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stemnyjones's avatar

What are some things that you had to learn thru parenting experience that other/new parents should know?

Asked by stemnyjones (3974points) April 8th, 2011

There are a plenty of books, magazines, and websites offering a ton of information to mothers, but some things aren’t mentioned often enough either because they are overlooked or they can only really be learned through experience.

These things can be related directly to parenting or children, or can be something not so directly related to parenting, such as household tips, medicine, pets, or a variety of other factors that in some way will effect the child.

It can be advice that is only relevant to babies, preschoolers, even all the way up to teenagers, or it may be something that can effect kids of all ages.

It can even be directly related to a physical or psychological condition of either the child (diseases, illnesses, or behavioral problems) or the mother (postpartum depression or physical problems that originated or were aggravated by giving birth or parenting).

What things did you learn the ‘hard way’ or through experience while parenting/birthing that you did not previously know of or hear about? Or is there something that you feel is important for other parents to know that doesn’t get talked about much?

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22 Answers

stemnyjones's avatar

To start it off, a few things that I can think of off the top of my head:

1.) I wouldn’t recommend any parent of a newborn dress their child in those cute little nightgowns that have the bottom part open. One night, back when my daughter was brand-new and still waking up every couple of hours, I woke up realizing that it had been a while since the last time she had woken up. I bolted up in bed to look in her bassinet, and the open part at the bottom of the nightgown had somehow come up and covered her face. I pulled it down and she immediately gasped for air then started crying. Thankfully she was okay, but I threw away all of her open-bottom pajamas immediately.

2.) I may be the only person in the world that didn’t know this, but there is a little switch on ceiling fans that let you choose either “winter mode” (where the fan circulates warm air down) or “summer mode” (where the fan circulates colder air down). I didn’t find this out until just recently because I just moved into a home with ceiling fans for the first time since my daughter was born. It really helps to keep her comfortable at night.

cookieman's avatar

When the baby sleeps, you sleep. I don’t care if you’re tired or not, at least lay down and listen to some music or read a book.

Best thing I ever did.

stemnyjones's avatar

@cprevite I agree, this is a very very good tip but I’ll admit that for a long time I didn’t, because I felt like when she was sleeping was the only time that I could do anything for me or to keep the house clean.

The problem is that after a while, you start to get frustrated that the baby didn’t sleep for as long as you thought she might have, so you only got a little bit of chores done and have to stop and rush to rinse the dish soap off of your hands so that you can retrieve the baby, or as soon as you are in the middle of typing a long email the baby starts wailing.

It only took one incidence to make me stop that once and for all. I was in the middle of doing something on the computer, probably checking my email, and Alyssa started crying. I felt this surge of frustration. Why can’t she just give me a SECOND? I’ve been attending to her 20 hours a day for weeks now!

The moment that I realized what my immediate reaction had been, I stopped trying to get things done while she napped. I waited until someone was around to help to do things that I couldn’t do while she was awake.

I still didn’t sleep when she slept for a while because I have major problems falling asleep and as soon as I started to drift off she would be up again. But trust me, a few months of no sleep and you will knock out like a light no matter how bad your sleep problems are.

creative1's avatar

Listen to your instincts when it comes to things like when you think something is not right with the baby. If you think the baby isn’t breathing right or sounds right or is acting normally when in relation to other babies you have seen, because you are usually right. My daughter had seizures and if fluffed it off like others did that she was just shrugging then she would have gotten worse and more brain damage would have been done before getting treatment. Same is true about her heart condition would not have been diagnosed and her asthma would not have been diagnosed early as well if I just listened to everyone else and not my own instincts.

Aethelwine's avatar

Be patient. Whatever terrible phase they may be going through does not last forever. That terrible two toddler will be off to college in no time, and you’ll long for those terrible twos.

And I agree with @creative1. It’s better to be the overprotective parent that’s always calling the doctor than the complacent parent that has to learn the hard way.

YoBob's avatar

So, when you are expecting read all you can because it will make you feel like you are prepared. As soon as the child is born, throw all of those books out the window because you find that your child is as unique as everyone else and none of that stuff you read applies.

Relax. People have been successfully raising kids since the beginning of time. You’ll be fine.

stemnyjones's avatar

Also, these aren’t as universally ignored as the nightgown thing, but a few more pointers:

—Don’t use bumpers around the crib. Matter of fact, don’t use pillows, blankets, or stuffed animals in the crib until the child is at least one year old. A fitted sheet that is snug and secure around the mattress (and one of those protectors that stop the mattress from soaking up pee underneath) is the most that you should use. Babies under 1 do not have the mental capacity yet for their brains to alert them and wake them up when they are suffocating, which is why they are at risk for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). I find that bumpers are the thing that most parents ignore even if they don’t put toys or blankets in the crib. It is never safe to use a bumper, and especially never safe to put a child to sleep on their stomachs.

—Don’t blindly take advise from your parents or grandparents without checking it out with a doctor or reliable book/magazine/website first. Things that you should/shouldn’t or can/cannot do with your child/baby change constantly, especially over a period of 15–30 years, and especially when research is constantly being done to detect problems and resolve them. Your parents may tell you that they put you to sleep on your stomach and you survived. They may tell you that when your child has a cold, giving him a shot of whiskey with sugar and honey will clear out their nasal passages, not realizing that young children can easily succumb to alcohol poisoning, even from the doses that are found in hand sanitizer. They may tell you that you should start feeding your baby solids before you or your pediatrician think it’s a good idea.
These people aren’t trying to hurt you or give you good advice, they just didn’t have some of the knowledge back when you were a kid that doctors and scientists have now. Don’t be rude about it, but do your research first.

—While we’re on the subject of relatives. Remember that you are the child’s mother/father. If you don’t want your child to constantly be fed sweets but your parents think it’s okay and overload them with cookies and ice cream when they’re around, talk to them about it in a friendly but stern manner and explain why you think it’s a bad idea. For example, you could tell them that treats are okay sometimes, but if she eats too many of them then she won’t have room for her vegetables. Same goes with TV or anything else you feel strongly about.

—As said above, don’t be shy to bring your baby to the doctor or hospital if you suspect something is wrong. If the doctors say that it’s nothing to worry about but you feel that something is very wrong, feel free to research the topic yourself to show the doctor or even ask for second opinions. There was an incidence with my daughter where I switched pediatricians four times before I found one who took the time to stop and figure out what was wrong and how to fix it. However, don’t do something that the pediatrician says is dangerous or unnecessary until you get approval from another pediatrician who thinks otherwise.

—Don’t give your baby (under one year old) honey. There is a bacteria in honey that a baby’s digestion system is not ready to handle yet, which can cause botulism.

—There isn’t any scientific proof, per se, but a lot of parents have been having problems with Pampers diapers with “Dry Max” causing severe diaper rash, sores, boils, and even chemical burns even when the diapers are changed regularly. There isn’t any proven evidence besides frustrated parents with pictures of their babies with severe diaper rash, but you may want to just be safe and try another one. I use Huggies Overnights on my 1–½ year old while she is at home because now that she is active, all of the other diapers seem to leak except for Pampers Cruisers.. but since I use Overnights at night, I figured rather than buying two types of diapers I’d just let her wear Overnights at home.

—And finally, contrary to @YoBob ‘s opinion, I found What To Expect: The First Year to be very helpful. Even though every child is unique and all of the advise may not pertain to you, some things aren’t instinctual, such as what medicines are dangerous to give to a child, what baby-taste-bud-approved foods will cover a typical toddler’s nutrition pyramid, and when something goes wrong, how long to wait it out before you call a doctor.

You should adopt your own parenting style that works best for you, your baby, and your beliefs, but the books do come in handy when you are unsure of when to wash your baby the first time, what products are safest, how to avoid SIDS, and tips on getting your toddler to sleep through the night.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

I biggest piece of advice is to relax and enjoy it. Each child is different and as @jonsblond said soon enough they will be out of one stage and into another.

@stemnyjones My first two were babies prior to the warnings about sleeping on the stomach so on the stomach they slept. My last one would not sleep for any longer than 15 minutes if he were not on his stomach (or being held while sleeping.) There is not a one-size-fits-all. You can follow the recommendations but sometimes you have to make it up as you go along.

Seaofclouds's avatar

The biggest thing I learned is to go with the flow. There will be many things that don’t go the way you planned or expected them to.

YARNLADY's avatar

Children are a full time, 24–7 job. Don’t even think of doing anything else but take care of them, or see that they are properly supervised. Studies have shown there is no difference between children of stay at home moms and working moms – when they are properly cared for. Nannies are best, but a good, well staffed day care is also ok.

Bellatrix's avatar

This too will pass.

When you are going through colic, the terrible twos, the teenage years and all those other phases, keep in mind “this too will pass”. It does and your relationship with your child will grow and evolve and you will both learn along the way.

Most of all… enjoy the ride. It is the most exciting, frustrating and amazing, super-fast roller-coaster ride you will ever be on. Take lots of photos and write down all the crazy things they (and you) say along the way. You will forget.

diavolobella's avatar

What @creative1 said. The little shot record my pediatrician gave me had several tips listed in the back, the last being “Relax and trust yourself.” It was the best advice ever. When my 6 week old son was crying and it just didn’t sound right to me, I called the Dr. After a visit to him followed by a rush to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, we discovered my son had a bad UTI, which is very dangerous in such a small infant. He was in the hospital for a week, but he’s now a healthy, happy 19 year old because I trusted myself when that cry just sounded wrong to my ears. I was a first time mom and a newbie, but my parental instincts were already there.

creative1's avatar

Its never too early to start talking to your kids and listening to them is equally as important. Listen to what they are really telling you and have to say. I know its hard to believe but my 3 year old and I have these incredible conversations and she has so much to say about so many things. How she feels about things or her views on what she thinks is right and why. I always want her to feel she is valued as an indivdual and she is listened to no matter how old she is because what she has to say is just as important as anyone else. I think by starting at a young age it will continue on up as she grows and knows I will always listen with an open mind.

One other thing is that singing to your infant is something they do remember. I used to sing to her when she was being fed each time the same songs in the same order. Well at age 2½ one night she was in her crib singing the same songs I used to sing to her when I fed her, her bottles each night and she sang them in the same order that I sang them in I almost died when I heard her.

cockswain's avatar

Slowly release control over time so the transition from teen to adult is nearly seamless, not abrupt. As time goes on, you do have less control over this person. Learning to choose what to let go allows you to maintain control when you really need it.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Teach your child how to make and recover from mistakes when they are young and it doesn’t matter. Kids who get too hung up on perfection and pleasing their parents when really it’s more important to learn how to recover from mistakes and be pleased with yourself and the gains from your efforts. Working hard, doing your best work, correcting your mistakes is more important than getting it right the first time, especially when you’re a child.

Judi's avatar

I always thought that because I would be such a loving attentive mother who lived to be sure my children knew that they were special and loved, my children would always bechealthy, happy well adjusted people.
I learned that regardless of my direction, love and teaching, my children would make their own choices, make their own mistakes and suffer the consequences of their own choices. They are people I have been privileged to help raise, and not my possessions to mold. I learned this through pain and humility, but it was an important lesson. I wish I had realized it the day I got pregnant with my oldest, but I did learn it when my children were young and before I died of mommy guilt every time my kids acted out or did things against their own best interests.
In short, my kids are their own people. I won’t take responsibility for their failures or credit for their successes.

kitkat25's avatar

The best advice I can give is the advice my mother gave me when my first child was born. Always drop everything and give your child a hug when they want one. Never be too busy to give your child love when they want it. You will always have dirty dishes and dust but your babies are only little for such a short time. That is so true too. Now all my babies are grown with babies of their own and I still have dirty dishes and dust that has to be dealt with all the time.

Judi's avatar

@kitkat25 ; I was a single mom when I had my oldest. Back then, there were not a lot of birth anouncements available for single moms, and believe it or not, general access to Xerox machines was a pretty new concept. I finally had a friend write up in caligraphy this poem that a friend found (have no idea who the author is,)
“Cooking and cleaning can wait til tomorrow
for children grow up, we learn to our sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my babies and babies don’t keep.

stemnyjones's avatar

@creative1 I agree about talking and listening to your kids. Even though my daughter is only 1½, I am very in tune with what she is trying to say even though she probably knows less than 50 words, and she understands most of what I tell her. Some parents get frustrated when their children, especially babies and toddlers, are trying to tell them something but can’t get them to understand, and then the baby or toddler gets frustrated, and it’s not a great situation for anyone… but after a few weeks, I could tell my daughter’s cries apart. I knew when she wanted to eat, and when she was wet, and when she was in pain. And even now, even though she knows how to point and say a few words, I find myself sometimes at a loss and getting frustrated when I’m focused on something else and she’s trying to tell me what she wants, but i find that if I stop multi-tasking for a second and focus on her, what sounded like “Rara” was actually “Raffi” (she wants to listen to her Raffi CD) or “boo! boo! boo!” was actually “bug! bug! bug!”.

Bellatrix's avatar

:-)@stemnyjones… I wonder how many of those words will become part of your vocabulary? I remember my daughter getting very annoyed with me when I couldn’t understand what the heck a bamf was. It was a jam (jelly to anyone in the US) sandwich. Took me a while and she was losing it a bit with her stupid mum but we got there.

Dorts were shorts.
Birdys were birthdays (and still are).
Eyea (pronounced Eye_A was Leah.
Barbie didn’t have a caravan but she did have a caraban.

I used to write all their funny words down and the funny things they said and have kept them in a folder. You will forget and my children still enjoy looking through those memories.

stemnyjones's avatar

@Bellatrix I just recently started doing the same thing. I started up a journal where I only write about things she’s doing and learning. So far I have all of the words she knows, her favorite songs and bedtime stories, the funny ways she dances and does things, etc..

Bellatrix's avatar

That’s so lovely @stemnyjones and I promise you, you will smile in years to come as you flick through that journal and remember little, forgotten, but such special moments.

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