6 Things Every New Parent Should Know

Xavier dancingWe all know being a parent has its challenges. But here are some words of wisdom I received that have made the job a bit easier.

“Take off the baby’s shoes and socks before changing him.” I read this in a book and it stuck with me. I never would have thought of it. But this advice has saved me several times from the odorless-until-revealed Poo Monster that occasionally takes residence in my son’s diaper. Poo and urine wipe off of skin pretty easily (most of the time); getting them out of clothes isn’t so simple.


“He’s going to run you ragged.” This was spoken in the same tone of dread that you would say, “Freddy Kruger is right behind you.” Well yes, of course he’s going to run me ragged. He’s a kid. He’s a boy. He’s way younger than me. He eats way healthier. So how did this phrase help me be a better parent? By making me angry enough to respond that If my son wasn’t running me ragged, I would be concerned.

“That black stuff is meconium.” And it’s normal. Had I not read about meconium beforehand, the black slime that filled my infant baby’s diaper would’ve made me think I had a demon spawn straight from The X Files. Luckily, the meconium phase only lasts a short while.

“Sleep when he sleeps.” This was impossible for the first few months. My son slept all the time -- but only in, say, 20-minute spurts. That made it really hard for me to get my nap on. Once he settled into a sleep schedule, however, I adopted the principle. When he takes his (usually) two-hour nap, the full second hour isn’t guaranteed, so I make sure to become one with the couch the moment I shut his bedroom door. I then spend the second hour straightening up, washing dishes or (more likely) surfing the ’net.

“Record everything.” If I tell you “it goes so fast,” will that mark me as a lazy writer who can only communicate in clichés? My apologies, but it couldn't be helped. Recently, I passed the baby food aisle in the grocery store and remembered how my wife and I anguished over what types to buy. Our son ate baby food for four months, maybe? It feels like forever ago. Luckily, given my wife's mastery at photography and creating websites, and my videography skills, our son’s every antic will be available for viewing even after the alien overlords take over the planet. (And won’t he just love us for that when he’s 13).

“Leave the TV off.” The other day, my wife walked into the living room wondering why our son was so quiet. He had clicked on the television and was watching Today. We noticed very early that if the TV was on, he would stop what he was doing to watch it. Couldn’t have that. He will watch TV regularly, perhaps, some day. But for now, we're content to subsidize our cable company for a product we rarely use.

What was some of the best advice you received about being a parent?

Image via Angela Johnson Meadows

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