If you’ve recently welcomed a new child into your family, it goes without saying that life is filled with changes and adjustments, some of which you likely expected but many that are probably coming as pleasant or not-so-pleasant surprises. Week by week and month after month, as your baby grows you’ll want to remain mindful of the inevitable bumps along the road in the parenting process, and plan for some actions to counteract them. Here are four important lessons to remember:
1. Enjoy some grown-up time
It’s only natural that much of your life now revolves around naptime, feeding, changing, and playing peek-a-boo. All that’s wonderful—and it’s true that you should enjoy these precious moments, not to mention memorable milestones like first smiles. But you’re an adult, too, and as your baby grows you shouldn’t forget how nice it is to enjoy an elegant dinner, or a play, or a trip to the gym. It’s important for you to have a rich, varied life if you’re going to be the best parent you can for your child.
2. Remember your other family members
Your baby is the most important person in your life, but he or she isn’t the only person in your life. Your spouse, your other kids, your own parents, your siblings, and more distant relatives (not to mention friends) don’t just disappear when your new arrival arrives. You’ll want to nurture those relationship not only for the sake of yourself and your loved ones, but for your growing baby’s benefit as well. Up until the age of six months or so, many babies are fine being held by new people; after that age, however, they start to get anxious or even outright upset when strangers are around. Getting them acclimated to those they don’t know is a key step in healthy emotional development. Your visiting aunt is a perfect person for your baby to practice with!
3. Tap into creativity
Once upon a time, perhaps you liked to play music, or paint, or concoct magical culinary creations. No time for that now that the baby has arrived, right? Wrong. When your little one is down for a nap, you might want to do some journaling for a few moments before grabbing some ZZZs yourself. Even better, find ways to involve your baby in your creative pursuits. Read her your latest poem. Sing him a tune you wrote just for his ears. Finger-paint together. The earlier the seeds of artistry are planted, the deeper and stronger the roots of a child’s flourishing tree of creativity.
4. Avoid cabin fever
You certainly enjoy time cocooned in your little nest (or is that nested in your little cocoon?) Regardless, home with your baby is probably where you most want to be. But don’t hesitate to shake up the routine. Grab your handy diaper bag and head off to a park, or the mall, or a café. See and be seen… and let your baby see and be seen as well. New experiences are the fuel that drives developing little brains. Be your baby’s own personal play-by-play announcer. Explain and demonstrate the colors and shapes and smells and textures and tastes that the wide, wide world has to offer. Babies retain an incredible amount of information months before they even utter their first hesitant words, so even if you feel that your child isn’t taking it all in, chances are that these experiences will register and help lay the groundwork for later intellectual development.