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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.
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