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Real-Life Parenting Advice

Write It All Down
At my mother's suggestion, I started keeping a journal of things my kids say and do. Not only do I enjoy looking back on the cute and funny things I would've forgotten, it's also helped me gain perspective on their behavior. And when my children are older, the entries will make a neat addition to their baby books.
Jessica Becherini
Oceanside, CA

Smile When You Go Into Your Child's Room
Ever since someone suggested this to me at my baby shower, I've tried to do it, even when I'm tired or out-of-sorts. It's worked: Today, my 3 1/2-year-old son and 1 1/2-year-old daughter are happy children who more often than not wake up with smiles on their faces.
Jennifer Denny
Louisville, KY

Allow Kids to Learn at Their Own Pace
When my daughter turned 17 months, I bought her a potty chair. Within two weeks, she was using it without prompting. I always offer the potty as an option; sometimes she wants it and other times she asks for a diaper. Whether it's toilet training or learning the alphabet and numbers, I let her progress at her own speed.
Pamela Williamson
Nekoosa, WI

Trust Your Instincts
In the first few weeks after he was born, my son slept mostly in 20- to 30-minute increments, day and night. I finally confided to a friend that I was considering sleeping with the baby, but was worried about criticism. She assured me that lots of parents—herself included—had done this. It was as if a weight had been lifted off me. After that, I slept with my baby on a regular basis and at long last started enjoying parenthood.
Carol Axelson
Topeka, KS

Freeze Breast Milk in Ice-Cube Trays
Once the milk is frozen, store the cubes in labeled freezer bags. This makes measurement quick and easy, and I'm able to cut down on wasted milk by thawing only what I need.
Becky England
Atlanta, GA

Don't Tiptoe While the Baby Sleeps
I was a little skeptical at first, but now we can do things like make dinner or watch TV without worrying about waking our 2-month-old, Jason.
Colleen McIntyre
Moore, OK

Consider Your Priorities
I used to think that everything in my house had to be perfect, especially since I don't work outside the home. Now, if the laundry and the dusting have to wait a day and we eat takeout instead of a home-cooked dinner, I don't worry about it anymore. I want to be remembered as good mother, not a good housekeeper.
Sherry Homrich
Grand Rapids, MI

Relax
It's easy to get stressed when dealing with, say, a child's tantrum, but I've found that everyone stays calm if the parent does. Another good reason not to stress: Things that seem traumatic today may not appear so years from now.
Mindy Bollman
Highlands Ranch, CO

Hold Your Baby As Much As You Want
When my daughter, Alexis, was born, some warned that picking her up too much could spoil her. Then my mother said, "If you don't hold her now, when will you?" From that moment on, I held my daughter whenever she needed me—or whenever I wanted to. She's now a very independent toddler.
Nancy Huff
Bayonne, NJ

Savor the MomentsChildren Grow Up So Fast
Often, we're so busy rushing from one activity to the next that we forget to sit back and enjoy our kids. I make it a point to find time to play, read, and eat with my two sons, 17 months and 3 1/2 years.
Kim Randell Hopkins
St. John's, Nfld., Canada

Put the Crib Together in the Baby's Room
The dad-to-be who gave us this advice spent an hour putting the crib together downstairs. When he was all done, he was very proud of himself—until he realized that he couldn't get the crib through the door into the baby's room. He had to take it apart and put it together again!
Bridee Schrier
Mission Viejo, CA

Make Eye Contact During Feedings
When a friend told me how much she missed that fleeting time of bonding with her children during breastfeeding, I made sure to gaze at my son's face while nursing. It was a wonderful way to connect.
Susan Gockel
Scotch Plains, NJ

Let Go of the Things You Can't Control
I can't make my child stop crying, force him to eat, or insist that he fall asleep. The thing that is within my power is discipline, such as dispensing time-outs and privileges. I think of this advice almost on a daily basis now that I have a 2-year-old. It's done wonders for my sanity!
Dena Valentine
Eugene, OR

If All Else Fails, Let Her Soothe Herself
When nothing you do stops your baby from crying, put her down in her crib and leave the room. Babies know when we're tense, and they won't be able to calm down if they sense our agitation.
Kim Prytherch
Freehold, NJ

Don't Neglect Your Marriage
My husband and I make sure that we kiss and hug each other first when we greet each other at the end of the day. This reminds us that we're very important to each other and shows our 15-month-old son, Colson, what a loving relationship looks like.
Michele Streitmatter
Richmond, VA

Don't Heat Up the Baby's Bottle
I gave my babies both formula and reserved breast milk right out of the fridge. It made night feedings much easier. I even kept a bottle on ice next to my bed.
Melissa Yantis
Arlington, TX

Warm Crib Sheets With a Hair Dryer
Just a quick pass helped keep our infant asleep when we transferred him from our warm shoulders.
Tammy L. Holland
Las Vegas, NV

Let Dad Have the Baby
My childbirth educator suggested that we new moms leave our husbands alone with the baby, even for just 30 minutes a day, so that they can develop caretaking skills without someone looking over their shoulder (and we could have a break). She was right! My husband learned quickly how to hold, diaper, and soothe.
Linda Obedzinski
Glastonbury, CT

Snuggle Him in the Tub
The first few times I gave my newborn a bath, he screamed. I tried several things, including adjusting the room and water temperature, but nothing seemed to work. Then my friend's mother suggested wrapping him in a receiving blanket before placing him in the tub. It meant getting the blanket soaked and having to unwrap and wash a leg or arm at a time, but it worked wonders! Soon, my son and I enjoyed his bathtime.
Barb Close
Eldred, PA

Know That Parenting Gets Better As Time Goes By
Kids eventually outgrow most problems, such as colic. And for challenges that don't change, you learn to accept and manage them better. Knowing this helps me have patience when things are tough—and when everything's great, I have the joy of knowing our happiness as a family will continue to increase.
Vicki Spellman
Aurora, IL

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