Friday, May 13, 2016

10 Things I Didn't Know About Babies Until I Had One

1. Babies have 45-minute sleep cycles. This means that, especially during nap time, your little one will likely be waking up every 45 minutes. Te is ON. THE. DOT. I can literally set my timer for 45 minutes after she falls asleep and, sure enough, she wakes right at that time. This Type A mama isn't having it with the 45-minute catnaps, so we work hard on nap extensions. Some babies are naturally born great sleepers and will take long naps from the minute they're born up until they've outgrown napping. I did not get one of those babies. I hope you do(n't).

2. "Sleeping like a baby" is one of the biggest misnomers in all of life. Some newborns are REALLY loud and active sleepers. Te was one of them. On any given night during those first few weeks, we found ourselves sharing a room with a dolphin, a gremlin or a snoring old man. Sometimes all 3. It honestly seemed like the girl was never quiet. I later found out that this had to do with aforementioned short sleep cycles. She's much quieter now when she's in a deep sleep, but she still gets crazy wiggly as she's going through the REM cycle. In the early days, I mistook her movement and noises as a cue that she was awake and hungry. I WAS WRONG. Word to the wise: Don't pick up your sleeping baby unless you're absolutely sure s/he is awake. (Unless of course you're waking them to eat.) You'll regret it. Trust me.

3. I'm over generalizing here, but there are essentially two kinds of parenting styles: Attachment Parenting and Non-Attachment Parenting. (Honestly, I don't know if that's actually the term. I'm not a professional here, just a mom.) There are benefits and downfalls to both styles. Pick whatever works for you. It could be one or the other, or a combination of both. Choose what works best for your family and then throw the middle finger up at anyone who tells you you're doing something wrong. (Just kidding. Kind of.)

4. There are these things called Wonder Weeks and they will probably make you hate your life for a minute. But they pass and the silver living is that your little one will come through them with a big, fun new skill that will make you smile.

5. I always knew that babies learn and change very quickly in their first year of life. What I didn't realize is that they go through a lot of growth spurts in those months. For breastfeeding mamas, that means a lot more time at the feeding trough (aka your boobs) for your little vampire ray of sunshine. Again, this too shall pass. In the meantime, pull that kid close and your bag of chips closer, and settle in for some Real Housewives.

6. You can't turn a baby into something they are not. This shouldn't have come as such a shock because of course I know that people are born with certain personality traits. But it still surprises me when I try to do something with Te and she outwardly rejects it. For example, baby wearing. I wanted so badly for her to be one of those cute kangaroo babies. I pictured breezy backyard BBQs and spring festivals with Te wrapped snugly to my chest but that dream vanished real quick. The kid would scream bloody murder every time I'd try to put her in a wrap. WHY DO YOU HATE YOUR MOTHER, I'd scream inwardly as I smooshed her into whatever hipster sling I had purchased (then returned). I think we've got a free spirit on our hands. We can get her into the Baby Bjorn for hikes, luckily, but she's only happy in it if we're moving. (Before any attachment mamas think about leaving a tirade comment about how terrible a Baby Bjorn is for her, please see bullet point #3.)

7. Most babies will fall into a predictable eating/sleeping routine with some gentle guidance. There are those that will say it's best not to have a napping schedule when they're so little, but "those" are not me. I find life to be much more manageable when I know (approximately) when baby will eat and sleep. There are many methods you can follow. I chose Babywise with gentle (non-cry it out, so far) sleep training methods.

8. Babies have different types of cries. Before you have a baby, you will think this is the biggest crock of shit. Then, all of a sudden at around 2-3 months, you'll find yourself deciphering their needs based on their cry and you will feel like Super Mom. You are.

9. If there is one thing that makes life with a baby easier, it is knowing the optimal wake time for their age.

10. Babies grow and change at an exponential rate. I don't mean this in a "time goes too fast" nostalgic way. I mean it quite literally. Te will wake up from a nap looking like a bigger, different baby or showing off some new skill she's mastering. Every time this happens, it makes me realize that she'll only be this small and cuddly for a short time. I'm pretty rigid when it comes to her napping and bedtime routine, especially because we're trying to teach her to fall asleep on her own, but very often I'll hold her a few minutes longer or let her sleep on me for that very reason. OK, that got a bit nostalgic.

Every day is a learning experience when you have a baby. I'm sure this list will continue to grow! Moms and dads, what surprised you most about life with your little one?


  1. Love this post and it's all so true. All 4 of my kids have all been different and I can't make them be something they aren't. Love your writing, hilarious!

  2. I couldn't stand pajamas with feet as a baby, and neither could my daughter. In fact, she hated clothes altogether. All the beautiful baby outfits she wouldn't wear! Now she is a strong and beautiful woman and I wouldn't change one thing about her!