Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lessons from Baby's First Year

My baby girl just turned one and her first year has been an exciting one to say the least!  Besides the usual 'new baby stuff' of no sleep and learning how to balance a career with being a mom, my husband and I have endured several months of weekly doctor appointments, my own doctor appointments, a baby who does not like to sleep (and still doesn't like to sleep through the night), surgery in an attempt to unblock her tear duct, my 6 months post pregnancy surgery and recovery and trying to figure out what she can tolerate in her diet (which we are still working on).

In addition to being new and first-time parents, the company I work for decided to move our headquarters to a bigger city and so we also moved into a new home and sold our old one during our first two months as parents. 

In the last few months alone, we have also gotten to watch her learn and grow so quickly.  She has learned to crawl, walk, sit in her own rocking chair, play by herself, turn on and off the garbage disposal, climb the stairs, use her toys as stools to climb on top of the ottoman, open cabinets, play with the puppy, say Mama and Dada, scream at her will, pick up food, drink from a cup, try to use a spoon, repeat sounds, and so much more.  Sometimes I just sit back and watch her in amazement.  It is so hard to believe that a one-year-old can do all these things and in such a sort time frame. 

What a year it has been indeed and during this past year there are several things that I learned about babies and parenting.  Everyone has their own preferences, but here are a few things that I have noted this past year that I wanted to jot down for the next go round...

First I will start with some tips when preparing for baby to get here and buying baby gear:
  1. Get a diaper caddy!  I wanted one at first and then thought it was a waste of money and so I ended up just using a cute little pink basket with NO handle.  I toted that thing from the living room during the day to the bedroom at night and even at one-year-old (tear) I still have it sitting in the living room with all the things that Miss Priss might need.  The things that I keep in my caddy have changed over the last year and now that she can almost reach it, I think it might be time to say goodbye before it ends up in the floor.  You can get a cute tote specially for baby or use a plastic one from Wal-mart, either will work fine.
  2. Save your money on a bassinet and invest in a Pack 'n Play for your room.  You can use this as a bassinet when baby is little, but can also be used when baby gets bigger and starts standing too!  I kept mine in my room even after Miss Priss finally started sleeping in her own room so that I would have somewhere to lay her in the morning while she had her bottle and I finished getting ready.  After she rolled off my bed once, I was too afraid to lay her anywhere else without being right beside her!  They can also be packed up easily and taken on vacation or for overnight visits with the grandparents.
  3. You can NEVER have too many bibs ~ especially if you have a sick or messy baby!  I got tons of bibs for my shower and thought to myself 'what am I going to do with all these?', but after a few weeks I realized how many I did need and you will too, unless you want to do laundry every day.  The choice is yours.
  4. Pack and keep an emergency bag in your car with diapers, wipes, bottle, bibs, change of clothes , extra blanket and anything else that your baby uses frequently.  I cannot tell you how many times we went somewhere unexpectedly or ran out of diapers or needed a bottle and didn't have one.  Those were some long trips and unpleasant dining out experiences.  You may never use your emergency items and it doesn't have to be a big bag of things...just enough to get you by if you run into a situation.
  5. Buy the diapers with the "pee line" on them ~ so much easier than checking all the time and a BIG help for dad!  Sometimes you just can't tell if baby is wet or you don't want to disturb a sleeping baby if you don't have to, but we all know that a baby's bottom needs to be kept dry and so having the line that changes colors when wet is a life saver.  And I don't know about you, but dad had a harder time then I did and when she finally outgrew the diapers with the line he was a little upset.  Do yourself a favor and get these diapers.  Huggies Lil' Snugglers and Pampers Swaddlers both have the lines, but i don't know for sure about the other brands.
  6. Don't overbuy on the clothes ~  you will get plenty of clothes at your baby shower and she will grow out of them before you can blink an eye.  Hopefully you have someone that will send you some hand me downs also.  That is the greatest gift of all when you have a newborn.  You won;t believe how fast they grow out of those itty bitty clothes.
  7. If you are using an infant carrier, spend the money for an extra car seat base for your spouse or other caregiver's vehicle ~ it is well worth it!  Those car seats are heavy without baby in it and when you add the weight of your newborn too, it can be a workout just to carry them to the car.  And don't forget your purse and the diaper bag and all of the other things you might have to carry as well.  If you share the baby responsibilities with another person, make sure that you discuss getting an extra base to save yourself some additional weight and the time it takes to strap it in every time your partner totes baby around.  Infant carriers snap in and out of those bases in no time and make it so much easier on the parents.  I saw a dad at daycare that would bring in the base of the car seat sometimes for his wife to get after work and I asked him one day why he did that and he didn't even know that you could get another base!  Well, it was a little late since his baby only had a few more weeks before upgrading, but he wished he would have know sooner.  And when your little one moves up to a convertible car seat, consider buying two so that you don't have to move those back and forth as well.  I bought a two $40 Cosco car seats from Wal-Mart rather than one expensive one and I wouldn't do it any other way.
  8. Don't waste the money on a wipes warmer!!!!! ~ I thought I wanted one, especially since I had a winter baby and it was so cold out, but let me tell you, it takes up tons of space, dries out your wipes and you will probably never use it.  Just give the wipes a little rub between the palms of your hands and warm them up that way.
  9. Make sure that you have a baby swing ~ I didn't have a bouncer, since I had the swing, but there were many times that I wouldn't have been able to get her to sleep without it.  A swing is so calming to a baby and when she got heavy I could just switch her over there and she would stay sound asleep.  They do have swings now that are small and portable and acts as bouncers too so if you are wanting one of everything, you might check out this option!
  10. This is purely based on preference and I know that they cost a pretty penny, but after having a video monitor, I would NEVER use a traditional one again!  Her monitor was acting crazy one night and wasn't working right and so I had to use an old school monitor and all it did was scare the crap out of me.  The white noise drove me insane and I couldn't figure out if she was really crying or not.  With the video monitor if I think I hear her, I just glance over to see what she is doing.  It is a such a relief to be able to see what is going on in her bed at all times.  AND I can keep it in there as she grows into her toddler years and see what she is up to when she is supposed to be sleeping.
  11. DO shop at Ross ~  they have the best baby stuff and for the greatest prices!  That is my first stop for all of Miss Priss' things and for any birthday or baby shower I am invited too.  Don't blow it off until you check out what they have.
Those are just a few of the many things that I have learned while caring for my first little one.  Here are a few other things that I have learned about being a mom:
  1. Enjoy rocking baby to sleep ~ when she gets mobile she won't want to cuddle anymore!  Everyone told me to let her cry it out or to make her put herself to sleep.  Let me tell you now, she will only be a baby once and then the day will come that she walks all over the place and gets into everything and doesn't want to cuddle with you anymore so enjoy it while you can.
  2. Love the fact that she is healthy.  Over the last few years, I have learned of the struggles that many couples face when trying to have a baby.  Facing some of these myself and having met some great friends along the way, some of which are still childless, I can only be thankful every day for such a sweet, healthy baby girl.
  3. Don't sweat the small stuff.  Believe me, you will have PLENTY to worry about, especially if you are an over organized neat freak like I am, don't let the small stuff get you off track to being a great parent.
  4. Accept help when offered.  I know in the beginning it is so hard to give up precious baby time, but you will have plenty of time to love on that little bundle.  The nurses at the hospital told me that it takes a family to raise a baby and it is so true.  If a grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend, whoever offers to help watch the baby while you run errands, or while you take a nap, or just make some time for yourself, LET THEM!  If you don't, you will want it later and it might not be there! 
  5. Buy two-piece pajama sets ~ especially after about 9 months.  It is so much easier to pull down her pants and change her diaper when she wiggling all around rather than unsnapping her pj's and trying to get those rubbery legs out and getting her put back together while she is kicking and screaming about.
  6. Get a fresh food muncher for self feeding before baby can pick things up ~ what a life saver when you want a hot meal at a restaurant or even at home!  Miss Priss was able to use this for fruit and veggies long before she could pick up food on her own and she was entertained by it as well.  You could even use it with cottage cheese too!
  7. Don't spend a fortune on an entertainment center ~ baby will love it, but only for a short time.  When she begins to be more mobile, she will not want to sit in there all the time.  And you shouldn't want her to, as it may slow her down.  I am not saying to skip this...Miss Priss had a Wonderbug and absolutely loved it...for a few months, but it was about $40...not $140 like so many of the ones that I see right now.
  8. Let baby get messy when eating ~ this is how she learns.  Give her a few pieces of food at a time if you don't want your floor covered, or get a dog!  LOL  Really though, she has to learn how to feed and do things for herself.  Once she starts trying to feed herself with a spoon let her hold it, but guide her with your own hand and give her foods that are thicker and sticky so she can dump it out of the spoon as easily.
I could probably write about baby things all day and night, but these are some of the things that I find are useful for everyone and not just my preference, but most of all I have learned to cherish each day with baby and the rest of your family because you can't go back and will miss it so much after it has passed. 

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