7 Things Baby Books Don't Tell You

Claudia Stack


Photo by Alex Pasarelu on Unsplash

I used to know everything about child-rearing, and if I didn’t know something, I could form an opinion on the spot. How I missed those days once I actually had children! My sons are young men now, but I was thinking about those early days. Here is some random but useful information that wasn't highlighted in the baby books, and which I wish I had known.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to replace the advice of your pediatrician, mother, sister, or aunt.

1. Newborns are “obligate nose breathers.” That means they cannot breathe through their mouths when they are born. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that babies typically do not learn to breathe through their mouths until at least three months of age. That is why, when your baby is congested, you have to do things such as sit in a steamy bathroom with your baby, suction his/her nose, and other things your pediatrician may recommend.

2. Meconium, the first poopoo your baby has, is a miracle of nature. It is the stickiest, thickest substance known to humankind. You could resurface the driveway with this stuff. If you don’t take preventive measures, you could easily rub several layers of skin off your baby’s bottom while just trying to clean it. Be smart. Coat your baby’s bottom liberally with A & D ointment as soon as you get settled in your postpartum room.

3. It doesn’t matter how you dress your baby. He or she will probably spend the first week or two with legs drawn up and crossed. This can be alarming, because the little empty cloth legs will dangle from baby’s outfit. At this point, baby is still unfolding after months in the womb. This will sort itself out in a few weeks.

4. The baby is yours. Yes, really. When I had my first son, I timidly awaited permission to put him in the clothes I had brought from home. When he cried the night he was born, I looked to the nurses for guidance. While they were helpful, I was missing one central fact — as his mother, I really did know what to do. I just didn’t trust myself. Pick your baby up, nurse him, change and dress him/her. Your baby is yours.

5. This one is in the baby books, but it bears repeating. Nursing can be difficult and painful at first, but it is one of the most important and rewarding things you can do. Stick it out if you can. Believe it or not, your cracked nipples will heal, even while you are using them. This is not understandable, but it is true.

6. At the same time, don’t beat yourself up if you just cannot nurse for some reason. Also, don’t be intimidated by books that say breastfeeding exclusively is the ONLY valid thing to do. I think some women get scared off from nursing because they think there is no flexibility. Just my experience, but…both of my boys learned very early to switch between bottles and nursing.

I had no choice but to go back to work after six weeks, and I just never could seem to pump. However, my babies happily took bottles of formula from the babysitter and then nursed well when they were with me. Some books warn against this approach, because (they say) if you introduce bottles, the baby will get lazy and prefer them. However, all the babies I have known had a decided preference for their moms. I think this worry is exaggerated.

7. Finally, remember that just when you get the hang of one stage, everything will change. Change is the only constant in the whole parenting process — well, that and the urge to kiss your child’s little feet. Enjoy it.

Comments / 0

Published by

I am an educator and filmmaker. My documentary films on historic African American schools have screened at film festivals, colleges, libraries, and other venues. In Fall, 2017 I completed SHARECROP and SHARECROP: DELTA COTTON, documentaries that showcase oral history of the South’s “forgotten farmers.” These films have screened at festivals in major cities including London, Atlanta, Detroit.


More from Claudia Stack

Comments / 0