Baby & Pregnancy: Preparing for the first year

First Year: Center for Family Medicine

What to expect in the first year of your child’s life?

The first year of life can be an interesting time for parents, sure it’s interesting for the child as well, especially for first time parents. One of the best moments for parents happens pretty quickly, within the first couple months your child will start to smile. This brings about one of the most precious feelings a parent can have, it seems to validate your existence. Another awesome moment is when the child starts to laugh, when they begin to make noises at you, as much as that first smile feels awesome it’s these moments when you know they’re able to pick up on things you’re saying or doing that bring you some of the most joy in that first year. Then again, it’s not all fun and games either, sure you’re going to do your fair share of diaper changes, clothing changes (for yourself as well as the child, trust me, it happens, A LOT), and of course the dreaded beginning stages of teething. You’re going to spend plenty of nights awake and trying to sooth your child, it’s not fun but you know it has to be done, because nobody wants to see their child in pain. Overall, this is a very important time and helps to build the greatest bond you’ll have for the rest of your days, enjoy the good with the bad, because it’s never long enough in the end.

What can first time parents do to be prepared?

First time parents tend to be a bit overly cautious in certain situations. It’s understandable, this little life is the most important thing you’ve ever experienced, we’ve all been there. The key is to not get too worried too quickly. Your biggest defense against overreacting to any situation is to prepare ahead of time. You can read all of the baby books you can get your hands on, hit up the internet and read every article out there about what you should do and how to do it, but honestly at the end of the day nothing beats experience. Ask you friends with kids, your parents, anyone who has been there before, rely on the knowledge of those who’ve traveled this path before. Another good way to prepare is to step in and help watch the children of your friends or family members with newborns. You’ll get a test period, minus the late night feedings and chair sitting moments for that teething phase mentioned earlier. At the end of the day, the best way to prepare for what’s to come is to get in there and see what it’s like, you’re not going to get a better grasp on the situation until you actually go through it yourself.

What are researchers focusing on currently?

There’s constant research being done to study baby’s and things that occur in their earliest formative stages. One thing that came out last year was that it’s almost imperative that a baby share the room with their parents for at least their first year of life. Clearly you shouldn’t be sharing a bed with the baby, but keeping them in the same room is a great idea and can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome by as much as fifty percent. Keeping them close allows you to monitor them more closely, making sure they aren’t sleeping in a dangerous position, focusing on their feeding, burping when needed, and being able to clean up anything that they may spit up in the middle of the night. There’s still some debate here as people have stated they feel the risk of room sharing is that parents may become sleep deprived, but at the end of the day keeping baby safe is job number one, and if you can cut the risk of something happening to them then that’s usually seen as a win.

What can you do to help the first months with baby to be easier?

Your best move in making those first couple months easier is to stockpile wipes, diapers, and get your room setup perfectly for when your child wakes up in the middle of the night for a bottle, and get started padding up areas around the home for when they start to move. The padding is a good idea for yourself as well, as the child is likely to cry out at some point and you’re going to want to run to them, this increases the chances you take a tumble or that you run into a corner, it pays to plan ahead for these things. The biggest thing is just making sure you have all the supplies you’re going to need to make baby’s life as comfortable as possible during those first few months. If you’ve done that, you’ll be able to make it through this phase fairly easily.

How to get time away for parent health?

The biggest thing to do here, and this goes back to the whole getting prepared for baby thing, is to make sure your family or friends “owe you one.” When you’re trying to get prepared for what it’s like that first year, if you watch someone else’s child, remind them you may call for their help sometime as well. It’s tough the first time, you don’t want to leave the baby behind, you’ll feel guilty, and you’ll be scared “what if something happens, and I’m not there,” it’s completely understandable. Basically, you need to find someone you truly trust to watch you child overnight, or even for a few hours in the middle of the day, so you can get out and relax for a bit. Being stressed beyond belief isn’t going to be good for the parent or the baby.