Being a first time mom, I was oblivious to the reality of parenting. As I powered through the baby months, being ignorant to the hardships served me well. Then, I had to make some major decisions.I had to learn quickly what motherhood was really about. Making some bad decisions taught me more than any parenting book. In this post, I’m going to share with you my mistakes.
If you are a first time mom, I want you to know that making mistakes are the best part of being a mom. Dealing with the consequences of my mistakes and working through issues with my son has given me new appreciation for the job of being a mother.
1) Starting solids too late for my son.
When my son was a baby, I was determined to be a crunchy mom. That meant breast feeding until he was ready to wean. That also meant making my own purees and starting solids when he was ready.
At 8 months of age, from repeated requests from daycare, I finally gave in and started solids for him. By then, he had difficulty with the texture of purees. It literally took a whole year for him to eat decent amounts of solids.
What a struggle!
I should have given him a teaspoon of apple sauce at 6 months of age and continued spoonful by spoonful increasing the amount and the variety of purees little by little.
By the time he was 8 months old, instead of consuming 70+ ounces of breast milk + formula which is what he required at that point, he could’ve had purees with different nutrients + breast milk instead.
2) Not breast feeding into the second year.
Due to the lateness of starting solids for my son, I was so tired from his food struggles that I stopped breast feeding him at 11 months.
I was also desperately trying to wean him off milk so that he would eat more solid food. However, it back fired.
He still didn’t accept solid foods regularly. I ended up feeding him a lot of formula for a couple of months until he came to accept solids in the middle of the seond year.
3) Not starting sensory play until after the 1st year passed.
Being a first time mom, I didn’t realize the importance of sensory play. I didn’t research sensory play until he had eating issues. After some time, I realized that if I let him get messy with shaving cream, yogurt and other sticky foods, he might have overcome his aversion to them earlier.
4) Putting my son in daycare too early.
Being a career woman before I became a stay at home mom, I planned to put my son in part time daycare at just 10 weeks of age. Since it was only part time, I thought it would not affect him. I found a daycare that was family oriented where the teacher agreed to carry him in a carrier for some of the time during the day.
It worked out the first few months. However, after a few months, eating issues and sleeping issues creeped up. I would pick up my son from day care and he would be ravenous. I would be informed that my son didn’t want to eat.
Then, I realized how sensitive my child really was. This sensitive child needs a lot more from me than I envisioned. He needed my constant care for the first 3 years of his life.
Once I realized this, my hopes and dreams changed. I became a stay at home mom to my son. A year after my transition, I remember looking at my son thriving and thinking it was the best decision I made for the both of us.
5) Not doing enough tummy time.
From the beginning, my son had this giant head on him. He hated tummy time and always preferred to lie on his back. He screamed so loud when we did tummy time that eventually I just gave up on it. Instead of getting him on all fours for tummy time, I would put him on my lap over my leg and hold out toys for him to reach.
As the days went by, he developed a strained neck and a flat head from lying on his back. We had to go to physical therapy a couple times in order to correct all of that.
It took me a while to learn to stay my ground when conflict strikes between us. It took me a while to lean into loud screams and continue to do what’s best for him.
But, eventually I learned. He’s now a very active toddler. His flat head is round now. His strained neck loosened.
I can’t just let you go without also giving you some tips of what I did right for my son as a first time mom. If you are a first time mom, these tips may also help you set your priorities.
1) Breast-fed as best as I could.
Breast feeding from the breast turned out to be a huge challenge for me. But, I didn’t give up. In the beginning, I pumped up to 12 times a day to get enough of a supply for my son. I dealt with the guilt of not being able to provide enough for him. I supplemented with formula. It was super hard. But, I’m glad I did it for the first year. I can’t even think of the benefits it provided him.
2) Putting my son’s needs before mine when it mattered
When I became a mom, I naively thought working on my career and juggling a baby was doable. After switching daycares for him twice, I woke up.
I woke up to the reality of finding adequate care. I woke up to my own pent up guilt from being away from my son.
I realized that most of the issues in our life was caused by juggling adequate care. It is much easier to just stay home with him. I never regretted that decision.
Unexpectedly, when I became a mom, I became a mommy bear.
3) Held him all the time.
When my son was a baby, I held him all the time in a carrier. He was a big baby who liked to wiggle a lot. Even then, no matter how painful it was for me, I made sure to hold him at least 4 hours a day.
It made a difference in his temperament. He is mellow in personality. He is perceptive and empathetic.
I am convinced that all that holding helped to shape his temperament.
4) Socializing him from early on.
From 6 months onwards, when other parents are focused on working on cognitive skills with their babies, I focused on socializing my son. I took him to play spaces. I proactively made play dates.
This had a tremendous effect on his ease in public places now. As a toddler, he’s turning out to be a very particular and strong-willed child. But, when we are out in public, he instinctively knew the expectations of his behavior. He adjusts accordingly.
This was a huge win for me. In toddlerhood, we dealt less with tantrums and had more fun together.
5) Introducing nature to him from early on.
Nature proved to be a powerful soother for my son. As a baby, we took hikes often with him in the baby carrier or in a stroller. We strolled through the parks listening to birds and looking at leaves.
Nature’s beauty left an impression on him.
Nature’s peacefulness helped to shape my son’s temperament. In toddlerhood, whenever his strong and fierce tantrums set in, we would take a nature walk.
It helped to calm him. It also saved my sanity.
Click here to read more about 10 Strategies to Deal With One Picky Eater
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