Parenting Advice: What no one tells you about newborns

10 things to bear in mind

By Erica Loop,

You’ve read the books, the blogs, and every piece of parenting advice out there. You know what’s going on when it comes to newborn care. But even though it’s perfectly possible to learn the basics beforehand, when you get to real-world mommy-ing, sometimes things don’t look or feel like you expected. Check out the surprising stuff no one tells you about parenting a newborn.

They’re floppy. That squishy little cherub isn’t exactly solid at first. Your newborn’s neck is totally lax when it comes to muscle tone, and it’s completely normal for babies to have floppy heads. Don’t stress; the older she gets, the more muscle strength she’ll build.

The cry is outrageous. Newborns cry. Everyone knows that. But you might not know about that oh-so special newborn cry. It’s an Earth-shaking wail that will make that fancy video monitor with Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity totally unnecessary.

Newborn heads look odd. You’ve probably been dreaming of the moment you get to meet your little one. You’ll finally get to see what she looks like! And she’ll look… um, like a football. If you have a vaginal birth, your newborn’s head may look sort of squished in the beginning. Like many of these under-the-radar newborn issues, this one will resolve itself on its own.

Smiles don’t happen right away. You’ve heard that “it must be gas” thing when it comes to baby’s smile something like a zillion times. And it’s totally true — don’t expect a social smile (the ones that are in response to you, some other person, or some sort of interaction) to happen until somewhere around six weeks.

Not doing much takes a crazy amount of time. Eat, sleep, poop. That’s pretty much it when it comes to your newborn’s schedule. You might think that you’d have plenty of time to catch up on Game of Thrones, but even though newborns don’t do a whole lot, you’ll somehow spend all day mom-ing. Don’t be surprised if it’s 5pm, your honey is getting home, and you’re still in your PJs, asking where the day went.

Breastfeeding doesn’t always happen right away. Even though it seems like every animal on Earth has the ability to nurse their young without taking 15 classes and hiring a consultant, you might need to. Some mamas find breastfeeding to be a major challenge, and that’s okay. It can take time, and there are plenty of people around to help you out. The most important thing is that your baby is fed. Breastfeeding is not a reflection on your parenting prowess.

Sponge baths are it. That adaptable little baby bather your BFF gifted you with isn’t going to get much use right away. Until that little umbilical stump falls off, your baby is on sponge baths only.

Your baby seems to know when you sit down. The dog is barking, a car just backfired, or your S.O. just accidentally slammed the door. Your eyes bug out and you rush to your newborn’s side, knowing for sure she’ll startle herself awake. But, hallelujah, she’s a sleeping beauty… until you sit down to eat that leftover pizza. The moment you try to eat a meal, wash your face, text a friend, or do just about any non-baby-related task, your newborn will wake up and cry.

Newborns have major nails. Your baby is basically a mini Wolverine. She’s got some pretty sharp little nails, and she isn’t afraid to use them. There are plenty of little mittens and cover-ups made to keep your kiddo from scratching herself and everything around her. Along with that, make sure to trim her nails often.

Time will fly by. One day you’re bringing home this scrunchy little baby who you have no clue how to care for and the next you’re chasing a full-fledged toddler through the park. Enjoy this time. Even though it seems like it sucks, it’s actually pretty special. Slow down and savor every spit-up-soaked day, every sleepless night, and every part of the newborn period.

Thanks to our friends at for permission to reprint this article.

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8 Responses to “Parenting Advice: What no one tells you about newborns”

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esita Says:

April 3rd, 2018 at 12:24 am

They don’t need anything! Except a few scraps of clothes, some milk and a place to sleep. Keep it simple. And take more videos and photos than you think you need to. You’ll be sobbing over them one year in and thinking – why didn’t we record his/her cry (while it was soooo quiet!)

denmama9 Says:

April 3rd, 2018 at 1:27 am

One piece of advice about bathing a newborn: don’t do it. No, really. Not for the first week or two, not even in the delivery room. Wipe them clean with a soft cloth, maybe use some water if needed. Don’t worry about soap or lotion. I know they smell nice and sweet but babies don’t need those things. In fact, the vernix is good for their skin, so leave it there. Also, if you’re breastfeeding, that very particular newborn smell will prompt your body to make milk. That smell also helps with bonding, whether you breast or bottle feed, so you might forego the little hat they insist on sticking on baby’s head in the delivery room. Just whip that thing off and smell your baby instead of cotton. Mom’s smell is also important for baby, so avoid scented soaps, shampoos, lotions, and oils for yourself for the first while.

tfzolghadr Says:

April 3rd, 2018 at 10:12 am

They never tell you how much babies can poop. They may be small, but you can get some truly spectacular diaper blow outs.

Bobcat108 Says:

April 3rd, 2018 at 12:36 pm

Speaking from experience here: Parenting is not a Hallmark card. When people offer you help, take it. It will help your sanity levels to be able to get a shower w/o the baby wailing. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask for help. Postpartum depression is real & the sooner it’s addressed the easier it is to ameliorate it. I tried to soldier on for almost a year & a half & ended up in a very bad way. Thankfully my relationship w/my daughter wasn’t harmed, but I have & will have lifelong effects from thinking that I was a bad mom for not being able to do it all myself & not asking for help.

galaxywasted Says:

April 3rd, 2018 at 5:55 pm

“The baby seems to know when you sit down” is pretty much a complete summary of my parenting experience. My eleven month olds are sound sleepers and luckily nap at the same time almost every day, but it seems like the moment I even THINK about sitting down (or doing anything other than cleaning or laundry) my son will wake up and cry. I’ve tried to leave him alone for a couple of minutes and see if he will settle himself but it never happens and usually just wakes up his sister. There is no such thing as resting while they nap, at least not for me.

thefairophelia Says:

April 4th, 2018 at 1:57 pm

I want to add this: not all babies are cute. Most newborns aren’t cute at all but the older they grow, the more adorable they get.

alom Says:

April 4th, 2018 at 7:42 pm

Not only can breastfeeding be tough, but for first-time moms it takes a few days for milk to come in. Watch out for signs of dehydration. Breast is best but sometimes formula is a literal lifesaver.

Bassilly Says:

April 7th, 2018 at 1:33 am

Um is anyone else sitting here like.. what umbilical stump? Haha! Everything else on this list, I’ve heard of, but the one thing I didn’t actually know about newborns got glossed over!! lol

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