The List is endless since we learn as we go, but here are some more pointers that every mom should know:
(For the dads, I won't go on about nursing, I promise!)
1. Baby massage is a great way to bond with your baby - and discover their tickle spots!
2. Don't be afraid to try a 'baby and me' class, even if your baby seems young! Pick one with activities you cannot replicate at home so that it is worth your while. Your little one will respond more and more each week and will learn from the older kids around. We attend a class with a live band and Riaan enjoys it more each week.
3. For kids who don't enjoy tummy time, try lying down with your baby or holding a mirror up for them to look at.
4. It's true, they will respond most to you! So join in on activities, to make them more fun for your little one.
5. Baby gyms and jumperoos are really great when you want to eat your lunch. Stationary ones of course unless you want to burn off your meal while you eat it.
6. Keep your cell phones away from your kids as much as they love the selfie cam - phones have germs (a study found that 1 in 6 phones carry E.Coli), give out damaging radiation, and cannot teach your children as much as you can.
7. Babies who watch TV under the age of 2 (years, not months) have been found to speak fewer words per hour than those who do not (when tested without the TV on), possibly as a result of the lack of playtime while watching TV. So whatever you decide to do (it really is your decision) make sure your child gets actual electronic free playtime with toys, books and most of all, his or her parents!
8. When your baby discovers his toes, he is going to struggle to get them in his mouth.
9. Baby poop goes up the back regardless of how tight the diaper is put - It's just a tiny gas explosion. Get used to it, and pull out those wipes! (It's not worth pulling the diaper so tight that it hurts your baby, it won't help anyway.)
10.Vitamin A and D cream overnight (preventatively) keeps that rash away.
11. I chose to sleep train my husband instead of my baby. It definitely helps when you don't have to get out of bed and your child is brought to you at night to nurse (post diaper change if needed. Thanks hubby, I wasn't kidding, getting up will really seriously, affect my milk supply!)
12. It may be hard to believe but your baby will eventually sleep through the night. Feed as often as they want in the day and they will be satisfied through the night.
13. It's definitely easier to co-sleep (if done safely, of course), but try and resist the temptation if you can as your baby will wake up even more often to nurse if he knows you are right there. I nap in the morning with my son next to me even though he sleeps in his bassinet all night, and can vouch that he feeds almost every hour when he is next to me but has slept up to 12 hours without a feed on his own.
14. It is better for your marriage to have your baby out of your bed, anyway.
15. Once your little one is rolling or transitioning from a bassinet to a crib, it is safer to get rid of the swaddle. Start with letting only one arm lose first (so that you both get more sleep).
16. Unless your physician tells you otherwise, back is best! (Putting babies to sleep on their back has been one of the most successful public health campaigns in the USA as seen by the reduction in sudden infant death syndrome.)
17. If you are transitioning your baby to a crib, or between beds, let them play in their new digs first, with you around constantly, so that positive associations are developed. Then transition to naps in their new space before having them sleep there through the night. The less you let them cry in there, the easier it will be. If they are getting worked up at any point, place them where they are comfortable and try again later (the goal is always, for everyone to get the most sleep and the least tears).
18. If your child wakes up screaming, don't assume it is a nightmare. Some children just get frightened while transitioning from one sleep state to another.
19. Babies do dream but since they do not know language or understand fears, their dreams are wordless and nightmare-free.
20. Do not feel shy to ask guests to wash their hands before holding your baby, or expressing that you are uncomfortable if you think your baby does not want to be held right now (feel free to blame your speechless little one while you can). This is actually easier than hearing your little one scream with uneasiness.
21. Soap and water has been proven more effective than hand sanitizer, and won't dry out your baby's skin.
22. If you are not comfortable letting your baby cry it out, don't let anyone talk you in to it! Whether it hurts the baby or not, it's going to scar you. What's the point?
23. Infant and Child CPR are great tools to have in your pocket in case you ever need it (hopefully you won't but it doesn't hurt to have these skills like an insurance policy).
24. If you notice your child's body jerking repeatedly while nursing or falling asleep (with the baby having no reaction to this and continuing to do what they are doing) don't panic and run to the hospital immediately (like I almost did), try and capture this on video and show your pediatrician. It is most likely a myoclonus reflex, which is like hiccups of the body and can happen as the baby's muscular system develops.
25. Teething systems vary far and wide and include - drooling, face rash, coughing, ear aches, biting, irritability, over feeding (wanting to nurse constantly) or not feeing at all, diarrhea, fever, bluish coloring under the gums (sign of slight bleeding which is normal), and cheek rubbing.
26. Don't panic when your little one starts losing hair (even if they were born with a ready mademohawk or hairstyle like mine). It's just mom's hormone levels reducing in the body (sorry mom, your thick pregnancy hair is going to shed like crazy too).
27. Most babies enjoy bath time, why shouldn't they, they just spent 9 months in a pool! But bath books are a great way to get your babies to stay occupied (whether they want to be in the tub or not), and to get them to look upward when you move the book around so that you can clean those chubby neck folds.
28. Bathtime is also a great time to cut those little nails. I've heard that it should be done when your baby is in 'deep sleep' but I refuse to test and find out what state of sleep he is in.
29. A snotsucker works great, but a pointed q-tip for that little nose is even quicker! (Specially if your 4 month old is like mine and has learned to shake his head around to make you avoid contact with his nose.)
Traveling with your infant:
(We just did our first trip with Riaan and Coco to The Hamptons, NY.)
30. The amount of stuff we had to take is nothing short of insane, but babies (and pampered pups) come with a lot of bags that they cannot help carry.
31. Consider that a road trip may be easier at this point than lugging - diapers, stroller, car seat, suitcases, three changes of baby clothes a day, 8 diapers a day, bibs, burp cloths, breast pump, bottles with accessories and warmer, frozen milk, swaddles, baby tub, travel crib, baby gym, oh and your BABY!! - Onto a plane (unless you have your own).
32. If you are planning to put your baby in a travel crib, learn from my mistake, and get your baby used to sleeping in it the week before. It does take time for babies to adjust to new places and we spent two nights waking up with Riaan every 2 hours as he wasn't used to his new crib and was unable to put himself back to sleep in there. (He slept 9 hours straight though on the 3rd night.)
Our co-sleeper that we use for naps, clothing changes and play time.
33. Take a baby gym or something that will keep your child safe on the bed and can work as a play space, changer, and just a place to put your child down safely when your husband runs off to the gym or spa, and you need to go to the bathroom, or maybe even eat!
34. Take some kind of pump to inflate those baby pool toys!
35. Despite all the effort blowing up a baby boat, my son liked his arm bands the most since more of his body is immersed in the water. For the first time it's better to have both if possible, and of course always be within arms reach of your child (or holding him regardless of what he is sitting in, if yours is as young as mine).
36. Use a rash guard/ t-shirt on your water baby to limit sun exposure and avoid burns. (Too much sunscreen is not recommended on children below 6 months of age)
37. Rinse off the chlorine as soon as possible, (spouses can help here as you set up the bath for your little one).
38. Have a good time!! Hopefully your little one will love being in the water as reward your hard work getting there, by splashing around.
39. The first time you leave your child with a babysitter, don't go too far as you will need to come back if they don't stop screaming and won't sleep, cause they miss you. Also make sure that your baby has interacted with the babysitter while in a good mood.
40. Once your baby is recognizing you and rewarding your presence with smiles and giggles, they are also going to recognize your absence with wails and tears.
41. Some 'uncommon' sense: Your breastfed baby will feed less as they grow older, because they become more efficient at feeding and your milk will content will become richer to accommodate their growth.
42. If you are living with a sibling, the fact that you are nursing may really freak them out (and lead to interesting comments). Specially once they discover that there is milk in the freezer.
43. If your brother tells you there's milk all over the house, and there really isn't, threaten to wash his laundry with it. I promise, he will stop! (Love you, Shaun)
44. Just because your baby is sleeping 9-12 hours a night, doesn't mean you can. Pump just before you sleep to keep your supply up, and nap when he naps.
45. Some people dream feed instead of pumping (feed your baby just before you sleep). Proceed with caution as you may end up having to burp and then walk your baby back to sleep.
46. Lechitin pills help make your milk less sticky and help prevent blocked ducts (which is a number 11 on a pain scale of 1 to 'I stepped on lego' (formerly known as 10).
47. There's nothing wrong with having your baby fall asleep nursing it's the most natural thing there is. Unlatch once your child is asleep though as you probably do not want your little one to not be able to nap without you. (If I hadn't fixed that, I would never have gotten down to writing this!) When your baby starts rooting and is about to wake up, latch again and try separating after a minute (it keeps getting easier).
48. Nursing is one of the hardest but the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Don't underestimate what you have accomplished and take a few minutes (whenever you get them) to reward yourself for what you are accomplishing everyday. (Formula moms, we know you tried and are doing your best too)
Just for you, Momma:
49. Don't forget that you have known your child 9 months longer than anyone else ever will.
50. No matter who they looks like, or who else says he or she is 'their baby' remember that they are truly yours. They don't even know that they are separate entity from you for the first 3 months.
51. The first three months are really a fourth trimester. Your child has been in your womb for 9 months is most comforted when you can simulate that environment - carry them, swing them, swaddle them, hold them close. They won't always want to be attached to you (or so I hear).
52. Don't worry about spoiling your newborn, they don't understand (as yet) that their actions have consequences. (This won't last for forever, you will eventually be summoned.)
53. Don't be afraid to talk about how you feel - it is normal to feel emotional, frustrated, exhausted, and overwhelmed. It is also normal to feel joyous, uncontrollably happy, and in love. Your feelings are important and when you feel overwhelmed talk to your partner and friends. You will most likely get the most support from other moms (even ones that want to help you by writing a blog), since they have been there. It's unlikely you will be be able to be over-the-moon all day long, but if you are please email me and let me in on your secret (or happy pills).
54. To the question: Will you ever feel like yourself again? All I can say is, do you really want to? Your body will eventually come back but you have given birth to life and are raising a child, and that is something that will change you forever.
Note to all new parents:
55. Wait till your child is a month or two before arguing about who he or she looks like, it changes once they put on that baby fat, and lose their water weight!
Though I think I am winning any kind of argument here..
If you have made it this far, I want to sign off by saying that every child is different and so is every parent, but I have been trying to focus on points that I believe have made my life easier, and will help you too. There may be things that don't work for you, but also things that work just perfectly. Feel free to reach me if there are specific things you would like to know about.
56. Every parenting situation is different so try not to judge other parents for their choices, you don't know what their circumstances are, just as they don't know yours. (This took me a while to understand as it's human nature to believe you are always in the know).
All photographs in this article are original and contributed by author.