Nobody's perfect, including and especially parents. And when it comes to new parents you're multiplying all that imperfection by a zillion. It's honestly miraculous that human babies have survived millions of years of parental ineptitude. Still, as parents we grow, we learn, and over time we get pretty good at the whole raising people thing. In fact, the mistakes I made with my first kid helped me when it came time to have my second. I still made mistakes the second time around, to be sure, but I just made a different set of mistakes.
If you're a first child, know that your parents almost certainly had no clue what to do with you half the time and they lived in fear that someone would figure it out. And I say this as a first child, so trust me: I know. It's not that your parents didn't love you, or didn't try, or didn't prepare and read all the books. It's just that there's no preparing for the chaos of bringing a small human into your life. It's like getting a puppy that you're legally forbidden from keeping in a crate. And while all children are unique, in some of big ways they're also all pretty much the same. Like, they all need to eat and poop and sleep. So, thank goodness, you pick up a thing or two as you go about the business of raising them.
So if you decide and end up having a second (and then a third, fourth, whatever), it's safe to say you've conquered a lot of that learning curve. So with that in mind, here are some of the mistakes I made with my son that were not an issue by the time I had my daughter:
I Said "I'll Never"
I feel like this is the fastest lesson most new parents learn, because — and I cannot stress this enough — it's laughably easy to raise an imaginary child, and it's even easier to get smug about it. But pride goeth before the fall and I stopped being proud a long time ago. And you know what? Every baby is different and the secret of parenthood is that there is no secret and you just kind of have to figure out your kid once you get them.
Our big "I'll never!" was co-sleeping. We swore up down and sideways that our child might occasionally come into our bed for a Saturday morning cuddle or something, but they'd never sleep with us. I realized that was a lie about six weeks after my first was born and then, when I had number two, she slept with us her first night home and it worked so we kept it up.
Judge Other Parents
Oh sure, every now and then we all slip into our judgmental pants (they're so comfy, even if they don't look good on anyone) and snark it up just a tad, but those times have become few and far between the older my children and I get. It was cut down considerably by the time I had my second baby. When my first was little, back when "I never" was still a part of my vocabulary and parenthood and practicality hadn't worn down all my smug and ill-founded principles, I would hang out in those judgmental pants way more than I should have.
So never mistake good luck for good parenting. If something worked for you it doesn't mean you're particularly skilled at it necessarily. It means it worked out for you. Like I said before, every baby is different, and parents are going to do lots of things differently from the way you do them to make everything work out for the best.
"Best" is extremely subjective.
Think Another Baby's Milestones Means A Thing About My Kid
Of course when it comes to your baby you're waiting eagerly for them to "hit their milestones." But for most of them, the swathe of normal is so broad. My nephew cut his first tooth just shy of four months, while my friend's daughter was completely toothless until after her first birthday. Both children were "normal." But as a new parent, it can be easy to fall into the semi-competitive "is so and so doing this and that" game, sending you spiraling down the "OMG there's something wrong with my kid" rabbit hole.
Nothing is wrong with your kid, and I fortunately didn't make this mistake with my second. I knew from experience that she'd do her little baby thing whenever she did it and if I was concerned I could always talk to her pediatrician.
Proper Car Seat Safety
I look back at pictures of my son strapped into his car seat incorrectly and I cringe. But we don't know what we don't know, and I didn't know things like proper chest-clip placement or how you're not supposed to strap the baby in when they're wearing bulky clothing. Live and learn, fortunately!
But when you do know better, it can be easy to get smug with people who don't. I urge you to remember that judgmental pants never look good on anyone. Instead, I recommend that if you see improper car seat use, don't condescend. Act like you just learned the information, too, and let them know that you saw a post on harnesses and apparently it's supposed to look like this, this, and this. The other person is much more likely to be receptive if they think you're not judging.
Try All The Trends
If it was a thing that someone was trying, I was going to try it. I don't blame past-me because, again, I was a new parent. What the hell did I know, right? Surely everyone else knows better than I do! And this in and of itself really isn't an issue: why not try new things, right? You never know. But I would try other people's ideas when my own were working just fine. By the time I had my second I was confident enough in my own parenting to not reinvent the wheel.
Get Brand New Everything
Fun fact: your baby is going to crap all over everything in your life. Why spend good money on entirely new stuff? Besides, they're only going to use some of this stuff for a matter of months or weeks or, if you have giant, fast-growing infants like I did, literally days. By the time I had my second I was totally fine reusing old stuff or buying from thrift stores and other parents. These kids are going to cost you a ton moving forward, so save where you can.
Not Packing Extra Outfits/Diapers/Wipes/Literally Everything
Here are some fundamental rules of Parent Club:
Always bring at least one spare outfit until your child is toilet trained;
However many diapers you think you're going to need, bring three more;
One entire package of wipes should be on your person at all times until your child is 4.
You will defy each of these rules at least once, and after that you will probably never make that mistake again.
Have you ever tried to fashion a diaper out of a single band-aid and paper towels from a high school bathroom? I have. It doesn't work.
Not Having Another Diaper Lined Up
And by "lined up" I mean "placed directly under the tush of your little one as soon as you peel off their old diaper." Because their tiny little ass will sense the freedom and get so excited they will poop in joy... all over your carpet or changing table or bed or wherever it is you're changing them. It's not cute.
Not Knowing A Onesie Can Be Pull Down Over The Shoulders In The Event Of A Blowout
THAT'S WHY THE NECK LINE IS FOLDED ONTO ITSELF LIKE THAT! YOU CAN PULL IT DOWN OVER THE SHOULDERS! WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME THIS WHEN I HAD MY FIRST BABY?!?!
The internet is the repository of just about all human wisdom, yes, but it's also where every garbage idea that ever popped into a human's brain goes in order to try to make us more stupid. Woe unto the parent who forgets that second bit. Google can be very helpful... but please do not believe everything Google says. Google does not know your baby personally. Google does not have a medical degree. Please treat Google like that one friend who can help you out in a pinch but often says really dumb crap that you've learned to tune out.