When we became first-time parents, my husband and I knew we had no idea how to raise a baby. I kept saying “can you believe they’re letting us take him home?!”
I mean who thinks this is a good idea?? You have a baby and the hospital just assumes you’re going to be capable of taking care of this completely helpless human being. I hoped he would at least come with an instruction manual.
We made a few mistakes as new parents, but overall, I think we’ve done a great job! There are a few key mistakes that every new parent makes – and easy ways to avoid them.
Don’t Buy New Baby Clothes
First, don’t buy NEW baby clothes! If this is your first baby, you’ll likely have a baby shower and will get tons of new clothes then. When you see how quickly this little bundle of joy grows, you’ll understand why it makes absolutely no sense to go buying new, expensive baby clothes for your new tiny overlord.
If you do find a new outfit you just can’t live without, make sure you’re buying it in the right size for the season. For example, if you’re due to have a June baby and find an incredibly cute Christmas outfit, don’t buy it in newborn size. Your baby will be 6 months old by then and newborn clothes will be but a distant memory.
We absolutely love going to yard sales and garage sales. Because I’ve been lucky enough to find some awesome deals on baby clothes, I feel like I’m overpaying if I pay more than 25 cents per piece.
We actually found an amazing deal at a yard sale festival and ended up paying $2 per bag of clothes, which broke down to 12 cents per item. Some stuff was still brand new with tags still on it! If you have the time and patience, definitely shop around and you’ll be amazed at the cheap baby clothes you can find!
Diaper That Bum Quick!
Your new little one will make about 12 dirty diapers a day. That’s a lot! When you’re changing your baby, especially if he is a little boy, make sure you get a barrier between you and that tiny bum/private area as quickly as you can. Our poor son peed on his face on more than one occasion because my husband thought it was a good idea to let him “free-ball.”
If your husband is anything like mine – keep a close eye on him when he’s with the new baby to avoid issues as described above.
Keep Extra Diapers and Wipes in Your Car at All Times
When our Nugget was brand new, he had to go for weight checks every week at his pediatrician. At one appointment, I realized he had a poopy diaper, and I looked in my diaper bag to realize I had no wipes!
As a first time, stressed-out mom, I was sure they were going to take my baby away from me. (I was a little overly-dramatic back then…okay, okay, I totally still am.)
I ended up finding a new package of baby wash clothes in my car and I lied to the nurse claiming we had decided to use cloth wipes. She gave me this understanding “mmmhmm” and look that told me that she was on to me.
You can never have enough diapers and wipes. Ever. You will go through them, and then just as your baby outgrows one size diaper, you’ll find a few you stashed in your car, purse, lunchbox for a rainy day.
It’s just how parenthood goes.
Keep an Outfit Change with You at All Times
It’s actually a good idea to have more than one. Keep an outfit in your diaper bag, and another in your car. You won’t regret it.
Babies have blowouts pretty regularly, and they always happen at the absolute worst times. You’ll be so relieved to remember you have an extra onesie hiding in your glove box when it happens to you. Trust me.
When Nugget was brand new, I actually had an extra diaper bag that I kept in the car. This works great as long as you remember to replace the diapers with diapers of the correct size as baby grows. Same thing with an outfit. A clean newborn sized onesie isn’t doing you any good when you have a baby in 3-6 month clothes who just had a blowout. I know from experience.
Don’t Stress So Much!
Being a new parent is really stressful and gives you a whole new viewpoint in life. At least for me, suddenly everything became so much scarier. Driving with a newborn in the car was terrifying. Do I drive slower? What’s too slow? If someone is about 4 car lengths behind me, will they have enough room to stop if I have to hit my breaks? Maybe 6 or 7 car lengths is better. Maybe I should just turn around and go home.
STOP! There is only so much you can control at any time, especially when you become a parent. You follow traffic laws and drive carefully, but you don’t let anxiety take over. You are careful who you let into your kids’ lives and you make the best choices that you can for them.
You feed them the best food that you can, but if you have to resort to a bottle of chocolate milk to keep them quiet through an important phone call or dinner, then that’s what you do!
They’re only little once. In fact, they’ll NEVER be this little again. Take a minute to let that fact sink in, and enjoy every single moment that you have. Don’t waste a single moment on pointless worry if you can help it.
Make Baby Fit into Your Life – Not the Other Way Around
When I was pregnant with Nugget, I used to tell everyone that I was so excited, but I was nervous about how I was going to handle staying home more. My husband and I love to travel and would drop everything to go to the beach for a weekend, even if it was a 9 hour drive.
I was a little sad to think that those days were about to be behind us. A coworker and close friend said something to me that would change the way I parent.
“No. When you have a baby, you make that baby fit into your life. You don’t completely change your life to revolve around the baby. If you want to go, you throw that car seat in the car and go.”
While our lives have definitely changed since having Nugget, I can honestly say that we don’t travel any less than we used to. Every time I “throw that car seat in the car” I am reminded of those wise words that made me feel like I would still have freedom after becoming a mother.
I haven’t been out drinking since becoming a parent. I haven’t partied once. I haven’t made irresponsible decisions that would negatively affect my kids or my husband, but I have definitely made the conscious decision to make our babies fit into our lives…within reason.
When you find out you’re going to become a parent for the first time, enjoy this huge moment and embrace the little bit of anxiety that comes with it. Do take weekly pictures. Do buy things for the baby that get you excited about bringing a little one home.
DON’T buy new clothes and DON’T forget to over prepare with tons of diapers, wipes, and back up outfits when the new little one gets here. The first pregnancy and first year of your baby’s life will be a whirlwind. Enjoy it!
What tips do you have for first time parents? Are there mistakes you made that others should avoid? Let me know in the comments!