Between the books and the thank-you notes, the checkups and the crib assembly, expectant parents may think they’re ready for anything. However, it doesn’t always work out that way. Here are five things every new parent should know.
Sometimes, babies just cry
She’s been bawling unrelentingly for two hours, and you’ve run the checklist over and over. Hungry? Wet? Hot? Cold? Gassy? Feverish? A baby who has been fed, burped, and changed but who is still crying honestly might just need a good cry. Coming into this bright, noisy, confusing world can be overwhelming, and babies have no other way to communicate that they’ve had it than to cry it out.
Of course, sometimes prolonged crying warrants a call to the pediatrician. If a baby won’t stop crying after a vaccination, has a fever or a rash, or can’t keep anything down—or if your instinct tells you this is more than just exhaustion and frustration—call the doctor.
Most babies are not beautiful—at least not right away
Most babies come out looking a bit squished, with wrinkly faces and possibly a “stork bite” mark on their heads. Once they’re cleaned up, swaddled, and beanied in the hospital, they’ll look pretty darn adorable. But it’s not reasonable to expect a perfect-looking baby right after they’ve had a tough trip down a very narrow alley.
Babies sleep a lot, a little at a time
That blissful moment when you’re home at last, baby is safely swaddled on their back in the crib, and you stagger off to bed yourself will last only for a moment—three maximum. Newborns need to eat frequently, and they’ll make their needs known vociferously. It will get better—at about three months old, they’ll sleep and stay up for longer stretches, and that’s when introducing a more regular schedule becomes an option.
You should have asked for the expensive stroller
No one will criticize you for including a top-of-the-line car seat/stroller combo on your baby registry. Every parent who has been there knows what a pain it is to take a sleeping baby out of the car and put them into a stroller. The combination car seat/stroller allows you to simply release the car seat from the locking latches in the base and latch the whole thing, sleeping baby and all, into the frame of the stroller. If you didn’t get one before, ask for one now. And be sure to have a certified child seat safety inspector check your car seat installation for your peace of mind and for the infant’s safety.
Asking for help is okay
There’s no shame in accepting help from trusted friends who have been there. They’ll understand if you just need to vent for a while, and they won’t judge you for the greasy ponytail and the burp rag on your shoulder.
There are so many more things every new parent should know, and your own parents and friends will be more than happy to offer up advice and suggestions. Keep in mind that being a first-time parent is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Even the toughest moments will be moments you cherish forever.