Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Things They Don't Tell You About Caring for an Infant, Part 1

If you don't know anything about me, you should know a few things before reading this series. First of all, I'm a mommy to two beautiful kids. Kate, my daughter, is two and a half going on 25. She has an enormous vocabulary, a sense of sarcasm, enough charm to make you wanna do anything for her, and a tender heart. Jackson, my son, is 7 1/2 months. He's a little bundle of energy who is currently getting into everything. He crawling, standing and cruising. He's still nursing strong, but is an avid lover of food--especially when he can feed himself. It won't be long and he'll be fully mobile. Between them and my days spent working in a daycare, I feel like I've gained a pretty good perspective on infants and toddlers. Not one baby is like another and my two are perfect examples of that. Hopefully, the advice and insight that I can share with you will be information that will be helpful in your own journey into parenting! And now....the first ten, which deal with the early days with a newborn:

1) Especially with your first child, you will probably feel like the world's worst mother on a daily basis. Don't let the self-doubt get to you. If you're a praying Momma, take a moment in the middle of the stress for a prayer time-out. It can definitely change your perspective.

2) You're not supposed to magically know everything about caring for a baby just because you were able to deliver or adopt one. Some things may come naturally, others not so much. That's why you have friends, parents, doctors and other books to rely on when you don't know what to do.

3) Reading child care books are great; if you read more than one, though, you will realize that one book will tell you one way and another will literally tell you the opposite. Do your research and do what feels right to you.

4) The first time you give your baby a bath, you'll probably feel pretty unsure of what to do. The goal is to keep the baby warm and keep the umbilical cord and circumcision dry. It's really more of a sponge bath than anything, since they can't really be immersed. Don't worry about whether or not you're doing it the right way. You'll get your routine down quickly enough!

5) Dealing with a circumcision isn't difficult, but it is something to think about in advance. This was one of the first things I thought about when we found out we were having a boy. The good news is that it heals very quickly. The bandage will have to be changed, though, several times. The hospital will most likely provide you with everything you need, but having extra vasaline on hand won't hurt. It will be difficult for you to want to do this, since it does hurt and your baby will cry, but it doesn't last long!

6) To change a diaper efficiently with little mess, it's very helpful to get out a new diaper and unfold it and get out a few wipes before removing the soiled diaper. This makes the whole process move a little faster so you have less chance of getting peed on. It also eliminates the chance of you getting the dirty diaper off the baby before realizing that you're out of diapers. Been there, done that.

7) Both girls and boys might go to the bathroom during a diaper change. Some babies seem to do this all the time, others not so much. During our first night at home with Jack, I had an awful experience with this. I was changing him on the bed in the middle of the night. The TV was on for light, but I was only half awake. At the precise moment when I removed the dirty diaper and slid the new one under his tush, he pooped. It went everywhere. All over my stomach, all over the bed, all over the new diaper. It was a fun night. On the other hand, he was 6 months old before he peed on me.

8) If you're in desperate need of rest and baby won't nap for long periods, try holding the baby or laying down with her. I'm not a huge advocate of co-sleeping, but I've found sleeping like this usually encourages baby to sleep longer. If you're not comfortable sleeping with baby, call in reinforcements. There are plenty of willing arms to hold your baby so you can get some rest!

9) It will feel exhausting, but nurse as often as baby wants to (and then some!) in the first few weeks. This will help the milk come in and establish a strong supply. The strong supply ensures there is plenty for baby to eat so that he can get Linkas much as he needs in each feeding, and, eventually, eat less often. It's more important to establish milk supply and survive the first few weeks than it is to establish a routine.

10) No offense to the grandmothers out there, but things do change. What our mothers did with us is not what doctors recommend today. Research and medicine has come a long way and we know more now than ever about things. Mom may have good advice, but science speaks for itself.

Still pregnant or hoping to be? Check out this series about pregnancy!

Image: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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