Monday, May 13, 2013

10 Things Every New Parent Should Know

Some friends of ours who are expecting have been asking all their friends with kids to make this list for them. Here is our take.

1. You are not alone. Your family and friends are just a phone call away. Whether it is advice, a shoulder to cry on, something you need while you are in the hospital or in the time after, don't be afraid to ask for the help you need. This is especially true of your friends who have had newborns before. We are willing to help however we can, please don't be afraid to ask.

2. Your baby is not as breakable as you think it is. Your baby will hit things, fall off of and into stuff and there isn't any way you can prevent it from happening. The fist big hit and goose egg will scare the life out of you. Believe me, it isn't as bad as it looks. Ice that sucker down no matter how much the child protests and do whatever you can to soothe them. A good rule of thumb is convex boo-boos are usually ok, concave ones are what you should worry about and seek medical attention for. All that being said, do your best and make sure you childproof, anchor furniture, use outlet plugs, etc.

3. Happiest Baby on the Block. A good friend and new father turned me on to this and it literally saved our bacon when our children would lose it to the point of being inconsolable. A technique referred to as "The 5 S's" simulates the feeling of the womb and will calm the even the most upset babies. They can be done one at a time or all at once if it is really bad. Trust me, this really works.
      1. Swaddling-swaddle the baby tight, tighter than you think you need to (see item #2)
      2. Side position-helps aid digestion and feelings of support.
      3. Shushing or "Ssss" sound-the white noise sound, this is what the blood flow around the womb sounds like
      4. Sway/swing-duplicates the feeling of movement from being inside the womb
      5. Suckle-whether its a pacifier or your thumb, this triggers chemicals in the brain that have a calming effect

4. Every Mistake Has already been made. You'll try and put a diaper on backwards. You'll get up for a middle of the night feeding, letting the baby eat for five minutes before realizing in your half-awake state that you didn't put the formula in the bottle. You'll get a half hour away from the house and realize you left the diaper bag...or worse the baby. There isn't any mistake that hasn't been made before and usually, nobody is worse for the wear.

5. Alternate Nights. It took entirely too long for us to realize that if both of us got up with the baby at 2am we'd both feel like crap all the time. Alternate nights with the baby duty so at least you'll get a good night's sleep every other night. If you are a light sleeper, don't be afraid to sleep in a different room. This will make a huge difference in your ability to function and cope with the changes.

6. Three must haves: gas drops, teething tabs, children's Tylenol. Stockpile these three items. When you are at the store, if they are on the list, buy two. You will never be able to have too much of these. Good side note here. We first started using gas drops just as needed. Later the doctor told us just to put them in every bottle. They are safe to use this way so we did and it made a huge difference. Speaking of bottles...

7. Dr. Brown's bottles are worth the pain in the ass. They are a pain to put together, a pain to clean and a pain to store. All that being said, Dr. Brown has made a superior product and it is worth all the effort. You'll learn quickly about to to best load the dishwasher cage or how to pile everything up on the drying rack. It will be second nature but it still is a chore. It helped us to store the bottles as a unit so when we needed one we didn't have to grab around for all the little pieces. Taking it a step further, we would start each morning by preparing all the bottles we would need for the day with water and gas drops and preloading the formula in the hoppers. That way, feeding time was as simple as unscrewing a top, dumping the hopper, re-screwing the top and shaking the bottle.

8. Crazy, frustrating shit will happen...and it gets worse as the child gets older. Learning to deal with this and the stress the children cause you now will be an asset to you in the future. Yes, changing a diaper and getting peed on sucks but so does cleaning crayon off your beloved big screen and out of your surround sound speakers. Expecting the unexpected and being patient when it happens becomes such a big asset because out of the ordinary things happen so frequently. Children also start to mirror your behavior at a young age so the more chill you are, the more chill they will be. On a related note, don't try and rationalize what they did or how they think. Everything is new to them so they'll be trying everything. They'll also argue with you when you are clearly right. I tried for awhile, in vain, to talk my daughter our of her crazy position on things. My wife had to constantly remind me that my daughter is 3... and she's right.

9. Accept babysitting offers from people you trust. A baby is a new beginning but it isn't you or your spouses end. Whether you choose to go out on the town or take a nap somewhere else in the house, let people babysit for you. A baby is a lot of work and you need to be on the top of your game, mentally and physically. Getting away for a bit is very important in keeping your perspective. Getting some time to relax and blow off steam is healthy, especially in the beginning while you are struggling with the adjustment. Getting away now and again helps ease the transition. People will offer to do this for you, take them up on it.

10. Make sure she gets some alone time. Your wife has been carrying and worrying about the baby inside her for a long time. Over this stretch they have a bond that only a mother and her child can share. For some mothers, it can be very hard to let that go even for a moment. The reality is that the mother needs to maintain her identity as a woman and an individual not only for her own sake, but also for that of the baby. Spending time apart prepares both the mother and child for the normal routines of daily life. Mothers and children who never spend time apart can develop serious separation anxiety. Start early by letting her have some time alone to do whatever she wants with. A spa day would be a good push present and help her to relax after nine months of carrying the child.

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