Seven Rookie Errors I Made as a First-Time Parent

panda baby

This article was also featured on Mamamia.

If I have learnt anything during my time as a parent, it’s that children have a way of confounding our expectations, and that I have no idea what I am doing most of the time. I am the first to admit that I made lots of rookie mistakes when I had my first baby, and I know that I’m not alone.

I mean, babies don’t come with an instruction manual, right? Wrong. They come with hundreds – if not thousands – of instruction manuals, and you will be bamboozled at every turn with unneccessary complexity. First-time parents can’t help but go a little crazy.

Here is a small selection of the stupid stuff I did.

  1. Treating my baby like a science experiment

There is nothing like that feeling of sheer terror when you finally bring baby number one home for the very first time. What the HELL do I do with this thing? It stands to reason that we do what all rational human beings do: we seek to study the great mystery, to wrest back control from the brink of chaos. Bust out those spreadsheets, baby-tracking apps and Year 8 science skills, we’ve got detailed poo-reporting to do. What better way to get to know your child than to turn them into a human experiment?

10:02am: Baby wakes from nap.

10:16am: Baby feeds from left breast.

10:19am: Baby passes explosive pumpkin-coloured stool. 

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  1. Buying stupid amounts of inappropriate clothing

I hate clothes shopping with a passion and am completely disinterested in fashion but the compulsion to style my unborn child was a powerful addiction. Like all good shopaholics, my baby ended up with an extensive wardrobe of totally inappropriate clothes he never wore. I’m not sure what possessed me to think that size 00 skinny jeans and Nike high-tops were a good combination for a three month old baby with zero muscle tone, and boy did I feel stupid when the kid lived in shit-stained onesies for the first 12 months anyway.

  1. Washing the baby’s clothes in special laundry detergent

Like any diligent mum-to-be I hand-washed all my baby’s clothing in enzyme-free laundry detergent and carefully line-dried them using unvarnished wooden pegs on days where the UV index maxed out at moderate. Baby number two I fished a bunch of stinky hand-me downs out of garbage bags from the roof and blasted them with industrial-grade bleach to try and remove stubborn yellow spew and poo stains. Anything that passed the sniff-test was fair game.

  1. Buying a padded highchair

These things need to come with a Level 4 biohazard warning. What I didn’t know was that padded highchairs are an excellent depository for hidden stores of rotting food, forming the perfect symbiotic relationship with sticky-fingered infants. Moist crevices of vinyl create the ideal environment for rampant bacterial colonisation, and they are resistant to all kinds of cleaning agents. Don’t be fooled by shiny floor stock: you won’t recognise that highchair ten months after your baby has lived with it. Actually, you will recognise it. By smell. From the next room. Because you’ve never smelt anything like it.

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  1. Needing a sherpa to leave the house

When I had my first baby I insisted on carrying multiple changes of weather-sensitive outfits, a week’s worth of nappies, fresh water, a selection of healthy home-made snacks, several packets of wipes, sunscreen, baby Panadol, flannels, a manual breast pump and enough contingency items to survive a mid-week zombie apocalypse. With baby number two I’d happily leave the house with a packet of wipes, a couple of nappies stuffed in the boot of the car and a nipple shield stuffed down my bra. Everyone survived. There was no zombie apocalypse.

  1. Stocking the playroom with wooden toys

My kids were only going to play with gender-neutral wooden toys made from eco-sustainable plantations, and I refused to furnish my home with rooms full of hideous plastic toys. Until I discovered that my kids loved hideous plastic toys. Shiny plastic in rainbows of gaudy colour. Noisy plastic with nerve-shredding sound effects. Sexist plastic in broad hues of pink and blue. Those austere wooden toys were left unloved and unplayed with, collecting a thin layer of organic dust and serving as makeshift homes for politically-correct tiny spiders.

  1. Buying a Massive Pram

Buying a pram is like buying a new car; it invariably comes after months of online research, weeks spent studying different models and hours of test-driving prams around baby shops. Wracked with indecision, my search for the “perfect” pram culminated in a mid-store pregnancy meltdown and the impulsive decision to walk off with the biggest $#%#ing pram I could find. I would spend years regretting that decision as I pushed my tank-sized Baby Hummer around, collecting mutters and hateful glares from the general public, retail staff and several small canines who stood down the tank and came off second best.

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

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39 thoughts on “Seven Rookie Errors I Made as a First-Time Parent

  1. You are such a fantastic writer! I laughed along with you. I only have a 14 month old at the moment. I’m lucky to have a very logical best friend who is 15 years older than me and has helped keep me in check. Also helps that I love a bargain so I got the 2nd hand icandy pram, and I love it, and I love it even more that it was less than half retail. I oddly envied the fact that people were shopping for their baby-to-be when I wasn’t, I wanted COOL clothes too. That BFF also gave me ALL her sons baby clothes, and then another friend did too. AND I was very lucky that my BFF’s downfall with being logical is ironing everything. It meant that all the clothes she gave me were in mint condition, no stains. They look a lot different now. Don’t tell her. I don’t mind my son is wearing fashion from 2005… because it was FREE!!!!

    • Thank you! And YES, the big thing I learnt with number two was second-hand all the way! It’s amazing how many mint-condition baby clothes, prams and other items you can pick up for a steal, or how many hand-me downs people are so generous to pass on. I can’t believe I ever got sucked in to buying everything new the first time around, because I am a mega op-shopper and garage sale girl in general. I totes blame the hormones!

      • I know, right? Hormones are crazy powerful. I made some “interesting” purchases under the influence of hormones, including a massive lamp in my bedroom. It mocks me every day. I drape a scarf over it. We live in an uneasy truce.

  2. Lol I made a few of these. Thankfully I got the memo on the padded highchair before I bought one. It was hard though; those suckers look prettier and soft. They draw you in. In the end we got a 100% plastic cheapie from BIG W because I was too tired to schlepp it to ikea for a “cool” one.. Best idea ever!

  3. It’s funny cos it’s true! My second turns one next week, and I don’t think the shit-stained onesies will be stopping any time soon! In his defence, they’re not stained with actual human faeces, just ‘shit’ like maybe a bit of yesterday’s dinner.

    With my first, I would pop him in the pram and proceed to walk down to the local organic greengrocer where we would handpick fruit and vegetables to steam and puree for his special little tum. Poor #2 will probably be able to write ‘Rafferty’s garden’ before he can spell his own name 😀

    • LOL. You should have named him Rafferty as well. You could have killed two birds with one stone. See, that’s the kind of genius thing you’ll do with your third baby to cut corners. You’ll call it Heinz.

  4. Lol, loved this post 🙂 I remember buying Missy’s highchair from target and straight away stripping it down to the plastic – people were horrified I’d let my precious child sit in an unpadded chair! I have congratulated myself for doing that several times a day for three years now because thats how often I clean it! And I remember a few relatives back in the 90’s skiting about their status symbol Emuljungas – but they never mentioned you had to take the wheels off before you could get them in the car – so I was forewarned on that – go the zippy little City Minis!

    Awesome article 🙂 sharing it everywhere!

    • Oh man, I see an Emmajunga or whatever they are called and I can’t help but wonder what the heck goes in people’s minds that a full-on baby tank like that could ever be a good idea! Are they trying to scare me, because it worked…

  5. I spent a lot of time with my SIL & niece after the latter was born so – had I had kids – would have had ‘some’ knowledge as they / we made several of those mistakes with her!

  6. I admit my 3 month old had skinny jeans complete with rips..but in my defense they were given to me! I had a Jeep pram, it was the bomb…seriously. I will post a picture on your FB page of how awesome that baby was. It finally gave up from overuse when D was 4. It was the best $200 I spent!

    • Ooooh, I’ll have to go check it out. I ended up going to the other extreme and fell in love with a McLaren Daytripper stroller. It was the micro-est pram of all time. Hopeless for shopping though. Tipped over as soon as I took the kid out of the front if I had even one bag hanging over the handle. It made me look stupid in public a lot, but I loved it. One hand fold down action and you could throw that things around like it was a javelin.

  7. I hear you on the science experiment. I took very detailed notes for both of my girls when it came to breastfeeding, sleeping, pooping. I still have them! Oh and I fell into the skinny jeans trap too. Why do they even make them?! So impractical. Visiting via #teamIBOT

    • Yep, I have friends who did Excel spreadsheets, used the fancy apps. I still remember the first day at home I had to spend alone with the baby. Terrifying! It’s funny the things we do to maintain some tiny little illusion of control.

  8. I sooo wish I’d had someone like you to read when I was a mum of babies. Hugzy, you are the new… I don’t know. Maybe you’re unique and can’t be compared. But you’re fresh, brutally honest, lovable, funny and snappy. Mums all over Australia should all be reading you. All hail to Hugzy!

    • Oh dude, seriously, thank you. I should be paying you to write press releases for me. Just quietly, I adore your blog as well and it is one of the few that gets out loud LOLs from me every single time without fail. Several times. And I’m a tough audience.

  9. Hahah, you crack me up.

    I still have an unopened box of Lux soap flakes I bought one day pre-twins because I thought I had to use that stuff. Hahah, the sniff test – YES! Many things have failed the second time around and gone into the bin (whereas the first time, everything was sacred and needed to be kept forever).

    Jeans on babies makes me want to cry. I am happy that the parents managed to get jeans on a baby for the 5 minutes the child was that size to wear them, but otherwise: no no no.

    When we leave the house without nappies (not on purpose!) it’s called freestylin’ and we know it’s a risky move – one we would never have taken the first time.

  10. Love this!! While pregnant with our littlest man, I remember simply moving his brothers clothes from the boxes in the cupboard straight into his drawers – no time for washing here! Fortunately I was given the heads up re: padded highchairs and also avoided one. Ours does have liner in it that I just throw in with the washing every few weeks – I really should do it more often :/

    • It’s funny how much changes with baby number two. Sorry kid, no time. Here, wear this. I never realised how much actual spare time I had before kids. I always felt busy. I had no idea. LOL.

  11. I got a super cheap second hand padded high chair for number 3 as I wasn’t having anymore babies and chucked out the super cheap second hand high chair I had for 1&2. Lets just say the padding lasted for roughly 3 months or until he actually started eating!!
    Number 1 was 5 weeks prem and spent 2 weeks in special care. Every nappy change we were required to document the nappy contents, either writing it down or calling out to the nurse. As I have been continually changing nappies for 5 1/2 years I have never broken the habit and you will hear me at every nappy change announce what it contained!!
    Love this post!!

  12. Glad I never bothered hand washing anything (falls in with my no ironing life rule as well) but man that padded high chair of grossness until those Ikea high chairs came out (ore became aware of the ) life saver indeed! And omg on the sherpa. As an anxiety lady I lived with the what ifs and packed for every scenario from hunger to clothes to nappies in multiples ugh.

  13. I have 3 kids (all boys) we received all our baby stuff from a friend for our first son, and didn’t buy anything for our 3 son. No wonder my 3rd boy feels left out haha

  14. I LOVED this. I too insisted on the expensive padded highchair that reclined and was height adjustable. For our 2nd child I got a much more practical one for a fifth of the price! And it still amazes me that I take less stuff on outings with 2 than I ever did with just 1.

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