents need to treat themselves with compassion when they come up against challenges.

“Remember that this isn’t something they’ve done before, so they have to realistic and allow themselves to learn,” Bell tells Motherly, adding that there is no one right way to parent.
Susan Newman, Ph.D., social psychologist and author of The Book of No. 365 Ways to Say It and Mean It—and Stop People-Pleasing Forever:

Some of the experts on this list advise new parents to accept help from their support networks, but Newman reminds us that not all help is good help. If well-meaning family or friends are “helping out” by doing unnecessary things or creating more work for you, Newman’s advice is to speak up.

“You need to steer them into helpful directions,” she says. “You will feel more in control if you find the right way to speak up, say ‘No, thank you’ and ask for what you need: a load of laundry, a meal [or] no visits just yet.”
Rather than bending to what others offer, she says to think about what kind of help would actually be beneficial to you. You can even do this before the baby comes by setting expectations with your little one’s grandparents around which kinds of help are welcome.

The thing about first-time parenting is it’s the first time. So take some advice from our experts and relax, mama. Trust yourself, enjoy bonding with your baby, surround yourself with trusted people and give yourself permission to prioritize napping over the dishes in the sink. After all, as Sue Atkins says, you’ve just had a baby!

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37 Parenting Tips Every New Mom Needs

New mom? Here are 37 helpful nuggets of wisdom from our advisors and other Parents insiders that are sure to come in handy.

Becoming a parent can be a bit overwhelming, especially when advice pours in from all sides. So we’ve compiled this handy guide of quick tips from in-the-know parents and experts to get you started, and give you the confidence you need to embrace your new role.

1. Live in the now. You hereby have permission to stop worrying about your checklist—doing the laundry, pumping, buying diapers—and learn to be present with your baby. Enjoy your precious moments together. —Wayne Fleisig, Ph.D.

2. Chill out about toddler meals. Expect odd food habits. Offer a variety. Don’t push, don’t panic. They’ll eat when they’re hungry. —Connie Diekman, R.D., Washington University in St. Louis

3. Stick to an early bedtime. Your child will get the sleep he needs, and you’ll get to recharge your batteries. —Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., author of Sleeping Through the Night

4. Say no. The better you get at turning down requests that aren’t in your child’s best interest, the fewer times you’ll need to do so. You can say no once in the supermarket when your child asks to buy a carton of ice cream, or you can say it every night once that carton is sitting in your freezer at home. —David Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D., author of Ending the Food Fight

5. Create mini traditions. Hang balloons around the kitchen table the night before your child’s birthday so she wakes up to a special day. Make a funny noise when it’s just you and your kids in an elevator. Create a handshake that only they know—and save it for big moments. —Harley A. Rotbart, M.D., author of No Regrets Parenting

6. Be ready for sick days. Stock up on rehydration drinks like Pedialyte, Gatorade, or Vitamin Water so you don’t have to run to the store in the middle of the night when your little one is vomiting. —Wendy Hunter, M.D., Rady Children’s Hospital, University of California, San Diego

7. Know your kid. Each child is a unique combination of strengths and challenges. Try to tailor your response to fit the kid in front of you. —Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D., author of Smart Parenting for Smart Kids

8. Find your crew. Identify the people you can call when you need to vent—friends who’ll give their opinion when you ask for it and keep their mouth shut when you don’t, and who would drop anything to be there for you and your family (and vice versa). Love them hard and thank them often. —Lacey Dunkin, single mom of six

9. Remember you’re a role model. Make being a mom look appealing to your kid so she’ll want to have children and you can be a grandparent one day. If you’re always stressed, pouty, or fussing, she won’t be inspired to become a parent herself. —Wendy Mogel, Ph.D., author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee

11. Talk about money decisions. When you buy a brand of cheese because it’s less expensive (and just as good) or opt to pass on a purse you like “until it’s on sale,” explain your thinking to your kid. —Farnoosh Torabi, mom of two and host of the So Money podcast

12. Read to your child every single day. It helps build imagination and is time well spent. —Christine Hohlbaum, mom of two and author of The Power of Slow

13. Go small with big changes. Bottle to sippy cup? Crib to bed? Of course you want these transitions to go smoothly and quickly, but that can be overwhelming to your little one. Let him play with the new cup, or sit and read together in the new bed first. Once he’s used to the new sensory experiences, you can make the switch official. —Harold S. Koplewicz, M.D., president of the Child Mind Institute

14. Help your baby fall asleep on her own. Feed her at the start of your bedtime routine. After a bath, books, and cuddling, put her down while she’s drowsy but still awake. If you feed or rock her to sleep, she’ll always need your help to nod off. —Dr. Mindell

15. Establish chores. Have your kids pitch in at home by emptying trash cans, making their bed, setting the table, and putting toys away. Helping out with the household tasks builds self-esteem because you trust them to do the job. —Martin R. Eichelberger, M.D., Safe Kids Worldwide, Children’s National Medical Center

16. Trust your instincts. Even if you can’t diagnose what’s wrong when your child doesn’t feel well, your gut will tell you that he needs to be checked out. —Ari Brown, M.D., author of Baby 411

17. Don’t become the butler. Your children are hardwired for competence. Get them in the habit of hanging their jacket in the closet and putting their dirty clothing in the hamper at an early age, so you don’t have to. —Dr. Mogel

18. When you’re wrong, own it. If you goof up with your child (or your partner), apologize. This will teach your kids that it’s okay to make a mistake as long as you acknowledge it and say you’re sorry. —Alice Domar, Ph.D., author of Finding Calm for the Expectant Mom

19. Give yourself time-outs. When you’re feeling angry, you’re less likely to respond to your child in a helpful way. You don’t have to react instantly. Taking a brief break helps you settle down and think things through. —Dr. Kennedy-Moore

20. Nudge sibling harmony. At dinner, have each child take turns saying what he enjoyed about his brother or sister that day. This helps kids look for the positives in their siblings rather than the negatives. —Lacey Dunkin

21. Open windows from the top. Eliminate the risk of your child falling by keeping them closed and locked on the bottom. And don’t tempt her to climb by placing low furniture underneath. —Dr. Hunter

22. Like a Boy Scout, be prepared. Never leave the house without at least one change of clothes for each young child. —Dr. Hill

23. Beware of the humblebrag parent. When acquaintances boast about their brilliant or supertalented child, relax. Chances are they’re exaggerating or lying. —Dr. Mogel

24. Tell “age stories.” At bedtime, have your child pick a number smaller than your current age. Then tell her about something interesting that happened to you at that age. —Dale McGowan, dad of three and author of Raising Freethinkers

25. Put down your phone. When you’re with your kids, that call/text/e-mail can wait. They know when you’re not paying attention. —David Fassler, M.D., author of Help Me, I’m Sad: Recognizing, Treating, and Preventing Childhood and Adolescent Depression

26. Be without a ceiling. Try to get outside together for at least a few minutes every single day and move under the sky. It’s a chance to escape screens and sedentary activities, and establish a rain-or-shine ritual that will benefit your child for life. —Wendy Sue Swanson, M.D., author of Mama Doc Medicine: Finding Calm and Confidence in Parenting

27. Act silly. Life can be too serious. Let your kids see you laugh, make funny faces, and chase them around the house saying, “I’m gonna get you!” —Dr. Domar

28. Walk instead of drive. Use your legs for short errands and nearby playdates. As you stroll with your child, talk, play “I spy,” or hop over cracks in the sidewalk together. —Dr. Rotbart

29. Be a parent, not a pal. Your job isn’t to be popular. Your kids may not always like you in the moment. But deep down they’ll always love you for setting clear expectations. —Dr. Eichelberger

30. Make math more fun. Take every opportunity to play with numbers, sizes, and shapes. Count the oranges and apples as you put them into the bag at the grocery store. Ask your child which cereal box is the tallest. Point out the circle in the clock and the rectangle in the window. —Deborah Stipek, Ph.D., author of Motivated Minds: Raising Children to Love Learning

31. Stay consistent with your rules. But first, make sure they’re fair. —Dr. Domar

32. Just dance. When you’re talked out and tired out from endless demands, turn on some music and just shake off the day. It’s hard not to smile when you’re letting loose (and watching your kids dance). —Lacey Dunkin

33. Answer the endless “why” questions. This is easier said than done, but young kids are curious about everything in their world. If you stop responding to their queries, they may stop asking. —Raquel D’Apice, founder of The Ugly Volvo blog

34. Back up your photos and videos. You don’t want to lose irreplaceable digital memories. Invest in a backup hard drive or a cloud service. —Darshak Sanghavi, M.D., author of A Map of the Child

35. Show your kid how to greet people. Teach your child to make eye contact, smile, and greet someone new in various settings. Then have her try it out. You only get one chance to make a first impression. —Faye de Muyshondt, mom of two and 32 founder of Socialsklz 🙂 for Success

36. Spotlight gratitude. Coin the term BPOD (best part of day) and review it nightly. Reflecting on the good stuff is a lovely practice that fosters happiness and optimism. —Dr. Swanson

37. Go ahead and gush. Let your child know—through your actions and your words—how much you love him and what you think is special about him. —Dr. Fleisig

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The Squishy Fad 101

You noticed that this simple toy is gaining more and more popularity? Here’s what you need to know about it!

These soft, scented toys have quickly reached the fidget-spinner level of popularity among kids. However, squishies are not just for children. Here’s what you’ll want to know about this new toy trend.

A squishy will keep you serene

A lot like stress balls, slime, and kinetic sand, squishies are created to relieve stress. Essentially, they do so by entertaining you and letting you release all that pent-up extra energy. Furthermore, squeezing and twisting, smooshing and holding these toys will definitely help you to keep stress in check.

A squishy will smell delicious

Most squishies are scented. However, some of them have a scent that reflects the shape of the toy. Essentially, if you get a strawberry squishy, it will smell like sweet strawberry. Furthermore, if you take a banana, you can bet it will smell like one. Bread loaves and muffins, donuts and other pastries – every shape has its fantastic scent. Others simply smell delicious.

A squishy can come in any form you like

Literally any shape you like. Cartoon characters, fruits, veggies, French fries, a carton of milk, a penguin or a kitty – if you can think of it and it’s cute – a squishy of it exists.

A squishy is cheap

Unlike other fad toys, these are rather inexpensive. You can take a palm-sized squishy for $1 per piece. If you want to buy a whole pack of 20 squishies, you can find it for $15 on Amazon. On the other hand, if you want a bigger squishy, you can find $5 ones.  If you want a super-sized squishy, you can take one of  $20 models.

A squishy is a durable toy

Each squishy is made out of elastic PU foam. That is what gives the slow rising effect to these toys, and this is also the secret to their durability. You can squeeze and twist them as much as you want, they’ll endure it, and regain their original shape within seconds.


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