Things you know now that you wish you did 4 months ago

Baby is still growing at any astonishing rate, and though it may not be as obvious, you’ve been growing with her. You’ve got 4 months more baby-experience than you did before Baby came along, and while sometimes it may feel like no time has passed at all, and you’re still only just starting out, you know a serious nonfiction book’s worth more about your baby specifically, and what she needs and how she interacts with the world. That knowledge didn’t come all at once, but wouldn’t it have been so much easier if it had? Here are four things these months have taught you that might have taken some of the fear or some of the fun out of the first 4 months with Baby if you hadn’t had to figure them out on your own.

  1. Baby is always changing
    Sure, you knew babies grew fast, and that those teeny tiny fingers and toes won’t stay quite that itty bitty for very long, but you may not have known that growing wasn’t the only way Baby was going to keep you guessing, looks-wise. Specifically, you might not have known how strangely and off-schedule she was going to start displaying a family resemblance. Maybe your child looked like a perfect split of your genes and your partner’s from the very first look, but a lot of babies look more like, well, babies than like anyone you know when their little faces first come into your life.
    Still others have a tendency to look like one parent and not the other right away, but just because Baby may not have popped out with your nose, or your partner’s eyes, that doesn’t mean that resemblance won’t start to make itself clearer every day, as Baby grows and changes right before your eyes. After all, there’s no way for you to know that her smile curves at exactly the same angle yours does until the day that she grins up at you for the first time.
  2. Baby’s cries
    By now, you’ve heard enough of Baby’s cries to last a lifetime, and while it’s definitely not your favorite part of parenting, it no longer feels like an incomprehensible scolding from your newborn. By now, you’ve got a sense of what a lot of the things that make Baby cry are, and what some of those cries mean. You’ve got a sense for when she is tired, hungry, or in need of a diaper change, and there are those moments once in a while when you can hear your little ray of sunshine gear up for a nice long wail, and you know exactly what she needs to stop that cry in its tracks. Super-parent to the rescue!
  3. Frenzied feeding
    Feeding Baby, whether it’s through breastfeeding or a bottle, is, in a lot of ways, a series of special moments, bonding experiences, and one of the first ways you teach Baby that you’ll always be there for her. It’s also harder than it looks. Despite the fact that, of all of the things Baby needs to learn about the world, it feels like eating should be the one thing to come naturally, many babies, both bottle and breastfed, have a bit of a learning curve before they get into the groove of feeding themselves. The adjustment period she takes to figure it out may be the hardest time you’ve had with food since back when it was your turn to figure out how to feed yourself.
  4. Baby is tough
    It’s hard to look down at the infant you’ve just given birth to and not wonder at how tiny and fragile her little body is, and that’s not a bad thing – Baby is tiny and fragile, and it’s good to be aware of that. On the other hand, though, by now, 4 months into your parenthood adventure, you’re probably starting to get the sense that Baby isn’t as breakable as she seemed at first. Maybe you haven’t had it in your heart to follow any of the textbook timelines for getting her to sleep through the night, but that doesn’t mean that she will never sleep. Maybe the occasional diaper-changing accident leads to Baby taking a bath a little more often than is recommended, or your in-laws have a habit of giving her age-inappropriate toys. That doesn’t mean Baby isn’t going to grow up as happy, healthy, smart and strong as she can be. Baby is resilient enough to withstand all of this and more, and by now you know to take a deep breath, do your best, and remove any small, swallowable parts from those age-inappropriate toddler toys.
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