The beginning of parenthood is full of unknowns. Is my baby crying because they’re hungry or are they just upset? Did I just pee in my pants or sit in something wet? Is that poop or vomit?

While you’re busy teasing out the answers to these questions, you’re also trying to figure out how to be a mom, how to get back to feeling relatively human again, and how this little person fits into the larger picture of your family. Like with all new things, there is a learning curve. Reading books might help, but nothing beats the parenting advice from a fellow parent, someone who has been there and done that. Plus, at a few days or weeks postpartum, do you really have the time to be sifting through a 300-page book for useful tidbits? Probably not.

Eventually, you and your co-parent(s) will fall into a rhythm that works for your family. If it’s just you, you and your baby will learn how to operate as a unit. Everyone eventually figures it out, and many things happen by trial and error. And while you’ll learn to read your baby’s cues and figure out if he likes the bouncy seat or the rock n’ play better, sometimes the best parenting tips are things you may never have thought of on your own. Here are the tips you won’t read in What To Expect, from people who have been there.

1. Make Formula By The Pitcher

“Making formula by the pitcher was something I found in a book that was really helpful, especially with twins. It's good for 24 hours, so we'd make a day's supply at night and pour it out as needed. It was better blended that way and when a baby was screaming it was fast to pour instead of trying to scoop and measure water with noise in the background.” — Meghan

2. Make Frozen Witch Hazel Pads For Your Swollen Parts

“Some of the best advice I ever received as a new mom with the baby right out the gate (and gate being the vagine), is to buy a box of those big, long, full-size maxi pads, douse them with witch hazel and then freeze them. Child-birth had me feeling like someone had lit a pack of firecrackers on my lady parts. The frozen witch hazel pads were everything.” — Andrea of The Evolution of Annie

3. Set Up Shifts With Your Co-Parent

“The best thing I ever did as a new parent was to set up a schedule with my husband. Overnight, I was "on call" for the baby from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., and he took 3 a.m.” — Jenn

4. Don’t Invite Your Family Right Away

“The best thing that we did was decide to wait two weeks before having any visitors, and that included family members. It gave my husband and I an opportunity to bond with our new baby, and get to know ourselves as a family. It also let me struggle and stress over the breastfeeding challenges that we had without also having the added stress of visitors and family in our house.” -Britni

5. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

“A piece of advice I had trouble taking myself, but always tell new moms is this: do not be afraid or hesitant to ask for help. And say yes if anyone is kind enough to offer it. Whether it's bringing over a meal, doing dishes, or just watching the baby so you can take a shower, don't be too proud to admit you need some help in the beginning.” — Sarah

6. Don’t Compare Your Kid To Others

“As an introverted new mom, I often questioned my oldest child's development and intelligence. I'm by no means a tiger mom and I like to let my children develop at their own pace. However, that little thief of joy called "comparison" crept in when interacting with other moms and their children. It took me a while to finally realize that... All of those kids who seem more advanced than your kid have other siblings to mimic and learn from. After having my second child who has a larger vocabulary, spunkier personality, and quirkier mannerisms than his older brother had at his age, I came to realize that children eventually come into their own and siblings make some of the best teachers.” — Sheena of Sophistishe

7. Trust Your Gut

“The best tip I got was to focus intensely on bonding the first year and trust my gut. You hear a ton of advice as a new parent, and the only regrets I have are ones where I listened to advice instead of that strong feeling in my gut.” — Maggie

8. Respect The Feedback From Your Family, Even If It Isn’t Right For You

“As a new mother, I read LOTS of parenting books and studied up on all the expert advice about breastfeeding, how to get your baby to sleep through the night, how to find a babysitter, etc. And what I didn’t expect was how many generational and cultural differences there would be between myself and my own mother, who was raised in Taiwan. Women of her generation were taught to believe that formula feeding was better, that babies shouldn’t “cry it out” and that grandparents should be the primary babysitters. Of course, this led us to butt heads in the early days, but I’ve come to appreciate that no one parenting philosophy is right for everybody, even if the experts recommend it!” — Grace of HapaMama

9. Stop Worrying About Doing Everything Right

“What I am still trying to remind myself is that nothing will be perfect. Ever. You can do everything ‘right’ and it still may turn out all wrong. I wanted to nurse my daughter for a year, I ate all the ‘right’ stuff, and she had such severe allergies that I had to switch to formula at 3 months. Her naps are all over the place most days no matter how much I try to set them up right or make her a schedule. I think new moms worry about everything being perfect and going smoothly and I wish I had been more prepared that it just doesn't! It's all a learning process.” — Rachael, 28

10. Focus On The Good Stuff

“Enjoy what you can. Don't let the mundane and hard parts of motherhood define the experience. You have to always be ready to switch gears to joy, to love the good parts when they crop up unexpectedly. It makes the whole crazy ride so much better.” — Gemma of Journey of Love

11. Make Mom Friends

“Make mom friends. It is hard to do but absolutely worth it. You can keep your old friends, that's important too. But go to a playgroup or workout group or a breastfeeding group (if that's your thing) or a cloth diaper group (if that's your thing) or a babywearing group (if that's your thing) or all those groups and build up a group of people who can talk you up, talk you down and completely understand you when you're falling apart over a diaper blow out or spilled milk.” — Suzanne of bebehblog

12. Seek Out Alone Time

“I wish I had known that I could have taken hour long showers, as opposed to thinking I couldn't shower at all. Now, when I shower my 5- and 6-year-old sit outside the bathroom shouting at me, and telling me stories when all I wanted was some alone time.” — Margaret

13. Try To See Yourself Through Your Baby’s Eyes

“Learn to turn those loving eyes that you use to gaze upon your new baby on yourself. Because that's how your baby sees you. With pure love. This love doesn't expect you to be perfect, but it trusts that you are enough. And you are. This love doesn't hold you to impossible standards, but offers you infinite grace. Because you deserve it. Your identity as a mother is as brand new as your baby, and you are growing and learning how to navigate this relationship together. And love and grace, for you, for your baby, for the growth process that will be full of soaring highs and the lowest lows and the biggest, most complicated, paradoxical feelings you've ever felt, is how you'll both not just survive but thrive.” — Sarah, The Adventures of Ernie Bufflo

Images: WavebreakmediaMicro/Fotolia; Courtesy of donnieray, seattlemunicipalarchives, reallynuts, bibbit, cutenadevil, dfid/Flickr; The Evolution of Annie; SophistiShe; HapaMama; gemmahartley; bebehblog; The Adventures of Ernie Bufflo