18 Things All New Jewish Parents Should Know

18 Things All New Jewish Parents Should Know photo

Being a new parent is pretty much the coolest -- and it's also really, really, really hard.

Lucky for us, Chicago's Jewish community offers tons of great resources for the expecting and for new moms and dads who don't know quite what to expect (a.k.a. all of us).

So we asked all of our new mommy and daddy friends what all new Jewish parents should know. And while they can't prevent diaper blowouts, spit up stains, or sleepless nights, their advice might just make your crazy journey into parenthood a little bit easier.  

1. Frozen bagels make great teething rings

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Teething can be the worst! And your baby will want to chew on anything and everything. So, why not a bagel? It’s better than the dog’s bone you found him chewing on the other day. Plus, bagels make everything better, right?

2. Channel your inner parent

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Parenting can actually be a form of meditation. Just ask Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, or read her new book Nurture the Wow: Finding Spirituality in the Frustration, Boredom, Tears, Poop, Desperation, Wonder, and Radical Amazement of Parenting .

3. Put on your PJs

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So many parents raved about PJ Library, a FREE program that sends high-quality, age-appropriate Jewish books and music to families with children 6 months through 8 years old each month -- with absolutely no strings attached. That's 102 free books! Sign up now !

4. Don’t just bring up baby, bring up a jBaby

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There are 10 jBaby Chicago parent ambassadors who can't wait to greet you and your new arrival. You'll meet a new mommy friend, learn more about all the programs available for you and your new little one, and there's an awesome swag bag -- win, win, win!

5. Set some #MomSquadGoals

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The first few months with a new baby can be totally overwhelming. You are trying not only to get to know your baby, but also to navigate a whole new world of parenthood. But don't fret -- you don't have to do it alone! You will find your mommy-friend soul mates -- join a playgroup, a class or new mom's group -- jBaby Chicago has tons of great ones ! As for those mommy Facebook groups -- sometimes you can get some great info and advice there, but take everything you read with a grain of salt and if you find it too overwhelming you can always turn off those notifications.

6. Make Judaism part of your routine

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One mom talked about how in Judaism we have rituals and routines (i.e. The prayers around Shabbat) and that we can take those ideas and use them at home -- for example, have a night time routine or a specific song you sing to before your little one goes to sleep at night. Another mom told us they celebrate Shabbat as a family at 4:30 p.m. every Friday. No matter how you practice your Judaism, it’s never too soon to start creating family traditions.

7. Trust your instincts

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You will often feel like you have no idea what you are doing -- or you will read a blog that tells you that something you are doing is wrong. With so much information out there these days it’s impossible to know what’s right, but trust your pediatrician and most importantly trust yourself -- you know your baby best.

8. It’s okay if you cry, too

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And you will. A lot. It’s okay.

9. Accept help when you want it

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But it’s also okay to say no thank you when you don’t.

10. Don’t forget to take care of yourself!

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Never underestimate the power of a good shower -- especially in those early days. And try to get dressed and go outside for a walk every day if you can. It’s good to remind yourself that there is a world outside your baby’s nursery and to have some adult conversation every now and then.

11. Matzo balls are a food group

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They’re also a great starter food!

12. Take the Drive

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One mom told us Lake Shore Drive is the perfect higher speed straightaway for a babe that won’t sleep. Plus, it’s a nice view for you too!

13. Poop happens

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Without fail, there will be a diaper blowout every time: you are packed up and ready to leave the house; put your baby in a brand new outfit; right after they have a bath; and when you forget your backup outfit. The good news -- baby poop washes out pretty well. But if you have to throw away a onesie here and there for the really bad ones, we won’t judge you.

14. Make an indoor sandbox

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Leftover matzo meal and a Tupperware can be transformed into a mini indoor sandbox -- one mom told us. Makes for fun on rainy days; just remember to put a sheet down or you’ll have a big mess to clean up later.

15. There will be meltdowns

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But there are white noise apps you can download to all your devices so you’ll never be stuck (with a screaming baby) without it. Music can also help -- Pandora and Spotify have some great baby music playlists, and if that stuff makes you crazy, just play whatever you like!

16. It gets easier and you will sleep eventually

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Every baby is different, but most start sleeping in longer stretches after the first few months. Dirty diapers slow down, you start to learn what your baby wants and when, and once your baby smiles and interacts with you, things get a lot more fun!

17. Enjoy the present

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Try your best not to worry too much or to compare your baby to his or her baby buddies who are the same age. Some babies crawl late, some talk early, some gain weight faster, some sleep through the night sooner. Just savor every moment and milestone -- and as cliché as it is, they grow so fast!

18. Your baby is the coolest!

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Seriously, all the poop and sleepless nights and worries are totally worth it because you created an awesome, adorable tiny human who thinks you are just the cat’s meow and will greet you with a big smile when he or she wakes up in the morning or when you get home from work. And guess what babies, the feeling is mutual!

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