American Baby magazine's 75 Best Parenting Tips Ever

Decades before the Baby Bjorn, the Beaba, and the Bumbo seat, American Baby was printing parenting wisdom that stands the test of time. Check out these 75 truths from past issues that still resonate now!

Spend a while picking a name

mother holding baby Thayer Allyson Gowdy

1. Remember a name is a lifetime gift. Make sure that it will wear well. AUGUST 1966

2. Name experts agree that bizarre spellings typically are not good things. People with conventionally spelled names were perceived as more successful, more popular, and more caring than those whose names had unusual spellings. SEPTEMBER 1998

3. Short first names tend to go well with longer last names, and vice versa. NOVEMBER 2000

Have a great pregnancy

4. You never need to eat enough "for two." SEPTEMBER 1966

5. Being labeled high risk does not mean that you will have a problem. JUNE 1989

6. If heartburn becomes an issue, it will be helpful to eat small meals frequently rather than a few large ones. MAY 1967

    7. It's okay to give into cravings. If you're set on something that's not terribly nutritious, like cupcakes, eat something healthful first. SEPTEMBER 1994

    8. Walking, swaying, and rolling on a ball can help labor progress by using gravity to encourage movement of the baby down through the pelvic canal. OCTOBER 2008

    9. Labor may surprise you with its intensity. Keep an open mind about whether or not you'll use medication. SEPTEMBER 1997

    10. It may be trendy to ask your doctor to deliver early, but be patient. Healthy babies are worth the wait. DECEMBER 2011

    11. Your support person in labor should be someone you can let it all hang out with. MAY 1998

      Sleep Habits

      12. The bedtime story still has no substitute when it comes to establishing a feeling of well being and drowsy relaxation in a child. OCTOBER 1964

      13. A baby who is asleep should never be disturbed. DECEMBER 1971

      14. Taking your baby outside for an afternoon walk might help her sleep better at night. FEBRUARY 2005

      15. Put the baby in the crib when he is still awake, so that he gets in the habit of falling asleep himself. NOVEMBER 1973

      16. Realize that the sleepless nights won't go on forever. Healthy babies usually begin to snooze for longer stretches at night, such as five or more hours, by 2 to 3 months of age. APRIL 2005

      17. Once Baby can roll over, it's time to say sayonara to the swaddle. JUNE 2011

        Cope with those tears

        18. Don't get the impression that a baby's crying is an applause meter in reverse. He's not judging your motherly abilities -- he's just crying. MAY 1982

        19. Distractions can help all of us forget our worries, and they can do the same for your little one. Anything from funny faces to a change in environment can take her focus off what's bothering her. JANUARY 2010

        20. Try whispering in his ear. He will be so interested in hearing what you have to say that he will forget to cry. AUGUST 1976

        21. If your cutie cries in the night, try not to pick her up from her crib. Instead, go to her and give her a quick caress and repeat a calming phrase, such as, "Sleep, sleep; Mommy loves you." DECEMBER 2012

          Shop smart for baby stuff

          22. Hand-me-downs often lack the safety devices that are stock items on new furniture. FEBRUARY 1965

          23. If your child has a lovey, avoid a disaster by getting a duplicate, then swap the two occasionally so they look and smell similar. FEBRUARY 2006

          24. Do not clutter the nursery; there should be a place for play. DECEMBER 1958

          25. You may want to invest in dark blinds [cordless, per 2013 safety guidelines] for his room, if you have not already done so. They are a big help when the sun comes up so early and stays up so late. JUNE 1946

          26. For a baby, things that aren't toys are often as much fun as toys. DECEMBER 1971

          27. The safest crib for your baby contains a snug mattress with a tight-fitting crib sheet, and nothing else. SEPTEMBER 2011

          28. An insider's secret for moms who plan to pump: Buy bottles that are the same brand as your breast pump. MARCH 2012

            Encourage milestones

            29. Do all that is possible to help your child grow mentally, physically, and spiritually. However, remember that a part of growth is gradually letting go. OCTOBER 1968

            30. The best nursery-school experience is one which fosters the 3 S's -- security, self-esteem, and social growth. JANUARY 1977

            31. Expose your child to a wide range of experiences, places, ideas, foods, friends, and even babysitters. This will allow her to exercise her flexibility "muscle" so that changes will be interesting instead of traumatic. FEBRUARY 1981

            32. Routines help Baby recognize a pattern. Try it: Every time you change his diaper, nibble his toes. He will begin to associate changings with bonding. DECEMBER 2011

            33. Respond to your new talker immediately, positively, and by rephrasing what she says. By using a variation of her words, you're helping her expand her vocabulary. SEPTEMBER 1986

            34. Newborns develop neurologically at a rapid pace. This means that those precious coos are fleeting -- and the tough times are too. JULY 2012

              More of our Best Tips

              Make feedings more fun

              35. If you find yourself planning meals around the baby and feeding baby food to the rest of the family, you are missing the whole point. He should join you, not you him. OCTOBER 1966

              36. A cause of poor eating in young infants is the unpalatability of the food. Babies need variety in color, taste, and texture. DECEMBER 1956

              37. No bribing, coaxing, promising, or pleading should ever be used at mealtime. FEBRUARY 1958

              38. Keep a sharp eye out for sudden shifts of his head as you bring the spoon toward him. This is his way of saying he doesn't want any more. SEPTEMBER 1968

              39. Let your child feed himself. Mealtimes may be messier and longer, but by feeding himself, your child can eat at his own pace and learn to enjoy mealtimes. FEBRUARY 1982

              40. Breastfeeding for even a few weeks is better than not breastfeeding at all. FEBRUARY 1986

              41. Don't expect your baby to eat much solid food at first; a teaspoonful or two, a couple of times a day, is a lot. SEPTEMBER 1994

              42. Want to boost breast milk production? Try an a.m. pumping session. FEBRUARY 2010

              43. To lessen bubbles in baby's formula, stir don't shake. Let the bottle sit a bit before giving it to Baby so any froth dissipates. FEBRUARY 2011

                Trust in your relationship

                44. Discuss parenting problems with your spouse, and reach decisions jointly. When you can't agree, try both ways and see what works best for your baby. JUNE 1994

                45. With the exception of breastfeeding, there are virtually no child-care duties that need be strictly for one sex or the other. Dads can cuddle, cook, change diapers, bathe, clothe, teach, and babysit as effectively as moms can. JANUARY 1977

                46. The overly cautious mother has to be careful not to spoil a new father's eagerness by criticizing his awkward fumbling. JANUARY 1958

                47. Take turns getting up with the baby on the weekends, giving baths, and handling the fussy hour. This way one partner doesn't become resentful of the other. DECEMBER 2012

                48. An Rx for marriage monotony: Go on out-of-the-ordinary dates, like a concert or hike, as often as you can, rather than heading out for ho-hum dinners every week. FEBRUARY 2013

                  Prepare for back-to-work

                  49. You don't have to feel guilty. You are still raising your child and are still a good mom, even if you work. FEBRUARY 1998

                  50. Starting a few weeks before you return to the office, pump once a day to store breast milk. This also ensures that you'll get the hang of using your equipment. MAY 2011

                  51. Working moms who embrace the idea that life's balancing act is tough tend to dodge depression better than those who think, I can do it all. FEBRUARY 2012

                  52. Drop by your office, with or without your baby, a few weeks before your return. You may be surprised at how reassuring those familiar cubicles feel. NOVEMBER 2012

                  53. Men don't expect to work full time, be the primary caretaker to their kids, a great cook, sexy for their spouse, and a good friend. Yet women do. OCTOBER 2008

                    Using positive discipline

                    54. Children may fight for their independence, but what they really want, until they are grown, are the limits and barriers that parents are supposed to impose. AUGUST 1965

                    55. Recognize and reward good behavior. Instead of scolding your child when he is disobedient, watch for good behavior and say, "I appreciate it when you play nicely." NOVEMBER 1981

                    56. Allow your baby to grow into a decision maker. When the selection really doesn't matter that much, let the child decide. JUNE 1977

                    57. Two-year-olds are like mini-teenagers: When they know something drives you batty, they're likely to do it even more. So try not to force the issue and turn it into a power struggle. JANUARY 2006

                    58. When your tot bites, express that this is unacceptable behavior. Disengage from her for a minute or two, while still staying within easy reach. SEPTEMBER 2009

                      Make memories

                      59. Ask your parents to recreate some of your favorite childhood experiences with your own child. If one of your cherished memories is of going to the park with your father, ask that he take your child to do the same. JANUARY 1999

                      60. Even if your baby won't retain specific memories of a trip to visit her grandparents or the elaborate princess cake you baked for her second birthday, she'll recall a sense of warmth when she thinks about her childhood. AUGUST 2004

                      61. Playdates are not the time to toil over your famous homemade chili or fret about the state of your house. Forget perfection, have fun, and use these occasions as a forum for sharing all your ups and downs. DECEMBER 2010

                        More Tips

                        Travel together

                        62. The best time to take the baby out with you socially is during his first six months. It will not be this easy again for a long time. OCTOBER 1977

                        63. Spend the money to buy the extra seat in an airplane so you can use your car seat. Traveling by plane with a baby in your lap for any length of time is uncomfortable. APRIL 2003

                        64. Some babies may experience pain on takeoff and landing because they are unable to clear their ears by swallowing. To help his ears "pop," feed him at that time, or give him a pacifier to suck. JULY 1984

                        65. Never leave your baby alone in the car. To avoid a calamity, put something on the backseat, like your cellphone, that you'll need when you arrive. JANUARY 2013

                        66. Vacationing at a resort? Call ahead to see if strollers, cribs, and monitors are provided. MAY 2010

                          Enjoy being Mom

                          67. Take a smartphone time-out. If you pause in the doc's waiting room long enough, you might meet another mom who would love some adult conversation. Get her digits! NOVEMBER 2011

                          68. Set a good example. A physically fit mother who enjoys being active will communicate her enthusiasm and zest for life to her children. MAY 1977

                          69. Make plans to go out two weeks after you deliver. That's when the initial high can disappear, and you'll want to see friends. JULY 2012

                          70. Forget about being a "perfect parent," as that term is defined by the culture and other people. There is no such thing, and working to appear as one requires so much effort that there's not much energy left for you to spend being a loving parent, which has to be the top priority. APRIL 1981

                            Find your home groove

                            71. Launder your baby's tiny socks all together in a mesh bag or pillowcase to say good-bye to missing mates. SEPTEMBER 1984

                            72. Don't try to straighten up each mess right after it's made. Instead, tidy up toys and books once a day, or even just every other day. JULY 2000

                            73. Remember, the baby is moving in with you. Let your little one adapt to your household rather than turning your own life upside down. DECEMBER 2012

                            74. The No. 1 way to keep your mornings sane: Prepare the night before. Choose an outfit for you and every child. Pack lunches. Stock the diaper bag and your work bag so you can just grab and go in the morning. JANUARY 2008

                            75. Transforming your home into a baby-safe zone all at once is more work than any new parent needs. Instead, do it gradually as your munchkin grows and you'll be ready when she's breaking loose. SEPTEMBER 2012

                            Originally published in the July 2013 issue of American Baby magazine.