How to take care of a baby as a teenager

CHILDREN taking care of children; something that happens way too often. However, this piece is not to shame, judge or ridicule;it is simply to make the process a little easier. While some lucky adolescents and teenagers have friends and family members who support them, others do not. If you’re one of the latter, I hope this can provide any kind of support.

Before becoming pregnant, most teenagers do not know what they will be doing within the next 48 hours, never mind the next nine months and the rest of their lives. Much support is needed, as this is a daunting experience for a prepared adult, much less an individual whose brain is still growing and hormones are now sorting themselves out. And now, they have one foot in childhood and the other in adulthood.

It may seem obvious, but still important to note that teenage parents face all the same predicaments as adult -to -be parents and many of you have seen (or experienced) how stressful that can be when you are in a mental, physical and financial place to do so. Now imagine being a teenager with the same challenges but add on punishment, shame, abandonment and judgement, on top of everything else.

If you are an adolescent or teenage parent, I can guarantee you one thing – what children care about is what their parents do, not what age they are; if you raise your child in a nurturing, loving and supportive environment, they will flourish and develop well.

There will be challenges and you will need some help to ensure that you are also able to put yourself first, sometimes for the futures of both you and your baby, for example -attend or finish school; have the time to learn a trade; help keep your other relationships healthy- whatever is best suited for you. This is not a one size fits all.

I would start with upkeeping healthy relationships in your life, as support is vital right now. During teenage years, relationships (with anyone- friends, family, partners) are already full of emotional ups and downs, insecurities and drama and now you are adding extra pressure and hormones to these. Strong and healthy relationships are not only good for you, but can also influence your child’s development as well. For example, if a child sees kind and respectful relationships around them, they learn to be kind and respectful to others. Therefore, working on your relationships with others is vital when you’re a teenage parent. This can be done through honest and positive communication; time well spent together; healthy mediation and conflict management, etc.

Next, you can work on your relationship with your baby. Yes, this can begin (and is even recommended!) to happen before they are born. If you begin this healthy relationship while they are still in the womb, it makes it more likely to continue and flourish during their early years, which is the foundation for your child’s health and development, giving them a sense of safety and confidence from birth. Some suggested ways to do this while they are still in the womb is, of course, to take good care of your own body- eat, sleep and exercise well, as well as no substance use. You are the most important part of your baby’s life, and unfortunately, teenage mothers are more likely to develop mental health issues, so doing these basic things can be a preventative measure for a mentally, physically and emotionally better life.

Ways to bond include learning about baby development. It helps to know what stages they are in as research shows after a few months. They can hear even while inside the womb, so speak, sing and play relaxing music to your baby. It’s always better to have the knowledge and not be afraid to ask questions you do not have answers to.

A highly recommended way to prepare yourself as a parent is a technique that many psychologists discuss as “previewing.” These are practical techniques which aid in preparation for your responsibilities ahead. It is technically a form of counselling, but can be practised with the right support at home. The point of “previewing” is for expectant teenage mothers to practise mothering techniques and the impact it will have on their lives before the birth in order to properly prepare physically, mentally and emotionally. It allows them not only practice, but also to analyse realistic and potential future scenarios and have healthy expectations as well as solutions.

If someone who is already a mother can help you, it is beneficial for you to write down all of your expectations of pregnancy, the birthing process and childcare and have a few mothers read it and compare it to the realities.
The technique also encompasses rehearing the things you are most concerned about. This is specific to the expectant mother, but can include anything from the positioning of breastfeeding, bathing or changing the baby, what to do if there are long bits of crying etc. – all of which can be practised on dolls. These activities will help the expectant mother feel a lot more in control and prepared; therefore, a lot less stressed. As the saying goes, knowledge is power, and empowerment is one of the most important tools you can have as a mom. While experienced mothers are definitely a benefit, it is also valuable for you to spend time with other teenage moms as they share and relate to specific challenges you may face.

A tip I hear from mothers very often is, if you can, sleep when the baby sleeps. As an adolescent and teenager, you sleep in often. Those days will be behind you, and it will be difficult to cope with that change in particular. Truthfully, there will also be many other things to do when the baby is sleeping, but try your best to sleep as well, as you will not be useful to your baby if you are exhausted all the time.

Also, I’m no lawyer, but I do know it is helpful to consult with one if you can about the laws of child support, and I do know that starts with putting the father’s name on the birth certificate. Regardless of how good your relationship is, I would make that a priority for your and your baby’s future.

It is also strongly recommended to stay in school if you can. The most important things you can do for your child are to provide and set a good example. This helps with security later in life, and staying in school now means access to more support, such as friends or teachers.

There will be many opinions on what you should do and how to raise your child. Even at your age, you can trust your instincts on what is right when presented with conflicting information. In the end, good parenting is simply providing love, support and making sacrifices, understanding that the child is not to blame for any issues in your life and making what people are probably telling you is a disaster into your own personal growth and triumph. Everything will be okay.

Thank you for reading, and please continue to send suggested topics to

Scroll to Top
All our printed editions are available online
Subscribe to the Guyana Chronicle.
Sign up to receive news and updates.
We respect your privacy.