I've always said being a first-time parent is like sleep walking – you have no idea where you're going, what's coming next or can even see straight as you bump and trip over things. It ain't easy! You can read all the books in the world and so-called expert advice, but sometimes it means squat because each child and family dynamic is so totally different. It seems a little counterintuitive and ironic, then, that I would put together a post of all my readers' best parenting advice, but at least it's from real-life people and not a 10-step-will-not-work-for-you program. You can get a broad perspective from people of all demographics and walks of life to hopefully give you a taste of what's to come.
My Advice, For What It's Worth
I by no means feel like I'm qualified to give much advice, but as a mother to three, I do have lots of experience with babies. I try not to go back and wish I had done things differently because I did the absolute best I could with the knowledge and experience I had at the time. Doing my best always gives me peace later on in life. I know I would've enjoyed our first baby more had I been more relaxed and less idealistic. I think the number one thing with parenting is to follow your instincts, especially as a mother. Our children are literally flesh of our flesh and I believe there are very strong connections due to that shared body – us mothers know when are children are okay (despite comparisons to other children or what the pediatrician says) and when they're not okay. Learn to listen to your heart, your gut. You may want to be a certain type of parent, like an attachment parent or one that has a perfectly behaved child, but the best type of parent to be or method to use is the one that works well with your child and brings out the best in BOTH of you . Instead of labeling yourself or your child, just accept who they naturally are and work with that.
So, onto the advice from my readers!
Heather Arwood – The baby didn't read the parenting book!!! So you may have your opinion of pacifier or not, breast or bottle, co-sleeping or not, attachment parenting or down to the minute schedule. But the baby didn't read your favorite book and may not agree with what “type” of parent you think is best Your baby has very basic needs, to eat, to sleep, to feel safe and to be loved. Do those things in whatever way best suits your baby's temperament and you will be just fine. And every baby is different, embrace the differences of your children and how they need to be raised.
Elizabeth Hasler – You can't spoil a baby with too much love. Hold your baby – don't always carry her/him around in a car seat!
Andrea Hardman – Be brave for your babies and let them make mistakes (as long as they aren't in danger, of course). Don't shelter them too much and let them learn things and explore! A lot of parents don't realize how much this will benefit them later on.
Jennifer Puckett – Relax!!! Communicate! Show love to your spouse in front of your kids! They need to see that you love and respect their other parent too! And if you're separated from the other parent, never talk negatively about them in front of your kids.
Donna Barnard – Get down on their level to see their world. Remember what you loved as a child.
Michelle King – Every child is different…trust yourself…
Jo Ann Eby – Hold your baby when you feed it. Lots of cuddle time, as they grow teach them three words… I love you… then teach them to never go to bed or leave the house mad at anyone and always say “I love you”. Sad as it is, you never know when it may be your last chance.
Heather Peters – Always be armed with an absorbent cloth! If its a new outfit, they will expel a bodily fluid on it. If its a picture day, they will expel it on themselves. Never trust a boy during a diaper change.
Jenny Thornton – Don't listen to all of the parenting advice, lol.
Linda Halcomb – The best thing you can spend on a child is time!
Barb Waskey – If you have an extremely perceptive child, pay attention! Here's my story. When my youngest daughter was working on potty training I got a puppy. She watched intently each time I took the puppy out and when the pup went potty, I praised her immensely. I would always cleaned up the dog's poo in the yard, but also had told Jayna to watch out for “piles”! So, one afternoon I had the screen door open to the deck and my daughter and the puppy were outside playing when I hear Jayna yell for me very excitedly. I walked to the door and she was telling me she went potty all by herself. I checked the potty, but was nothing there. I asked her where she went, and she pointed at the deck. I ran over to look just as the pup stepped in it! I never laughed so hard in my life! Jayna looked at me and said, “Better tell the dog to watch out for piles!” She was so proud! I really miss those days. My daughter is now 16 and the pup Ruby is 15. Boy, how time flies!!! Enjoy every moment.
Kate Weikert – You don't need a ton of baby gear. Or a ton of cutesy outfits. They outgrow that stuff so fast, it's a waste of money. Get a good sling or baby carrier – wear your baby. Not only is it good for the baby, it makes moving around so much easier than trying to push the stroller. Most of all… perfect your evil eye and your mean mommy voice. You know, the one that can silence a child in an instance!
Apryl Scott – Your baby won't care about expensive brand name clothing and neither will the stains that they make.
Kim McMeans – Spend time and show love.
Valerie Kelly – Better child carrier, good bouncy seat, changing table = top of dresser. If you live in the city spend the money on your stroller(s) (you are already saving on the car payment). Clothes – good zip-front nannies for the first couple years.
Darcell Brown – If you bottle feed, after every two ounces burp them and then hold them for at least 10 minutes before you lay them back down. This decreasees the spit ups ;). Love every moment because they grow so fast.
Colleen Burwell – Treasure every moment, good or bad.
Kate Barragan – It goes by way way way too fast! Unfair. You'll want even the stressful times back. I promise – Breathe the fresh scent of heaven before it escapes you…..breathe deeply.
Margaret Blickenderfer – Relax and focus on the moment…don't miss it!
Kate Barragan – Get the highchair that attaches to a regular chair. Loved it. Takes up so much less space, and you can put the tray in the dishwasher Let your baby's butt get AIR. Sit your baby in the high chair with a towel/cloth diaper under them, especially if you're treating diaper rash. I prefer to prevent.
Rena Pierson – My advice is that mom and dad always work as a team, especially as the children get older. It is important that the kids know the parents are one unit and can't be played against each other. And parents have to set the example of what a Godly marriage looks like. Also, fathers need to teach their sons to respect their mother and other women, mothers need to teach their sons and daughters how a lady behaves and should be treated also. Fathers need to teach their daughters what to look for in a man (and be an example), so that she is respected and loved properly.
Tracey Lynn LaForge – Let them get as dirty as they want!
Kathleen McCarthy – I would've stayed away from vaccinations and homeschooled from the start.
Rena Marley – Let them make memories and experience things as long as it does not hurt them.
Smooring En Farm Friends – Pick your battles and have fun!
Deidre Prince-Crawford – Remember to laugh. Sometimes the most embarrassing ones are the funniest. Not everything has to be a lesson. Relax, laugh and enjoy your children at all ages.
Jennifer Deininger Puckett – The most absolute hardest thing: Be prepared for when it's time for them to go off on their own. Did you get enough pictures with YOU in them? Did you say I love you enough times? Did you do your absolute best in training them in the way they should go? As a military mom, these are things I asked myself as he was boarding the plane. My favorite thing to say, “Remember who you are and who you represent!” Meaning, be true to yourself and how you were raised. Respect yourself and others. You're not only making a name for yourself but you're also representing Christ!
Andrea Shaw Grosner – Relax and let them play – even if that means getting dirty! I was so OCD about my kids getting dirty or making a mess!
Jennifer Moore – Enjoy your children. The important bits they'll remember have nothing to do with how much money you spent but how much of your time you enjoyed with them!
Sarah Houlihan – Baby probiotics for colic. And spend lots of time with your babies. You don't want to regret that you didn't later on in life. It will pass so quickly, so put off other things, not the babies.
Valerie Kelly – I also wish I would have got a mini crib and travel/mini swing.
Ezere Burtonne – Research vaccines more than you researched your car, cell phone, laptop, vacation. Once you find out they were grown in aborted fetal tissues, contain mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, polysorbate 80, and other unknown viruses, you will never inject your baby! I had 8 vaccines when I was little; and now it's 50 vaccines for my son + flu shots.