Becoming a mom these days seems like you have to be a technology genius, a fashion guru and a nutritional expert all rolled into one swollen, waddling pregnant body. From Baby Bjorns to Bumbos, every new parent can be overwhelmed by the latest baby trends that we just have to have. For me, it was items like Sophie the Giraffe that I just had to have with my son. “It will save your life when he’s teething,” they said. Not! It became a $25 dog toy within a few months. And with my firstborn, I spent more than I care to admit on the “perfect” baby bedding, which was ultimately stained with throw up and diaper explosions when it was all said and done.
And this is just the “stuff.” Don’t get me started on the advice. You picked what name? Don’t co-sleep. It’s fine to give her peanut butter! He has to be swaddled. Give him rice cereal if you want him to sleep through the night. You have to let her cry it out. You can’t give him Tylenol this young. She should be walking by now.
After two babies, I am certainly no expert. Every day still presents it’s own challenges. (Right now I am battling a tooth that my daughter refuses to pull and a son that loves to go #1 in the potty, but #2…not so much.) But I do believe there are some baby facts that are just tried and true.
Have a Wonderful Pregnancy
1. You never really need to eat enough for two.
2. But it is OK to give into cravings. After all, you are growing another human. Just make the next meal healthy.
3. I know you just want to be done with pregnancy, but be patient. Healthy babies are worth the wait. (Not going to lie, this one was hard for me.)
4. Never disturb a sleeping baby.
5. Put the baby in the crib while she is still awake. This will allow her to get used to falling asleep herself.
6. I know it’s hard, but sleepless nights won’t last forever. Your baby will start sleeping for longer stretches of time.
Tears, Tears, Tears
7. Don’t get the impression that a baby’s crying is an applause meter in reverse. He’s not judging your motherly abilities — he’s just crying.
8. You will find the right soothing technique for your baby. For mine, it was patting their bottoms. Try whispering, funny faces – my favorite episode of “Friends” was when Ross and Rachel realized their daughter was soothed by the song, “Baby Got Back.” You’ll figure it out.
9. If your child has a favorite blanket or stuffed animal, avoid a disaster by getting a duplicate, then swap the two occasionally so they look and smell similar.
10. For a baby, things that are not toys are often more fun than actual toys. Tupperware!
11. If you don’t have the budget, do not spend a lot on bedding or gadgets. In the end, those things don’t really matter as much as a happy, healthy baby.
12. Breastfeeding for even a few weeks is better than not breastfeeding at all. But don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work for you. A fed baby is best.
13. No bribing, coaxing, promising, or pleading should ever be used at mealtime.
14. If you find yourself planning meals around the baby, you are missing the whole point. He should join you, not you him.
Mom AND Dad
15. Take turns getting up with the baby, giving baths, and handling the fussy hour. This way one partner doesn’t become resentful of the other.
16. Discuss parenting problems with your spouse, and reach decisions jointly. When you can’t agree, try both ways and see what works best for your baby.
17. Go on out-of-the-ordinary dates, like a concert or hike, as often as you can, rather than heading out for ho-hum dinners every week. A healthy marriage is the best thing for your child.
Enjoy being a Mom
18. Take a smartphone time-out. If you pause in the doc’s waiting room long enough, you might meet another mom who would love some adult conversation. Get her digits!
19. Set a good example. A physically fit mother who enjoys being active will communicate her enthusiasm and zest for life to her children.
20. Forget about being a “perfect parent.” There is no such thing, and working to appear as one requires so much effort that there’s not much energy left for you to spend being a loving parent, which has to be the top priority.