11 rookie parenting mistakes we all make with our first baby

Posted in Care.

Your first baby is unlike any other, not because of the sense of wonderment, but because you have no idea what you are doing. It’s only when you look back that you realise how much of a meal you made of it.

Here are 11 dumb things I did with my first baby.

1. Bought a giant pram instead of a lightweight stroller

When I had my first baby I got really obsessed with the “prams as real estate” phenomenon. This is where you think that the bigger and more elaborate the pram, the better. Once you have HAD a baby you realise that the best features of any pram or stroller are:

  • Light weight
  • Foldability with one hand while holding baby in the other
  • Full recline seat
  • Ability to fit easily through the supermarket checkout

Fun fact: the thing I used the most with all three of my three kids was a light-weight, no-frills stroller we found on the hard rubbish pile one day. It was virtually an aluminium frame with a piece of canvas as a seat and four small wheels. We called it: The Speedy Speedster. And we used it FOR YEARS.

Redhead baby dress up in dinosaur costume - feature

2. Overdressed him in summer because I thought he was a doll

Socks, funny hats, shoes with bells on, you name it, I dressed my baby in it. Then I found out that I had a vomiter. And from then on, all he wore was a white Wondersuit and a bib, lots of bibs.

3. Went on a road trip to visit my MIL while I was in the early stages of breastfeeding

This was possibly my biggest mistake. I mean, who does that? It’s insane. We drove 14 hours over two days and thought that stopping regularly to breastfeed the baby would cover off the whole, ‘establish supply’ thing. On top of that, once we got there, things just went from bad to worse and my mother-in-law was witness to my very poor early attempts to be a mother. I didn’t know her very well at the time and so I was really defensive when she tried to help me.

In hindsight, I should have stayed home and made all my early mistakes in private.   

4. Let people pass the baby around like a pass the parcel

I was so proud of what we’d made and I wanted everyone to see him. So I let them all pass him round the barbecue like a party favour. By the time he came back, his eyes were like spinning tops. Too many faces really over-stimulates newborn babies. I know that now.

5. Didn’t get a glass of water before I settled in to breastfeed. Every time

I’d settle in on my big comfy club chair, start feeding and then DOH! Realise I was thirsty and now could not move until he was done. Every. Time.

6. Assumed the three day old sleeping-like-magic baby was here to stay

“Oh he’s such a good baby,” everyone would say. Like it was something I did right. And so I ignorantly assumed I was already nailing this motherhood thing. But really, he was just knackered from the birth canal journey and gathering his strength for the first onslaught.

Sleeping father with baby in bed - feature

7. Thought getting a baby to sleep was a flow chart that I could solve

On the very rare occasions that he drifted off to sleep without a fuss, I retraced every single step and nuance of what I’d done beforehand so that I could recreate it the next time. “Let’s see, the fan was on oscillate, I patted him eleven times then I stopped to scratch my nose, then a bird chirped …” But it’s never one thing and the same thing never works twice. You cannot solve it. It’s an ongoing ever-changing problem that keeps evolving just out of your reach.

8. Poked him to see if he was breathing

Yes. He’s alive. He’s definitely alive because now he’s awake … and screaming his head off because some idiot just poked him while he was peacefully sleeping.

9. Moved into an upper floor apartment with no lift

Unless there’s a lift, it’s ground floor only, people. GROUND FLOOR ONLY. The most important thing about where you live when you have a newborn is: level entry. LEVEL ENTRY. You need to be able to roll that sleeping baby straight inside without bumps or steps. It is the most essential thing to your ongoing health and wellbeing in the early months. 

10. Stockpiled newborn nappies when they were on special

Two for one? Holy Household Savings, get a three month supply! One month later, he didn’t fit into them anymore.

11. Tried to bond with my baby in a beautiful baby powder ad sort of way

People were always going on about the beautiful bonding moments with their baby and how deeply they felt the connection and blah blah blah.  So one night, I tried to have a beautiful bonding moment.

But let’s be honest, let’s be REALLY honest. Newborns are just blobs that feed and sleep. And if you look into their eyeballs and talk to them and sing to them and go all Johnson & Johnson baby powder ad on their arses, they get overstimulated and can’t get back to sleep. Feed, burp, sleep. Feed, burp, sleep. That’s all a new mother needs to know.

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