For me, 2018 is the year of the baby. Yes, I had my first child but four of my best friends/bridesmaids would also get pregnant. Three of these friends will be welcoming their first child, one of which is due tomorrow via scheduled C section. Nothing like a deadline to get a new mom writing again.
With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of things I wish I knew before I had my first daughter, Charlotte, in the hopes that I might help them and any others save even just a little frustration during the early days as a new parent.
- The Witching Hour: How had I NEVER heard of this? Basically, babies consistently get fussy around 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. each day. It’s apparently super common and experienced in some capacity by all parents at some point or another. My greatest advice for banishing this is to try taking your baby outside. This works wonders for my daughter, and I hope that it works for all parents. If it’s too cold out or this doesn’t work, try walking or bouncing your baby while standing up. It’s likely your baby is gassy, and they feel so much better being vertical rather than laying down. Also, sounds that replicate the womb do wonders for calming a crying baby. There’s no shame in hanging out in the bathroom with the fan on at any hour of the day. Sound machines work well too. Going for a walk during this time can also be a nice relief since babies often fall asleep from consistent movements.
- Diaper Changing is an Art: My husband exclusively changed our daughter’s diapers the first three days of her life, so I could focus on recovering from her delivery and get the hang of breastfeeding. Hubbies of the world can take note of how amazing this act can be to a new mother. He was the experienced one, having changed many diapers for our nephews. I was a diaper-changing virgin and had lots to learn! Before you do ANYTHING, open that diaper on one side to let some fresh air in. Immediately close it. Babies will often pee soon after being exposed to cool air, so by doing this, you might not get peed on! Pull back the bottom half of your baby’s outfit so if they do pee, you don’t get their outfit wet. Changing 10+ diapers a day could translate to quite a few outfit changes if you let them pee on themselves… Place a new diaper below the dirty diaper. Open the dirty diaper and use the wipe to clean up and then put on whatever cream you use. Personally, I love Vaseline for babies because it’s not super think like many creams like Desitin. Lastly, a wet fart never lies and a wet fart usually has a friend. Moral of the story, wait it out a minute or two (if you can) when your baby has a wet fart. Again, you’ll avoid wasting diapers.
- Medicine Administration is a 2-Person Job: See the photo below to witness when I tried giving my daughter Tylenol on my own… Ideally, have one person hold the baby (and hands) and lean him or her back while the other person has the medicine and a paper towel for when they inevitably spit it out or drool off to the side. When you must do it on your own, tap into the places that keep your child calm, like outside or in your bathroom with the fan on (have you noticed my soothing go-tos yet?!)
- Lean on Amazon: If you haven’t bit the Amazon Prime bullet for free two-day shipping, now is the time. You think you registered for everything you need for baby, but it’s impossible to anticipate all your baby’s needs ahead of time. Also, general necessities that you start to get low on when grocery store shopping is NOT happening because well, you’re busy surviving. I ordered toilet paper on our first day home from the hospital for this reason.
- Carriers to the rescue: Use a baby carrier when your baby insists on being held to get stuff done like emptying the dishwasher, switching the laundry, cooking, etc. An important mommy mantra to live by: Don’t be so hard on yourself for not getting much done in one day. If you and your baby are both fed and fundamental needs for the day are met like some naps for both of you, along with diapers changes, consider it a win.
- If at First a Baby is miserable: Babies usually hate everything the first time, for instance baths or being put in and taken out of car seats. It will get easier.
- Your Best Spit Up Defense: After a feeding, holding a baby upright or keeping them in a chair for at least 10 minutes will help avoid spit up disasters. This significantly decreased the amount of times our daughter had an epic spit up. (I’m talking exorcist style…) Tummy time is very important, but DO NOT under any circumstances do it immediately after a feeding. Best to wait at least 30 minutes.
- Handling Hiccups: Nothing like rocking a baby to sleep to have them get a serious case of the hiccups as soon as you put them down. Giving them Gripe Water will have them cleared up in no time!
- My #1 Secret: A well burped baby is a well-fed baby, which translates to a baby who sleeps well. And, everyone knows that parents who sleep are better geared to tackle parenting challenges.
In closing, all babies are unique so don’t be frustrated if they don’t like pacifiers, vibration, sleep sacs, etc. Disclaimer: reading this list won’t make you the perfect parent and you WILL still get pooped, peed, and spit up on because WELP babies. However, you will feel empowered every time you have success like seeing a few fresh drops of pee when you’ve reopened your baby’s diaper. #Winning
Full disclosure, my daughter is 11 weeks old, and I know I still have a lot to learn…
Got any further advice to add to my list? Comment below!