When my husband and I welcomed
our first baby this spring, we thought we had it all figured out. We’d read all
the books, gotten tons of advice and felt super prepared.
But if there’s one
thing babies teach you, it’s that preparedness can only get you so far. Sure,
we knew we had long nights and distracted days ahead of us, but there are some
newborn tips and tricks that aren’t frequently discussed or ever really mentioned.
Here are 10
things I wish someone had told me about having a newborn:
1. It gets harder before it gets easier
first week home, I got cocky. Our son slept for 18 to 20 hours a day in his bouncy
seat, perfectly content. I was able to get work done, fold laundry, cook
dinner—this baby thing was no sweat. I'd convinced myself we just had a “good”
By the time he turned 3 weeks old, I was singing a different tune.
can take a few weeks to really “wake up.” Suddenly, he was awake for long
stretches of time, wanting to be held by someone at all times and crying for
longer than a minute. It was a whole different ball game, and it caused me to
lose my footing a bit. I wish someone had told me that the first week home can
feel like a honeymoon phase, and it’s totally normal for things to get more
difficult before they get easier.
2. Babies have to learn how to breastfeed
I’d always heard that babies
knew instinctively how to breastfeed when they were born. Not true! Although
they may have a natural rooting and sucking reflex, they need to learn that
your chest is where the goods are coming from. The nurse practically shoved his
little head onto me, and I freaked out—it seemed so rough. But she explained to
me that he doesn’t know that that’s where food comes from, so I had to hold his
head there until he figured out he was eating.
So just as you’re learning, they’re learning—and figuring out that
latch can hurt!
3. Newborns have freaky breathing patterns
Babies will occasionally stop breathing for 5 to 10 seconds, giving Mom a total
heart attack before they suddenly come back breathing super quickly with
shallow breaths, as if they’re gasping for air. The first time it happened, I was
so glad I was in the hospital with a pediatrician standing there—otherwise I
would have definitely thought something was wrong. Turns out, his little brain was
still figuring out how to tell his lungs to get air. So sometimes signals get
What I wasn't prepared for was his rocket POOP!
4. A pacifier is totally useless
assumed pacifiers were a great way to get a baby to self-soothe, but our baby
tends to freak out when you stick a pacifier in his mouth. He’ll sometimes take it, but only from his
dad, and only for a few minutes when we’re desperate for him to let us finish a
task. If I try to do it, he screams as if I’m trying to poison him. Not all
babies will be satisfied by a paci—don’t rely on one, especially at first.
5. They can have more acne than a teenager
I always thought newborns had smooth, perfect skin, and they do—for a few days.
As mom’s hormones leave his body, babies can get a ton of pimples on their chin
and cheeks, like they’re going through puberty. I thought we weren’t washing
his face well enough, but it turns out that’s perfectly normal. Also, it's not measles. (Whew!)
6. They don’t just pee on you—they can, and
will, poop on you.
Everyone—EVERYONE!—warned that my little boy would pee on me when I changed his diaper. What I wasn't prepared for was his rocket POOP! He managed to
get poop on his laundry hamper, his dresser, the carpet and his parents. So I'm here to warn you: It can shoot out like a
cannon. The cute, satisfied face he makes almost makes up for it.
Pro tip: Undo the diaper tabs, and then sit
there for a minute with the diaper still covering his booty. We’ve avoided many
a poop explosion by simply being a little patient and letting him do his
As soon as someone else is snuggling him, I tend to want him back.
7. It’s smart to disconnect your credit card
from your Amazon account
When you’re awake at 2 a.m., someone online could
tell you a quail egg will help your baby sleep and you’ll find yourself
dropping 50 bucks on it. I wish someone would have warned me that I’d be making
impulse purchases of sound machines and salt lamp as the baby wailed in my sleep-deprived
arms. You’ll have a much clearer head during his morning nap. So disconnect your
card from your Amazon to avoid a budget hangover in the morning.
8. Those little suckers are slippery!
The first time my husband and I gave our baby a bath, we could barely hold on to him. We finally bought a baby bathtub, because we were so paranoid we were going to drop him on the floor.
Foot kicks? Head shifts slightly? Deep sigh? No matter what it is, any slight noise has me wide awake and waiting for a cry.
10. You can miss your baby while in the same room
Since we had the first grandchild in our families, any time we're with our parents, everyone clamors for the baby. At first, a break sounds great. But as soon as someone else is snuggling him, I tend to want him back. Sharing the baby love is harder than it sounds.