When I first became a mom, I was so hungry for information about every part of the experience that I was never more than an arm’s length away from one of my many encyclopedic parenting guidebooks. But it turned out, the best advice almost always came from other moms. So, we asked a few mothers to weigh in with the one thing they’d tell a new parent, besides, of course, congratulations! (and please share your insights, too)…
“Resist the temptation to research the hell out of every single decision. Having a baby is time consuming enough without going down a rabbit hole of baby carriers. Choose one or two moms to have on speed dial as needs arise, and just buy what they tell you to, and do what they do.” — Gina Hamaday
“Even though I wasn’t a ‘teen mom’ — I was 21 — the show Teen Mom kept me company the winter my first baby was born. Seeing women three years younger than me go through extreme and dramatic phases of life and motherhood was comforting. If I had to tell a new mother anything (especially if they give birth in the winter), it would be to find a show you enjoy to keep you company through the long stretch of gray days and newborn haze.” — LaTonya Yvette
“Take videos. Videos of everyday happenings, not just the soccer goals and school plays… the boring stuff, eating dinner, playing together, taking baths. It won’t be boring when they grow up.” — Robin Helman
“It can be great to breastfeed, but you don’t have to. I didn’t, and it was the best thing for my sleep, mood and resentment levels — my husband and I worked shifts when feeding her.” — Rory Evans
“Get those little nightgowns that gather at the bottom for girls and boys so changing diapers in the night is easier. Why would you voluntarily opt for the sleeper that requires you to snap 17 buttons in the middle of the night?” — Jennifer Tung
“When your partner/parent/mother-in-law takes over, relish the time off and resist the urge to micromanage.” — Luisa Weiss
“Try to make the baby’s room a place that you like to be in. Even more than what you think the baby wants, is it pleasant to you? Does it have a comfortable chair? Do you have a nursing stool (essential!)? You will spend so much time there, so make it a sanctuary.” — Anna Nordberg
“Smell is such a powerful memory receptor — I can still smell the folds of my daughter’s neck where the milk had curdled and gone sour, and I know it’s positively disgusting to anyone else (and maybe should be to me, too), but it’s one of my favorite smells. That and sweaty baby skin. Take it all in!” — Liz Libré
“Never start cutting off the tops of strawberries for your children because you will be doing that for the next 18 years.” — Jennifer T.
“My daughter was born prematurely, at 32 weeks, and her early months were hard for me in many ways. One piece of advice that helped me survive came from another preemie mom. The advice: White lie your way through the grocery store. When well-meaning strangers asked me how old she was, it was a revelation to me that I could lie and say, ‘Three weeks,’ even though she was actually three months old. She looked three weeks old — it was the answer people were expecting. You can do this for all manner of new-mom questions from strangers. For instance, I also lied about nursing her. I loved this strategy because it allowed me to decide when I wanted to wallow in my complicated feelings, and it was definitely not while in the bread aisle.” — Mindy Walker
“Maybe you’ve had a relationship that has zero tolerance for taking things out on each other. That’s great! But now you’re navigating a whole new normal, and a little snapping can be part of the territory. Give each other some slack. We had a rule that for six months, we would let those little snaps slide.” — Gina H.
“I think my best piece of advice, and the one I still rely on during tricky periods with my now three- and five-year-olds, is that absolutely everything is temporary. A baby waking up every two hours is temporary. A kid who will only eat yogurt — temporary. Throwing things — temporary. And when those phases pass, the kid will get into some new horrible thing. But that horrible thing will be temporary, too.” — Emma Straub
“During those early weeks with our first, I felt very isolated at times, so I made sure to always get dressed and walk to our local bakery — even if it was not until noon or later! It’s not even a full block away, but the challenge to get myself and the baby there was real! I knew I’d be greeted with friendly faces, light chitchat and a delicious muffin — and it was lifesaving. (Nine years later, I still look forward to seeing those friendly faces.)” — Liz L.
“Get comfortable asking for help. If someone is coming over to visit, ask them if they could grab you some toilet paper on the way, or hold the baby while you shower.” — Gina H.
“Also, and this is a truly hard one in the age of social media, remember that every kid is different and every family is different, and that everyone is facing challenges. Forget about that kid whose parent you follow on Instagram and how they can already ride a bike and speak Chinese and eat oysters. That kid is working on something, too. Instead, focus on your kid, and your life, and keep doing everything you can to help your kid live their best life, whatever that looks like.” — Emma S.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give a new parent? And, of course, take or leave any of this! After all, “good for her, not for me.”