Baby's First Year · Emotional Health · Parenting

Surviving the first year: Self-care tips for new parents

Two parents smiling and talking while walking through a park pushing their babies in strollers

Most of us are quite busy in our day to day lives – we have our routines, our interests, and our responsibilities. While parenting is an exciting, challenging and rewarding adventure, it can be easy for new parents’ own needs to take a backseat as life with a little one begins.

With the popularity of social media, there’s a lot of pressure on parents to “do it all”, leading them to believe they’re the only ones facing challenges.

When speaking to parents about coping with a new baby, I like to use the old saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup“.

While it’s true that babies need lots of attention, love, and care, it’s also true for parents/caregivers.  Taking care of your own basic needs first can help give the energy and attention needed to care for your baby.

Simple self-care tips to help you through baby’s first year:

  1. Eat according to Canada’s Food Guide when possible. A good rule is to try to eat something when your baby eats.
  2. Add small amounts of physical activity to your daily routines, such as taking the stairs or going for a walk around your neighbourhood. Physical activity helps release chemicals in the brain that support people in feeling better.
  3. Sleep helps us think more clearly and improves our mood. Trying to sleep when your baby sleeps is a good place to start – even a few minutes at a time can help!
  4. Breathe slowly – it sounds simple, but try to breathe in through your nose for four seconds, pause, and then breathe out through pursed lips for eight seconds, repeating this a few times.
  5. Accept help when it’s offered. It can be difficult to accept help as a new parent, but it is so important to use the supports that are available. Help comes in many forms, including emotional support or help with day to day activities from your partner, friends, and family, or agencies in the community. Health professionals are also there to support you.

Another great way to take care of yourself as a new parent is to take advantage of Toronto Public Health’s programs and services such as:

Join Toronto Public Health, McMaster University and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton for a free, one-day group therapy workshop for new mothers in Toronto. Register now.

Interested in the services mentioned above? Want to chat more about self-care strategies? Toronto Public Health is here to support you. Connect with a Public Health Nurse at 416-338-7600, or through eChat.

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