The first year goes by so fast after parents become Moms and Dads, and every consecutive year after that. But there is just something about the first year that make it seem to fly by. From birth, that little bundle of joy is small enough to fit in both hands, and by one year, he or she is standing, and up to his or her parent's knees at least. With all of the stress and worry of doing it right, it can be really easy to miss out on some of the beauty that is involved in actually parenting.
For some Moms, after the first year, looking back at all the decisions made and the products that went unused, parenting can feel like a compilation of a bunch of things that one wishes they could do over. The thing is, there is no guide for parenting and no way to know how to be the perfect parent. So... we sat down with 20 moms whose little ones have passed over into toddlerhood and asked them firsthand what they wished they would have done differently or done more of. Their answers may come as a surprise, and some may be things some parents rarely even consider. Looking for advice from seasoned parents on how to really benefit from that first year? Read on.
20 Enjoyed More Cuddles
They grow up so quickly, and before you know it they will be running from your snuggles instead of tackling you in the morning and drooling on your face. For many moms, taking the time to enjoy snuggles is the one thing they feel they just didn't do enough of during that first year.
“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. Those sweet little hands and those adorable little features, who wouldn't want a cuddle (or a hundred)?
19 Let Dad Help More
When moms become moms society often makes women believe that they have to kind of do it all. Maybe it’s just the tradition of men being the breadwinners and women being home with the kids, or maybe it’s the motherly instinct that makes us Moms feel like we need to give our all, but having dad help out can actually take off some of the burden of being a new parent, especially during the first year.
“If I would have done anything over it would have been to ask Rick (Julia’s son's father) to help out more. He would ask what I needed but I just felt it was my responsibility to do everything, especially since I was breastfeeding,” said Julia mother to an 18-month-old.
18 Less Stress About Feeding
For some reason, hospitals and doctors alike have a way of really freaking out new parents when it comes to their little one's gains.
“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 Jasine.
17 Been More Honest
The truth is, postpartum life is hard. Like, really hard. But getting real about how hard postpartum life really is can be equally as difficult for many moms. Despite their reservations about opening up and really talking about life after pregnancy, doing so can make new motherhood feel less isolating and make that 4th trimester transition a bit easier to manage.
"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.
16 The Real Postpartum
Having a baby hurts! And it's exhausting! Even under the best circumstances having a new little human to love and nurture can really take a lot out of you. The key to getting through it all is knowing your limits and being open and honest about them. Even after the baby grows and things like teething set in, the changes can be really hard to manage.
"Talking about what is hard for you may seem like you're placing a scarlet letter on your head, but in reality, your honesty can help you and other people as well," Sarah Eaye said.
15 Take It Slow
The first year of your child's life can feel like a whirlwind. But it can be really sad if you feel like you rushed through it. "Looking back I wished I could have taken things slower," said Eve. Take some time to smell the roses. Go for that walk in the stroller, stay up that extra few minutes to read the book. Accept that invitation to go out to the restaurant that you know is too quiet for your little one. Just do it. You only live once.
Taking the time to enjoy being a mother is one of those things busy Moms do not always have the time to do. And after the first year goes by, you regret not doing it more.
14 Go To The Crib
If you are a co-sleeping parent most sleep websites and books that specialize in child's sleep patterns will detail that around 4 months of age a child's sleep pattern will change forever and it is a good time to transition him or her to her crib if you hadn't already. The thing is, not all parents make this mark. I know I didn't.
Looking back, although I love waking up to a foot in my face, one of the things I wish I had done sooner in my child's first year would have been to transition him to his crib earlier. Early transitions make children more secure in sleeping alone. The later you do it the harder it will be, says the Wonder Weeks.
13 Enforced Naps Earlier
We mentioned before about how quickly babies grow during their first year! Well did you know that most of that time they spend growing is when they are sleeping? For work from home mom Elisabeth, enforcing naps earlier would have really helped with her lifestyle during her twins' first years.
"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. Having quiet hours can make a huge difference in how productive parents can be when taking care of the kids.
12 Not Weak
Asking for help doesn't make a mom seem incapable; it took almost 9 months for me to understand that. If I could go back in time to when my child was first born I would have asked for a lot more help. Help reaching that or carrying that, help rocking him to sleep and help buying diapers. There are things that just happen so quickly during the first year and it is entirely possible that you may not even realize how fast it truly does go by because you are keeping your head down trying to get it all done instead of delegating tasks so you can enjoy things a bit more.
The lesson? Ask for help, you will be a better mom for it, I know I am.
11 Trusted Motherly Instincts
The thing is, as a mother you know when something just isn't right with your little one. Some call it a mother's institution and others say it's just instinct, whatever you choose to call it, after your little one's first year on earth, you learn to trust that little gut feeling more and more.
"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 Ignored Milestone Drama
When your little one finally learns to crawl, walk, and talk, these are huge milestones all parents seem to brag about unless your child is hitting those markers a little late. For mother Piper, she just wishes she had paid less attention to it all.
"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."
9 Germs Don't Care
I met a mom in my mommy and me yoga class who was there with her second child, who at the time was 8 months old. She sat her down on the floor and went to go get her mat. Her daughter was licking the floor within seconds and when her mother came back she rolled her mat out and kept on about her business. Later she told me, "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." I'm still unsure if her 'flow' pun was intended or not.
8 More Tummy Time
Was your little one slow to crawl? Or is he or she particularly clumsy when trying to walk? Doctors and development specialists say tummy time can really put an end to those things. While it may sound strange, wishing you could have done extra tummy time with your baby to help build up his or her muscles from an early age is totally normal.
Many parents find out about tummy time late in their little one's development, after their child is already 4 or 6 months when they should ideally start crawling. Though it's never too late to learn, Moms like Hannah really wish she could have caught on sooner, "tummy time can be really fun, I just wish we would have done more of it."
7 Cataloged Everything
Baby's first footprint, baby's first pair of shoes, baby's first solid food, baby's first professional portrait; there are loads of first in baby's first year. And the common regret many moms have to tie it all together is that they wish they would have cataloged the memories. This does not just mean photos. Cataloging memories can be sort of like creating a baby's firsts scrapbook if you will. From wrappers and ticket stubs to clothing patches and sketches, cataloging baby's firsts can help keep that year of wonder alive forever. Besides, your little one will appreciate knowing what life was like before they knew how to express themselves.
6 More Videos
There's something that just feels like home when grandma takes out old family albums for everyone to look through. But according to Olivia, whose daughter is now in preschool, the best way to relive the memories of your baby's first year is through video. "Why Why Why did I not take more videos! 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," she said.
Sure things are undoubtedly busy and picking up the camera may not be the first thing on your mind, but just remember these moments only happen once!
5 Closer Together
"I should have never assumed that having a baby would have brought us closer together," Mother Tamera told Babble. Believe it or not, many couples decide to have a baby because they think it will bring their family closer together, when in most cases having a baby has the opposite effect on many couples relationships. From different parenting beliefs to decisions about what kids should eat and when they should go to bed, making parenting decisions can be hard on a couple especially if they don't agree at first.
"Instead I wish I knew that the fighting would probably be temporary and that we both just needed a nap," Tamera added.
4 Fatherly Expectations
Having expectations for your partner makes things hard. Especially when it comes to the type of parent they will be. Usually before Mom and Dad decide to take the plunge and try to become parents they discuss parental expectations, however, once the baby gets here it can be pretty easy to stray from the plan.
"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.
3 Had More Help
Unless you're Amish, getting help in the U.S. as a new mom is very rare. For many moms, getting help can make all the difference in how one parents during their child's first year.
"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 2 Annabelle.
2 Wardrobe Change
With all of those cute tiny little clothes, after the first year when you look back, you sort of wished you would have changed them more frequently. Does this sound like you? If they can wear it multiple times it's better than just once or never at all, after all, babies grow very quickly. For me, not only did I really miss the mark when it came to buying baby clothes that matched up with my son's age and the season, but I also would forget to take out clothes that corresponded to his actual age.
The lesson? Buy clothes in season and anticipate wardrobe changes frequently, change clothes frequently too.
1 Understood Diapers
Perhaps one of the biggest "if I knew then what I know now" moments from Moms with children over one-year-old, was about diaper knowledge. Typically when your first born is first born, parents want to do everything they can to make sure he or she is comfortable and secure. This can mean quite a bit of diaper changes.
"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 mother to 16-month-old Issac.
References: Babble, Netmums, The Garcia diaries, Personal Experiences, Mom interviews