38 Parenting Tips Every New Parent Needs

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

young couple bonding with their baby girl on a sofa at home
Photo: Getty Images / PeopleImages

Becoming a parent can be a bit overwhelming, especially when advice pours in from all sides. So we've compiled this handy guide of quick tips from in-the-know parents and experts to get you started, and give you the confidence you need to embrace your new role.

Tips for Moms, Dads, and Caregivers

There are ways for parents' lives to be a bit easier. To keep your cool and maintain your routine and boundaries, try out these tips.

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.

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

Stick to an early bedtime

Your child will get the sleep they need, and you'll get to recharge your batteries. —Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., author of Sleeping Through the Night

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

Create mini-traditions

Hang balloons around the kitchen table the night before your child's birthday so they wake 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

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

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

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

Remember, you're a role model

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

Let your partner take over

They're all in, so encourage them 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

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

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

Make time for yourself

Make time for yourself without the guilt. Every kid needs a happy parent! Yamel Belen, R.N., CLC

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 them play with the new cup, or sit and read together in the new bed first. Once they're used to the new sensory experiences, you can make the switch official. —Harold S. Koplewicz, M.D., president of the Child Mind Institute

Help your baby fall asleep on their own

Feed them at the start of your bedtime routine. After a bath, books, and cuddling, put them down while they're drowsy but still awake. If you feed or rock them to sleep, they'll always need your help to nod off. —Dr. Mindell

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

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 they need to be checked out. —Ari Brown, M.D., author of Baby 411

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

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 OK 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

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

Nudge sibling harmony

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

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 them to climb by placing low furniture underneath. —Dr. Hunter

Like a Boy Scout, be prepared

Never leave the house without at least one change of clothes for each young child. —Dr. Hill

Beware of the humblebrag parent

When acquaintances boast about their brilliant or supertalented child, relax. Chances are they're exaggerating or lying. —Dr. Mogel

Tell "age stories"

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

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

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

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

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

Be a parent, not a pal

Your job isn't to be popular. Your kids may not always like you in the moment. But deep down they'll always love you for setting clear expectations. —Dr. Eichelberger

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

Stay consistent with your rules

But first, make sure they're fair. —Dr. Domar

Just dance

When you're talked out and tired out from endless demands, turn on some music and just shake off the day. It's hard not to smile when you're letting loose (and watching your kids dance). —Lacey Dunkin

Answer the endless "why" questions

This is easier said than done, but young kids are curious about everything in their world. If you stop responding to their queries, they may stop asking. —Raquel D'Apice, founder of The Ugly Volvo blog

Back up your photos and videos

You don't want to lose irreplaceable digital memories. Invest in a backup hard drive or a cloud service. —Darshak Sanghavi, M.D., author of A Map of the Child

Show your kid how to greet people

Teach your child to make eye contact, smile, and greet someone new in various settings. Then have them try it out. You only get one chance to make a first impression. —Faye de Muyshondt, mom of two and 32 founder of Socialsklz :-) for Success

Spotlight gratitude

Coin the term BPOD (best part of day) and review it nightly. Reflecting on the good stuff is a lovely practice that fosters happiness and optimism. —Dr. Swanson

Go ahead and gush

Let your child know—through your actions and your words—how much you love them and what you think is special about them. —Dr. Fleisig

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles