Home » free advice » Advice for new parents: Use baby’s name.

Advice for new parents: Use baby’s name.

MT Neely

Babies are more important than dogs. Sorry, Neely!

A couple of my gals have had sweet new babies recently. So exciting! Like just about everybody, I love finding out the names parents have chosen for their children. What a profound privilege.

welcome hudson

Celebrating the arrival of our newest neighbor Hudson.

Lots of tips for baby’s first year, I realized, are just as much about helping the parent adjust as they are about the baby’s wellbeing, and this is one:

Use the baby’s name. I read that simple piece of advice somewhere, and it became quite profound for me. Don’t call her The Baby. It’s too easy then, to think of her the same way you’d think about your dog, or some other obligation or chore. “We’ve got to get home so the baby can nap.” (Sounds like: “We’ve got to get home to walk the dog.”) Instead of I’ve got to feed the baby, try I’m going to feed Mary Tobin.

Surely the child learns his own name and develops a sense of security as he hears it lovingly spoken. But I’d argue it’s more for Mom and Dad. New parents are going to be significantly inconvenienced by this new baby. (I hope you knew that already. You did sign up for it.) I knew it, of course, but it’s one thing to know, and another to adjust and to bring your heart, and body, alongside your mind to accept and embrace the responsibility. Calling Mary Tobin Mary Tobin, the name we chose with so much love, was a subtle reminder that she is a person! Just like me and you! She has needs and she’s real. She’s not a doll, a pet, or a project, but a life and a dear girl.

Names. So much could be written about their significance. For me using Mary Tobin’s name was a weapon against bitterness and discouragement in the early days of motherhood. You’ll still feel bitter and discouraged at times, but you’ll have an advantage from daily reminding yourself that your baby is a person who should not be dehumanized or objectified.

baby Bear

Elizabeth’s son John Bernard IV, AKA Bear. Bernard means “brave as a bear.” How awesome is that name?

My friend Elizabeth built up my ego during her pregnancy by asking my advice on various matters. We agreed that in some ways it’s easier to learn from the experiences of our peers than from the advice of seasoned mamas and grandmothers (not to mention mothers-in-law!). Perhaps because of the distance of years, the veteran moms can make it sound so easy. There’s less pressure with advice from friends your own age: you can take it or leave it, since we’re just rookies trying stuff out. (Example: Elizabeth took my suggestion to rub one’s belly with olive oil to avoid stretch marks, but one-upped me by buying something actually made for the purpose.) Above all I think you can feel the sympathy factor in a very real way with other new moms; it feels like we’re in it together. And by sympathy, perhaps I mean a palpable sense of shared desperation!

All that to say! While helpful for her, I hope, Elizabeth’s openness to my thoughts about what I did during pregnancy and Mary Tobin’s first year was really encouraging to me. I got to think about what helped me most and what I’d like to hold on to for the future. Once I began brainstorming, she was so patient and kind as I called and emailed with all sorts of tips, and did not cut me off when I sent random text messages that began “unsolicited advice #8 million” and ended “sorry I’m so annoying!!!”

Besides using the name, my other favorite tip (from Mama Rote, of course) was to put up my feet whenever I could when pregnant. Also, drink lots of water. And stock the fridge with cut pineapple, watermelon, or something else that will make you feel good. What baby advice has been helpful to you—profound or otherwise?

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7 thoughts on “Advice for new parents: Use baby’s name.

  1. Most common advice I’ve received so far from a couple women is: “Relax, dont stress and enjoy your pregnancy” :-)

    • Ruth, I love when you comment, thanks!

      That’s great advice. It was a challenge for me to research and gather a lot of info, but without stressing out. Other advice from Aunt Kace and Uncle Steve was to ask a lot of people for advice, but then just do what you want and trust yourself.

  2. Since you and Elizabeth have both mentioned olive oil on the belly to prevent stretch marks, I’d like to say that I got that advice and the ‘put your feet up’ advice from the same friend waaay back in 1977. I was in the midst of my first pregnancy, and she was in her FIFTH! I took those two tips from her, but I didn’t do so well with her third tip. She said to lay down on my back on the floor every morning and put my feet up at a 90 degree angle for 10 minutes. Then, I was supposed to wiggle into a pair of ‘Fat Fanny’ brand support panty hose – wearing them backwards; there were no maternity support hose around – to prevent varicose veins. You were supposed to wear them until bedtime. It was a hot summer in Dallas in 1977, and I didn’t do so well with that advice. Oh, well…

    • Mom, that’s nuts! The question is whether she (was it Mrs. Davis?) actually did it, esp. with four other kids. I could do the legs in the air, but not the hose.

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