10 Pro Tips on Mothering an Infant (From Someone Who’s Been at it for Six Whole Weeks)

I had a baby in September, so according to the tenets of Internet wisdom – which, of course, hold that if you have any experience with a topic whatsoever, you should immediately present your anecdotal evidence as expert testimony to a thirsting public – I’m way overdue to start giving parenting advice.

And since I do love telling people what to do and would rather write this while my baby naps than do laundry, I offer my top ten infant momming pro-tips.

1. If you walk around feeling smug about your baby’s gorgeous head of hair, your vanity will actually cause the hair to fall out. Science says this is the cause of infant hair loss, but, no, it was definitely your hairrogance that caused it. And it won’t fall out completely, just in places. People are going to notice this. Sure, your kid is still beautiful, all children are (or so some people, who are a lot nicer than I am, say), but the infant pattern baldness is your fault, so you’ve got to get on top of addressing it right away. Do a baby comb-over, if possible. Hats are another good solution, though not always workable depending on season and your kid’s head girth. So I recommend just fronting the issue. Before people can process your baby’s hair loss and mentally will themselves not to comment, comment for them. Refer to the kid as your Little Clint Howard. During playtime, replace “Sooooo big!” with “Inconceivable!” a la Wallace Shawn’s Vizzini. And of course talk, and even blog, about your infant’s hair loss to show how much you don’t care that your adorable baby’s glorious dome is half naked.

2. Do not answer the door with a baby in your arms. Once your neighborhood proselytizers see you with that tiny babe, they will know that you’re home ALL THE TIME. And then buckle up, because you’re now on their regular route. In addition to making sure you’ve personally been handed all of their best doomsday tracts, they’ll pop by just to wish you a good day, cheerily ignore your exhausted face and lowered defenses when they ask if it’s a good time to talk, they may even bring you a present for the baby. What they won’t do is EVER STOP KNOCKING ON YOUR DOOR. When you’re nursing, when the baby’s crying, when you’re trying to watch a Love it or List it marathon on HGTV while the baby naps, when you’re finally taking that poop that your poor constipated soul has been working on for days. You’re their bestie now, so you might as well invite them in and put them to work on the laundry or something.

3. Just like every Simmons has a shoe line (anybody watch Project Runway: Threads last night? No? Just me? I was pumping and couldn’t reach the remote to change the channel), every parent has a swaddle technique; feel free to ignore them. I’ve been exposed to 5-point swaddle tutorials from everydangbody and their Uncle Russell, and I have discovered that swaddle techniques are bullshit. Just wrap that baby up tight and make sure no blanket ends are poking out, et voila! And that, by the way, is my 1-point avant garde swaddle technique. Use it if you like, it does not require a YouTube video demonstration.

4. Pumping is a spirit-crushing endeavor; you’re going to need an activity that involves only limited use of one hand to occupy you during pump time. I recommend playing Two Dots on your iPad. If you don’t have a tablet, playing on your phone would work; in fact, an iPhone would be harder to drip milk on, though much harder to hold with the hand you’ve managed to free after nestling the backside of one pump setup (or whatever you call the boob cone + the things it attaches to) in the crook of your left elbow so that your left hand is available to hold the right pump setup. But a word of caution, Two Dots is addictive, and the common saying is “sleep when your baby sleeps” not “play the heck out of some Two Dots when your baby sleeps.” If you forget to have your chosen pumping activity on hand, you better hope you’re sitting on an interesting towel (you should always sit on a towel while pumping); a good choice would be that beach towel you bought while on vacation in Greece that has a map of the Island of Lefkada on it so you can at least brush up on your geography.

5. Some babies are just not in the mood for your nonsense. I blew a raspberry/zerbert on my baby’s tummy and he looked at me like, “Lady, you can’t be serious. Let’s be more dignified during future diaper changes, shall we.” It’s an interesting experience to be silently scolded by a newborn.

6. No matter how desperate you get for parenting advice don’t ever, EVER go on a mommy forum. EVAR, DO YOU HEAR ME?! The people who frequent those forums are scary and toxic and have completely lost their grip on reality, like, in a really non-fun way…hang on I need to go play some Two Dots. Okay, I’m back. Seriously, never go on those forums. You’d get more practical advice by going through the McDonald’s drive thru and asking for insight from whoever happens to be working the window, either window is fine, pay window or pickup. I recently read a mommy forum thread where a woman asked, tongue in cheek, why her baby was “being such a jerk” and the general consensus among the comments was that this mom was an unfit mother and a child abuser. So that’s what you’d be dealing with if you visited one of those sites, don’t do it. You’re hungry for McNuggets anyway, give the drive thru a try.

7. I know you’ve heard this one many times before, but it bears repeating: your kid is going to take a dump on you. There’s no reason for you to take it personally. And if you have a little boy, he’s going to pee straight into the air during a diaper change…and on his bedroom curtains…and on his own face. Definitely wipe off his face, your call on whether you wipe off the curtains as well, there are only so many hours in the day and you need to use your time wisely. But do make time for some Two Dots.

8. Breastfeeding is supposed to be a special baby-mommy bonding time where the two of you gaze at each other while you gently cradle Baby’s head as Baby draws sustenance from your very person…And sometimes it’s like that. But sometimes you just want to check your phone for messages while your baby eats. During those times, go ahead and prop your foot on something so you can rest the precious babe’s head on your raised knee and proceed to Facebook. Or play some more Two Dots.

9. Lullabies can be supremely grating when you’ve heard them (even when they’re coming out of your own mouth) for the 90th time, keep it fresh by playing lullabies covered by your favorite musicians. I highly recommend Nick Cave singing “All the Pretty Little Horses.” A nice byproduct of this tactic is that you can ease your children into the artists you’ll be repeatedly subjecting them to in the car when they get older.

10. The white noise machine will work wonders at bedtime…on you, your partner, even your cat. Your baby, however, will be impervious to its charms.

Bloggers note: I realize lists are a bit lazy, but since I get about 3-4 hours of interrupted sleep a night, putting on socks is pretty much my ceiling, effort-wise. Also, I am lazy, and even under non-newborn-rearing circumstances, I’m not above listicling. See this. And this. Oh, and this.

5 replies on “10 Pro Tips on Mothering an Infant (From Someone Who’s Been at it for Six Whole Weeks)”

Fantastic list.

Also, regarding #4, I have two words: Pumping bra! It is a game changer if you need to pump regularly. (I exclusively pumped because little man is very stubborn – just like his parents.)

Our little guy was a professional swaddle breaker, so we resorted to the “Swaddle Me” – until he learned to bust out of those a few months later.

First, congratulations!

#2 is brilliant. Could you somehow take advantage of the extra pair of hands if they come over unannounced? Maybe ask them to change the baby? I used to welcome religious canvassers into my home but ask them if they minded helping me socialize my dogs while we talked. Worked every time. I hope you can find a similar method of deterrence.

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