A New Baby – A New Beginning: 15 Things No One Ever Told You
December 31st, 2013
You did it! You’re now the proud owner of an adorable, soft, cuddly sweet-smelling cooing newborn. But where are the instructions. How do you know what’s right and what’s wrong? Worry, worry and more worry! Why doesn’t your baby like tummy-time, do you need to swaddle her, is she going to throw up at each feeding, is her poop supposed to be green, why is she crying? This is the time to enjoy your beautiful little miracle and put those worries aside. But it can all be so confusing.
Here are 15 questions and answers to help keep those worries to a minimum:
Do all newborns like to be swaddled? Swaddling is not only warm and comforting, but simulates that safe feeling of being in the womb. I never met a baby that didn’t like to be swaddled. However, many babies like to be swaddled with their arms out and still love that wrapped-up feeling around their tummies. Try warming up the blanket in the dryer first, it’s even better. Ahh!
Does the house need to be totally quiet when the baby is sleeping? No, no and no. Get your baby used to the household noise from day one so she will be able to fall asleep anywhere. Remember, the womb was a noisy place!
Should you keep your home five degrees warmer when you have a new baby? If you have a healthy, full term baby, the answer is no. The rule of thumb: if you’re comfortable, baby should be too. If you’re too hot or cold, adjust the temperature accordingly. 70-72 degrees is the ideal temperature to keep everyone comfortable.
If you are going to have a house full of excited guests coming to meet your newborn, is it okay to pass her around like a football? First, make sure no one is bringing along the cold or flu. The house is off-limits to anyone with an illness, even if they say they feel fine. Second, timing is everything. If you feel comfortable having your guests hold your baby, make sure it’s after a feeding when she is happy and full. And last, if an elderly relative would like to hold the baby, ask her to sit down and gently place your precious in her arms. But remember, you’re the parent and it’s okay to keep your baby to yourself – your baby, your rules!
Do you have to do tummy-time each day? The answer is no. Tummy time is meant to help your baby practice strengthening her neck muscles and also have fun playing with mommy and daddy. Some babies love it at a month, some at four months and others never. Take a cue from your precious baby. If she cries, don’t force it and try again in a few days. But remember to lie on the floor in front of her face and have fun. Tummy time is not supposed to be painful!
If you are going to bottle and breast feed, should you introduce the bottle that first week? According to Whattoexpect.com, “while sooner is better than later, starting too soon can spell trouble for moms who want to continue nursing. A good rule of thumb: Begin the bottle no earlier than three weeks of age — and preferably five. Why? Because suckling from an artificial nipple is a whole lot easier than drawing milk from the real thing, so premature bottle-feeding can mess with the successful establishment of nursing. (But don’t wait too long: Babies who are exclusively attached to food from the boob may — loudly — reject any other.)”
Will the baby throw up if you don’t burp her every few ounces during a feeding? Not necessarily, as each baby is different. When a baby takes in air along with breastmilk or formula, the air can get trapped in with the liquid and has to come out. When it does, some of the liquid can come up through her mouth or nose. And sometimes it takes time for a newborn to get the hang of eating. According to the BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board, almost half of young babies spit up regularly, the peak age being four months, so try burping your baby every few ounces, especially if she starts getting a little squirmy. But no burp after a few tries, don’t stress, feed some more and try again.
If you are bottle-feeding your newborn and it takes her forever to finish, is it okay to change to the next stage nipple? When your baby is hungry, she should be able to suck down her bottle in 20-25 minutes once she gets the hang of eating. If she burps fine but is still slow and pokey after a few weeks, try the next stage nipple. Each baby is different and the instructions are just guidelines and not the gospel. A word of caution, if you try the next stage; be sure she sucks at a moderate, even pace and is not gulping the liquid down too quickly as it may come up just as fast as it went down.
Do babies cry hysterically if they have a wet or poopy diaper? Most babies are not aware of their bodily functions until around five to six months. The only exception is if they have a diaper rash. So hysterical crying is a signal for another discomfort.
Do you need to put diaper ointment on your baby’s bottom at each diaper change? As long as you thoroughly clean her with a wipe or clean, warm washcloth at each change, she shouldn’t get a diaper rash. Dr. John Mersch says, “Parents often incorrectly feel that the rash is a visual representation of poor caretaking skills. However, parents need to understand that the basic causes for this common kind of skin irritation are still under active debate in the field of dermatology and that neglectful parenting is not among the possible factor.”
Do babies need to have a bath each day? The answer is no. Once the umbilical cord falls off and you have the okay from your pediatrician, every other day is enough. Bathing each day can create dry skin. The exception is when they have a messy, up the back diaper blowout. If not, let’s face it; they really don’t do anything to get dirty each day.
If I don’t put mittens on my baby’s hands the first few months, will she scratch her face? Baby’s nails grow very quickly and can be sharp. As long as you check a few times a week to see if they need trimming, she shouldn’t need mittens. Try using a soft nail file instead of clippers for safety’s sake. And the perfect time for a manicure is after a feeding when everyone is calm and happy.
Do you need to put a hat on your baby each time you take her outside? If it’s not cold and you are just walking to the mailbox or going a very short distance and she won’t be in the direct sunlight, the hat can stay home.
Will you hear your baby crying if you take a nap? Believe it or not, most new moms will wake up from a sound sleep any time of the day or night when their baby is crying. According to a study at the Mind Lab Institution in the UK, men are not conditioned to wake up to the cries of a baby. In fact, it doesn’t even make the top 10 lists of sounds most likely to wake a man up. Hmmmm…so, as the article claims, while a woman’s maternal instinct kicks in when a baby cries, a man’s instinct kicks in when a car alarm goes off or the wind howls.
If I just can’t figure this parenting thing out, is it okay to surf the Web for answers? There are many useful sites that can answer your parenting questions, but you must take their advice with a grain of salt. And remember, if you visit 10 sites, you may get 10 different solutions and be even more confused. Each baby is different and you know your newborn better than anyone. So before you panic, take a breath, listen to your gut and try to decide what works best for you and your baby. If you are still unsure, call your pediatrician, especially if it could be a medical issue.
Remember, you are all new at this. So relax, don’t sweat the small stuff and enjoy your little miracle as they grow so fast. In the blink of an eye, she will be starting kindergarten and you will be smiling with pride knowing what great parents you are.
Blythe Lipman is the president of Baby Instructions (www.babyinstructions.com). She is passionate about babies, toddlers and their parents. After working in the field for over thirty-five years, she wrote her fourth award-winning book, Help! My Toddler Came Without Instructions. Blythe hosts a weekly radio show called Baby and Toddler Instructions on Wednesdays, 11am EST @ www.toginet.com. Become her Fan on Facebook and Twitter.