Moms Share What They Wished They Knew During Their Baby's First Year
The first year of your baby's life is arguably the most special. It's the time when they're most reliant on you as they grapple with the whole "being a human" thing. But they're not the only person learning during this special year, you are too, especially if it's your first child - you have to learn how to fit parenthood into a life where you'd previously only put yourself first.
As a result, mistakes are inevitable. Whether it's not giving yourself enough 'me time' because you're frightened of being a bad parent, or creating your own little monster because you can't say no to your child before they even know how to speak. To shed light on these mistakes - and prevent others from making the same ones - 20 parents have opened up what they'd do differently if they could relive the first year of their bundle of joy's life - and their answers are surprising, to say the least.
1. Have more cuddles
They don't call it 'the terrible twos' for nothing. While newborns are happy to be snuggled from dusk till dawn, older children have a frustrating habit of running from their affectionate parents, which is why you should have lots of cuddles during the baby stage.
"If I could savor one thing it would be the smell of my baby's head and those sweet little hugs she used to give," said mother of three, Marine.
2. Let your partner help
After carrying their baby in their womb for nine months, many moms find it hard not to take total responsibility for them, despite the fact that their partner is (hopefully) willing to share the load. And because they have so much on their plate, especially if they are breastfeeding, they should take them up on their offer. It takes two to tango and a village to raise a child.
3. Stress less about feeding
New parents are keen to get everything right so that they can give their baby the best possible start in life, which can lead to a lot of additional and unnecessary stress, especially when it comes to their diet and how quickly they are gaining weight.
"My son will be 2 on Saturday and for his first year, I definitely stressed about how much he was eating and making sure to make his weight markers. He was born premature and it was an uphill battle for most of his early months. He was gaining fine, but I couldn't help but sit up at night wondering if I needed to supplement or how I could produce more milk, looking back, it was fine," said Jasmine.
4. Be more honest
While there's a lot of upsides to being a new parent, it's ultimately a trying time, and the stress of wanting to do your best coupled with sleepless nights can really take their toll. That's why it's important to be honest about how postpartum life is treating you.
"It's taboo to talk about the issues we can experience as new mothers, instead we are programmed to deal with everything in silence. I wish I would have spoken up sooner," said grief counselor and postpartum depression survivor Sarah Eaye.
5. Take it slow
We've already established that the first year of a baby's life is an irreplaceable and special time, which is why, when possible, you shouldn't rush things - even if that means staying up a little later to take stock of your life and what it means to be a parent.
"Looking back I wished I could have taken things slower," said Eve.
6. Transition to the crib sooner
One thing that many parents wish that they'd done sooner was making the transition from cot to the crib, which usually happens when your little bundle of joy is around four months old. However, not all parents realize that this is the optimum time for moving their baby from cot to crib and should they fail to do it, their child could be less secure sleeping alone as a result.
7. Introduced nap times earlier
It's no secret that babies grow a lot during their first year of life and they do the majority of their growing while asleep, which is why nap times are so important. According to work-from-home mom Elizabeth, had she encouraged her twins to nap sooner, it would have really helped with her lifestyle during the first two years of her babies' lives.
"I really wish I would have put the twins to bed for naps earlier so they would be used to taking naps or at least having quiet hours at certain times of the day," she said, acknowledging how this could have helped her do her job.
8. Acknowledging that asking for help doesn't make you weak
In life, we all need a little help from time to time, and parents are no exception. What's more is that if you delegate some of the smaller tasks like buying diapers to other people, it will help you to enjoy the all-important first year of your baby's life even more.
9. Trust your instincts
There's a lot of truth to the saying that your gut is never wrong. So if you think something is up with your baby, get it checked out just to be on the safe side. Thankfully, most parents learn to trust their gut more and more during their baby's first year of life.
"When my big boy was 7 months, he got an ear infection, but everyone told me he was just teething, I tried to brush it off and ignore the signs until his fever spiked and the crying wouldn't stop. Finally, we took him to the ER and got him meds. I knew that I had to trust myself from then on out," said instinctual mom, Kate.
10. Pay less attention to milestones
While this certainly won't be the case for every parent, you don't have to make a big deal out of milestones like when your baby crawls for the first time - especially as it can cause a lot of anxiety if your baby is hitting them a little later than expected.
"I found myself frantically looking up new daycares at least once a week when my little one hadn't learned how to crawl by 9 months and all of my friend's children had by that time. By ten months my daughter crawled for the first time and the next day pulled up to take her first steps, all was right with the world," mother Piper said.
11. Just accept that germs exist
Trying to keep your baby clean and germ-free at all times is an impossible task and the sooner you realize it the better. One mom recalled seeing her baby lick the floor at a mother and baby yoga class. She then told one participant, "I was a nervous wreck with my first about germs, especially before he turned 1, with her, I finally realized germs are a good thing, now I can go with the flow a lot more than before." She does have a point, too, as germs can help to strengthen your baby's immune system.
12. Do more tummy time
If your baby took a little longer to start crawling than expected, then it's likely that you wish you'd given them more tummy time. This is a great way to help build up their core muscles, but unfortunately, most parents don't realize it's a thing until their baby is around four to six months old. Mom Hannah said, "tummy time can be really fun, I just wish we would have done more of it."
13. Document everything
Because so much happens during your baby's first year, it's a great idea to document everything so that you can look back on it fondly in years to come. Why not create a scrapbook using pictures of your baby scans and perhaps your baby's first curl? It's sadly something which a lot of parents fail to do and can leave them feeling regretful for a long time afterward.
14. Take more videos
Did your parents make any home movies of you when you were a kid? Mine did and the joy they brought me when I was in my early 20s was incomparable. I couldn't believe how much I'd changed over the years! Thankfully, in our technologically advanced age, they're easier and cheaper than ever before to make.
Of her failure to take more videos, Mom Olivia said, "I am kicking myself to this day. That first laugh, the first tooth, all of it. I have photos and they are adorable but reliving those moments in real time would have been priceless."
15. Closer together
"I should have never assumed that having a baby would have brought us closer together," Mother Tamera told Babble. Yes, as hard as it might be to believe, having a baby will not necessarily bring you and your partner closer together. That's why having a baby in a bid to fix a doomed relationship is such a bad idea, or thinking that any fights you have with a newborn will doom an otherwise healthy relationship.
"Instead I wish I knew that the fighting would probably be temporary and that we both just needed a nap," Tamera added.
16. Manage the expectations of your partner
Having a baby is a huge lifestyle change, and because no two people think the same, even if they have similar ideas on how to raise their child, it's likely that they won't see eye to eye about everything. That's why you should manage your expectations of your partner.
"I expected my husband to care the same way I did and do things just as I did, which is ridiculous, I know that now. But when you're sleep deprived and freaked out about taking care of a baby it can be hard to separate the rational from the sentimental. Our son is almost one year old and we finally found our groove," said Genevieve.
17. Getting more help
While most parents have a support system of some sort, there really is no such thing as having too much help, especially during the first year of your child's life, and looking back, a lot more parents wish they'd asked for more.
"I wish I had asked my mom to help more. I was just convinced that since it was my child, it was my responsibility, and that since she had already parented me, I should be able to do the same. Looking back, I made things a lot harder on myself than I had to. I think if I had a bit more help I could have enjoyed being a mother a lot more, a lot earlier," said mother of two, Annabelle.
18. Be smarter with your baby's clothes
For parents-to-be, there are few things more exciting than splashing out on baby clothes, but the key in this area is shopping smart. Anticipate frequent wardrobe changes for your little bundle of joy and buy clothes in season.
19. Gained more diaper knowledge
Unfortunately, this is one of those "learn as you go" topics which most new parents wish they were more knowledgeable about.
"I spent so much money on diapers and then I read that most babies go through about 8 diapers a day I was frustrated and flustered wondering why my child was going through 18 diapers at 5 months, I then realized I was the reason why," said one mom.
So there you have it - what 19 parents would do differently if they could relive the first year of their bundle of joy's life. Are you a parent? If so, what would you'd change about the first year of your baby's life? Let us know in the comments section.