babyWhen I found out I was pregnant, I couldn't wait to get to a bookstore and stock up on parenting books. I had a lot to learn in the next nine months to get ready for baby. Or so I thought. I know I can't be the only mother who brought home her baby and felt like the books left me completely unprepared for this pooping, crying, and (thank God) adorable human being who couldn't explain anything to me.

Here's the thing the publishing industry doesn't want you to know: you don't learn the really good stuff about parenting from their books. You learn it from other moms (and dads). They're the ones who offer up baby raising tips that you can really use!

So I asked around. What are some of the most useful bits of advice moms have gotten from other parents? Here's what they had to say:

1. When the baby has gas, my mom suggested laying her on her back (across my legs) and pumping her legs like a bicycle. It works!

2. My mother taught me to test the bath water with my elbow because you get a true sense of the temp. If it's too hot on your elbow, it's too hot for baby.

3. For a colicky baby, turn on a somewhat loud box fan or have the vacuum running to soothe them.

4. Tickle feet to keep sleepy newborns awake while nursing.

11 baby care tips moms can really use5. Give them a clean medicine dropper of water EVERY day so when they were sick and needed medicine, they would take the dropper.

6. Bite their fingernails and toenails to keep them trimmed. It sounds weird, but with fingernail clippers, they'd fidget and get snipped.

7. Bring home those waterproof pads (they call them chucks here, not sure what they call them for real -- they look like wee wee pads) from the hospital, as many as you can grab. Take all the crib sheets you have and layer them on the bed like a parfait, with a chuck between each one. When you have a wet diaper that soaks through PJs at 3 a.m., you can just strip the sheet and the chuck and have a dry bed all ready to go, no fumbling for a sheet change while you're half asleep.

8. Even if you're not cloth diapering, buy the pre-fold diapers and use them as spit rags. They're much more absorbent than the things they sell as spit rags.

9. Feed your baby naked (except a diaper)! They won't get baby food all over their clean clothes, and you don't have to do laundry.

10. If your baby is drooling because they're teething, stock up on the bibs with the plastic lining on the back. That's the only thing that will protect their chest from getting chapped from all the drool.

11. Sleep begets sleep. If they wake up too early, put them to bed earlier, not later.

What is the very best tip you've gotten for taking care of baby? Did it come from another parent or from a book?

 

Images via sa B./Corbis; Nick Stevens/cultura/Corbis