Not long ago I had a baby. It’s amazing how much I deeply understand the challenges and unique characteristics of a certain phase while I’m in it, but once it has passed, I can’t remember a thing. For example, if you ask me when Hailey got her first tooth, I’d be scrolling the archives because I’m clueless!
8 months old; I couldn’t resist and had to go look.
Now I call these two sweet girls “my babies” but the truth is I have preschooler and a toddler (who I will call a toddler until the day she turns 3). And before these adorable baby days are too far behind me, I thought it would be a good idea to write these down for my future self, so when those around me have babies and I’m tempted to say, why can’t you meet me for coffee at 10:30 am? Just bring the baby! I’ll know better.
Overtired is a real thing. This might top the list as most mind blowing. How can a baby be overtired when a baby can sleep whenever a baby wants? I don’t know but I know it’s a thing. And the best cure is a good sleep schedule and ensuring the baby is sleeping enough. Sleep begets sleep and though pre-kid me may have thought the baby will sleep harder at night if she skips a nap, I was wrong. Very, very wrong.
Sleep deprivation is legit. And it’s nasty. You know your sleep is going to be messed with when you have a new baby because everyone jokes about it. However, it’s serious. Lack of sleep will mess with your moods and your sanity. It’s a tired you feel down in your bones. I would have mild anxiety before going to bed some nights just calculating the number of hours I wouldn’t be getting. And honestly? I didn’t even have it that bad.
White noise for babies should be loud. The pictures all show a soft hum or shh-ing, but those pictures are wrong. It needs to sound like a hurricane is engulfing the baby’s head to work its fabulous magic. Once the baby gets a little older, absolutely turn it down, but in the beginning- hurricane level. Trust me.
Swaddling is a talent worth learning. I know there are countless “magic” blankets with adorable prints and velcro, but in my two-baby experience, nothing beats a legit, old-fashioned swaddle with a blanket. Use the fancy velcro swaddles as a second swaddle over the first; double swaddle FTW! And swaddle them tightly. Yes, they will resist it but then they’ll sleep for a 7 hour stretch and you’ll realize maybe they don’t hate it all that much.
Transitioning out of swaddling at 5 months old.
You will immediately understand the magic of holidays. Sure your baby is so young she may only be able to see 3 inches in front of her face but you’ll still go crazy decking the halls with blinking Christmas lights. And you’ll be right. Holidays with kids is the best thing in the world.
If you’re lucky, your family will be just as nuts about going all out too.
Trusting your gut is more valuable than parenting books. I think I read this book and that was it. I realized I know my kids better than anyone else in the world. And you know yours better than anyone else too. Take a deep breath, don’t give into the crazy, and trust your gut.
You may also like Bringing Home Baby: 10 Things that May Surprise You About Your Newborn
You really do think your kid is a special snowflake. I always thought I would be levelheaded and objective but then they showed up and nope, my kids really are the most brilliant, adorable, hilarious, and super super special kids ever. Just like yours.
Babies communicate more than we give them credit for. By a few months in, you’re able to tell the difference between a I’m sad/hurt/hungry/cold/tired cry. It’s kind of crazy. Also, when a baby is trying to look away from you, let them. It’s a natural way for them to say they need a break so they don’t get overstimulated. They’ll look back your way when they are ready to engage again.
Breastfeeding is not innate. I breastfed exclusively for over 3 years total. Though I cherish that time, it does not mean it was easy. In the beginning it hurt like Hades, her latch wasn’t quite right, then there was clogged ducts and distractions. I didn’t innately know how to handle all of this, but I learned. Support is invaluable.
Most babies need help to fall asleep. Some pass out in the middle of tummy time but others (mine) might need total darkness, a tight swaddle, and bouncing. And back to the overtired thing… jumping into action at the first yawn is crucial.
Babies make talking on the phone a thing of the past. When babies are babies and you are living in 3 hour cycles, in the 45 minutes you get (if you’re lucky) of quiet time (while they sleep), all you want to do is eat, shower, or zone out before it starts over again. Then as they grow it just gets louder and they demand more of your attention. I’m 95% certain this is why they invented text messaging.
The intense love you have for them is like nothing you can imagine. I would do anything for my two little monkeys, no matter how whiny they’ve been that day (/week). I’ve realized in complete awe at how much my parents must love me. It’s really something I never fully grasped until I had a child of my own.
If you talk to 100 other moms, I’m sure you will get 100 different answers, but one thing is for sure. I thought I knew babies and kids pretty well before becoming a mom, but it turns out, I definitely did not. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to go through the baby phase with my two sweet girls.
Now please excuse while I spend the next 4 hours combing through more baby pictures of baby Hailey and trying to not let my ovaries explode. My, my, how times flies!
Moms, what is one thing that you didn’t know about babies until you had one?
I love seeing all of their baby photos, so sweet 🙂 I totally agree with these, especially “sleep begets sleep”. I had always heard this, but it didn’t make much sense to me, but it is SO true! Something I didn’t know about (young) babies is how often they need to sleep! I was definitely keeping our little guy up for too long when he was an infant, whoops! He became so much happier when we started putting him down for naps more often, like you said, at the very first sign of tiredness.
Heather @Lunging Through Life says
Just nodded my head to all of these. I keep telling myself I’m not going to be glued to a schedule with my second but I just know how much better they sleep and are when they are on a schedule! But I know my first needs to be in activities and get out of the house so there has to be give and take.
I can clearly remember calculating naps and sleep time to come up with total hours over a period of a few days cause I couldn’t figure out why she was so stinkin’ cranky (my first baby). Then after I how did the numbers and consulted the chart… Even though this is a wide range of hours for the age group… She was still short by about two hours !! They need more sleep then ever in the beginning!!
You don’t actually have to wake a sleeping baby. I was lucky because my babies slept long chunks very early on (they also went straight to their cribs on day one at home for night time sleep) but I totally freaked out on day 10 when baby number one slept for six hours. Should I wake her? The book says nurse her every 2 to 3 hours… I didn’t wake her. She woke shortly after i panicked. I called the peed in the morning and they confirmed ONE 5-6 hour stint at that age was totally fine! Yay!
As Brittany said, breast-feeding isn’t always easy or fun, but over my three year total time I also learned that it’s probably the thing that I have done in my life and I am most proud. I stuck with it and it paid off in so many ways.
You don’t need all the gadgets. Really.
A baby barrier of some sort will be your best friend; especially For your second or third…..
Have friends to bounce to vent to and bounce ideas off of; It’s crucial.
Start getting some walks in ASAP; it will help with hormones, mood, body and everything. Find a friend to go with. You know who I am talking about !!! 😉
OMG those sweet sweet babies!! I melt! Yes to all of this. It’s amazing how everything you thought changes. I have always been a baby/child person. I’m a teacher by trade, but the love you feel for your own immediately and the fact that your mind and body just know what to do once they join the world blew me away. My husband asked a few times how I knew to do what I when it comes to taking care of the kids and I said I don’t know, I just do. 🙂
So spot on with all of these. Especially the white noise. It sounds like a jet engine is taking off in my kids rooms but they have zero issue falling asleep. I always laugh at how my floors were so clean when I had infants because the vacuum was so calming, I’d sweep my floors 7 or 8 times a per day! I honestly didn’t read a single parenting book because I knew it would make me mental. My Mom had Dr. Sears’ reference book for illness and that’s it. Too much information is not always good. Especially if you are a worrier like I am! My kids will be 2 next month and I’ve been scrolling through photos for their 2 year blog post. While I am definitely Team Toddler, those baby days are so special.
Thanks for a great post!
Talking on the phone! Sunday my grandma wanted to have a chat- I was HOPING she would call that morning since the babe was at my parents. Nope- she called about 1 hour after he got home so of course he was a loon. He wanted mamas attention and for me to play! I felt horrible but I spent 85% of the call yelling at him to stop, or trying to figure out what I could distract him with- nothing. I know she understands but i did learn that if I want to actually have a good chat it needs to be during nap time!
Lisa Faltenhine says
OMG baby H!! All the heart emojies. Why do our babies keep getting older 🙁
These are so accurate and the baby days go by soooo fast.
Funny that you mention you couldn’t remember when Hailey got her first tooth, because we are in the middle of teething with baby number 2 at the moment (7 months) and I couldn’t remember when my daughter (5 years old) got her first tooth either! It’s all such a blur. The days feel long but the years sure fly by.
This time around I have come to realize that no matter what the books say, there is no “one size fits all” baby out there. I was obsessed with what the books told me was the right thing to do the first time around, and this time, I’ve realized that what works for us might not be in any of those books. I am definitely a believer in making sure babies don’t get overtired but I’m not as obsessed with getting him on a schedule or having him sleep for x amount of time. To be honest, I just don’t have the energy this time around and we are pretty busy with activities during the day, so we do a lot of napping in the car seat or carrier at the moment. It might not be what the “experts” recommend, but it works for us!
Anna BB says
YES! but to add to this list you become a crappy friend. All I want to do is sleep, but being so tired after work, taking care of babies, cooking, cleaning… I don’t have any energy to talk, let alone put myself together for a friend date. LOL I know it won’t last forever and I miss my friends, but right now life is kicking my butt.
Loved seeing all the cute baby pictures! Wow how time flies 🙁
Beautiful post, Brittany! You have me looking at pics of my little guy now. The time sure does fly, doesn’t it?
I agree with all of these and I’m hoping knowing what I know will making having baby# 2 in July a little smoother! (Wishful thinking!?) White noise was a huge help for us, as well as those tight swaddles and bouncing!
Before I had our son, I enjoyed children but I didn’t think they were great. Parents would gush about them and I’d be like “meh”, haha. But now that I’m a mom my love for my child is one I could never describe or put into words – you really don’t understand until you have one. And I do try to limit my gushing – at least to friends. Family on the other hand, that’s another story 🙂
This is a great post, Brittany!
I have learned, and am still learning, that “it” will be okay (whatever “it” is in the moment: short/long naps, not enough vegetables at grandparents’ house, still in pajamas at 3pm, etc.). I repeat this to myself on an almost daily basis and my son is two and a half!
I also realized I need to act as the leader for my child even when I don’t feel like one. I am learning a lot from Janet Lansbury on this topic. I notice a serious difference when I act like a leader with my child versus just sitting back and letting things happen. He *needs* me to be his leader right now, not a bystander. So, I’m acting the part even when I have no idea what the heck I am doing. It helps us both feel slightly more confident in our roles as Mama and Son.
Here are some good Lansbury articles for those who are interested:
Jennifer Umana says
All these baby pictures make me remember my little babies (I have a 4 year old son and an 18 month year old daughter) and make me want more and more than I already do!!! Gosh – how do you ever figure out when you are done…
So much yes! I was an only child and not around babies much growing up, but still somehow I was super confident thinking I would have everything under control once my girl came. So my biggest thing is that I did not! I learned (and am still learning) that I don’t HAVE to be in control of everything and be “good” at it, and that is ok. It is such a learning experience and you find a rhythm and it is amazing. Thanks so much for this!!
All of this is so true! My son turns one today (hooray!) and I really think he is the perfect baby?!? EXCEPT he still doesn’t sleep through the night and I work full time (50+hours ugh) and I swear some days I am so tired I can’t feel my face. BUT he does things that probably aren’t that cute to other people and I think it’s the best thing I ever saw… ha! Add to the list that as your child’s first birthday creeps up, people start asking about your next baby. Why is this a thing?!?!
Adding to your comment about “intense love”… that love continues to grow and grow and grow!!! My babies are now 21, 19, 18 & 18. Love them more each day. It’s almost kind of scary at times. My husband & I discuss this often. It’s almost hard to describe! And yes! I can now appreciate my parents love for me and my siblings. So true!
Oh the importance of schedules! I thought my sister was a little bit crazy with scheduling naps, feedings, etc. with her babies. Now I get it! Winging it doesn’t work with babies, it causes more stress and crying for everyone! Side note: Why didn’t I know to turn the volume up super high on the white noise?? Where was this awesome news when my babies were tiny? Oy.
Heather Warner says
They will make you feel so weak and so strong at the same time. You can survive on 3 hours of sleep, you are the super mom of survival!
Ashli @ The Million Dollar Mama says
Love this! My little one is 11 months old and he’s the light of my life 🙂 But I now know why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture! One thing that I learned pretty quickly is that uncomplicated baby clothes, with zippers instead of buttons, are the way to go! 🙂
Such great advice! My recent struggle has been with cluster feeding. My first baby didn’t do it so I was very surprised by it. Although I must say, breastfeeding in general at least has been so much easier for me the second time around! Really enjoyed the baby pics of your girls!
Katie @ Live Half Full says
I was honestly so shocked by how strong my instincts were. Also, the importance of having a tribe is KEY!
I didn’t really believe anyone when they said all babies are different until I had my 4th. She will be 3 in less than 2 weeks and has yet to sleep longer than a 4 hour stretch since birth, she didn’t nap for more than 15 minute increments until she was 1 and NONE of my sleep magic tricks worked with her. My older 3 were sleep champions, Emma? Pfft. Nope. My older 3 were almost 3 before they were even remotely ready for potty training, Emma turned 2 and the next day wanted to try wearing underwear, that was the last time she wore a diaper.
This is a great list. The 1st 2 were HUGE for me! Who would’ve thought putting a baby to bed EARLIER would help her to sleep LATER?!?! And that mom sleep deprivation was NO JOKE!!! I had no idea those levels of exhaustion existed.
Also the last one. I remember thinking how bored I’d be staying home for 2 months w/ a newborn who basically did nothing. Nope. #infatuated
I’m going through the baby phase right now with a 17 week old and being overtired is something we are battling with right now!!!! No joke it’s a real thing!!! And I have to agree with you about a mothers intuition and instinct. I’m amazed by how strong mine are. I was worried about that before she got here but it just happens. Love this post.