What I Wish I’d Known As a New Mom


When you’re pregnant, people are filled with unsolicited advice for you: What you should eat. What you shouldn’t eat. How to sleep, how to exercise, how to tell what gender the baby is, how to do everything. And it doesn’t stop once the baby arrives. People love to offer their two cents, but I don’t recall receiving much advice that was actually helpful. In the least. Here’s what I wish I’d been told:

1. Breast may be best, but formula is fine too. I couldn’t breast feed. I envisioned myself all earth mothery, hair flowing and child at the boob, but it just wasn’t meant to be. The first few weeks with Lily were heartbreaking and frustrating. People told me how to hold her, how to pump and how to increase milk production. But, not once, did anybody tell me that it was OK to feed her formula. That she would still bond with me and that she would still thrive. Which she did.

2. Don’t rush home from the hospital. You have nurses waiting on you, room service, clean linens appearing without you ever having to load the washing machine… Enjoy it! Things won’t be the same at home.

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3. It’s a baby, not an alien. In other words, don’t stress yourself out with fancy baby crap. I shopped around for changing tables for months. You want to know the only place all three of my children ever got changed? The kitchen counter. It’s the perfect height, requires no climbing up the stairs and diapers easily fit in a drawer below. The fancy stuff is fun, but most times unnecessary.

4. Accept all babysitting offers. People love new babies and will be thrilled to hold your little one while you shower, cook a meal or take a nap. Holding a newborn is a joy. A two year old? Not so much. Take people up on their offers now, they have a very limited shelf life.

5. Point the penis down to prevent leaky boy diapers. (Why on earth does nobody tell you this?)

6. Don’t buy infant clothes. You may not be able to resist a few pieces, but don’t go crazy. People will be giving you plenty and you will most likely just use the same few pieces right out of the dryer. And don’t take the tags off of anything until you absolutely need to. Before Lily came home from the hospital, I washed every item through 6 months and folded them in her drawers. She never wore three quarters of them and I couldn’t return or regift a thing.

7. Resist anything with a million snaps or buttons. As adorable as they may be, they’ll bring you to tears at three o’clock in the morning. Elasticized layettes will be your best friend for the first few weeks.

8. Keep an emergency diaper kit in the car. I remember showing up for our first pediatrician appointment with no diapers, no wipes and no change of clothes. It takes getting used to schlepping around all of that crap, and newborn diaper blow-outs are inevitable. Be prepared.

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{But when in doubt…}

9. Ask for help. Once you’re a mom you become a member of “the mom club.” We’ve all been there before– I’m never ashamed to ask a stranger with kids if she can spare a few spare wipes should mine run out and am happy to give that crying kid at the park some goldfish. We’re all human, you know.

10.  Enjoy it. Not because it goes by so fast (and it does,) but because as exhausted as you may be, the first few months are truly the easiest. If you should have another child, you will wonder why you thought a single newborn was so tough. But you’ll never believe it until you’re there.

Related: The Rules for Visiting a New Mom

About the writer


What started as an innocent on-line baby book to chronicle Jill Smokler’s stay-at-home days with her children, quickly transformed into a vibrant community of parents, brought together by a common theme: Parenting doesn’t have to be perfect. Welcome to Scary Mommy!


Evelyn 6 months ago

Definitely true! It really a helpful list for new and expectant Moms. Thank you momma mac on pees issues from a vagina birth Mom! Didn’t know that…!

Destiny 2 years ago

I absolutely love this list ! Completely right !! I believe this is my new favorite website lol.

Kym Newbauer 2 years ago

number 6 over and over again
of course i did the same thing as you… only washed and put away nb-12 months
he came home not fitting in most of his newborn clothing :(

momma mac 3 years ago

okay this one may be a bit embarrassing for some but my number one tip for expectant moms is, after a vaginal birth please use the bidet/shower or tub when going for your first few pees, if not then you will feel like someone threw acid on your ladyparts…………..no seriously!!!!

Crystal 3 years ago

#5…for about a week I couldn’t figure out why he constantly had a wet spot. That’s what I get from coming from a family that only birthed girls until I had a child.

Mandy 3 years ago

My husband doesn’t like the penis-pointing-down advice – he says he doesn’t know about other guys but for him that would be really uncomfortable!

Andrea 3 years ago

Add to #5: research “go diaper free” in google and find out how to avoid poopy diapers. Just the poopy ones. Quite easy, quite part time. If you achieve that, you officially can slack at every other new parent role. (And pointing the penis down while pottying him is waaaaay better than pointing it down to prep it to pee in the diaper…and then change it later…and possibly deal with diaper rash from him sitting in that for a few hours. Yes ma’am.) xx Andrea @ GoDiaperFree

Kim 3 years ago

Yes! I absolutely agree with what you said about formula. And pointing the penis; our midwife pointed it out after I complained about him constantly soaking everything within ten minutes.

Pea Kay 3 years ago

So glad I found this blog. These tips are a lifeline and a godsend for a panicky ttc woman like me! Thank you!

Natalie 3 years ago

I first read #5. Point the penis down to prevent leaky boy diapers, as “PUT the penis down to preven leaky boy diapers” ie: don’t have sex if you don’t want another baby! Ha,ha.

Heather 3 years ago

OMG you hit the nail on the head with every numbered heading. I had twins a month ago and I was going to do the same as what you did by writing about it. HA! Man, did I have myself fooled. If you think you have time while you are pregnant. NOPE! You are way to miserable to even go to the bathroom, not alone think about what to write. Now, with there being 2 (advanced may I add) 5 month old babies screaming at me to get them this and get them that, and hold me, I barely have time to do anything. I love this site. I wish I would have found it before my surgery. Man, good site!

Krysta 3 years ago

Thanks for posting this, I’m trying to conceive, but really nervous at the same time when its time to bring baby home. Your post is great, you give advice on things people need to hear but dont usually, thanks again!

    Heather 3 years ago

    I thought I couldn’t get pregnant. But that diet that you take drops with. Hcg diet? I was taking that and BAM twins a month after I started taking it. I wasn’t the only one. I heard of many after it happened to me. Maybe try that? lol

Judy 3 years ago

I told my granddaughter to take it all with a grain of salt, but rely on maternal instinct. Everyone has advice that worked for them at the time….but times change & some things change, but some never do. Love my new great-granddaughter…it’s better than having grandchildren, since I’m retired & get first call for babysitting because I’m always available. Yeah for me. Love & luck to all new mothers. Lucky you!!

Kate 3 years ago

I LOVE this list. I found everything to be right on the mark. Number 1 really hit home for me since I seemed to run into many breastfeeding snobs who treat you like you don’t deserve to have kids if you’re not nursing. I had no idea that some people cannot produce adequate milk (or any milk) until I became one. Needless to say, stressing out about it makes it worse.
If I could add one more piece of advice it would be to find time to shower, even if you’re home all day and not going anywhere. For me it was the difference between a good day and a horrible day. A hot shower and freshly dried hair (if I could manage it) made me much more human and I felt as if I could climb the highest mountain (of laundry). I showered during one of the baby’s naps and it was completely mood-altering.

Randi 3 years ago

#10. oh my god! beyond true. my oldest is 2 years old, and the baby is 2 months old. and since baby has been born, i absolutely cannot believe i was so stressed when i had my first. baby is easy peasy! lol

Keegan 3 years ago

I have a friend that recently had a baby. She didn’t listen when everybody told her to sleep when baby sleeps. She is now complaining about it. She thinks she has to be supermom. She is also trying to train her 3 week old to sleep at night and not during the day. She really needs to read this.

heather 3 years ago

buy a big bottle of “urinegone” or one of those products. especially if you have a boy. pee gets everywhere.

april 4 years ago

Totally agree with all of these! My first child I couldn’t get out of the hospital fast enough. After that you had to pry me out of my hospital bed with a crow bar! Also, I have a beautiful neighbor who was dying to help, she offered to do my laundry. Well I really don’t want someone I see everyday folding my sad, tired knickers so I told her to just come and hold a baby while I did the things I needed to get done. To this day, any time someone has a baby, I deliver a huge tray of my best cooking. Better than any baby booties!

Karen 4 years ago

I wish someone had told me to stay away from baby hoodies. They look adorable but before the kid can sit on his/her own that hood is nothing but in the way!

Joy 6 years ago

Thank you SO much for all of this practical and fun to read advice. My MIL has purchased about 40 (no exaggeration) NB-3 month outfits, and I am not taking ANY tags off. I have about 20 onesies for the first few months that I plan on using, since I’ve never been a mom before and I have absolutely no idea how crazy and sleep deprived I will be. The idea of putting a newborn in a tiny swimsuit is beyond me, so I will now be keeping the tags on all of her perhaps-well-intentioned- but-impractical-gifts so I can return them.

Julie 6 years ago

Seriously. I may have taken a detour, but this is why i started my blog. Stuff like this… esp. the hospital one!
.-= Julie´s last blog ..The One with the Annoying Moaning Girl in the ER =-.

Deb 6 years ago

I fully agree with all of those! I demanded to leave the hospital early with my son–thinking he’d be less fussy at his home full of fancy newborn crap we’d use exactly once–and I nearly had a nervous breakdown within 72 hours. My second baby was a million times easier–but I still don’t think I could do the newborn thing again.
.-= Deb´s last blog ..Hubs’ picks from ’09 =-.

Ruth 6 years ago

#5 was quite a revelation. I tried it and it worked.

Thanks Jill.


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Rebecca 7 years ago

Your point number 10 is not true for me at all. My kids come out of the birth canal screaming their heads off and they don’t stop until they are somewhere near a YEAR old. With my second it was somewhere near TWO YEARS old. I always say that my kids make colic babies look like sweet quiet little cherubs and that the terrible twos are awesome compared to the first year. If they could only be born somewhere around 18 months old.

Lauren 7 years ago

Wish I would have found this a couple of months ago!! I have a 3 month old and have discovered all these to definitely be true.

Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] 7 years ago

Perfectly said, and all 100% true.

One more:
11. When people call before they come over to visit and they ask if you need anything, always say yes, even if it’s just a milkshake.

Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing]’s last blog post..Consider this a photography blog: Day 7 – Wordless Wednesday

Pop and Ice 7 years ago

Hey, that was me with my first child. After my three day vacation in the psychiatric ward. So, yeah, follow all the advice above and skip the hospital visit. ’tis my true story and warning.

Pop and Ice’s last blog post..A Well Rounded Education

jodifur 7 years ago

Thanks for mentioning formula. I also couldn’t nurse, Michael wouldn’t latch and a stupid LC told me not to pump and my milk never came in and to make a long story short, I couldn’t nurse. I just wish more people would have told me formula was ok. It wouldn’t have made that whole thing so hard.

jodifur’s last blog post..Too Busy Decluttering To Blog

cristin 7 years ago

I’m with you on all but the first one…. I couldn’t wait to get home with Dottie.. I was out of that hospital as soon as legally possible…. but only because I didn’t take Graham home for 3.5 months….

cristin’s last blog post..Saddest Words I Ever Heard

Life with Kaishon 7 years ago

This was a perfect list. I love it. Especially the tip about pointing the penis down. GREAT advice : ).

Life with Kaishon’s last blog post..The best book: Water for Elephants

DCUrbanDad 7 years ago

Amen to #8. Been there.

DCUrbanDad’s last blog post..Dizamn this is fun

Jill 7 years ago

#5! Seriously, that took me a good week to figure out. That should be on page 1 of any book!!!

Jill’s last blog post..A Whole Other Level

Jenni Jiggety 7 years ago

GREAT tips!!! And you are right…it does go by so fasssssst…if you blink…you’ve missed it!

Jenni Jiggety’s last blog post..Vloggity Vlogg – Victoria’s Secret

courtney 7 years ago

Amen, Jill!!! The hospital is a total vacation and you should add, send baby to nursery every chance you get.

I too was a non producer. Fed Bram for 45 minutes every hour. Stress ball. Nobody told me it was ok. Adam finally said, ENOUGH! Thank God for my husband. AND both my kids are the healthiest kids I know, thank you very much.

Great post!

courtney’s last blog post..Heaven, I was in Heaven….

June 7 years ago

HECK YEAH! I’m cooking #2 in here and it’s been making me think back to all those things I wish I knew before #1. You’re so on the mark.

Terra Heck 7 years ago

These are all great tips for a new mom!

Danielle 7 years ago

I SOOO wish someone would have given me the “point the penis down” tip. We went through many many many diapers and wet clothes before someone gave us this tip. Haven’t had a problem since!!! Very very good advice!!

Trina 7 years ago

I love this list. My kids are all out of the baby stage, but I am printing this for my daughters. AWESOME ADVISE!!!

Tiaras & Tantrums 7 years ago

so true – so very true!! No 5 was the funniest for me – I was home 1 day and my best friend was here to help me and she was holding my son and got soaked – she called her SIL , who had 4 boys already and she told us – your #5!!

Shannon 7 years ago

Yep, yep and yep.

First outing with my oldest was to the pediatrician’s office when she was about 4 or 5 days old… took the baby with me and nothing else. Get to the office and they said “strip her down to a dry diaper”… I took her clothes off, noticed she was wet… and realized I didn’t have the diaper bag with me.

With my 2nd… I was asking to go home the day after she was born. I know, I know… WHAT was I thinking?! Luckily, my midwife said she wouldn’t release me until it had been at least 48 hours.

Shannon’s last blog post..I walked right into this one…

Jaden 7 years ago

GREAT advice!!! LOVEIT!

Jaden’s last blog post.."I BE TWOS"!!

Miss Britt 7 years ago

Oh my God I love this.

Miss Britt’s last blog post..So I went to see the endocrinologist today…

Loukia 7 years ago

LOVE this post – I have also drafted someting similar for an upcoming blog post… too funny! These points should be handed out to all women leaving the hospital with their new babies! Great post.

Loukia’s last blog post..The best season finale… ever!

Futureblackmail 7 years ago

Wow – I would’ve never thought of the penis pointing downward (doesn’t that sound like a yoga position.)

Granted, I have a daughter but do babysit for my nephews and it would’ve been sooo helpful.

Futureblackmail’s last blog post..FEAR LIVES WITHIN ME, CAKED IN MUD

Scary Mommy 7 years ago

Selfish Mom- That is soooo true. With my third I’d grab a diaper, a few wipes and a bottle. My first practically had a suitcase!!

And Lynn– I would say sleep when baby sleeps was the one piece of useful advice I received. But, yes- so valuable.

And it took me WEEKS to figure out the penis part. I cannot believe the nurses don’t share that information. I bet the diaper industry pays them to keep it hush, hush!

Scary Mommy’s last blog post..Tips for Brand New Moms

Selfish Mom 7 years ago

That’s some seriously good advice. Where were you 8 years ago?

The only thing I would add is, you don’t have to take everything but the kitchen sink with you when you leave the house. With our first I was practically wheeling around a suitcase. With the second, we were stepping out with 1/4 the stuff, and we couldn’t figure out what we had been bringing the first time around.

In retrospect I think it had to do with being insecure and not wanting anyone out in public think I was a bad mom if I wasn’t ready for any situation. By the second, I was like, who cares?

Selfish Mom’s last blog post..Hey tooth fairy, don’t forget tonight loser!

Angela 7 years ago

Great advice! Especially the part about pointing the penis down! It took me a few times to finally figure that one out. Seriously, why don’t people tell you about that?!

Angela’s last blog post..Not Me! Monday #8

Toni 7 years ago

Great great tips! The one about enjoying it is the biggest one, so many people don’t sit back and enjoy it and then look back with regret. thanks for a great post.

Toni’s last blog post..Why WordPress and Because I Love You All

KathyB! 7 years ago

This is some funny, yet sound, advice. I’m referring my sister (expectant w/first next month) over here ASAP!!

KathyB!’s last blog post..Isn’t it ironic?

Michaela 7 years ago

Great list! I don’t think that there is anything that I could add to it… though I’ll admit I was happy to get out of the hospital as fast as possible. Thank goodness I had a great husband who took care of me at home!

Michaela’s last blog post..Getting to know me Saturday – The Final Edition

Mrs4444 7 years ago

Excellent advice. I wouldn’t add a thing :)

Mrs4444’s last blog post..Sunday Smattering

Kelly Deneen 7 years ago

Such good advice!! I totally agree on the “Enjoy it” advice. I really wish I would have more the first time around. I was just so anxious for my daughter to reach the next milestone or sleep more or eat more or move more. Maybe I will enjoy the baby time more if I have a second one. :)

Kelly Deneen’s last blog post..Naptime. Argh!

Jen, buried with children 7 years ago

this is a great post and so true. It should be printed and handed out prenatal vitamins. Every first time mom should know this.

Jen, buried with children’s last blog post..I Love My Nonna and My Nonna Loves Me

Wife and Mommy 7 years ago

Awesome list!

Wife and Mommy’s last blog post..Adventure waits when you’re with Super Why!

Amber 7 years ago

Great advice.

I think people did warn me about the penis but I was too tired to remember to cover it or put it down when I changed my son. I would be reminded as soon as I felt that warm liquid hit my chest though.

Amber’s last blog post..So Much For Being Nice

Nap Warden 7 years ago

It does go by so fast! I don’t have babies anymore…I have toddlers:O

I wish someone had told me this 4 years ago;)

Nap Warden’s last blog post..Steady

John Deere Mom 7 years ago

I could not agree more. And beside asking for help…accept it when it’s given. That was tough for me…letting other people do things around the house and not being SUPERMOM all the time.

John Deere Mom’s last blog post..Questions

Notesfromthegrove 7 years ago

Great post! I’m going to have to keep this one on file for when it’s my turn to enter into the motherhood ;o)

Notesfromthegrove’s last blog post..Coming clean & getting down and dirty.

Chelle 7 years ago

I know so many people who could have used the advice, including myself, that you’ve posted here. Thanks a bunch!

Chelle’s last blog post..Star Trek for the non-Trekkie Generation

T Rex Mom 7 years ago

Great posting. People are always filled with advice for new moms, rarely is it helpful.

The only folks I usually say anything to are the ones who give birth in December – since my birthday is close to Christmas I like to remind those folks not to wrap any birthday gift in Christmas paper and never, never tell the child to pick a gift from under the tree and that’s the birthday gift.

I spent years celebrating birthdays with snowman wrapped presents and poinsettia cakes!

Thanks for sharing this excellent list.

T Rex Mom’s last blog post..My First Award…

Ann 7 years ago

Good list!

Ann’s last blog post..

Tiffany @ Paging Doctor Mommy 7 years ago

Now why didn’t someone give me a list like this 3.5 years ago!

Tiffany @ Paging Doctor Mommy’s last blog post..By the Numbers

Tiffany 7 years ago

Amen and amen woman. New moms get sooo freaked out and neurotic. It’s so much nicer to just wing it and take it easy and see what comes down the road. (as most of us with more than one child know!). Shoot, baby number three is scheduled to be here next Friday (as in less than a week). Do you think we’re even remotely set up for her? Nah? It’ll all fall into place.

Tiffany’s last blog post..We Have A Birthday (I Think)

Lynn from For Love or Funny 7 years ago

I would also urge new moms to sleep whenever their kids are sleeping. Sometimes, a nap is the best way to improve a day!

Lynn from For Love or Funny’s last blog post..Double take

James (SeattleDad) 7 years ago

Great advice. We stayed a few extra days at the hospital and it was a great decision. And, we had enough infant onesies to cloth a small nation of little ones. Didn’t use 99% of them.

James (SeattleDad)’s last blog post..Secret Plan

Lady Mama 7 years ago

Very true! After I had my second, I couldn’t believe how easy I’d had it with just one. And to be honest, I am willing these baby months to hurry up (because of the exhaustion), but I know I’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Lady Mama’s last blog post..Burning the baby weight

Rhea 7 years ago

Great, useful advice. I love being part of the mom club.

I breastfed both my boys, but I do think everyone has to do what works best for them. I don’t think people who formula feed should be made to feel worse for that decision. We all have to do what works best.

And most of our diaper changing was done on the floor. lol

Rhea’s last blog post..The Butt of the Joke

Marinka 7 years ago

Love this advice! totally could have used it 10 years ago. Except I’d add, ‘ignore all other advice’.

Marinka’s last blog post..Saturday Wrap Up

Jennifer 7 years ago

Great advice. I think there is some kind of mom club where you don’t get the good advice until you are a member.

Jennifer’s last blog post..Unimportant Happiness

leanne 7 years ago

LOVE THIS!! these are the things that should be in ALL the books:) it took me months to figure out the “pointing the penis” tip on my own. GEEZ!!!

leanne’s last blog post..Loud and Proud

Lizzie 7 years ago

great list! i too was terrified my baby wouldn’t be healthy when i found out i couldn’t breast feed. sometimes they cram it down your throat as the only alternative. i wanted to, real bad! but my body doesn’t usually listen to me anyway.

i agree 100% with everything you’ve listed here :)

Lizzie’s last blog post..The Power of Music

Jessica 7 years ago

Wonderful things for me to keep in mind! I was gifted with a 5 year old to mommy two years ago, but now my husband and I are talking about trying to have a baby and I will need all of the help/advice I can get!

Jessica’s last blog post..Fearless

Daisie 7 years ago

Brilliant post, so true and so helpful. It’s easy to say all this on ‘the other side’ and it’s true that no one gives good advice that really matters! Shall point all expectant mums I know this way!

Daisie’s last blog post..We Have A Bed!!

Missy Luce 7 years ago

At this point, I’ve learned that you don’t even need a nursery. Birch sleeps in a crib in the guest room complete a with pink and white bumper pad leftover from the girls’ baby days. When we have guests, he sleeps in our closet in a pack n play. To be honest, he sleeps more soundly in the closet since the ghetto noise doesn’t permeate so easily to that part of the house.

MLC’s Mom 7 years ago

Soooo true!!
PS: Love how easy it is to leave you a comment!! :o)

MLC’s Mom’s last blog post..Where my money at?

McMommy 7 years ago

Love this post!!! I’m sharing it with my friends who are pregnant with their first!

McMommy’s last blog post..Reason #347 Why You Should Never Attempt to Make a Phone Call While Your Kids Are Awake

Rachel 7 years ago

All true! Especially #10! I can’t help but laugh a little at new moms who are overwhelmed with their newborn while I’m fantasizing about how easy my days would be if I had only one tiny one to tote around!

Rachel’s last blog post..Say What?

SquiggleMum 7 years ago

Love this list. You’re right about all the advice you get when you’re pregnant, and I found it just kept coming in the early weeks with a new bub too. My advice is to smile politely at all advice, but just take what you want out of it and leave the rest!

SquiggleMum’s last blog post..Little Miss Three

desiree fawn 7 years ago

These are some great things for new mamas to keep in mind. Also, don’t forget about us home birth ladies — we might not have some of the advantages of being in hospital, but the midwives here do such a great job of being there for you those first couple weeks!

desiree fawn’s last blog post..for the love of fenugreek.


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