Saturday, October 18, 2014

Important Advice For New Parents

Here is what I won't do. I'm not going to give you any crappy advice. I'm not going to tell you to enjoy your infant boy now because before you know it he will be growing a hipster beard and dropping out of college.

I'm not getting involved with your circumcision decision. I'm not going to tell you whether to breastfeed or bottle feed. I would like to point out that even though I breast fed for a grand total of seven years, I would really like the breast feeding activists to shut up.

I am going to pass on practical, non- crappy advice that was given to me at my baby shower. Advice that I have then passed on at countless baby showers I have attended since. I have shared the advice verbally. I have also written it down in the special blank journals that hosts of the baby shower put out for guests.  They do this so that everyone can write something inspirational to the parents to be.

I believe my sister-in-law gave me this advice. I'm starting to notice a pattern here. My sister-in-law gives me advice. Then, years later, after implementing the advice, I blog about it. This is an excellent arrangement for me. She's given me a great deal of content.

If you are a brand new parent or parent to be, you will be gifted many beautiful baby clothes. There will be your family and friends baby shower, your work baby shower and the gifts that come as soon as you send out your birth announcement. People will visit you in the hospital after you give birth and many of them will bring clothes for the baby. Your mother's friends will also send you baby clothes. This is only right. That is because your mother sent their daughters and daughter in law baby clothes when they had their babies. There is an unspoken agreement between all of these women.

You will get all kinds of gifts. Experience has taught me that if the gift is from your mother's friend, or your mother-in-law's friend, it will usually be clothes.

If you are very fortunate, someone might actually make something especially for your baby. My God! There is nothing like the feeling of opening a gift and discovering someone has crocheted your baby a sweater!

This will not end when your baby is born. There will be subsequent birthday parties where clothes will be given. Then there is what I call freelance clothes gifting. This behavior is most often seen with the child's grandmas or aunts. The grandma or aunt has seen something darling at a store or craft fair. They may have spotted a baby clothes sales event. They buy these clothes for the baby. Then they send them or bring them over. And it isn't even a holiday!

Then there are the hand me downs. What a bounty! You will receive tons of clothes from childbearing friends and family.

If you are lucky, you will like most of the baby clothes you receive. If there is something you do not like, you will appreciate it when laundry day has come and gone and your baby has had their 3rd leaky diaper or a massive spit up and all the burp cloths are dirty.

Then there are the clothes, so fetching, so adorable, so amazing that you cannot believe your good fortune. This is when you truly appreciate that you have a real live baby to dress in whatever you like. The teeny cardigan that perfectly matches the baby's eyes. The fashion forward outfit that is hip but not too hip.

You've been buying clothes for yourself for a long time. If you're anything like me, maybe you've spotted the perfect sweater dress at Marshall's. This thing is name brand, but the price is just outrageously reasonable. Then later, you find some nubby tights that match the dress without being too matchy-matchy.

If you are a guy, maybe you could substitute a vest or shoes. Unless you don't think about clothes, then skip this part.

You wait in a really long line while reminding yourself that you're not paying retail. While you're waiting,  you plan the debut of this new outfit. You don't want to waste the first wearing on just anything. Christmas eve mass seems about right. Maybe the secret Santa gift exchange party.

So you receive something for your baby. A tiny onesie with tiny bunny rabbits all over it. There's a matching pair of pants but close inspection reveals a pattern of baby chicks.

The clothes are a little too big for your baby now. Naturally, the specialness of these clothes along with their quality - these are not from Target - cause you to come to a very logical and understandable conclusion. You will save these special clothes for Easter.

You will feel very smart and congratulate yourself on the multitask-y planning ahead. Until you get the outfit out and try putting it on the baby. It's Easter Sunday. It's baby's first Easter. And try as you might, you cannot put these clothes on the baby because the baby has outgrown them. There is no negotiating. You can't even squeeze it over that poor baby's head.

This, my first-time parent friend, is a baby clothes planning fail.

As counter intuitive as it may seem, no matter how special the outfit, how handmade, how hand dyed, how plush, how utterly adorable - you must put it on the baby as soon as it is feasible. My own method with the cutest things was to dress the baby in it while it was still a little too big, but not ridiculously so. Then they kept on wearing it until they outgrew it. Which, depending on the outfit and how much the baby demanded to be fed, could be as little as two times.

I am the mother of three children. All of my babies were fat. But one of my babies was the fattest. That baby was my daughter. I'll have you know that she is a completely regular height and weight teenager now. She wasn't destined to be a giant.

When my daughter was 3 months old, she was no longer on the growth chart at the pediatricians. She skipped entire sizes of baby clothes.

There was one day when I dressed Hannah in five different outfits that had been gifted to us just so I could photograph her in them. On this brisk April day, I put Hannah in the tiniest little bikini because I knew it would not fit her come summer. My easy-going baby cheerfully endured more wardrobe changes than a Victoria’s Secret model with surprising equanimity. She smiled for all of the pictures too.

The good news about not saving the nicest clothes for a special occasion is that you will get tons of compliments at baby group and the Stop & Shop. These days you can also post pictures of your new baby son wearing a miniature imitation leather jacket on Facebook. If that isn't a special occasion, I don't know what is.

With all this baby clothes-gifting combined with prodigious growth, you'll need to keep on your A game with the baby's drawers and closet. Keep those things circulating! You don't want to miss the window of opportunity for the Hanna Andersson romper or tee shirt from Brooklyn just because you forgot about it.

You can try ignoring my advice because "this won't happen to me." It's your choice. But don't come crying to me when it doesn't work out.

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