Full disclosure: it’s been a full four years since I had a child. But while you’d think my memory might be a bit rusty, that isn’t the case at all. When I think back to those last months before I officially became a parent, I can still clearly recall a few things that didn’t quite register until my son was finally here.
Despite the mounds of advice I received from family and friends that you would think would have made me a certified expert in parenting, here are 10 things I wish I had known before having my son.
1.Yes, you will need that many washcloths
After a wonderful baby shower, I looked through the mountains of clothing, bedding, and blankets I had to wash. Among them was a good 20 or 30 little washcloths. That’s a bit excessive. How many baths can a baby possibly have? Thankfully, I didn’t return/exchange any of them. Because once I got to experience the vast amounts of spit-up, dirty faces, spilled milk, and other fluids that managed to make their way to my clothing and baby’s on a daily basis, I came to appreciate the abundance of these tiny, environmentally-friendly, wonders of multifunctional cleaning. aden + anais offers a three-pack of washcloths that are made of 100% cotton muslin, which is gentle on baby’s skin. And even if you don’t end up with tons of clothes like I did, these ones have convenient loops so you can quickly hand wash them and hang them up so they’re ready for the next mishap.
2.Babies really start getting interesting around 3 months of age
When I first found out that I was pregnant, I had considered only taking three months off work instead of the full year of maternity leave. I’m glad that I didn’t, because I discovered it’s right around that milestone three-month mark that babies really start to develop their own personalities, and do interesting things beyond sleep, eat, and poop. They might be able to crawl, hold their heads up, smile lovingly as you wave a toy in front of them, discover new objects—the list goes on. It’s an entirely different experience that is definitely not worth missing out on.
3.Breastfeeding is hard. No, really, it is
I knew that breastfeeding wasn’t exactly going to be a walk in the park, but I didn’t realize just how difficult it would be; especially while emotions and hormones are running high. I received the best advice from a friend almost too late: she said just give it at least six weeks, and it gets easier. She was right. I wish I had known that ahead of time so I could have mentally prepared myself to work toward that timed goal.
4.Time really does fly by
Any new or soon-to-be parent has heard the words “enjoy every moment—they grow up so fast.” Secretly, you want to roll your eyes and mutter a sarcastic “no, really?” under your breath. But while my son is only four years old, I can already attest to how true that statement is. It seems like just yesterday that I was changing diapers and preparing pureed fruits and vegetables. But alas, the seasons have come and gone multiple times over, in what seems like the blink of an eye. So when someone tells you to “savour every moment,” keep that in mind any time your baby is up crying in the middle of the night, or your toddler is bugging you for the fifth story in a row before bedtime.
5.Baby poop looks and smells way worse than you think
This one is courtesy of my husband, who offered up this point when I told him I was writing this article. True, while it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that baby poop doesn’t exactly smell like roses and perfume, you truly don’t understand the magnitude of potential odours, not to mention looks, that can excrete from your child until you actually face it on a daily basis. I wish I had known how often I would be Googling “baby poop.” If I did, I would have studied up on the various colours and formations of poop in advance, and learned what they could mean about your child’s health or diet.
6.Document everything because they grow up quickly
Along with recognizing and accepting that they grow up quickly, make a point to capture as many memories as you can. For the first few years of my son’s life, I focused on smartphone snapshots. They’re obviously the easiest to get; chances are your phone is nearby to catch those fleeting moments. But I wish I had known the importance of getting far better images. Sure, today’s smartphones can capture some pretty great pics. But they still don’t compare to the quality of photo you can get with a dedicated DSLR, mirrorless camera, or high-quality compact digital camera. Especially when you’ re ready to frame the best shots and put them on display around the house.
7.You can never have too many photos and videos
Even with a good selection of high quality photos, those quick, candid shots are important, too. Occasionally, my husband and I will exchange random photos or videos of our son from when he was a baby, with a face full of pasta sauce, a head full of overgrown curls, or that super cute onesie that we made him wear for the summer trip to Niagara Falls. You’d be surprised how quickly you can sometimes forget those moments, and details. Wow, was he really that chubby? Add another element by slapping on a wearable camera like a GoPro when out on adventures with your baby so you don’t miss a moment. And by the way, remember when you said you’d never be “that parent” flooding your Facebook feed with cute baby pics? You will. Had I known that ahead of time, I wouldn’t have given my friends with older kids as much grief for over-sharing their pics.
8.Every baby is different
Parents too easily get caught up in the comparisons, believing something is wrong with their child because she isn’t walking as quickly as her cousin was, or isn’t talking quite as much as the other kids in daycare. I wish I had known earlier that every kid truly is different. And while you can Google away to find out where the typical milestones should fall, these are only guides, not hard and fast rules. The truth is that kids learn to walk and talk at their own pace, and each one has his own quirks, strengths, and weaknesses. Exceling in one or more of those areas doesn’t make a baby or toddler better, smarter, or poised for greater future success than another.
9.Your smartphone can be your best friend
Working in the tech industry, I didn’t need any convincing that my smartphone would be a great resource for child-rearing. But I wish I had known the extent to which I would be relying on the device, particularly with apps. Babycenter provides useful articles and mom groups for advice, suggestions, and support. Simple games like Draw Something or Scrabble help pass the time during another 4 a.m. feeding session. I also used a scheduling app to keep track of breastfeeding, diaper changes, and sleep. At every visit, baby’s doctor will ask you about his sleep, diaper, and feeding schedules, so having everything at your fingertips can be more helpful than you realize.
10.Get a Bluetooth headset!
When someone tells you you’ll have your hands full with a newborn, take that both figuratively and literally. There was rarely a moment that I didn’t have my son, diapers and wipes, a bottle, something baby-related in my hands. Which meant answering the phone was highly unlikely. The solution? I wish I had invested in a Bluetooth headset with voice control to allow for answering or making calls while running about without having to grab my phone and tap buttons. With the Plantronics Voyager Legend Bluetooth headset, if a call comes through while you’re wearing it, the caller’s name will be announced and you can use your voice to either “answer” or “ignore” the call. Or, using sensors, it will automatically pick up a call as soon as you grab it and put it in your ear.
As you progress along your parenting journey, check out a wide selection of baby products at Best Buy Online.
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