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11 Things I've Learned in My First Year of Parenting

Photograph by Twenty20

I’ve kept my baby alive for going on almost a year now. That has to deserve some sort of medal. The truth is, parenting is an art form. You do stupid things, you screw up, but it’s only in the trials and mistakes that you become a better parent.

So in order to save you some of the many mistakes I've made, here are 11 things I’ve learned over the last year as a first-time parent:

1. Never leave home without wearing nursing pads in those first weeks.

Your body is trying to figure out how much milk your baby needs and it tends to err on the side of caution. You feel like a leaking faucet at all hours of the day.

2. Beware of Velcro in the laundry.

Those adorable baby bibs you got from your shower become a nightmare of twisted hunks of Velcro in the washing machine. Do yourself a favor and secure those bad boys before tossing them in. Better yet, find ones with a snap. Why don’t they make more bibs with snaps?

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3. Bulb syringes are utterly useless.

They do nothing to suck out crud from your baby’s nose. And they are a cesspool of bacteria, because it’s impossible to clean the inside. Get the NoseFrida. And get over your disgust of mucus. There will be plenty of more things to be grossed out over as your baby grows.

4. Always take off Baby’s socks before changing a dirty diaper.

Babies wiggle and squirm. A lot. Trust me on this one. No one wants a poopy sock.

5. Wait at least 20 minutes after they eat to buckle them into the car seat.

I had no idea babies spit up that much. Don’t rush to feed your baby and then scramble to try to get out of the house on time. And if you do, bring extra burp cloths.

6. It’s OK to do what you need to do to get sleep.

Keep your baby in your room, or co-sleep, as long as you want. If your baby sleeps better next to you in bed than in her crib, by all means, don’t ruin a good thing.

And if it didn’t turn how you hoped, well, now you know for next time.

7. If you think you got all the burps out, burp them again for 30 more seconds.

No one loves having what feels like a half gallon of baby puke poured all over you after you just fed them because of a stubborn air bubble.

8. Get out of the house and join a play group.

News flash: It’s not for developing your baby’s socialization. It’s for your own sanity. Plus, it’s the best way to meet other new moms.

9. The vast majority of the public will not bat an eye as your baby screams in Target.

Maybe it makes you self-conscious, but you would be surprised at how many people aren’t bothered by it.

RELATED: 11 Things You Didn't Know About Motherhood Until You Became a Mom

10. There is no right answer.

Regardless of what your grandmother or mom friend of four kids thinks. And if it didn’t turn how you hoped, well, now you know for next time.

11. Whatever you think you know about parenting will go right out the window when the baby comes home.

Think you have a good understanding of gas pain? Or infant fevers? Or what to do all day with a newborn? Surprise! Life with a baby is nothing like you’d expect. So learn to go with the flow.

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