We can read all the books out there about raising babies, but reality and theory don’t always match. Many facts out there are true. Newborns will wake up at night. By day 6, there will be about 6 wet diapers a day. But, there are also many things no one tells new moms to expect, and this is one of the reasons why the first child is generally always the hardest. With the next babies, you’ve been through boot camp. You know what you’re getting into. If you’re a new mom, here is a list of what to expect and prepare for.
1. Back to sleep reduces SIDS rates.. Because baby won’t sleep at all.
We all know about the “Back to Sleep” campaign. Putting babies to sleep on their backs was found to dramatically lower the risk of SIDS, which is awesome, right? Except that babies hate sleeping flat on their backs. Two kids later, we now call it “Back No Sleep”. We opted for side sleeping, or sleeping in a swing to elevate the head.
2. Breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally.
I breastfed my first for 3 full years, until I got pregnant with my second, whom I am currently breastfeeding. But both times, the first few weeks were excruciating. When I was newly pregnant with baby #1, I swore I wouldn’t use lanolin, because it comes from sheep wool, and is there such a thing as ethically raised lanolin? One week after the birth though, I was going through it like there was no tomorrow. With baby #2, I was a pro at opening the tube at 2 am with one hand.
3. Training pants only train you to spend your hard earned money.
Once kids are too big for diapers, we switch to training pants. The name implies that they bridge the gap between baby diapers and big kid underwear. But you know what? They’re just like diapers, and no training actually happens. The only good thing is that you can put them on your children like underwear, which is easier than wrestling with a 2 year old who refuses to put on a diaper. I ended up letting my son run around the backyard naked, and would keep underwear on hand in case a guest showed up.
4. Bedtime isn’t actually all cuddles and stories
Before I had kids, I envisioned myself lovingly reading stories to my children before turning off the light, cuddling them a little, and blissfully going back to my husband for snuggles of our own. Well, we do read stories lovingly, but getting the kids in bed for the first 2 years was a complete struggle. It’s actually one of the reasons I didn’t feel rushed to wean my children. Why spend 2 hours creating bedtime routines, trying out essential oils, massages, baths, and more, when you can subjugate them with a few minutes of nursing?
5. Playdates are impossible to schedule
When I was pregnant with my first, I spent quite a bit of time online researching play dates in my neighborhood. I knew nothing about babies, and thought I’d meet up with other new moms, and we’d chat while our children played with blocks. Ah, but that’s not how things go!
Every kid naps at a different time, which means most moms will decline playdates because one of their littles ones needs to nap. And after they’re done napping, everyone is overwhelmed with grocery shopping, eating, cleaning up, and making other plans. If you’re thinking of socializing with other moms, join a huge group to ensure there’s at least one who’s free!
6. If you want to make dinner in peace, you will have to prepare it during the 2 pm nap
I couldn’t figure out when to make dinner. 5 pm is such a difficult time of the day, because the children are usually tired and getting ready to sleep. Plus, you’re exhausted. I actually learned this trick from my mom. If your kids sleep in the afternoon, that’s when you make dinner. Sure, it’s not time to eat yet. But that’s what fridges and slow cookers are for.
Want a quick dinner? Prepare a stew in the morning and put it in the slow cooker. Make a lasagna, and keep it in the fridge. Cook it an hour before dinner needs to be on the table.
7. Toys will be played with once, so don’t buy them.
The toy industry must be so lucrative. We buy something, our kids play with it a few times, and they never touch it again.
My solution? I give them my own stuff. We once spent an entire dinner eating blissfully because the baby was fascinated with the gnocchi board. He won’t look at it now. The silicon spatula was a great chew toy for about a couple hours. And we certainly remember the silent car ride we took while our first chewed on a toothbrush!
Kitchen utensils. Just as useful as toys, except you still need them after your kids are done playing.
8. Do you have a toddler? If so, you need water.
No one told me this when I first had kids, but water is your best friend. I discovered this curious fact when I had to do dishes, and my son – who needed to be held 24/7 – discovered the dog’s bowl. He dipped a finger in. He dipped another one. Soon, he was splashing away and having the time of his life. I washed all the dishes.
If your toddler is driving you crazy, remember these words. A garden hose with a tiny stream of water. A spray bottle. A water bowl with a few empty containers. You can also set a toy in a thin layer of water and freeze it. Thaw it a little, and your child will love the sensory play.
Sand works well too!
9. Your baby is your best ally to clean your floors
Don’t clean when baby’s sleeping. Seriously. When baby’s sleeping, you should sleep. Or stare at the wall. Or read a book. Or call your best friend for some adult conversation.
Do you know when you should clean your floors? When baby’s awake. Babies love the soothing sound of the vacuum cleaner, and my second loved the rhythmic motion of sweeping the floor. When baby’s fussy, put him in the carrier, and clean those floors. It’s not like there’s much more you can do anyway!
10. Art supplies are useless for the first two years
I was so looking forward to making art with my kids when I was pregnant. When my first boy was 20 months, we even enrolled in a baby art class. I had tubes of glitter glue, sparkly paint, neon paint, edible paint, you name it. But all my toddler wanted to do was squeeze out everything into one giant mountain of paint. And when I gave the green light to painting on the windows, he preferred decorating the walls. I’m not sure if it’s a boy thing, but while I would still let him empty his paints and tubes of glue for fun, we never did a lot of art!
Do you already have a child? Tell us about all the things you didn’t expect with your first child!