Parenting Essentials for the First Year: A Survival Guide

Your baby's first year passes in a blur of dirty diapers, sleepless nights, and endless feeding sessions. As exciting as bringing home your precious little bundle is, those first twelve months can feel neverending.

Just when you get the hang of one routine, your little one grows and changes, sending you back to the drawing board. While parenting books and elders' advice help, nothing quite prepares you for the rollercoaster that is the first year.

As a second-time mom, I've picked up a few parenting essentials that have helped me not just survive but even relish my children's first year. Here's what worked for me:

Focus on Today, Not Tomorrow 

In the whirlwind of firsts that is the first year, it's easy to get overwhelmed thinking of all the milestones coming up. When will she sleep through the night? When will he start taking solids? Should we start potty training now?

Resist the urge to hurry your baby along. Remind yourself daily to stay grounded in the present and not worry about the next developmental goalpost. Your baby will sit, walk, talk, and potty train when ready. Focus instead on cherishing the snuggles, giggles, and wonder of today.

Tune-Out Comparisons 

First-time moms compare notes on everything - sleeping patterns, solids, screen time limits, you name it. Avoid falling into the trap of comparing your child's development.

Focus instead on understanding and meeting your baby's unique personality and needs. Comparison leads to unnecessary worry about what you should or could be doing. Your baby hits milestones on their schedule, not anyone else's, so avoid putting pressure on both of you.

Sleep When Baby Sleeps 

New parents hear this advice everywhere and shrug it off. But as simple as it sounds, sleep is crucial for functioning in those fuzzy first months.

When your baby naps is the ideal time for you to grab some shut-eye, meal prep, or simply zone out with a book. Dishes and laundry will wait - your sanity and mood won't. Use nap times wisely to recharge yourself. You can't pour from an empty cup, so refilling yours ought to be a priority.

Stock Your Freezer 

Planning and preparing healthy meals while adjusting to an infant's erratic schedule can feel impossible. That's why a well-stocked freezer is a new parent's essential.

Take advantage of nap times to prep simple, one-handed foods like quesadillas, muffins, or no-cook freezer meals. Having easy, nutritious foods prepared ahead of time works wonders for those midnight nursing sessions or when you're simply too exhausted to cook.

Embrace Screen Time 

Many new parents shun screens, wanting the first year to be all about tactile experiences and quality time together. A noble goal perhaps, but unrealistic.

When dinner prep is going awry, potty training hits a hurdle, or you simply need five minutes of peace, utilise screens wisely. Keep Elmo, Sesame Street or puppy videos on standby for when

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