Babies – which end is which – and what on earth should you do?

Adjusting to first-time parenthood? Here are 25 facts that will help in the months ahead

Always carry at least one change of baby clothes, nappies and wipes, and a spare shirt for you

Always carry at least one change of baby clothes, nappies and wipes, and a spare shirt for you

 

Once over the shock of adjusting to first-time parenthood you will be staggered at how quickly your new baby develops and changes. Here are just 25 of the many things it helps to know in the months ahead.

You can’t spoil a baby

Your baby is crying because he is trying to communicate something. Holding and cuddling him, or feeding him when he is hungry, is not going to “give him notions”.

Nappy changes can turn into wrestling matches

Making nappy time play time reduces wriggling. Suspend a mobile over the changing mat. Give her toys to hold. Sing. Recite nursery rhymes. Blow tummy raspberries. Nightgowns with elasticated ends make night changes much faster – no snap fasteners!

A baby’s smile and laugh are the epitome of joy, but even the happiest baby gets ‘unsettled’

According the psychologist authors of The Wonder Weeks, even the calmest of babies will cry more and become more demanding during “leaps” in their mental development. These leaps apparently occur around weeks five, eight, 12, 19, 26, 37, 46 and 55 if you want to test their theory.

Babies love bedtime routines

Try bath, feed and bed, or play soft music, sing lullabies, or read aloud. Make the room quieter and dim the lights. Don’t get into bedtime habits/rituals you can’t transport or transfer. Once your baby is a few months old, ensure you put him down to sleep or nap when drowsy, but not asleep.

Babies need to learn day from night

Get blackout curtains. Keep the lights off, or dimmed, and avoid playing during night feeds and essential nappy changes. Stick to a minimum of soothing chat or soft singing.

When not to feed baby

Don’t wake a sleeping baby to feed, even when she is lying on top of you and you can’t reach the remote, your phone, or your coffee. Though maybe this should be the one exception?

Babies get sick very fast, but can recover as quick

However, always seek medical attention or advice if you are worried. Even if he starts bouncing around with glee as you enter triage, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Buy a thermometer and establish what is “normal” for you baby. Do a first aid course, or at least learn the indicators for seeking immediate medical help, including a temperature of 38 degrees or over.

Don’t let anyone with cold sores kiss your baby

The herpes simplex virus can be very dangerous for small babies if they do not have your immunity. If your baby gets a sore on her mouth, eyelids or eyes, seek medical attention.

Mind their ears

Watch for ear-rubbing. It can signal an ear infection. If flying with your baby, give a soother or feed during take-off and landing to avoid discomfort of pressure changes.

Babies need tummy time but usually don’t like it

Build up very gradually to 10 minutes a day on her tummy by keeping her distracted with toys. Don’t attempt it when she is tired, hungry or after feeding.

Babies hate getting their nails cut

Wait until he his asleep for half an hour.

Babies like to pull at and yank things

This includes your hair, earrings and face, so take off jewellery and tie back your hair. Removing footwear will be a favourite pastime. Those teensy shoes and socks are likely to be scattered throughout your house and neighbourhood.

Nappy rash can be hard to shift

Calendula cream, Sudocrem, Bepathen – you’ll find your favourite. Always avoid perfumed wipes and products. Bathe and leave to air-dry for as long as possible. Consider unbleached nappies. A red spotty rash that doesn’t improve in a few days could be thrush.

You need coconut oil

Ignore its hipster credentials. This stuff really works. Use as a soap alternative, massage oil, to loosen cradle cap, or soothe baby acne, eczema and nappy rash.

Get medical help

Reflux causes them pain and disturbs their sleep – get it treated. Seek medical advice if your baby vomits up feeds regularly, isn’t gaining weight, doesn’t like lying flat, or seems in discomfort about an hour after feeding.

Teething is tough

Use chilled teething rings (or make soothing mini ice pops with breastmilk or veg/fruit purees). If your baby is in obvious pain and distress don’t rule out a painkiller. Wouldn’t you take one if you had toothache? A smear of petroleum jelly protects skin around the mouth and chin from chafing caused by constant drooling, and bibs or neckerchiefs stop clothes around the neck and chest being soaked through.

Babies make you broody

Beware the inner voice that tells a befuddled, sleep-deprived you that it’s time to “go again”!

Baby needs weaning

It’s time to introduce solids when he can chew; she’s interested in what’s on your plate; he tries to grab food and put it in his mouth. Don’t wean on to sweet stuff, or your broccoli puree will be spurned. Start with veg purees or even soft pieces of vegetables she can eat herself.

Babies have no table manners

Find a high chair that is easily wiped clean, and doesn’t have loads of crevices or seams where food can fester!

Babies hate seeing you in clean clothes

Babies spit up and throw up, and love to smear as they explore their sense of touch! Beg, borrow or buy a hairdressers’ gown to wear until you are walking out the door, or expect to be adorned in posset, drool and food. Always carry at least one change of baby clothes, nappies and wipes, and a spare shirt for you.

Babies will love your smart phone and keys

Don’t hand over your phone, even for a few minutes’ peace. He will use it to gnaw on/drool on/dropping practice. Make up a set of disused keys, or else she’ll want to play with/lose yours.

Baby-proofing is essential

Before they start to move or crawl, baby-proof your home. Block every plug. Put locks and latches on every low cupboard. Put up a stair guard . . .

Babies don’t need you 24 hours a day

Find a babysitter. The sadness/guilt of returning to work, meanwhile, will be overtaken by the joy of adult conversation, drinking coffee while it’s hot and being able to pee alone. Despite what your work colleagues think, maternity leave was not a holiday.

Babies grow up far too fast!

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