April is often the month I spend decluttering the house. This year is very different from the last.

My daughter is 15 months old. We have boxes of newborn clothes, toys, and gear. Drawers full of breastfeeding and postpartum supplies. Maternity clothes that I’m only just putting into storage.

So much has happened in such a short period of time. I’ve never felt so alive, vulnerable, and tired.

As I look over at my chatty toddler who’s wobbly running across the room with her arms out, I can’t help but feel this overwhelming sense of gratitude.

We survived the first year. Everyone’s healthy. We have a toddler who makes us feel joy, love, and laughter like we’ve never experienced.

While there were many joyful moments, being a mom wasn’t always instinctual for me.

Here are 3 lessons I learned in my baby’s first year.

You don’t need every baby product

There are many baby products you’ll never need or use. I thought I had a pretty trimmed down list until I actually experienced baby life.

Here are a few examples of things I never used:

  • Baby bottles because she ended up being exclusively breastfed
  • Nursing pads because I never leaked enough to need them
  • Baby books because when we had questions, we just looked them up online

Here’s a list of baby essentials for the first 3 months including all of the things I never used, but purchased.

Related: FREE Baby Samples

Breastfeeding isn’t easy

Sometimes breastfeeding is not as simple as putting the baby to the breast. I started trying to breastfeed within 5 minutes of her being born. It took over a week for my baby to latch properly. In the meantime, we tried different latching positions. My nipples cracked and bled. I was feeling the pain from severe engorgement and got mastitis!

Eventually, she learned how to latch. I wish I had looked up breastfeeding best practices in advance. It’s not as intuitive as you might think.

Babies communicate in different ways

What a baby says and does isn’t necessarily what you always think they’re communicating. Sometimes the gestures are obvious. My baby lifts her arms up because she wants to be picked up. She reaches for a cup because she’s thirsty.

There are some things she does that can be misinterpreted. She occasionally throws food on the ground early on in the meal.

At first, I thought she did this because she was full or didn’t like the taste of the particular food. Then I realized that she throws her food because it’s too difficult to eat (it’s not chopped small enough or it’s difficult to chew) or she’s bored. We put the food in a container or on a spoon and she ate it right away.

Every baby is different. I thought this was important to note because we could have easily stopped feeding her certain foods thinking she didn’t like them. It’s worth trying different things and not jumping to conclusions right away about what your baby is thinking.