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Friday, August 24, 2012

Real baby advice

So one of my friends is going to have a baby very soon. I promised her way back in the early stages of pregnancy that I’d compile a list of REAL advice for a first time mom, not all that glossy magazine and parenting books you come across endlessly in all sorts of places. And, now that the baby’s due next week, here’s the list of REAL baby advice that no one tells you. (In no particular order.)

1. When you’re at the store, park as close as you can near a cart corral.
Seriously. It’ll save your sanity. Here’s why: At first, you’ll probably have a baby in the top part of the cart, in a carrier. You’re done shopping, and if you parked anywhere else, you have to lug a  huge car seat and your purchases into the car to all be tucked away. And you’re going to be exhausted because that is second nature after having a kid, so the less distance you have to carry kids and other stuff, the better. Even when the kids are older, this is good too, because you’ll want to hurry and get your stuff to the car before you or them have any more breakdowns. (Nervous for mom, behaviourial for kids.)

2. New babies don’t care about clothes.
Yeah, they care about the big things, like food, diaper changes, being held and loved. But for at least the first 6 months, clothes are not a big deal. When you’re going out, yes, it’s nice to have the cute outfits and matching socks and hats and bows, but that’s for adult sentiment. Not babies. When you’re at home and it’s just you, the baby and the dog watching The Wiggles at 7:30 am, that baby doesn’t care if it matches or not. As long as it’s dressed, that’s all you need. And besides, whatever it’s wearing is going to get soiled in some fashion, so it might as well be something cheap and comfortable. Goodwill or other store like that is a good place to look for early baby clothes. It’s cheap, and if it needs to be thrown out because of a blowout from one end or the other, you don’t feel guilty. And a side note, if you think it’s warm enough for baby, don’t think you have to put clothes on. Just something to cover the bottom up, and maybe something to cover a diaper too. Because those little hands will soon figure out how to undo diaper tabs. And that’s not pleasant. Trust me. On the other hand, I’m sure you’ve heard “Dress the baby in one layer warmer than yourself.” This really only works if it’s cold, I’ve found.(and don’t forget a hat)  If it’s hot, dress it in the same as yourself. It’s really just a judgement call. Do what feels right. You can always put layers on a baby or take it off, just as yourself.

3. Cloth Diapers.
I don’t care if your baby wears them on their butt or not. Pick up a package of these. The cheap white 12 count package is fine. Cause these make excellent burp cloths, and once again, for the first 6 months, you will live with these things. Seriously, have one under your baby when laying down after feeding, and if not under, within six inches of it. Cause random projectile vomit happens. Sometimes a lot. They’re machine washable and disposable if need be.

4.  Try to sleep sometimes when the baby sleeps.
This is an oldie but a goodie. I’m sure you’ve heard this one before. And you’ll say “Oh, I don’t need to sleep, I need to get stuff done!” etc etc. Yeah, well, forget it. I’m not saying you should sleep EVERY time the baby sleeps, otherwise, true, the laundry may not get done, or the dishes, or a shower for you, or anything else, but at least once a day during the first three months, up to the 9 months or so, TAKE A NAP DURING THE DAY WHEN THE BABY SLEEPS. You need it. And whatever else you’re doing can wait. Those dust bunnies aren’t going anywhere. Let them sit. You need to take care of you too.

5..  The diaper bag is your new best friend.
So pick a practical one. You’ll be lugging that thing around for probably at least three years, so get one you’ll like. Make sure it has lots of pockets so you can’t find what you want when you need it. Also, for you moms, don’t carry a purse and a diaper bag. Just throw everything into the diaper bag. But make sure you at least get your wallet and stuff out if dad takes the bag without you.

5a.  A side note on clothes and travel.
When packing for your baby’s diaper bag, even if you’re just going to the store for “5 minutes”, pack a whole extra set of clothes. Because Murphy’s Law is especially true for babies and bodily fluids. My rule is “Pack a set of clothes for your baby. Then an extra set. Then one more set.” Because some days, it’s going to be that way. Extra messy. Baby clothes are small, you can always stuff an extra shirt and pants in somewhere. Some day, you’ll be glad you did.

5b.  Plastic bags.
Whether it’s the plastic shopping bags from the grocery store or little one gallon bags you can find in the baby section, have some in your diaper bag. Because someday you’ll have a extra messy diaper you can’t toss right away, or something gross you need to keep separate from everything. Carry these around. The environment will understand. It’s okay.

6.  Baby Gates.
Not exactly a thing mamas need to worry about right away with little babies, but a point nonetheless. When you’re looking for baby gates, and you’re looking at the selection, keep this in mind. Don’t buy the cheapest baby gate. I’m not saying you have to buy the expensive modify your house ones, but if you think you can just buy the $10 ones and have it work right, you’re wrong. Buy the $20 ones. It’ll save you so much hassle.

7.  Savor it.
The first year is going to fly by. (So will the next few years, but the first year, especially.) Take some time when they’re little, especially in the first weeks and months when they can’t squirm away too much yet, to just hold your baby. Remember what it’s like for them to be so little, tiny and helpless. Look into their eyes and wonder what they’re thinking. Watch them when they’re reaching for a new toy or trying to catch a mobile over their head. There’s nothing quite like watching a baby when it’s learning, when you can see the gears turning. Remember that new baby smell and feel. Because it’ll be gone before you know it. I’ve already started that, and even though my kids are still young, at 8 and 6 I look at them now and say “where did the time go?” Next thing I know, I’ll turn around my kids will be 18 and 16, and almost grown up. So yeah. Cherish it.

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