Things I didn't know about babies until I had one

Mom with her new-born baby

I did so much reading while I was expecting about pregnancy - I am an expert on pregnancy. I'm not an expert on babies. I didn't read nearly enough about babies, which sucks because I'm going to be a parent for far longer than I'll ever be pregnant and now my time is so precious. I had so much time to read when I was pregnant. Not so much anymore. Without further ado! (Keep in mind that, all babies are different after all!) Here are things I didn't know about babies until I had one.

Newborn Fog

I remember sitting on my couch watching my week old son sleeping in his rock n play and thinking to myself, "this isn't so bad." Sure he eats a lot. A lot. But he also sleeps a lot. Sometimes he eats while he's sleeping. And then the fog lifted... Very young babies sleep a lot and they're pretty good about just putting themselves to sleep. Once they become a bit more aware of the world around them (which happens quickly!) they still need a lot of sleep but they're not nearly as good at just falling asleep. I'll touch more on this shortly. Enjoy the fog while you can!


You'll likely be instructed to feed the baby every 2-3 hours, even waking them to do so. Keep in mind that 2-3 hours is start time to the next start time. If baby takes 1 hour-1 hour and 15 to nurse, that's only 45 mins-1 hour until the next feed. Newborns lose weight after birth and the goal is to regain their birth weight by 2 weeks. Many newborns will not wake up to eat so it's important to wake them. There's nothing worse than waking yourself up to wake your sleeping baby. It passes quickly though! Once baby regains their birth weight you can begin feeding on demand and letting baby tell you when they're hungry. Which brings me to...


Babies have different cues to signal that they need different things. Often, if your baby is crying for something, you've missed the early cues. The good news is once you've learned your baby's cues crying becomes less and less. The bad news is cueing are hard to learn - trial and error and lots of crying. You can read about cues online. Typical feeding cues include rooting around, bobbing their face against your chest, thrusting their tongue out of their mouth. Sleep cues include tugging at their ear, yawning. My kid roots when he's tired (go figure) so there were lots of times he was signaling "hey I'm sleepy!" and then I'd be like "oh! He wants the boobie!" and then he'd scream into my nipple and all parties involved were sad and confused. The cues outlined online are just a guide of typical cues. Your baby will be typical in many ways and atypical in many ways.


Rooting is an involuntary reflex until 4 months old. Until then if you touch around their mouth/cheek, they will root. My husband and I spent a lot of time going, "hmm, he might be hungry, let's check" touch around his mouth, the roots "oh! He's hungry!" Nope, cue more nipple screaming. Alternatively, I've overfed my baby a lot by thinking he was hungry when he wasn't. Overfeeding just results in spit up, but man there was a lot of spit up.

Babies are bad at a lot of things

Babies are good at crying. They cry to let us know that they need our help with something they're bad at.

Like sleeping

Babies are the most tired creatures alive and also the worst at falling (and staying!) asleep. Even at 2 months old, my son still needs 16+ hours of sleep every single day. If you do any reading about babies before you deliver, familiarize yourself with sleep and wake times. For the first month, babies should be awake no longer than 45 minutes - 1 hour at a time. This includes feeding time and diaper time. After 45 minutes, start the wind-down routine with or without sleep cues. This will prevent the baby from becoming overtired.

Like burping

For the first few months, babies are bad at bringing up burps. It's important to get all the air up before it reaches the intestines. Baby will pop themselves off the breast/bottle to signal that they need to burp - they're not full yet! Learn from my mistake.

Like farting

My son cries real tears when he's gassy. It pains me to know his tummy hurts him. Bicycling his legs helps, holding his knees to his chest, massaging his tummy. I've also used a microwaveable bean bag to hold on his tummy (with a blanket between the heat and his skin).


Sometimes babies get too upset to accept your help. A few weeks ago my son was overtired and hungry. Too tired to nurse well, not full enough to take a long nap. That day was hell. Do what you gotta do to survive. Hopefully, you'll have what I call a "reset device" - something that baby will sleep in no matter what! Baby carrier, car seat, swing.

Diapers can be too tight

To prevent blow-outs I was putting the diaper on very tightly. No leaks! No blowouts! Woo! And then one day my son was sitting on my knees facing me and he tooted. "Yay toots!" we coo'd together. Suddenly warmth. Suddenly wet. Oh, my lap is full of baby poop. You can make the diaper tight at the waist, but leave them a little loose around each thigh. If you pull it up too high/tight, there's not enough space at his bum to catch and hold the liquid so it shoots right up the back. Blowouts are also more common when baby needs to size up.


Motherhood is so bittersweet, ladies. This week my son learned how to really fall asleep by himself. I used to spend hours bouncing, rocking, shushing, swaying, singing. Then one day it was stimulating him and I set him down - asleep. He doesn't need my help to fall asleep much anymore. Sometimes, but not always. I cherish those times now because I didn't realize how fleeting they are. It'll be hard, but try to remember that when you're exhausted at 3am and baby just needs to feel your skin and listen to your heart. The love you will experience and the fullness of your heart will totally overwhelm you - not always in a good way.

I'm learning new things every day but some of these would have been good to know from the start! If you take anything at all away from this, let it be wake times.

Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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