Practical advice for parents about a baby’s first year

Some tips for helping you survive that first crazy, hectic year

Loving mom carying of her newborn baby at home
No matter if it's your first, third or fifth baby, that first year of a new baby's life is filled with so much craziness and so much love.
Adobe / Special to On the Minds of Moms

Whether you’re a first-time parent or a veteran, that first year of a new baby’s life can be surprising and upending in many ways. No matter how much you try to prepare by reading books and blogs, seeking advice from friends and experts as well as leaning on your own previous experiences, that first year will no doubt hold a few unexpected twists and turns for your parenting journey. And that’s okay.

Here are a few things to keep in mind for your baby’s first year.

Expect the unexpected.

It sounds trite, but the sooner you accept that things you aren’t expecting will happen, the easier it will be for you to adjust to the situation. Terrible blowout and you forgot the baby bag in the car? Ask a fellow parent if they can lend you some wipes or a spare diaper. Baby fell asleep well before bedtime? Take a nap yourself in preparation for possibly losing a little shuteye later in the night.

Another unexpected change can happen in relationships. A new baby means new demands on your time, attention and energy. Do what you can to nurture your relationships even amid the new chaos in your life, but know that changes are inevitable. And they’re not always bad. For example, you might be spending less time with older children because you have a new baby, but you’ll get to watch as your older children learn how to love and play with their new sibling.

Young parents with newborn baby and small toddler son at home.
Bringing a new baby into the family means a lot of unexpected changes.
Adobe / Special to On the Minds of Moms


Handle mistakes with grace.

Mistakes happen. And it’s not just first-timers. Veteran parents will stumble two, three, four or more kids into their parenting journey. It’s part of the territory of having a new human being in your life who may throw a few curveballs your way. The best thing you can do is acknowledge your mistake and learn from it. And when your spouse, grandparent or friend or family member makes a mistake when it comes to your baby, show them grace. Chances are, you’ll need some grace from time to time in your parenting journey.

Prepare for the financial toll.

Kids are expensive. We all know that. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture , raising a child in 2022 costs $15,000 to nearly $18,000 a year, with some variables. If you’re the budgeting type, make sure you’re figuring in new costs like daycare, multiple doctor appointments, unexpected medical issues, and more.

Babies especially require a lot of specialized equipment, which is why borrowing from friends or buying secondhand can be a cost saver. Keep in mind that certain items like car seats have an expiration date provided by the manufacturer. If you’re traveling or only need items for a short time, look for companies like BabyQuip Baby Gear Rentals in West Fargo that offer safe baby equipment to rent.

No matter what that first year of your baby’s life brings, know that you’re doing your best. If your baby is fed and loved and safe, you’re doing a fantastic job as a parent.

mother with infant child meditating in lotus position and lookin
Expecting the unexpected during that first year can be hard but can also save a lot of heartache and frustration.
Adobe / Special to On the Minds of Moms

A few more tips for surviving the first year with a new baby:

  • Accept now that you’ll be spending a lot of time examining and talking about poop. 
  • Remember that kids will eat when they’re hungry no matter what the schedule dictates. 
  • Don’t compare your parenting journey to anyone else’s. You can ask for advice but know that your situation will never be exactly the same as anyone else’s.
  • Keep in mind that the days are long, but the years are short. That doesn’t mean what you experience in that first year of parenting a new baby isn’t hard. It is. It just means that eventually you’ll forget what made those days so long when the years start to drift away faster and faster.
  • Be kind to yourself. Take care of yourself. Ask for help when you need it and even when you don’t. 
  • Never forget that you are the best parent for your child and no one knows your baby better than you.

Be sure to check out all the adorable babies in the Bundles of Joy section available in print and online.

Danielle Teigen has a bachelor's degree in journalism and management communication as well as a master's degree in mass communication from North Dakota State University. She has worked for Forum Communications since May 2015, first as a digital content manager before becoming the Life section editor and then deputy editor. She recently moved back to her hometown in South Dakota, where she works remotely for Forum Communications as managing editor of On the Minds of Moms.
What To Read Next
Get Local