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Today is:
Parents Out Loud, Volume One
by Allison Budschalow
Editor's Note: This is new column called Parents Out Loud done by the parents for the people. We hope parents from all over will gain some perspective from this column and welcome all contributors. Our first author is Allison Budschalow, a new mother. Enjoy and continue to check us out.

When you have a baby, whether it’s your first, second, or third, it seems that people go out of their way to give you “advice.” I just had my first baby – a girl – in January and already people have stopped me on the street to tell me things. Usually they start off with something nice, like how cute she is or ask how old, then quickly move on to say that she’s too young to be out of the house, or that she might overheat from the fleece cover on her car seat.

Then there’s the unsolicited advice from the Grandparents. When my baby cries, my mom is right there to tell me to change her diaper even if I just did 10 minutes ago; feed her more, but don’t overfeed her; or that I’ll spoil her by picking her up too much. It’s enough to drive a new parent crazy. No matter what the advice, even if it seems to be useful, there’s still a feeling of frustration at not being able to “get it down.” It’s all well intentioned, but how do you weed through it to find what’s helpful?

I have found two things to be the most valuable. The first is listening to other recent mamas and daddies about what works for them. They tend to have the most up-to-date information. With all of the new studies and reports on vaccinations, or how long to breastfeed, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, so getting the perspective of other parents who have gone through all of it is useful. The second piece of advice that has worked for me is to trust my own instincts. This has been both my saving grace and a major stressor, but in the end it has proved the most reliable way to figure out how to raise my baby. From following my instincts, here are some pieces of advice that have gotten me through stressful moments and sleepless nights:

Expect the unexpected. There is no end to how important this piece of advice is. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve left the house thinking that I have enough clean changes of clothes, only to find out that it’s not enough when there’s one explosive poop after another (if you’re a parent or have babysat for an infant recently, you know what I’m talking about).

Patience is worth more than gold. I’m generally an impatient person, but as soon as my daughter was born, I quickly learned that I had to readjust. Even if I want to get out of the house by a certain time, having a baby adds about an extra 30 minutes to an hour to this task. If you were punctual before, you might now have to become the one who’s always late.

Be flexible. Every time I think that I understand my baby’s new cry, or that I have nailed down a schedule for her, something else comes along. We just recently figured out our daily routine, complete with naps and all, but then she started teething, which turned things upside down.

In the end, the right advice is whatever makes you and your baby the most comfortable. It might come from a book, a website, your neighbor, or your mom. Or it just might be something that you have found to be true through your own hard work of being a mom or dad.

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