5 min read

New mom?
Here are 30 helpful nuggets of wisdom from our advisors and other Parents insiders that are sure to come in handy.

1. Live in the now. You hereby have permission to stop worrying about your checklist—doing the laundry, pumping, buying diapers—and learn to be present with your baby. Enjoy your precious moments together. —Wayne Fleisig, Ph.D.

2. Chill out about toddler meals. Expect odd food habits. Offer a variety. Don’t push, don’t panic. They’ll eat when they’re hungry. —Connie Diekman, R.D., Washington University in St. Louis

3. Stick to an early bedtime. Your child will get the sleep he needs, and you’ll get to recharge your batteries. —Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., author of Sleeping Through the Night

4. Say no. The better you get at turning down requests that aren’t in your child’s best interest, the fewer times you’ll need to do so. You can say no once in the supermarket when your child asks to buy a carton of ice cream, or you can say it every night once that carton is sitting in your freezer at home. —David Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D., author of Ending the Food Fight

5. Create mini traditions. Hang balloons around the kitchen table the night before your child’s birthday so she wakes up to a special day. Make a funny noise when it’s just you and your kids in an elevator. Create a handshake that only they know—and save it for big moments. —Harley A. Rotbart, M.D., author of No Regrets Parenting

6. Be ready for sick days. Stock up on rehydration drinks like Pedialyte, Gatorade, or Vitamin Water so you don’t have to run to the store in the middle of the night when your little one is vomiting. —Wendy Hunter, M.D., Rady Children’s Hospital, University of California, San Diego

7. Know your kid. Each child is a unique combination of strengths and challenges. Try to tailor your response to fit the kid in front of you. —Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D., author of Smart Parenting for Smart Kids

8. Find your crew. Identify the people you can call when you need to vent—friends who’ll give their opinion when you ask for it and keep their mouth shut when you don’t, and who would drop anything to be there for you and your family (and vice versa). Love them hard and thank them often. —Lacey Dunkin, single mom of six

9. Remember you’re a role model. Make being a mom look appealing to your kid so she’ll want to have children and you can be a grandparent one day. If you’re always stressed, pouty, or fussing, she won’t be inspired to become a parent herself. —Wendy Mogel, Ph.D., author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee

10. Let your partner take over. He’s all in, so encourage him to be in charge of bathing, reading, or tummy time (or all three). They’re great bonding activities—and an opportunity for you to take a breather. —David L. Hill, M.D., author of Dad to Dad: Parenting Like a Pro

11. Talk about money decisions. When you buy a brand of cheese because it’s less expensive (and just as good) or opt to pass on a purse you like “until it’s on sale,” explain your thinking to your kid. —Farnoosh Torabi, mom of two and host of the So Money podcast

12. Read to your child every single day. It helps build imagination and is time well spent. —Christine Hohlbaum, mom of two and author of The Power of Slow

13. Go small with big changes. Bottle to sippy cup? Crib to bed? Of course you want these transitions to go smoothly and quickly, but that can be overwhelming to your little one. Let him play with the new cup, or sit and read together in the new bed first. Once he’s used to the new sensory experiences, you can make the switch official. —Harold S. Koplewicz, M.D., president of the Child Mind Institute

14. Help your baby fall asleep on her own. Feed her at the start of your bedtime routine. After a bath, books, and cuddling, put her down while she’s drowsy but still awake. If you feed or rock her to sleep, she’ll always need your help to nod off. —Dr. Mindell

15. Establish chores. Have your kids pitch in at home by emptying trash cans, making their bed, setting the table, and putting toys away. Helping out with the household tasks builds self-esteem because you trust them to do the job. —Martin R. Eichelberger, M.D., Safe Kids Worldwide, Children’s National Medical Center

16. Trust your instincts. Even if you can’t diagnose what’s wrong when your child doesn’t feel well, your gut will tell you that he needs to be checked out. —Ari Brown, M.D., author of Baby 411

17. Don’t become the butler. Your children are hardwired for competence. Get them in the habit of hanging their jacket in the closet and putting their dirty clothing in the hamper at an early age, so you don’t have to. —Dr. Mogel

18. When you’re wrong, own it. If you goof up with your child (or your partner), apologize. This will teach your kids that it’s okay to make a mistake as long as you acknowledge it and say you’re sorry. —Alice Domar, Ph.D., author of Finding Calm for the Expectant Mom

19. Give yourself time-outs. When you’re feeling angry, you’re less likely to respond to your child in a helpful way. You don’t have to react instantly. Taking a brief break helps you settle down and think things through. —Dr. Kennedy-Moore

20. Nudge sibling harmony. At dinner, have each child take turns saying what he enjoyed about his brother or sister that day. This helps kids look for the positives in their siblings rather than the negatives. —Lacey Dunkin

21. Open windows from the top. Eliminate the risk of your child falling by keeping them closed and locked on the bottom. And don’t tempt her to climb by placing low furniture underneath. —Dr. Hunter

22. Like a Boy Scout, be prepared. Never leave the house without at least one change of clothes for each young child. —Dr. Hill

23. Beware of the humblebrag parent. When acquaintances boast about their brilliant or supertalented child, relax. Chances are they’re exaggerating or lying. —Dr. Mogel

24. Tell “age stories.” At bedtime, have your child pick a number smaller than your current age. Then tell her about something interesting that happened to you at that age. —Dale McGowan, dad of three and author of Raising Freethinkers

25. Put down your phone. When you’re with your kids, that call/text/e-mail can wait. They know when you’re not paying attention. —David Fassler, M.D., author of Help Me, I’m Sad: Recognizing, Treating, and Preventing Childhood and Adolescent Depression

26. Be without a ceiling. Try to get outside together for at least a few minutes every single day and move under the sky. It’s a chance to escape screens and sedentary activities, and establish a rain-or-shine ritual that will benefit your child for life. —Wendy Sue Swanson, M.D., author of Mama Doc Medicine: Finding Calm and Confidence in Parenting

27. Act silly. Life can be too serious. Let your kids see you laugh, make funny faces, and chase them around the house saying, “I’m gonna get you!” —Dr. Domar

28. Walk instead of drive. Use your legs for short errands and nearby playdates. As you stroll with your child, talk, play “I spy,” or hop over cracks in the sidewalk together. —Dr. Rotbart

29. Be a parent, not a pal. Your job isn’t to be popular. Your kids may not always like you at the moment. But deep down they’ll always love you for setting clear expectations. —Dr. Eichelberger

30. Make math more fun. Take every opportunity to play with numbers, sizes, and shapes. Count the oranges and apples as you put them into the bag at the grocery store. Ask your child which cereal box is the tallest. Point out the circle in the clock and the rectangle in the window. —Deborah Stipek, Ph.D., author of Motivated Minds: Raising Children to Love Learning