As modern-day parents, when faced with the daunting challenge of first-time parenthood, we become information hunter-gatherers. We join online baby forums, we interrogate our friends with kids, we go to birthing classes, and we drag home a stack of pregnancy and parenting books. In all of this, we are conquering our fear of the unknown by trying to learn everything there is to know about having a baby. This task, my friends, is impossible. There is no way you can learn it all. Even if you actually make it through all of those books and classes and everything else without stopping for (yawn) just a quick nap, you’ll find that there are a few things that get left out. Let me give you some examples…
You know there’s going to be poop. You know about the diapers and the wipes and the butt paste. You probably even know that you’re supposed to cover a little boy’s little boy parts during a diaper change to avoid getting a face full of pee. What the books don’t tell you is that babies poop ALL.DAY.LONG. In no time at all, your ear will be trained to the telltale squirting sound that means goopy, mustard-colored sludge has just cost you another 25 cents worth of diaper. They also don’t tell you that sometimes those poops will contain 2,000 times the volume of any poop ever. So much poop that not even one of those astronaut diapers could contain it. The overflow will follow the path of least resistance and ooze up the baby’s back…and neck. Ick. You’ll have to pull the baby’s fat little arms out of his onesie and carefully roll it down to get it off with as little smearing as possible. The books just don’t tell you about things like this.
That Blue Bulb Thing Has A Purpose
This is called a bulb syringe, and it looks like something you wouldn’t really ever want to use on your child. However, you totally will. What they don’t tell you is this—newborns often have mucus or fluid (or whatever it is) in their lungs right after they’re born, and they will gag on it. You will have to use this device to suck it out. Some babies will scream as though you’re sucking their brains right out of their skull. New parents should definitely be warned about this because it’s absolutely terrifying the first 17 times it happens. (Some parents prefer the nosefrida…it’s trippy, but it works too!)
Baby Formula Roulette
Giving your baby formula? Get ready for a fun game between you and your baby’s tummy! Spin the wheel, and try to land on the one brand that doesn’t make your baby too gassy or too constipated or too vomity or too hungry five minutes later. (There’s also a toddler version of this game that involves choosing a sippy cup that doesn’t spill too much milk all over your house and which your child likes. Good luck!)
A newborn baby has tiny little hands which have teeny little fingernails—that are sharp enough to cut glass. Okay, maybe not glass…but their nails are seriously sharp, and the way they flail their arms about, it doesn’t take long for them to scratch up their beautiful little baby faces. You’re supposed to use those little baby mittens for this, but I wish you luck getting those to stay on said tiny little hands, friends. My advice? Pack a soft emery board in your hospital/birthing center bag, and use that to remedy the issue instead of trying to clip baby’s nails. Little fingernails are unbelievably tiny, and chances are that you’ll be super-tired and super-nervous about accidentally cutting her skin and hurting her. And what with the hormones and all, you may be reduced to tears as a result. Save yourself the pain and follow my advice.
Your Kid is Probably Okay
Beyond the pregnancy books, it’s the age of “Dr. Google,” and it seems like every little thing you look up is either nothing to worry about or will kill you tomorrow. Caring for a baby is tough anyway. When you add the constant stream of information that all seems bent on telling you about how you’re doing it all wrong and how you’ll certainly destroy this tiny human you’re trying so desperately to keep alive, it can really freak out a new parent. Try to ignore the haters. Your kid is probably okay. However, if you do have a concern, try to bypass the search button and just call the good folks at your pediatrician’s office.