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Posted by Dr. Claire McCarthy July 25, 2013 07:36 AM
The new prince is home now, and Princess Catherine and Prince William are beginning their journey of parenthood. As they do, they are going to get a whole lot of advice.
There's just so much to learn and do when you are a new parent, and some of that advice may be really helpful. For example, I hope they get some good advice about breastfeeding, safe sleep and carseats. But so much of the advice new parents get is highly ignorable--because what works for one child or family doesn't work for the next.
I've been a doctor and a parent for more than twenty years now. I've given, and been given, thousands of pieces of advice over the years. Of all those pieces of advice, there are three that I think apply to all parents, no matter what:
Trust your instincts. As the famous Dr. T. Berry Brazelton often said, "You are the expert on your baby." Yes, we all need help as we parent, and we all have things to learn (preferably from doctors and other reliable sources). But we are the ones who know our babies best--not just our babies, but our lives and ourselves. Don't ever let someone else drown out that voice in your heart that is telling you what you think is right for you, your baby and your family.
Take care of yourselves. This may be particularly hard for the royal family, who are so public and have so many public obligations. I hope that they take some time alone (now and at regular intervals going forward), get rest, have fun, and treat themselves well. A family needs to have itself at the center for everyone to flourish.
And most importantly...
Enjoy your baby. Of course you should love your baby, and I'm sure they will. But along with loving your children, you should enjoy them. Too often we spend more time worrying and working, doing our best to do our best, trying to get things right, getting distracted by responsibilities and other tasks of day-to-day life...and miss the best parts. Our children are incredible, magical gifts. They may make us crazy sometimes, but they can also be so much fun, and they have so much to teach us.
I joined in a Twitter chat hosted by ABC's Dr. Richard Besser the other day. It was full of good advice and resources--here is a summary and a transcript. So many good ideas!
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