Baby care tips
. It s been six weeks since our daughter, Clementine, was born. She s finally sleeping better and going longer between feedings. She s also becoming more alert when she s awake. My husband and I, on the other hand, feel like we ve been hit by a truck. I m amazed that we ve muddled through. Here are tips from seasoned parents and baby experts to make your first month easier.
Hints for Nursing
. Babies eat and eat and eat. Although nature has done a pretty good job of providing you and your baby with the right equipment, in the beginning it s almost guaranteed to be harder than you expected. From sore nipples to tough latch ons, nursing can seem overwhelming.
Women who seek help have a higher success rate
. Think of ways to ensure success before you even give birth, suggests Stacey Brosnan, a lactation consultant in New York City. Talk with friends who had a good nursing experience, ask baby s pediatrician for a lactation consultant s number, or attend a La Leche League (nursing support group) meeting (see laleche.org to find one).
Use hospital resources
. Kira Sexton, a Brooklyn, New York, mom, says, I learned everything I could aboutbreastfeedingbefore I left the hospital. Ask if there s a nursing class or a lactation consultant on staff. Push the nurse call button each time you re ready to feed the baby, and ask a nurse to spot you and offer advice.
. At home, you ll want to drop everything to feed the baby the moment she cries for you. But Heather O Donnell, a mom in New York City, suggests taking care of yourself first. Get a glass of water and a book or magazine to read. And, because breastfeeding can take a while, she says, pee first!
Try a warm compress
. if your breasts are engorged or you have blocked ducts. A heating pad or a warm, wet washcloth works, but a flax pillow (often sold with natural beauty products) is even better. Heat it in the microwave, and conform it to your breast, says Laura Kriska, a mom in Brooklyn, New York.
Heat helps the milk flow
. if your breasts are sore after nursing, try a cold pack. Amy Hooker, a San Diego mom, says, A bag of frozen peas worked really well for me.
If you want baby to eventually take a bottle
. introduce it after breastfeeding is established but before the 3 month mark. Many experts say 6 to 8 weeks is good, but we started each of our kids on one bottle a day at 3 weeks, says Jill Sizemore, a mom in Pendleton, Indiana.
. If yourinfantisn t eating, he s probably sleeping. Newborns log as many as 16 hours of sleep a day but only in short bursts. The result: You ll feel on constant alert and more exhausted than you ever thought possible. Even the best of us can come to resent the severesleep deprivation.
Stop obsessing about being tired
. There s only one goal right now: Care for your baby. You re not going to get a full night s sleep, so you can either be tired and angry or just tired, says Vicki Lansky, author ofGetting Your Child to Sleep...and Back to Sleep(Book Peddlers). Just tired is easier.
. One night it s Mom s turn to rock the cranky baby, the next it s Dad s turn. Amy Reichardt and her husband, Richard, parents in Denver, worked out a system for the weekends, when Richard was off from work. I d be up with the baby at night but got to sleep in. Richard did all the morning care, then got to nap later.
The old adage Sleep when your baby sleeps
. really is the best advice. Take naps together and go to bed early, says Sarah Clark, a mom in Washington, D.C.
What if your infant has trouble sleeping
. Do whatever it takes: Nurse or rock baby to sleep; let your newborn fall asleep on your chest or in the car seat. Don t worry about bad habits yet. It s about survival yours! says Jean Farnham, a Los Angeles mom.
. It s often hard to decipher exactly what baby wants in the first murky weeks. You ll learn, of course, by trial and error.
The key to soothing fussy infants
. The key to soothing fussy infantsis to mimic the womb. Swaddling, shushing, and swinging, as well as allowing babies to suck and holding them on their sides, may trigger a calming reflex
. Forget the dubious theory that music makes a baby smarter, and concentrate on the fact that it s likely to calm him. The Baby Einstein tapes saved us.
Warm things up
. Alexandra Komisaruk, a mom in Los Angeles, found that diaper changes triggered a meltdown. I made warm wipes using paper towels and a pumpable thermos of warm water, she says. You can also buy an electric wipe warmer for a sensitive baby.
You ll need other tricks too
. Doing deep knee bends and lunges while holding my daughter calmed her down, says Emily Earle, a mom in Brooklyn, New York. And the upside was, I got my legs back in shape
Soak to soothe
. If all else fails and baby s umbilical cord stub has fallen off try a warm bath together. You ll relax, too, and a relaxed mommy can calm a baby, says Emily Franklin, a Boston mom.
Getting Dad Involved
. Your husband, who helped you through your pregnancy, may seem at a loss now that baby s here. It s up to you, Mom, to hand the baby over and let Dad figure things out, just like you re doing.
Let him be
. Many first time dads hesitate to get involved for fear of doing something wrong and incurring the wrath of Mom. Moms need to allow their husbands to make mistakes without criticizing them
Ask Dad to take time off from work
. afterall the relatives leave. That s what Thad Calabrese, of Brooklyn, New York, did. There was more for me to do, and I got some alone time with my son.
Divvy up duties
. Mark DiStefano, a dad in Los Angeles, took over the cleaning and grocery shopping. I also took Ben for a bit each afternoon so my wife could have a little time to herself.
Remember that Dad wants to do some fun stuff too
. I used to take my shirt off and put the baby on my chest while we napped, say Bob Vonnegut, a dad in Islamorada, Florida. I loved the rhythm of our hearts beating together.
. No matter how excited you are to be a mommy, the constant care an infant demands can drain you. Find ways to take care of yourself by lowering your expectations and stealing short breaks.
First ignore unwanted or confusing advice
. In the end, you re the parents, so you decide what s best, says Julie Balis, a mom in Frankfort, Illinois.
Forget about housework
. Forget about houseworkfor the first couple of months, says Alison Mackonochie, author of100 Tips for a Happy Baby(Barron s). Concentrate on getting to know your baby. If anyone has anything to say about the dust piling up or the unwashed dishes, smile and hand them a duster or the dish detergent
. Accept helpfrom anyone who is nice or naive enough to offer. If a neighbor wants to hold the baby while you shower, say yes! says Jeanne Anzalone, a mom in Croton on Hudson, New York.
Got lots of people who want to help
. Got lots of people who want to helpbut don t know how? Don t be afraid to tell people exactly what you need, says Abby Moskowitz, a Brooklyn mom. It s one of the few times in your life when you ll be able to order everyone around
But don t give other people the small jobs
. Changing a diaper takes two minutes. You ll need others to do time consuming work like cooking, sweeping floors, and buying diapers.
. To keep yourself from feeling detached from the world, Jacqueline Kelly, a mom in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, suggests: Get outside on your own, even for five minutes.
. Make your first journey to a big, public place with a veteran mom. Having my sister with me for support kept me from becoming flustered the first time I went shopping with my newborn.
If you re on your own
. stick to places likely to welcome a baby, such as story hour at a library or bookstore.
Keep your diaper bag packed
. There s nothing worse than finally getting the baby ready, only to find that you re not.
Stash a spare
. always keeps a change of adult clothes in her diaper bag. You don t want to get stuckwalkingaround with an adorable baby but mustard colored poop all over you.
Finally embrace the chaos
. Keep your plans simple and be prepared to abandon them at any time.
Rethink Bath Time
. Even if you enjoy it as a nightly ritual, know that you don t have to fully bathe your baby more than twice a week at least until he s crawling around and rubbing sweet potatoes in his hair. The rest of the time, sponge baths around the diaper area, mouth, and any skin folds (around armpits, thighs, and double chins), will do the trick.
Block the Sun
. Keep your baby out of the sun as much as possible.For babies younger than 6 months, apply sunscreen only to small areas that might be hard to cover with clothes, such as the face and hands. Rub it in well. You can apply sunscreen to all skin areas of an older baby s body, but be careful around his eyes. Also, try not to take him out between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. That s when the sun is the strongest and can do the most harm. Sunscreen sticks or blocks with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide might be gentler on skin. Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or after your baby sweats or gets wet.
Remember the Tush
. Diapered skin is often wet, exposed to a lot of friction from rubbing and then there s the poop. All can irritate a baby s skin. To take care of this sensitive area, change your baby s diaper often. Cleanse the area gently with disposable wipes that are alcohol and fragrance free, or use a damp washcloth. Let your baby air outwhen possible, and use a barrier cream before strapping a diaper back on. A barrier ointment containing either zinc oxide or petroleum jelly should be applied liberally to the skin after every diaper change,Theos says. It helps keep your little one s skin from getting too wet and raw.
Be Careful With the Baby s Laundry
. When washing baby clothes, use a detergent that s free of perfumes and dyes. Many brands carry a free and clear product,Theos says. Fabric softener, in any form, should be avoided. And don t save the free and clearproduct just for your baby s laundry use it for the entire family. A rash could appear anywhere on the body that is covered by clothing, or on the face, due to contact with bedding or parents clothing,Theos says.
. Theos says to use a fragrance free emollient cream or ointment immediately after the bath to prevent dry skin. Moisturize your baby s skin more frequently if it s dry, during winter months, or if he has eczema. Creams and ointments are preferred over lotions, which are more likely to irritate a newborn s skin,Theos says. In cool, dry, winter climates, Badreshia Bansal advises parents to use heavy moisturizing cream on their babies at least twice a day. The greasier, the better,she says.
. Babies thrive on schedules. Even when traveling, do your best to stick to the regular routine and schedule to keep your little one in the best mood possible.
. Sunscreenisn t recommended for children under 6 months of age. Keep them in the shade until you can safely protect theirskin.
. Accentuate the positive. A new baby means a lot of changes for the family. Praise your older children for their help, patience and understanding, and they will adjust to the newfamilymember with ease.
. There is nothing wrong with the basics: patty cake and peekaboo are games that have been used for years to entertain babies, while helping theirbrainsgrow. Your child will respond to the stimulation and enjoy the interaction.
. The family pet needs to adjust to the new family member. Bringing home a blanket or outfit the baby has worn is always helpful, but also keep Fido to his normal routines. Skipping the long morning walk is fine for a day or two, but lack of exercise and attention will only make the animal resentful. Find a routine that works and stick with it.
. Most babies experiencediaper rashin their lifetime. Whether it is caused by a new food, wet diaper or side effect from medicine, the red, chapped skin is painful to baby and worrisome for Mom and Dad. The best treatment? A dry bottom. Make sure your child is completely dry after adiaperchange, even if it means going naked for a few extra minutes. Change diapers more frequently, and use one of the many over the counter products to soothe and calm the skin.
. Babiescry. It s no secret. It s their only method of communication. After you check all the basics of hunger, diaper and noise, remind yourself that your child has been in a quiet safe womb for a long 40 weeks. Swaddle him or her in a blanket, hold them snugly and rock softly. Recreating that little nest will help calm a fussy newborn and hopefully, provide some much neededsleep.
. You might need a daily shower to wake up, but baby needs a gentlebathevery other day or so. Skip the soap, and use a gentle made for baby cleanser to protect baby s sensitive skin
Should I trim my baby s nails
. Your baby s nails may be softer and more pliable than yours, but make no mistake they re sharp! A newborn has little control over his flailing limbs and can easily end up scratching his own face or yours. Little fingernails grow so fast you may have to cut them several times a week. Toenails require less frequent trimming.
Holding a baby is good
. For decades, it seems, moms have been made to feel guilty about holding their babies too much. Ignore the critics and repeat after us:You cannot spoil a baby by holding her. Really. It s true. Babies who are held often and have their needs met right away are more likely to have higher self images and learn they are respected and worthy, says Linda C. Donovan, RN, MHA, IBCLC. So, even if you keep hearing people tell you not to do it, rest assured that holding your baby is a good and natural thing.
Skip the baby wipes
. Baby wipes are expensive and, for some sensitive bums, they can hurt. The good news? You really don t need to buy em. I know people will not believe this, but a 100 percent breastfed baby doesn t need baby wipes. Not at all. Breastfed baby feces are low in acid and bacteria, watery and wipe off easily; breastfed baby urine is dilute and noncorrosive.Wipe that baby butt with the damp cloth diaper you re taking off, re wrap in a new clean cloth diaper, and you re both good to go. I did this for both of my babies, and neither of them ever had a rash once.
Sterilizing is easier than you think
. Sterilizing all the baby doodads (you know: Bottles, pacis and more) can be time consuming if you do it the old fashioned way in a pot with water. But guess what? It can be so much easier and you don t need a pricey home sterilizer. Instead, toss everything in your dishwasher (sans soap) and run it on a short, hot cycle.
Be ready for the spray
. News flash: When cool air hits a baby s privates, he ll tend to pee. So open that diaper carefully (read: Slowly!) so that you can catch the stream before it s all over you and the nursery. You can also cover Baby s privates with a washcloth, which will absorb the spray before it gets you.
. They say that music can tame the savage beast. It also can calm a child down or, in the car, even put him to sleep. Slide in a CD and see how something that s soft and soothing can make everything a little more relaxed.
Skip the shoes
. Look: Until your child can walk, she really doesn t need shoes. Socks? Absolutely! But not shoes. If you still put them on, be honest: It s aboutyou, not her. Save the money until she really needs them.
No juice boxes No problem
. It used to be that kids needed the necessary skill of juice box drinking for when they hit school days. But these days, parents tend toward reusable bottles for school drinks. So, just make sure your child is well versed on using reusables and he ll be just fine.
Lay down your baby on tummy
. Babies spend most of their time on back in their stroller, crib, and under any activity arch. So, it is incredibly important to put your baby on tummy. Through their little chubby legs and arms are not built for push ups but there are some motor skills that are encouraged only while your baby is on his or her stomach. Keep it brief for 5 minutes once daily in the beginning. Later you can increase the time gradually to 10 min and so on. Also, do not leave your baby alone during the tummy time.
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