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PARENTING UNFILTERED

We wanted to know: What one piece of advice would you give a new Boston parent?

You responded in droves, from where to live to the tastiest birthing center breakfast sandwich. Here’s some of what you said.

A man leans down to check on the baby he’s pushing in a carriage as he walks past a sculpture called Plaza by Alexandre da Cunha in The Fenway.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

A few weeks ago, I asked parents a simple — or, fine, maybe a difficult — question: What one piece of advice would you give a new Boston parent? You responded in droves, with the practical (if you have a newborn, make sure you live near a Dunkin’ drive-thru); the socio-political (know your rights via Massachusetts’ Paid Family Leave Act); and the educational (if your kid hits school-age and starts to fall through the cracks, feel confident in advocating for them — people who make noise are more likely to get what they want).

Some of the replies were hyper-local, such as the best breakfast sandwich at a certain hospital; others were more philosophical and everlasting. It was hard to pick the best of the best, but I tried. Share with your favorite parent.

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On Logistics

The deadline for enrolling in summer camps is Valentine’s Day. – Blair, West Roxbury

Start looking for day care the second that positive test comes in. (After years of infertility, I really had a hard time planning for a live baby, waited too long, and got waitlisted most places.) – Amy, Weymouth

Start tracking which stores, cafes, and museums in your area have stroller-accessible spaces, changing tables, and nursing rooms. You’ll be glad to know what your easiest options are when you’re tired and managing an infant. (Note: the MFA has all three.) – Daniel, Watertown

Find your local free groups and parent/child resale groups on Facebook. Those are great places to get/give/sell baby gear. Buying it all new just doesn’t make sense ecologically or financially when most baby gear is only lightly used before it’s outgrown. – Veronika, Arlington

Find a mom friend who has a knack for knowing all the logistics of what to sign your kids up for when, and just sign up when she does. – Amanda, Medford

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On Feeding

Find a pediatric dentist who specializes in lip and tongue-ties and establish care as early as your first week out of the hospital. Diagnosing and fixing a tongue-tie can make a huge difference in being able to nurse successfully. – Ruslana, Acton

If breastfeeding, you can search on zipmilk.org for support groups. – Susanna, Winchester

If breastfeeding your newborn, try feeding them as soon as they are fussy and not on some arbitrary schedule you read somewhere or that the nurse at the hospital mentioned. Related: Fed is best. Don’t get hung up on trying to be a breastfeeding hero. As long as your baby is fed, you are winning (formula shortage notwithstanding). – Stacy, Acton

On Work-Life Balance

Choose where to work — and who to work for and with — based on how family-friendly they are (and trust but verify their family-friendly claims!). This is key when kids get sick, when day-care plans blow up unexpectedly, or when older kids face challenges that don’t fit into a neat box. – Diana, Hyde Park

Make sure to know about the Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave Act. It went into effect in 2021, but many people still aren’t aware of it. … Very few states have a paid parental leave policy, and we’re lucky to live in one. – Leela, Brookline

For dads specifically: Take as much leave as possible (in my case, the full 12 weeks of bonding guaranteed by the state). They are only little once, and work will be there when you get back.

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If you are the first guy to take extended leave, you’ll be surprised how supportive the vast majority of your colleagues are, and it will begin to normalize paternity leave for your colleagues who may less accommodating. – Jeff, Westford

Consider other child-care opportunities that may be more affordable (and flexible) than day care. We opted for an au pair to help care for our new-ish baby, and it’s been so amazing, especially when we lack family who can help us. It’s been particularly helpful when one of the kids is sick or my older son’s school closes because it takes the burden off of either me or my partner having to take work off, and let’s be honest, it was usually me. – Adrienne, Danvers

Communicate with your employer early and negotiate a more flexible schedule to negotiate caring for your newborn during the first year. Don’t be scared. Employers are desperate to retain good employees right now. Normalize the four-day workweek and unlimited PTO. – Cass, Chelsea

On Where to Live

[If you live in the city], try to make your life as walkable as possible. Getting little kids in and out of car seats and dealing with city driving parking can make any quick errand or outing a huge pain. The more you can walk to day care, school, groceries, the pharmacy, playground, et cetera, the more you will enjoy city living. – Alessandra, Jamaica Plain

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The area you live in becomes way more important with regard to the schools once you have kids. Don’t wait until they’re 5 to figure out if you are living in the right spot. – Kenny, Arlington

Living within walking distance of a playground is parenting gold. – Andrea, Milton

On Finding Friends and Support

Counterintuitively, it can take a little longer to find your parent friends in the city, because the community is just bigger. Don’t despair, they’re out there and you’ll find them over time. – Molly, Roslindale

Join [new parents] groups: The JCC has one. Several hospitals have them. Some doulas have them. Start by joining your neighborhood Facebook parenting group and ask for hyper-local recommendations. In Jamaica Plain, there is a new parents group for every six months of births. – Jessie, Dorchester

Join Facebook! I kid, but I’ve actually found the FB moms/parents network absolutely invaluable in a million different ways and counting since my oldest was born. – Rachel, Beverly

On Resilience

Start therapy (if possible financially and time permitting) prior to your child joining your family. – Suhina, Roslindale

Everyone: Stay off social media and mommy blogs. Those are crafted to look good not the mess it actually is. It’s messy for everyone. Especially the people who look like they have it together. Lastly, don’t parent to make other people feel comfortable. Parent to build the kids you want to have. If that means you don’t give in to a fit, that’s OK. – James, Melrose

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If you don’t have family in the area, think you may be at risk for postpartum depression and/or have a baby with any issues, I found a postpartum doula to be a wonderful investment for the first few weeks post-birth. The group I found through Mount Auburn Midwives were like the most wonderful, caring grandmothers, but since they were all former midwives and maternity nurses, they could really offer practical guidance and help if any problems came up. – Catherine, Arlington

On Boston Life

I’m embarrassed and sad to say, all the things that I used to hear about how racist/segregated/classist this region is are true. I only learned this after I started reading and digging more into local social issues in recent years.

A new family’s experience and/or access to community support can vary drastically depending on which parts of the metro area they choose to settle down [in]. There is notable progress, yes, but it’s not all sunshine and roses like I used to think back in my 20s. – Angie, Arlington

Find a way to make the winter enjoyable for the whole family. For example, get out with your kid[s] skiing very young (this is our personal approach). Otherwise, it can be a long, lonely stretch of time with too much time spent indoors. – Amy, West Roxbury

There are so many fine research institutions around here. Sign up with developmental studies labs at local universities to bring your babies or kids in to take part as research subjects. – Suzie, Arlington

For birthdays and holidays, ask friends and relatives to gift experiences instead of toys. There are so many things to do around our area, and gifts like museum memberships and tickets to shows help create memories that last a lifetime. (Giving gift cards to local businesses benefits everyone, as well.) – Diane, Melrose

Take advantage of the free museum passes at local libraries and learn about the immense resources libraries provide for children and families. – Kristen, Cambridge

I find the Boston area more achievement-focused than the rural area where I grew up. Sometimes it feels like there’s a lot of parental anxiety about schools, activities, lessons, enrichment, et cetera. It’s easy to get FOMO and think that your kids need to try everything. I recommend that new parents try to tune out the achievement noise and support their kids as they make their own path. – Danielle, Arlington

Dollar Friday nights at the Boston Children’s Museum! [Note: The museum currently offers $1 Sundays; check their website for the most up-to-date info]. – Don, Salem

Get your Minuteman library password and have access to all in the network. If your child loves trains, they will love being able to watch them at any station. You might even meet other families and kids waiting for the same “show” every day. Sundays are great days to explore the city without worrying about the meters. Join mom groups on Facebook: Camberville Moms is the best. Take some relief in being in an area with some of the best hospitals in the world. Your baby has great access to amazing experts. – Allyson, Arlington

On Things You Wish You Knew

Annual lead tests are required for all day cares and preschools. Some pediatricians will do via a finger stick, while others only with a blood draw from a vein. Turns out that’s a really helpful question when choosing a pediatrician. – Liza, Brookline

Child care is very expensive, but don’t just compare it to one parent’s salary (as in, “Well, if I go back to work I’ll only clear $__ because of the cost of day care”). View it as an investment in both parents’ careers and long-term earnings, assuming there are two parents. – Julia, Maynard

Start a routine with the tooth fairy being placed on a dresser not under the pillow. Trust me on this one. – Allison, Acton

If the parent in question will be giving birth and has no dietary restrictions, the Mount Auburn breakfast sandwich is the best thing on the menu. – Aili, Somerville

And In Retrospect…

Little kids, little challenges; bigger kids, bigger problems. Very cliché, but: It helps keep our expectations in line and to also really focus on the good things. As they grow up, you realize your blessings. – Michelle, Plymouth

Outside of matters of safety, there is no single decision you make that will have long-term impact on your baby. It’s the pattern that matters. – Leslie, Acton

Feel all the feelings, then account for them with full vulnerability and transparency. Too often it’s denying our feelings (due to social pressures or our own expectations) that cause the most difficulty and turmoil as a parent. – J. Lynn, Millbury

Say yes. There will come a day when your kid asks you to do something with you. It may be the last thing you feel like doing that day but it just may end up being a very special memory. – Elaine, Arlington

Park near the cart corral, not closest to the door. – Emily, Acton


Kara Baskin can be reached at kara.baskin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @kcbaskin.