There are countless articles and blog posts out there for "10 Things No One Ever Told Me About Motherhood/Having a Newborn," and while there are great tips in them, when you have hundreds of people publishing them on the Internet every week, eventually you'd have to be living under a rock not to know about the classics that always make those types of list - things like the millions of loads of laundry, the crazy hormones and insane crying, the back pain, the forgetfulness, forcing yourself to take time for yourself, etc. (In case that list totally just freaked you out, I swear, BEING A MOM IS AWESOME.)
And while you all know by now that I'm a crazy researcher, there were few things that I've either learned through trial and error or learned from other mothers, that the big bad Google machine didn't churn out for me in my research. So, in an effort to add to the giant pool of motherhood tip articles, here are my top 15 practical tips to motherhood - that I think are also a bit hard to find.
- Baby clothing is tricky and will drive you insane if you let it. One tip I didn't realize off the bat is if it says "6 months" that means it will fit baby UP TO six months, not at six months. So if you have a large three month old, he'll be in six or nine month, and it won't be weird.
- If you pump a lot, you can store your pumping supplies in the fridge for the day, so you don't have to clean them out each time. Just wash like normal at the end of the day. If you are exclusively pumping like I was for a while, this will BLOW YOUR MIND.
- Skip the nursing tanks and get this tank top in every color. It's a maternity tank from Target and while I got it when I was pregnant, I found myself wearing it to nurse. Because it's got so much stretch, it'll move wherever you want and still retain its shape. All those straps and clips get in the way with nursing tanks - this is nice and streamlined.
- Put a diaper changing station and burp cloths on every floor of your house and in your car. Basically, just have burp cloths, diapers and wipes anywhere you spend time. It'll save you a million trips up and down the stairs, especially in those first few weeks.
- Taking your baby's rectal temperature will usually make them poop. Please be prepared.
- Dried breast milk is near impossible to clean off hardwood surfaces. After my go-to vinegar/water solution didn't work, I tried Windex, 409, Pledge, GooGone and countless other heavy-duty, chemical-laden products which all failed me (it goes away in the moment, but frustratingly reappears a few minutes later). The solution turned out to be baby wipes. It makes you wonder ...
- Don't buy anything with a million snaps or buttons. Go for three snaps or less - aka onesies or zipper p.j.'s. Those snaps take forever to put together and it's inevitable that you'll match the wrong ones up and have to start over at least three times while your baby cries with impatience.
- Save yourself the 50 bucks and skip purchasing the Ergo infant insert - you can roll up a blanket (the thin muslin ones work well) and it'll do the same thing.
- Master the art of the sock bun - practice while you're still pregnant. I used one of Mike's old dress socks and this is the way I make it. It's so easy it's stupid. Okay it's not stupid. It's actually really smart.
- When you finally reach the point of not needing lanolin any more (I promise - it will happen eventually!), don't throw the tube, use it as chapstick. It's the most moisturized your lips will ever be.
- Remember how kid's are not supposed to have peanuts, eggs and a bunch of other stuff when they're little to avoid allergies? Yeah, that's been changed. (Actually, in 2009 AAP released a short, humbling blurb about how they were wrong, so it's been a while.) Now they're saying that unless you have a family history of allergies, give it to the littles because allergies went up in the 10 years when that was the rule. So really, what it sounds like to me, is that it was never proven - it was just a theory they wanted to test out ...
- Buy gas drops before you have your baby. I have no idea if they actually work or not, but when you're freaking out at 2 a.m. because your baby is fussy and he seems uncomfortable from gas, you'll be glad you have them on-hand for peace of mind. It makes you feel like you at least did something to ease baby's pain.
- Sleep begets sleep. For a long time I thought that if we kept our kid awake longer during the day, he would sleep better at night. For Eli (and from what I've heard, a lot of babies) this wasn't true. The more sleep he got during the day, the better he slept at night.
- Put a dimmer switch in the nursery and get a night light app on your phone. I have this one. It helps keep baby groggy during those late night feedings so he doesn't fully wake up.
- Breastfeeding is hard. I think this is being talked about more and more, but I wasn't prepared for how difficult it would be. I knew there was a chance that it wouldn't work, but I thought it was a black and white issue, it works or it doesn't. I didn't realize the amount of commitment and dedication it can take to make it work - find a supportive group of other moms and get to know the web architecture of Kellymom.com.
Okay mommas out there, what would you add?
*Photo: Photography by Nealy
*Photo: Photography by Nealy