Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford are now the proud parents of a new baby girl and parenting experts have some advice for the couple.

Parent educator and writer for Parenting Place Aotearoa, John Cowan said the most important thing first-time parents to remember is to go with their gut.

"You'll get lots and lots of good advice and well wishes and you can always say thank you and ask a few questions, then go with your gut because genetically you're probably wired closer to that baby than anyone else and your instincts are going to be giving you the best advice," Cowan said.

"So by all means get as much advice as you can from other people but always filter it through your mother heart and your father heart, be prepared to back yourself on that."


Cowan said he ended up being primary caregiver, as Gayford will be, for his first baby, after his wife was forced to have an emergency caesarean.

"Being thrust involuntarily into that situation was one of the most delightful aspects of parenthood that I had, having to be frontline, hands on and coping was a remarkable privilege," Cowan said.

He said dads often miss out on so much when they step back, but that they too can have such a wonderful time with their babies.

Herald press gallery reporter Isaac Davison was a stay-at-home dad after his son Will turned 1.

In January he wrote /a> it was a constant source of bemusement to him why more New Zealand men didn't take on the role of primary caregiver.

"Though I initially had sleepless nights and lucid nightmares about becoming a full-time father, the reality has been a profoundly joyful experience," he wrote.

Davison offered some words of advice for Gayford.

"Don't worry, you can still get to the pub. In fact, babies love the place - it's warm and there's white noise. At this very moment, I am watching cricket and drinking a beer in the sun while Will goes into his third hour of sleep," Davison wrote.


Manager at Parent Help, Dale Powles said it was important for new parents to enjoy the small moments of respite.

"Take the small times that you can in between feeding the baby, do take time for yourself, if it's just stretching out in your bed and reading a book or having a sleep yourself if the baby is asleep," Powles said.

Cowan said each baby was unique so it was important to discover who the baby was instead of parenting with a predisposed idea of who they might be.

"Too many parents have this idea that they're going to shape this child into something, but we're not so much carpenters as gardeners, we get given this packet of seeds with the label off and sit back and see what grows and adjust your parenting to fit the baby," he said.

Michelle Langford, acting clinical leader at Plunket (northern region) and former Plunket nurse put it bluntly: "Parenting is hard. You can read as much as you like before baby comes but nothing really prepares you for the 24/7 world of a newborn baby."

Most parents were surprised at the lack of sleep and how incredibly tired they became, Langford said.

"In those early days a stretch of four or five hours can seem like a miracle. But it's a joyful time too - that first smile and those lovely cooing noises make it all worthwhile.

"My advice to new parents is to trust your instincts, you know your baby best and you'll know what they need. Of course, if you're in doubt, ask for help. Having a support network around you is so important – because no one can parent alone."

Parents didn't always get the thanks they deserved or get told they were doing a good job.

"That's why I always like to praise new mums and dads as much as possible – it gives them confidence they're doing the right thing.

"Take time for yourself and make sure you do things that make you feel good – eating good food is a key one. Don't compare your baby to other babies – they are as unique as anyone of us.

"But most importantly, I tell new parents to cherish this time. It really is so fleeting – and parents often tell us they wished they had just slowed down a bit in those early days and enjoyed it more."