You can get your baby into a routine; baby will sleep and feed on a set schedule… just long enough for you to rest on your laurels. Then baby will laugh at you, and piss all over your schedule. Often literally. Repeat ad infinitum. S is 9 months old and still playing this game!
Remember that hilarious meme about preparing for parenthood? Funny, wasn’t it? A lot of it is true. As S gets older, dressing her takes longer, and often needs to be repeated throughout the day, as she manages to pry her socks loose and remove trousers during nappy changes.
When they are first born, babies are very cute and cuddly and lovely and all of that – but they are also a bit boring. All they do is feed, sleep, poo and cry; they don’t interact much until they are a little older. At that point, parenting becomes a bit more rewarding.
Sometimes, babies just cry, and you can’t always figure out the reason. You check their nappy, you offer them milk, you rock them, you cuddle and coo, and still they cry. It might not seem like it, but it’s still worth you sticking around to cuddle them a bit more. I am very lucky that S doesn’t cry much at all; but she does still have days where she’s just a bit sensitive, and the slightest thing will set her off.
You don’t need money or fancy toys to entertain and engage your baby. I keep S’s clean nappies in a wicker basket, and she will sit and stare at it for ages. At the moment her favourite toy is an empty bottle with some cous cous in it.
One of the best ways to avoid nappy rash is to just not put a nappy on the baby. I try to have at least half an hour each day where S just lays on her play mat with no nappy on. This also allows her much easier access to her feet, and she finds it easier to move around, roll over etc. She lays on a blanket, so that any little accidents are soaked up and don’t make too much mess.
In their first few weeks of life, babies usually get acne. They’ve spent 9 months in your uterus in a sterile environment, and now all of a sudden their skin is exposed to the open air and all these germs and things… and they get spots. They don’t look too fantastic, but you can’t (and shouldn’t) do anything about them. Just leave them to clear up on their own, and punch people who make oh-so-hilarious comments about starting puberty early.
When they are born, babies’ gag reflex is right at the front of their mouths – a clever way Mother Nature devised to ensure newborns don’t swallow anything but milk. As they get older, their gag reflex moves back to allow for foods to be eaten.
As baby becomes more mobile, there will be at least one face-plant off the bed/sofa/chair. Baby will cry and have a big bruise, and you will feel like the world’s worst parent – but don’t worry, every child does it. Apparently it’s how they learn not to go head first off shit.
It doesn’t matter how often you cut your baby’s nails; they will still be razor sharp, baby will still scratch her own face and leave nasty scars, your face/chest/arms will still be shredded by them on a regular basis. And, as an added bonus, often when you attempt to trim said nails, baby will wriggle at the last moment and you will nick their skin, causing a minor cut with a lot of blood and probably tears from both of you.
Weirdly, though, their toenails hardly ever need cutting.
When babies are sick on you, it doesn’t smell so bad – it’s just milk… until they start on solids. Then their sick smells like proper sick. And if you drew the short straw and got a sicky baby, you will smell like sick too.
They outgrow their clothes like ninjas. There is no warning: one day their clothes fit, the next day you have a fairly urgent shopping trip on your hands.
You might think your baby is not able to roll/crawl/walk yet – but never assume anything is safely out of their reach unless it is on a very high shelf. I’m fairly sure ninjas learn their skills from babies: they pretend they can’t move, and once your back is turned they’re off running around, grabbing at everything they can get until you return. Like that sketch from Little Britain.
Babies can’t see terribly well. Their eyes don’t work together very well so they tend to see double, or just blurry lines. That’s why we naturally accentuate our expressions when speaking to them, and why they like to look at simple, monochromatic patterns. And faces. They’re programmed to like faces.