This post isn't about the random advice I've received (though of course I've received lots) but rather the advice that pops into my head. Rather than accost complete strangers in person, I thought I should just blog it out.
1. Let others fall in love with your kid.
If you let other people hold your baby, there's a good chance that some of the baby-holders will fall in love with your kid a little bit, and this is such a good thing. A person who is enchanted with your kid is more likely to be charmed than annoyed when your kid gets noisy. You might even get spontaneous babysitting offers, who knows. One of the funny things I've learned is that if you ask someone "do you want to hold the baby?", a lot of times the reaction is "I thought you'd never ask!" And then, while someone else is holding your baby, you find yourself going "aw, I miss him." Even if you just spent the past 12 hours thinking "I wish I could just hand this baby to someone else for three minutes."
2. Cultivate friendships with other parents, even/especially those at a different stage of parenting than your current stage.
When I was in the hardest stages of baby boot camp, I often wanted a parent friend who was going through the exact things that I was. My pre-existing parent friends have kids who are at different ages. While it can be unsettling to find yourself feeling jealous of another baby's head control or the intelligible speech of a growing toddler, knowing babies and kids of different ages can help you get a sense of what's coming next and this can help you think ahead a bit. And in the case of kids that are a few years older than your baby--these kids might entertain your child, or read to him or her, or just share funny observations of your baby. It rocks.
3. Beware of dark colors on car seats, swings, soft carriers, and nursing clothes.
I wear a lot of black and was quite attracted to black fabric on the various baby accessories. While choosing these accessories, it didn't really occur to me that they would not look quite as stylish with dried spit up stains on them. Nobody really brought this to my attention ahead of time, so let this be a warning.
4. If you're going to use a Boppy for nursing, be sure to have a Boppy cover that you actually like.
You probably need (at least) two Boppy covers, but your Boppy will end up in lots of photos and you will spend a lot of the time that you are nursing looking at the Boppy. It's a little hard to explain how much little things like an attractive Boppy cover can matter to you.
5. Know that some of the handiest baby products have the stupidest names.
See #4 above, about the Boppy. The other main nursing support pillow, the Brest friend, has a name that is at least as stupid-sounding as Boppy. And yet, many people find these products indispensable. (But realize this: every list you see of "must-have baby items" has at least one thing that you probably don't really need. Unfortunately, you won't really know which item this is until you meet your kid and experiment with his or her likes and dislikes.)
6. Don't give up on things too easily.
This goes for baby products as well as bigger things. Your child might be indifferent to the baby swing one day (leaving you to wonder "why did everyone tell me this was an essential item?") and then be totally into it a week or two later. Emmett hated tummy time the first 100 or so times we tried it, but after trying some different strategies it started going better. Be patient, but also be willing to try things out in different ways. You can't really force a kid to get into something that he or she is not ready for--this isn't how child development works.
7.Throw the book across the room if you need to.
I've read (or at least looked at) quite a few books on pregnancy and parenting this year, and I have to say that the tone of these books matters a lot in terms of whether you'll get much out of reading them. I eventually realized that I should audition books via library sign out before buying them just in case I found myself more annoyed than informed. (Side note: everywhere I've been that sells used pregnancy/parenting books has multiple copies of the What to Expect books. My theory is people got really fed up with the author's attitudes towards weight gain.) I do really think that consulting the literature is a good thing, but there's nothing quite like knocking yourself out trying to do what's best for your child and then having some book make it sound as though the big and little problems are all your fault. Go ahead and throw the book across the room and seek alternate sources if you still need info.