If you're still in the bleary-eyed throes of late-night feedings, constant pooping, and seemingly incessant crying, you're probably sick of everyone telling you, "It goes by so fast!" But a baby's first year really does fly by. (Somehow, my son's first year managed to feel shorter than my last trimester of pregnancy, but that might be because my belly was so huge it literally bent the constraints of time and space.) My not-exactly-unsolicited advice? Make time for some (or all) of the following things every mom should do before her kid turns one year old.
On the sweet and sentimental side: nibble their toes before they started walking and their feet become dirty. Smell their heads before solid food overtakes the sweet smell of mama’s milk. Nom on their cheeks until they giggle, because they'll never be as soft as they are now. Enjoy all their glorious little chubby rolls, before walking and running and growing taller smooths them out. It will all be gone before you know it, and then you'll be the weird lady just barely restraining herself every time someone else brings a little baby around. (Not that I know this from experience or anything.)
On the really real side: enjoy being able to eat all sorts of junky crap they shouldn’t have, without any expectation on your or their part that you should have to share. Once they get older and more experienced (and rock a functional set of teeth), they start to understand how amazing things like candy, cake, and fries taste, so you'll basically have to start sneaking all your favorites while they're asleep. That only makes it that much more disappointing when they fight their naps and bedtime. (Which they can and do, far more effectively, after they turn one.) Eat up while you still can, and make time for the following babyhood joys (and necessities), too, whenever possible:
Dress Them In An Adorable Costume
In the not-so-distant future, they're going to have their own ideas about costumes and such. Now's your chance to go all out with your cutest Halloween ideas.
Bundle Them Up Like A Cool Little Bear
Whoever decided that the overwhelming majority of cold-weather baby gear should make babies resemble bears in some way is a hero. Do not go out of your way to buck this trend. You only get one, maybe two seasons to make your baby look like a tiny, cuddly bear. Don't miss out, and don't deprive the rest of us the opportunity to all but die of the cuteness.
Yes, traveling with a baby can be a drag sometimes. But sometimes, it can actually be somewhat easier to travel with a baby than with a toddler, so if there's a place you want to go before too long, consider going while your little one is really tiny (and often doesn't cost you an extra ticket, or eat a bunch of extra food, and can often be worn while you go sightseeing and such).
Wear Your Baby Everywhere
And marvel at their ability to sleep through basically anything, including meetings with Very Important People.
Watch Them Play With Other Tiny Mammals
Because obviously. Babies playing with their tiny animal friends is cute on top of cute on top of cute.
Eat A Ton Of Junk Food Without Sharing
After a year and change, your kid will start to recognize all the foods you crave, that they really shouldn't have very often. If you give them a smash cake on their first birthday, they will understand that “cake” means “sweet amazingness that I want to shove in my mouth,” which means no more buying cupcakes in front of their previously oblivious selves.
Recognizing the smell of fries means no more sneaking to the drive thru during an impromptu car nap, unless you feel like hearing an angry toddler cry because he can’t eat in his car seat. Indulge now, before they know what's up.
Get Free Stuff
There are plenty of store coupons and deals available to parents, but there's also just the impromptu little pity-freebies you get when people get to know you and your baby, whom they (often rightly) assume is keeping you awake at all times and generally running you ragged. Get it while the gettin's good.
Instill A Love Of Reading
Putting on my former literacy teacher hat for a second: it's truly never too early to read to your baby, and help them begin a lifelong love of reading. Take them to your local library, read with them at least once a day, and let them see you reading, too.
Dress Them In Self-Directed Compliments
Apparently, this is a thing that all the baby clothing manufacturers do. I’ve noticed it drops off quite a bit after a year, though, so stock up on all the “Cute Like Mommy!” gear while you still can.
Throw Them Lots Of Little Parties
It doesn't have to be expensive, elaborate, or involved, but celebrate their little firsts with get-togethers whenever you can. Finally feeling less afraid of them being around groups of people? Host a brunch. First solid food? Throw a themed party.
(Translation: use your baby as adorable bait to lure your friends to come see you. Especially if you now live further from your friends than you used to.)
Assign Them A Best Friend
Bonus points if your best friend has a baby their age, making this process super easy. But regardless, make sure your baby has a little friend to play next to, just 'cause it's cute (and will make for great stories and pictures later if they truly do become best friends of their own accord in the years to come).
Start Cardio Training
Assuming your baby is a typically-developing child, they're going to be not only walking, but running everywhere before you know it. I speak from experience: don't get caught off-guard with weak legs and out-of-shape lungs. A quick toddler is enough cardio once they get going, but train beforehand so you don't risk losing your breath the first time they bolt away from you in a store or out into the street.
Improvise Silly Songs About Them
Who am I kidding? This doesn't stop after a year. I'm going to be singing songs I make up about my beloved lil bear at my son's college graduation. It's my job as a mom to love him unconditionally, and to embarrass him in front his friends with all my oddest expressions of that love.