12 things I wish I knew as a first time mom

Hi guys!

As most of you know, I am a mom of two boys. My first is three years old and my second is 5 months old. I have always been thirsty for knowledge and so I approached motherhood like a science project. I was painstaking about everything I did. I researched every point. For instance, as a coffee addict, I knew I couldn’t have my regular coffee kicks in the mornings but once my pregnancy hit 6 months, I discovered just how many granules of coffee was fine and I indulged in just fewer than that to be extra safe. As a breastfeeding mom, I was quick to unearth the fact that having cappuccino 4 hours before the next feed or pumping session was just ok. And so I would run to the office café as soon as I got to the office or just after pumping.

However there are a number of things I wish I knew about motherhood:

1. Identify and separate the small issues from the big deals

Not everything needs to be fussed about. I have now learned to figure out what my big picture is and focus on that. Now I know what the must haves, nice to haves and not at all important stuff are about parenting and I treat each accordingly. For example, it is nice if I bath my toddler myself but it is not a must. It is however a must that only I or one of my moms bath my infant. It is nice if I bottle-feed my infant myself but it is not so important. If I have to choose, I would rather hand him over to any available adult and spend that time assisting my toddler with his homework. My toddler has real feelings, my infant, not so much so if my older son is asking for my attention and my infant is also crying, I can hand over the infant to his nanny whilst I concentrate on the toddler who is more likely to feel bad and make assumptions about his needs being deprioritized.

Now I know that having every guest who came visiting my newborn march in a straight line to the loo to first wash their hands and thereafter sanitize was ok but definitely not a big deal. Now also I know that selecting an elderly person be a nanny is not really a big deal. What matters when it comes to choosing a nanny isn’t how old she is. Some 23 year olds are more intuitive and love kids even more than some 45 year olds.

2. Fed is best

Breastmilk is great but fed is best. I was so hung up about breastfeeding that I would feed my baby even though I was managing severely cracked nipples. I read books that breastmilk healed the sore nipples but I’m certain they weren’t speaking about bleeding nipples that required me popping painkillers before I begin to breast feed just because I was hell-bent on making it to the 6 month mark. I am in no way saying being fixated on making it to 6 months exclusively on breastmilk is too lofty a goal to have (Beyoncé fists at those who have done it and are doing it), but if like me you have issues with achieving this goal, don’t even feel bad when you have to open up that tub of Similac. Remember, fed is best.

3. You don’t need half of what you buy

Every vendor will market its product as a must have but truth is babies don’t really need so much. I went on a spree with baby Number 1 but with my second, I was much wiser.

4. Drop the intense baby speak from 6 months at the very latest and begin to converse

All that googoo gaagaa cheeky cheeky chuchu chacha should end as soon as a child starts showing the faintest sign that he understands you and is aware of his environment, usually by 3-5 months. It certainly shouldn’t enter into the 2nd half of a child’s first year. At that point, whilst speaking in a sing song voice and exaggerated vowels is fine, all the shaku shaku, booobooo baaabaa must transform to normal language.

I did the baby speak with my first well into age 2 and hardly engaged in meaningful conversations with him. I didn’t speak to him like I was dealing with a person who fully understood me. I treated him like a baby for the longest time. It was after I read up on it, I realized that all those cute speak stop being cute after a certain age. So whilst your 18 month old may pronounce words wrongly, don’t join him in the inaccurate pronunciations. Affectionately pronounce it rightly and engage in conversation as you would with an older child. It will help your child learn how to communicate effectively with you and with others. Raise the bar by speaking with your child like you would with an older child.

5. Read to your kids

This exercise is key and though I had so many books for kids, I didn’t really make reading to him a habit. I got so busy that the thought of sitting down every bedtime to read was totally unimaginable. I was not even home most bedtimes anyways but now I know better. At that young age, reading is not really for them to learn all about the lessons in the story you are reading. It is to expose them to sounds, speech and vocabulary. When you read to a baby, you are depositing into his language development bank. You might not know it, but they are taking in information and beginning to learn about speech patterns. As you point out the brown teddy bear to the baby, his brain is making a connection between your words and the brown teddy bear. The more frequently you read that book to baby, the stronger the connection grows.

Reading to babies helps grow their vocabulary and encourages them to exercise their brain and imagination as it encourages a thirst for knowledge. It promotes their early reading skills. Research shows that specific areas of the brain are affected when young children have reading exposure at home from an early age. These areas are critical for a child’s language development. Reading to a child enhances a child’s concentration.

6. Eliminate or Reduce Screen time before age 2

No matter the educative programme or coloring show you think you are exposing the child to, it just is not worth it. That quick technological distraction may feel like a saver so you can quickly finish up work but research shows it does more harm than good. It is okay for a child to patiently observe you as you work instead of you striving to fill up every moment with activity of any kind. Even when they are frustrated, handing them a gadget that offers immediate gratification discourages them from self-soothing.  Give baby a toy, a remote control etc., let her explore.

To be continued

Love,

Temi.x

 

8 comments

  1. Congratulations on your second baby Temi! This article is so for me as I am a first time mon currently in my third trimester counting down to D-day.
    I can relate to the fussing about almost everything ?.

    1. Congratulations MJay. Motherhood is amazing but you must try hard to be present and enjoy the process. May God grant you safe delivery and may your child(ren) (yes, it could be two or more in there, lol) bring you everlasting joy. You have known their beginning, you will not know their end. Amen

  2. Hey mama! Congratulations on your new(ish) born. This is so timely as I am 2 months away from having my 1st kid and my freaking out doesnt have part 2. So much so I am in and out of analysis paralysis, overwhelmed by info.
    Everyone has SOMETHING to say and Im just hoping my child doesnt end up an experiment.
    I like what you said about the big picture and managing your toddler over your new born as the toddlers feelings are more developed. Makes so much sense.
    I will be waiting for your next write up on this!

  3. I think this was written just for me. I’m expecting my first baby in a couple months and this could not have been better timed. Wondering if I could know a few things that are not soooo necessary so as not to buy every pretty thing i see in a baby shop. Also, when should reading to babies begin? I find the screen time reduction or exclusion quite enlightening, had always thought that it boosts learning. The baby speak thingy…many thanks for that! I greatly admire smart kids who can engage adults in meaningful conversations. Now I know how to go about achieving that.
    Thanks, Temiville for your diverse engaging bits.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment.

      (x) I will be doing a post on “Baby Must Haves” and “Things That I Ended Up Not Needing” in the coming weeks. They will surely shed more light.
      (y) It is recommended that one beginsto read to a baby from 4 months.
      (z) The American Society of Pediatricians (I think they are called) recommend NO screen time at all till age 2. We all thought it boosts education, exposure to colours, shapes and numbers. But there is so much research to show that it does more harm than good.

      All the very best. Stay healthy. Eat well. And enjoy yourself. Both you and your baby will be just fine. I speak ease into your birthing experience in Jesus’ name

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