Despite the plethora of information available to new and expecting parents these days, the truth is that nothing fully prepares us for parenthood except, of course, first hand experience. Those who have traveled this journey would probably agree that it was only after having children that the most valuable lessons were learned. If I could rewind to before my kids were born, these are some of the infant care tips I would suggest to myself.
- Don’t try to assemble your breast pump for the first time at 4 a.m. Bad idea
- The colic WILL end.
- It’s OK to let your baby cry. This is my favorite because I felt like a horrible mom whenever my baby cried. I know now that she was probably over tired and just needed to blow off some steam.
- Let yourself relax and try not to feel guilty. Don’t worry about keeping up with every load of laundry, writing thank you notes, and answering emails. Instead take a nap, read a book, meditate or just lay down with the baby.
- Make sure to get out of the house at least once a day with your baby. A walk around the block, the grocery store, a park, an errand. Being in the house with a new baby can be isolating for new moms.
- You won’t always know what your baby needs and there is nothing wrong with that. Trust that instinct kicks in when it’s something important.
- Don’t overspend! Babies do not need a lot of “stuff.” Retailers only make us think that they do. I can’t believe how many things I threw out or donated when my kids were older.
It Takes a Village
But let’s get back to that bucket full of emotions and unplanned experiences. When we become responsible for the care and well-being of one (or more) of the newest and smallest creatures on earth, it can become a bit overwhelming. The truth is, the experience is new for everyone. You may be a new parent, second-time parent, fifth-time parent, the aunt, uncle, grandmother, sibling, neighbor, etc. Your baby is new to the world and your world is new to your baby. You’re on a life-long journey of learning and growing together, and you are never alone on the roller coaster of uncertainties. There is always support and resources to help guide you on your path, and by all means, scream for help when you feel lost. There is a village eager to support you, I promise.
Infant Care Tips for the Challenging Days
There will be times when many of your baby book notes and telltale methods of caring for your infant fail to deliver the desired outcome (be it sleep, a good latch, bowel movement). Below is a list of lesser known “professional tips,” for caring for your infant. These will most likely bring you solace on those days when nothing seems to be going right.
- Warm the swaddle blanket in the dryer for a few minutes before swaddling.
- Use the knuckle of your pinky finger as a sucking option for baby while waiting to nurse, make a bottle, or simply soothe the baby in moments of distress.
- Never leave home without a change of clothes. Ideally keep a small diaper bag the size of a large clutch next to wherever you keep your purse and keys, always stocked with an outfit, sweatshirt, socks, 2-3 diapers, wipes, diaper cream, and a plastic bag in case you need to bundle up soiled clothes. In addition, although not always suitable for this size clutch, measured formula in a plastic bag, 8 oz. bottle of water, and a bottle will keep you free from most unexpected situations on last minute outings.
- White Noise. Try it out for yourself, there are countless apps. I promise you will fall asleep and you will struggle to get up.
- Cheek and nose rubbing. It can be difficult to get an infant to suck on a pacifier, but gently caressing their cheek can stimulate a sucking reflex that helps them calm down. Similarly, gently stoking the nose, starting between the eyes and slowly sweeping it off the tip of your child’s nose can help them blink and close their eyes until they fall asleep.
- Pay attention to your babies sleep pattern. Do they fall asleep every time you put them in the car or when you go to a frequent destination? Listen to the sounds that lull them to sleep and look for music or apps that can recreate the auditory sounds your baby finds soothing.
Appreciate this Stage
Take each of these infant care tips and use them how best works for you. If it doesn’t feel natural to you, chances are it doesn’t for your baby either. Don’t give up. Work these tips and alter them as you feel necessary until they work for you and your precious bundle of joy.
Click here to learn more infant care tips and how to become a certified Newborn Care Expert!
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