Parenting is easy …the second time around. The first time, however, is another story. At least for me it was. As a new mum, I thought I was doing a good job. My kid was sleeping through the night, eating well, growing well, and hitting his milestones. So technically, things were going well.
But, since I’ve had a second child, I look back at my first time mum foibles and I have to laugh. While I didn’t make any serious mistakes, I did pull a few totally rookie moves. If only that first baby came with a manual, rather than random useless advice from strangers.
If you’re reading this thinking, “Phew, I’m not the only one,” rest assured you’re definitely not. So in the spirit of full disclosure (in a misery loves company sort of way), here are some of my real first-time mum fails. (Now you won’t feel sad badly about yours.)
I thought swaddling was mandatory. As a new mum, I didn’t quite understand that things like swaddling were merely a suggestion given in parenting books or by well-meaning Mummy and Me teachers. So I swaddled my son so tight every night that he went to sleep looking the inside of a very over stuffed burrito. Poor guy. I didn’t know until I had baby #2 that not only do babies not have to be swaddled, sometimes they don’t want to be wrapped up.
I shhh’d really, really loud. I read a parenting book that said to get your baby to sleep, you should make a shh’ing noise while rocking him to sleep. I didn’t understand the “shhh” sound was meant to be just a little louder than a whisper so I SHHH’D into my baby’s ear loud enough to be heard in another room. It’s amazing my kid slept through that. What was I thinking?
I forgot to buckle the car seat. I was travelling with my son with his car seat, but not the base. Instead of seat-belting the car seat into place, I simply forgot. Thankfully, I only drove a few seconds before looking back to see my son, buckled into his car seat which had now fallen on its side. Oddly enough he didn’t cry or whimper, but he did look as confused as I did.
I overdressed him at night. When my son was still sleeping in a crib, I was always so worried about him being cold. So I’d put him in layers and layers of blankets, socks, and a sleep sack — despite living in Los Angeles where a winter night is chilly, but not cold. Poor fella must have felt like he was sleeping in a steam room.
I mixed sweet potato with everything. I hired a babysitter who told me that when introducing solids, I should mix everything with sweet potato. So I did. Sweet potato and egg. Sweet potato and strawberries. Sweet potato and everything! I’m lucky my son turned out to be a good eater, because I gave him a totally gross introduction to the world of solid food.
I botched the swim nappy thing. First, you should know that no hotel swimming pools were harmed while I put my infant child in the pool in what I thought was a swim nappy, but really wasn’t. That said, phew! I totally had my 8-month-old kid splashing about in a cute little swim nappy that wasn’t a nappy at all. Thankfully, I only did that once.
I blamed everything on teething. My first child was a good sleeper in that he didn’t cry or scream for me in the night, but he would wake up a lot and then put himself back to sleep. I attributed this to teething when it was probably the result of a million other things, all of which still kept me up at night.
I took every baby class known to mankind: The first time around, I felt like such a bad mum if I didn’t sign myself and my son up for every baby class offered within a 20-mile radius. The problem is, not all of the classes were good or interesting. By the time I had my second child, we were doing what we wanted with whom we wanted and nothing more!
I worried he didn’t want a dummy. The same babysitter who told me to start all solids with sweet potato also told me that all kids need a dummy. So when my son showed no interest in a dummy, a lovey, or sucking his thumb, I thought something was wrong with him and I tried to force each on him instead of celebrating the fact that my kid didn’t need anything to get himself to sleep!
Now that I have two kids, I realise how lucky my first one was to have all of my love and attention. But since he also had to deal with my parenting learning curve, I realise how lucky my second child is to not have a mum who’s learning on the job. And no, I no longer use the babysitter with the world’s worst advice.