It takes about 40 weeks to grow a person. As a woman embarks on that journey it seems like a very long time to wait before she gets to meet her new baby. That's 280 days of anticipation. In those early days of pregnancy it feels like a lifetime away.
To pass the time, you head to the store to buy some baby things. You intend to buy a few outfits, maybe look at some cribs, and pick out some odds and ends that you're sure you'll need. Then you realize how much baby stuff is actually out there and how much work you need to do before your world is ready for your newborn baby.
Suddenly 40 weeks feels like not enough time. You need to paint the nursery and fill it with furniture including a crib, changing table, chair, and ample storage. A car seat is a must have but which one is best? You will need a stroller but what kind are you looking for? What kind of baby monitor are you going to buy? How about a nursing pillow, baby gym, diapers, wet wipe warmer, and mobile for the crib?
There are so many decisions to be made when shopping for a new baby and many things need to be done. Of course you also have to give yourself time to plan your parental leave and work things out with your employer. Don't forget all your prenatal appointments and scope out the place where you plan to deliver your baby into the world.
Those 40 weeks fly by in a blur of research, paperwork, shopping, morning sickness, appointments, aches, and pains. Before you know it, the wait is over and you're on your way to the hospital and your parenting journey is about to begin. Soon you'll be bringing your little bundle home.
No matter how hard you worked, how well you planned, and how prepared you might feel to bring your new baby home, there will always be some things you won't be prepared for. Here are 15 annoying things you probably didn't think about ahead of time.
15 Babies Don't Sleep
It shouldn't come as any surprise that sleep deprivation goes hand in hand with parenthood. What may be more of a revelation is that the only way you will get any sleep at all is in short bursts. Gone are the days of a solid night's sleep.
For about the first three months of life most babies don't sleep but rather nap. These naps generally last no more than a couple of hours and might be as short as 10 minutes. Furthermore, at this stage babies don't tend to have much of a routine so you never know when and for how long you can expect your infant to sleep.
The best way to get through this difficult stage is with some help so that you can take shifts. If you're breastfeeding, pump milk ahead of time so that you can get some sleep. It's difficult to be on call around the clock. Everyone needs a break from time to time.
14 Sterilize This
Newborns are incredibly vulnerable to germs and diseases. What would be no more than a nuisance to an adult could be a life threatening illness to an infant. For this reason it is important to sterilize all baby bottles, pacifiers, teethers, and similar baby items at least once per week. Washing with soap and water removes most of the germs but not all of them. It's crucial to get rid of growing germ colonies before they reach dangerous levels.
The most effective way to sterilize baby items is with a sterilizer designed specifically for this task. As an alternative, most dishwashers come with a sanitizing cycle which ensures water hot enough for proper sterilization. If you decide to go with this method, it might be wise to switch to a milder and more natural dishwasher detergent and don't be afraid to give your baby items an extra rinse by hand once they come out of the machine.
13 Time Goes By Quickly
The arrival of a new baby is sure to leave you feeling overwhelmed. Then, as the weeks go by, you find yourself settled into your new role and you feel like you're finally getting the hang of things. That's when your little one decides to change all the rules and you're left feeling frazzled all over again.
In the world of infancy, time seems to goes by very fast. Maybe it's the lack of sleep that causes us to lose track of time. Or maybe it's that we spend so much time admiring our babies that we don't notice the hours ticking away. Whatever the reason, your infant becomes a toddler much too soon.
Between seemingly faster time and a baby that's determined to be an adult by next week, things change quickly and without warning. What works today may not work tomorrow and babies have a way of keeping us on our toes. The moment you begin to think that you're figuring things out, you're presented with a new reality. Be prepared for a rapidly changing world.
12 Newborns Eat All The Time
As your new member of the family joins the household it will quickly become apparent that feeding that tiny person is a full time job. Babies are hungry little people with small stomachs and they live on a highly digestible all liquid diet. Much of your time will be devoted to feeding or wondering if your baby wants to feed.
During waking hours babies need to eat every 2 to 3 hours depending on how their weight gain is progressing. Although it's usually not necessary to wake a baby to feed, babies generally don't sleep more than 2 to 3 hours at a time anyway. There will be a lot of time to feed your little one.
The 2 to 3 hour time window is measured from the beginning of one feeding to the beginning of the next. So, if you're feeding every 2 hours and it takes half an hour for your little one to eat, you're getting an hour and a half break between feeds. Maybe that's why caring for a newborn is so exhausting.
11 Breastfeeding Hurts
Every pregnant woman is bombarded with the message that breast is best. Everywhere we turn we see images of a nursing mother feeding a baby that looks oh so content and happy in her arms. We imagine a moment of pure bonding bliss as we provide that important breast milk for our beloved baby.
The reality is that breastfeeding is painful. Apparently having a sensitive body part stretched and mangled every couple of hours doesn't feel good. While the pain usually subsides with time, those early weeks and months can be excruciating. It's no wonder that many of us resort to formula at least once in a while.
Luckily there are products such as breast pumps and nipple shields which can help alleviate some of that discomfort. If you need more help, there are many support groups out there to offer guidance and information. Don't feel guilty if you do decide to resort to using formula. It's there for a reason.
10 Breastfeeding Hurts Some More
After months of struggling you've finally found your groove. Your baby has a good latch, your technique has improved, and you have something that resembles a schedule. You no longer fear the pain and it doesn't fill you with dread. Feeding your baby has actually become a pleasant bonding experience that you can look forward to.
You savour this magical time and feel confident in your mothering. All is bliss as your little one suckles away. Just as you were beginning to think it would never happen, you have become that woman in those pictures you were shown during pregnancy.
That's when it happens. The unexpected and unpleasant surprise which resembles the feeling of dull razors ripping apart your most sensitive skin. A wave of sudden pain that sends shock waves through your body. Welcome to the world of teething. It's going to be a long and hard road.
9 Newborns Are Not Very Interactive
It took you nine months to grow this tiny person and you've finally brought your baby home. You're excited to show them the room you spent months preparing, the toys you carefully selected, the baby swing you meticulously researched, the songs you learned, and the educational books you bought. Too bad your baby doesn't seem to know you exist.
Don't expect much from your newborn. Babies have poor eyesight and don't hear very well. Try to see things from their perspective. They have just discovered that there is a world beyond the womb and that in itself must be baffling. Give your newborn a bit of time to figure things out.
You've been building up your need to parent for nine months but your baby has just realized that there is such a thing as a parent. Parenthood is a marathon and not a sprint. Spread out all that attention instead of bombarding your baby with it right out of the gate.
8 Sort Your Laundry
After spending nine months floating around in liquid, it's not surprising that babies have delicate and sensitive skin. To prevent rashes and irritation you need to use laundry detergent made for babies. These detergents are also designed to be hypoallergenic. Your regular laundry detergent just won't do.
It may be obvious that you would use infant laundry detergent on baby clothes, towels, and linens but there are other items that you should use it on, too. The car seat and stroller upholstery, nursing pillow cover, and swaddling blankets need to be washed in infant detergent. Just about every fabric that regularly comes in contact with your baby's skin should be washed in the proper detergent.
Unless your baby has allergies or extremely sensitive skin, you can probably get away with using regular detergent on your own clothes even though you spend much time holding your baby. Just keep an eye on things and if you notice any irritation start washing your own shirts in infant detergent as well. In this case, common sense prevails.
7 They Grow Fast
Baby clothes are irresistible. Adorable graphics and cute colours make it easy to imagine your unborn baby wearing these tiny garments. You have nine months of spending a few dollars here and there on baby clothes and before you know it you have a mountain of laundry. You wash little bodysuits and impossibly small pants in the proper detergent, fold them, and put them away with care so that they are ready for when your baby arrives.
Then the big day comes and of course your little bundle looks just as adorable as you predicted. Two weeks later you begin to notice that it's getting more difficult to manipulate uncooperative little limbs into these adorable outfits. By the end of the month nothing fits and you learn a valuable lesson. Baby clothes may be impossible to resist but they do make them in various sizes and you can shop ahead.
6 It's A One Way Street
Since the day you learn you're pregnant you begin to plan the big day when you will bring your baby into the world. You have your preferences but you know these things don't always go as planned and you come to terms with accepting the unknown. One thing you are sure of is that when you hold your baby for the first time your eyes will meet and you will instantly love each other unconditionally and forever.
Then the big day comes and as you look at that tiny little face with adoring expectation you realize that your newborn is much more fascinated by the overhead light fixture than your existence. Don't take it personally. We are led to believe that babies love their parents instantly but that is simply not the case. Newborns don't have the capacity for such complex emotions and even if they feel love, they don't know how to express it.
5 Babyproof Early
For the first year of life, babies develop and grow in leaps and bounds. One moment your infant is lying on the couch struggling to control their flaying limbs, and the next moment they are using those limbs to propel themselves right off the edge of that couch. If you're not prepared, they will catch you off guard.
Be proactive and get the house ready before injuries occur. Start by sectioning off one area of the house where your baby can explore and play. Make sure your baby can't escape this area and that it is safe, comfortable, and fun. Lets call this area the baby zone.
Once your baby discovers mobility, watch carefully and learn to recognize hazards. Soon your baby will want to venture outside of the designated baby zone. Be prepared by expanding your babyproofing to the rest of the house well before your baby discovers their desire for freedom.
4 You're Never Done Babyproofing
Just because you created a safe space for your baby doesn't mean the job is done. One day that box you've been using as a barricade is working perfectly. Then your baby has a growth spurt and that same box becomes a hazard for your baby to somersault over. In the ever changing world of parenting, babyproofing never ends.
Not only do babies grow rapidly and without warning, they also get brilliant ideas and make surprising discoveries. What they ignore today might be the thing that captures their interest tomorrow. Parents have to be on constant alert and always ready to reassess their babyproofing strategy.
Arm yourself with extra babyproof latches, outlet covers, tape, and ties so that you're ready to secure, cover, and hold things out of the way. Invest in edge protectors or keep a good supply of foam on hand to cover any sharp corners which pose a threat to your little explorer. Never underestimate how quickly your baby grows. What they couldn't reach yesterday might be easy pickings today.
3 So You Grew A Chomper
Teething is often a difficult time for parents and babies alike. The process that transforms that toothless grin into a chewing machine can be painful. Early signs of teething often include increased drooling, chewing, and general fussiness. Sometimes teething is accompanied by a rash or fever.
It usually begins when a baby is between 4 and 7 months old. The first teeth to make their appearance are most commonly the two bottom front incisors. Once those teeth emerge, parents often breathe a sigh of relief before reality sets in. Those brand new teeth need to be cared for.
The concept of tooth care is completely foreign to a baby and parents will have to brush their teeth for them. Here begins the new struggle of brushing an infant's teeth against their will. Your baby might be completely accepting of that foreign object you tickle their gums with. Much more likely they will resist by biting down, spitting it out, thrashing about, and crying. Don't worry, you only have to do it twice per day, every day.
2 Babies Cry...A Lot
It's no secret that babies cry. A brand new person has no other way of communicating their needs. Babies cry when they are hungry, uncomfortable, lonely, frightened, or generally unhappy about something. They also seem to cry for no apparent reason and refuse to be soothed by any means.
There will be times when no matter how hard you try to soothe your baby, it will have no positive effect. It can be heartbreaking to listen to your baby cry for long periods of time while you are powerless to help. This is normal and it is not proof that you are doing a poor job of parenting.
Newborns tend to cry more as the first few weeks progress. This peaks at around 6 weeks old when babies tend to cry longer each day. Then the crying tapers off gradually until around 3 months old when babies learn to use their cries as a more effective means of communication. Until then be prepared that not all of your baby's cries will have a solution.
1 Take This And Call Me In The Morning
After what seems like an eternity at the hospital, you're finally discharged and allowed to take your new baby home for the first time. How you long to settle into parenting bliss and leave the world of doctors behind. Then reality sets in as you are told to book your baby's first appointment within 48 hours of being released from the hospital.
Mere days after giving birth, still sore, bleeding profusely, sleep deprived, and dealing with the shock of parenthood, you realize that you will be spending a lot of time in that doctor's office. In the first year, babies have a lot of appointments to monitor their progress and get their immunizations. At first, appointments might be weeks or even mere days apart and then as much as three months apart.
The health care of your baby can be left to your family doctor or you can see a pediatrician. Make sure that you choose your doctor carefully and that it's someone you like and trust. You will be seeing a lot of them. Might as well make the most of it.