Some Advice For Friends Who Just Had A Baby

teddy bears

You have been handed this beautiful baby.  What do you do now?  You feel like you know everything (five million baby books will do that to you) and nothing all at the same time.  That is true.  She is your baby.  You are the authority on her and don't ever forget it.  If something doesn't seem right, trust your instincts.  But at the same time, you don't know much.  There are tons of people around you who know so much more than you.  Take advantage of it.  That mother-in-law who knows exactly how to swaddle a baby so the blanket doesn't come unwrapped as soon as you set her down, she is invaluable.  Learn from her.

Enjoy having a girl.  Enjoy dressing her exactly how you like because it will not last.  Soon you will have a two-year-old who stamps her feet and crosses her arms and insists she hates pink and hates dresses and only likes orange shirts.  So dress her in all the pink and frills now.  Or alternatively, dress her in the edgy, cool outfits because some day she is going to hate those awesome gender neutral outfits you have diligently searched out and she is going to insist on wearing purple and sparkles and things covered in Disney princesses.  Clothing angst is not solely confined to teenagers.

Toys multiply.  There probably should be a scientific study done on this because one day you are going to look into her room and swear that you couldn't have possibly bought all that junk.  She will then tearfully insist that it isn't junk and that she loves every single McDonald's toy in there.  If you try to dispose of some of it while she isn't around she will never forgive you and will hold it against you for the rest of your life.  I am thinking of the pink stuffed cat with the slightly demonic expression that my daughter did not play with for over a year.  I donated it.  She still brings it up 7 years later.

You are wondering if you will ever sleep again. You will, just probably not any time soon.  Why do you think God invented caffeine?

No stage lasts forever which is both a blessing and a curse.  So enjoy the newborn stage, enjoy the toddler with all her questions, hey even enjoy the teenage years, because you only get to enjoy each stage with this baby once.  Once it is gone, it is gone. That is the curse.  But also remember, sleepless nights don't last forever, terrible twos don't last forever, toilet training doesn't last forever.  That is the blessing.

Don't compare.  You will know other children that walk sooner than your baby or talk sooner or sleep through the night sooner.  It doesn't matter.  I guarantee that when she is 18 no one (except you) is going to care how old she was when she did these things.  She is doing them.  That is all that matters. And if your baby is the one doing them first, don't gloat.  Remember, does it really matter if your baby walks at 11 months and 4 days and the neighbor's child walks at 11 months and 8 days?

Read to her. Every day.  Constantly.  There are few things that are as important as instilling a love of books.  Make books a routine part of her life.  Make them accessible.  Read the same ones over and over.  Babies love repetition.

"Babies are gross but it's okay."  Words of wisdom spoken by my husband to my son while discussing our friend's baby.  Babies truly can be gross.  You know you have become a parent when you reach over and wipe the spit-up off your baby's face with your bare hand.  Or maybe when you eat that slightly soggy goldfish cracker they offer you. Or when you clean up the mess that has leaked out of their diaper and you do it with only a slight grimace of annoyance. That baby may be gross but it is your gross baby and that is all that matters.

Hold her and hug her and love her.  There is nothing like the soft weight of a baby sleeping on your chest. Babies don't last forever, they grow up quickly and then you become the nostalgic parent giving unwanted advice to people with newborns.  That is your future, but for now enjoy the moment and your baby.

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