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10 Things You Should Do During Baby's First Year

Posted by on Dec. 20, 2012 at 11:03 AM
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Find a good babysitter (and use her!)

Before Cullen was born, Casey and I swore up and down that we would make our marriage a top priority - even with a new baby. And then he arrived and we fell into survival mode -- too many mindless nights in front of the TV, too much sweatpant-wearing, and not enough date nights. Find a babysitter that you trust, and take the time to nurture your relationship. Now that we get out for some one-on-one time alone, we are both more refreshed, our communication is better, and we're happier at home. It makes a huge difference.


Let them sleep on you as often as possible

I'll spare you the monologue about how babies grow up too soon (it's true!). But I had no idea how many aspects of baby-hood were really limited to just the first few weeks and months. There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING better than a peaceful baby napping on your chest. I know that email is backed up, laundry beckons from the hallway, and the dishwasher hasn't been emptied in days. But don't take those snuggly naps for granted. Once they end you will long for just one more.

Carve out time for yourself

I'll be the first to admit, this has probably been my biggest struggle this year. It is very easy to fall into hyper-mom mode - making sure everything else is done, and putting your personal needs at the bottom of your to-do list every day (which we all know never gets finished). If I could change one thing about this year, I would have worked harder to fit in regular childcare, regular exercise, and consistent time just for myself. Whether that means reading a book for an hour, going for a walk with your dogs, or taking a relaxing yoga class - do it. Every time I DO carve out the time, I come back refreshed and feeling like a better mom.

Keep a journal

Most new parents are incredibly camera-happy - click, click, click. And while photos provide wonderful memories, sometimes I look back and can barely remember how I felt during those early newborn weeks. How was I recovering? What was our daily schedule like? Record more than just pictures - write it down. Take a few minutes once a week to jot down how things are right NOW, because they will likely change tomorrow, and yesterday will become a blur. Whether it's a paper journal or an online blog, find a way to record what is likely to be one of the most important years of your life.

Create a memory box

To add to journaling and photograping, I've had fun putting together a memory box for Cullen. I know I love seeing the physical items from my childhood - tiny hats, old threadbare dresses, hospital bracelets. Find a small box and keep important mementos. If you are like my mom, you can even have a small box of baby teeth, but I personally think that's taking it a bit far. :)

Take a daily/weekly/monthly photo

Before Cullen was born, I decided to do a 365 day project and snap a photo of him every single day. I posted them to a private family website so our loved ones could watch him grow. It's so fun to look back and see him slowly change over the course of a year. If a daily photo sounds like too much, opt to do something weekly or monthly. Pick your favorite outfit and a fun location, and snap away. It's incredible to look back after a year and see all the changes.

Dig up old photos of you and your spouse

Somehow babies seem to change every single day. Cullen will go to bed looking like my husband, and I swear he will wake up and look like me. Ask your parents for old photos of you as a baby, and compare them to your current little one. It's fun to find the similarities!

Record your baby's laugh and cry

When Cullen was six days old, we had his newborn photos taken. The photographer kept telling me to record his newborn cry. I didn't understand why, but I did it anyway. I also captured his first giggles, and continued to film his laugh as he grew and changed. I love watching these videos now, and hearing how different he sounded. It's also fun to show HIM the videos — he loves watching "the baby" on my computer!

Travel — the earlier, the better!

I had read this tip during my pregnancy, and I'm so glad we followed the advice. We took Cullen to Hawaii when he was 3.5 months old, and a lot of people thought we were crazy. No, we didn't relax on the beach for hours on end or go out for late dinners, but we still had an amazing time. The older your baby gets, the more complicated it gets to travel. Things like solid food and babyproofing can be tough on the go, so I recommend traveling with your little one when they are still tiny and have very simple needs. Our vacation really gave us the boost that we needed in the early months of parenting.

Record videos as much as you can

I know digging up the video camera is annoying when you're trying to be "in the moment." And of course you don't need to record everything. But I started taking videos of Cullen from his first day in the hospital, and I tried to take at least one each week after that. At the time, I was doing this so I could send them to eager grandparents living too far away, but now they are such treasures. For Cullen's first birthday, I put together a 20-minute video — it's a series of clips from his first year, and it's amazing to watch him grow right in front of you.

by on Dec. 20, 2012 at 11:03 AM
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by Brandy - Group Owner on Dec. 20, 2012 at 11:11 AM

We did all of these except the traveling one and the babysitter one. 

We havn't really traveled anywhere with dd except to Seattle for a month and she was almost 2 years old at the time. It's not because we don't want to travel with her though , it just isn't in our budget right now.

And I actually never left dd with a baby sitter until a few weeks ago.  I know crazy right?  But she did really well considering she's 2 and has never been away from both dh and I at the same time.  It was only for an hour but she hardly noticed we left.  We're leaving her with my mom for a few hours tomorrow so we'll see how she does with a longer period of time.

by Member on Dec. 20, 2012 at 12:31 PM

 i've done all of these or at least close to them in one way or another. only one we didnt do was travel, just not in our budget. but most family lives about an hr away so when we go to visit its like a mini traveling vacation lol def pack like we are gonna be gone for days, like to be prepared ;)

by Marianne - Admin on Dec. 20, 2012 at 5:18 PM

 The only thing I really didn't do was keep a journal. I'm so bad at that kind of thing. But I've done all the others to at least a small extent - like the babysitter - it was my mom, for 3 hours one night. The only other time anyone watched her before her first birthday was my ILs. That was longer, that was about 6 hours, but only the one time.

I agree, they're all great!

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