Op-Ed | Three things new parents should know

Mother holding her baby indoors
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The first few months of parenthood is a whirlwind; juggling a new baby, changing sleep schedules and growing responsibility can be overwhelming. 

As parents, we try to give our kids the best possible chance of success – even though it isn’t always easy. As a public health advocate for the NYC Health Department, it’s mine to guide and support families as they navigate the first few months of parenthood. With the agency’s New Family Home Visiting initiative, I meet with eligible families to hear what they need and do what I can to help meet that need – whether it’s diapers, connection to mental health support and health and safety tips,  or just friendly advice.

I became a mom to twins when I was still a teenager and am proud to share my experience with families while I work to make sure they have the resources they need for their baby. 

In my time working with families, I’ve seen all different people from all different situations. Any issue that a mom may have, they’ve expressed it. 

You might not get a visit from me, but there are a few things new families should keep mind in the early months that can make things safer and easier as they adjust to having a newborn.

Safety at home

You want to take all the safety precautions you can when bringing home a newborn.

One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to practice safe sleep. It can be tempting to put toys, blankets or bumpers in a crib to make things cozy, or to have them sleep with you, but it’s not safe and not worth taking the chance.

Making sure your fire detectors are working and — if in an apartment — that there are window guards in place, are small things that help keep your family safe even if you’re not around. If you have a child under 10 years old and live in a building of three units or more, the landlord must install. Call 311 if they don’t.


Breastfeeding is important in the first few months of a baby’s life for nutrients, immune system building and bonding. It’s also important to remember that it’s okay if you have trouble – it doesn’t make you a bad parent; I make a lot of referrals to certified lactation specialists.

If a baby has trouble latching, or if mom feels like she’s not producing enough milk or has any other issues, they can help navigate them and determine the best way to move forward. The benefits of working through, if you can, are worth the effort. 


I want parents to remember to take care of themselves: just because you’re a parent doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time for a little pamper. If you’re not feeling well physically or emotionally, it’s important to get the help you need or finding a moment of peace – and I know that’s easier said than done with a crying newborn.

Finding support, whether through family, a friend or a third party, and patience are also important.  Giving yourself what you need will help you be the best parent for your little ones. 

I’m grateful to be welcomed into the lives of so many and am proud to spend my days in the community, listening to any concerns or meeting needs without judgement. To all the new moms – it may not be easy, but you’ve got this and you’re doing a wonderful job.

Wanda Williams is a Public Health Advocate with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Newborn Home Visiting Program. She and her now-adult children were born and raised in Brooklyn.