Things Baby Books Should Tell You But Don’t

I don’t know about you, but when I had my first baby it was quite a shock. I went from lunching with my friends, wearing nice clothes, and leaving the house everyday to never getting to eat when I wanted, only wearing pajamas, and staring at the wall or television most of the day. It was a sad, sad life, which I am glad to say has now ended. It just took me a while to figure things out. But, if all of the baby books had mentioned a few important bits of information before I’d given birth, the transition probably would have been easier. Here’s what I wish I’d known.

1. Don’t buy lacy, silky, or fancy clothes for yourself or the baby.
The baby’s lace will rip, meaning they can only wear it once, or get caught in the baby’s tiny fingernails. Your silk will stain, most probably with your own breast milk at a time when you are NOT breastfeeding.

2. Breastfeeding hurts. Need I say more?

3. Babies poop a lot, and will do so on you with little or no warning.
My daughter once shot poop from her bottom across the room and it landed on my arm. I know, you’re thinking: “Why wasn’t she wearing a diaper?” We were in the midst of changing her diaper when this mishap occurred. Also, a good friend of mine once had her baby poop all over her skirt in the middle of church. There she was, sitting on the pew, minding her own business, when her baby decided to do his business and her skirt was suddenly holding a puddle of yellow excrement. Diapers can only hold so much.

4. Babies don’t like headbands, hats, or any accessory for that matter.
I spent so much money (and hope) on cutesy, flowery headbands or outfits with matching hats and shoes, yet all those extras came off after only a minute or two. And once, my youngest screamed in the car from a doctor’s appointment to home (a fifteen-minute drive or so). When I finally got out to check on her, she’d had her headband over her eyes and was screaming because I had accidentally deprived her of a most important sense.

A little side note here to just combine and sum up my first point and my fourth point: Babies aren’t dolls. They are people, albeit very tiny and sometimes ugly ones.

5. Babies don’t sleep.
Okay, so maybe the books do say this, but it should be more emphatic. Like this: BABIES DON’T SLEEP!!! I didn’t really understand that this little person would wake every two hours day and night wanting to suck on my chest. I didn’t realize how tired I would actually be after a month of doing this. I didn’t realize that my children’s night-waking habits would die hard and well after their first birthdays. And for both of them, the first night home nobody got any sleep. It consisted of me holding them both the entire night, trying to sleep sideways on the couch or sitting in a rocking chair while trying not to move so that they wouldn’t wake yet again screaming for no reason.

My former boss, Alex, used to joke that when people said they slept like babies, he’d say, “Oh, so you woke up every two hours crying and hungry?”

6. Babies don’t stop being babies until they are about three years old.
That’s when I felt normal again. I turned to my husband at our oldest daughter’s third birthday party and said, “I feel like myself again.” I don’t know if that says more about my babies or me, but it was rough. And I would say that children become truly delightful when they are five years old, only to have everything go downhill as they slowly descend into being tweens and teenagers.

7. Babies are invalids.
Yes, they are. You will be caring for somebody who can’t walk, talk, roll over, use the toilet, control their arms or legs (or bowels), or smile. You’ve essentially given birth to a vegetable that is awake and has motor function but cannot control it.

8. Giving birth is a beautiful, spiritual experience. It is indescribably wonderful (and painful) all at the same time.

9. Once you have a baby, you’ll forget about all of the above and love them more than anything in the world.

My favorite baby book is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. Brilliant man. Lifesaver. I only wish he could be my children’s pediatrician. What’s your favorite baby advice book?

Now, it seems like my list is incomplete. It needs a number 10. What would you suggest baby books include that they don’t?

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23 thoughts on “Things Baby Books Should Tell You But Don’t

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  1. Loved your post. And, love that book, too, though I think it is terribly written. I do love the advice. I just hate the format he selected.

    I have an almost-four-year old and almost-one-year old. And I am exhausted even though they both finally sleep. I will be holding out until the baby is three until I feel “like myself again,” I think!!

    Thanks for this!

    1. Thanks! That book is terribly written and formatted. You really have to hunt for information, but once you find it his advice does help. I’m glad your kiddos are sleeping! My youngest just turned 2 and didn’t sleep all night until she was 18 months, but my oldest did that too, so maybe it’s in the genes.

      1. Lack of sleep is the worst! How do we survive it?!

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  2. Love this! I would also say, babies have their own minds and personalities, no matter now hard you will them to, you cannot make them do what they do not want to do, which includes, but not exclusively: sleeping, eating, napping, relaxing. Before I had my baby, I just figured, hey, if the baby’s tired, she’ll just go to sleep, hmph!

  3. It’s all about personality and perspective. I loved holding my babies in the middle of the night, loved nursing them, loved every cute face they pulled, love EVERYTHING…..until they were six to nine months old. Then they became people. They had their own ideas, interpretations, opinions, etc. Maybe I’m just a control freak, or maybe I should have just played with dolls when I was young like a normal girl. I love your insight. You are great mom and your girls are precious….and apparently at least one of them could win more than a watermelon seed spitting contest if you catch my drift…just like you caught hers!

    1. LOL! You are so right about perspective. I had such a better time with my youngest because I geared myself up for all of the “trauma” that was about to happen. With my oldest, it was like getting hit by a train without any warning, so I didn’t have time to mentally prepare.

      You didn’t play with dolls? What’s wrong with you!!??! 🙂

  4. Right after I had my first baby there was a commerical on tv that said something to the effect of “you know how when you were pregnant with your first child, people would tell you this would change your life, and you would say “I know” …. You Didn’t Know!” I would watch that commerical and cry. Nine years later I still think about that all the time. Having a child will change you more than you could possibly imagine. Things that used to be important won’t be anymore. And you wouldn’t have it any other way.

  5. I wish the books had told me that being a mom is hard & that it’s okay for it to be hard. Thinking it’s hard doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom.

  6. I love that book too. My friends and I called it “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Mommy.” Another of my favorite parenting books is Parenting with Love and Logic. Totally agree with your post. I might add that something the books don’t tell you is that it is not only your tummy that changes how it looks forever- lets just say you never look the same naked again!

    1. Ah, the dreaded tummy change! It really never is the same. And I think it gets worse with each baby. I know I didn’t mind the change in my tummy too much after my first, but after the second I have really had to avoid any clingy fabric around my middle!

  7. Number 10. You are now a mom. You will always have someone else that you put their needs above yours. You think about your son and daughter everyday. You are not truly happy unless your child is. Then you feel a complete happiness that you have never experienced before. Only a mother can feel that with her child. Grand events include when your child sleeps through the night, takes their first step and telling you that they lobe you. Life will never be the same.

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