Archives for May 2012

10 Common Pieces of Infant Advice You Will Get

From the moment you announce a pregnancy, and sometimes even earlier, you’ll be bombarded with well-meaning but largely unsolicited advice from every parent you know. Family members, friends, colleagues and acquaintances will all be eager to share their parenting wisdom; here are ten of the things you’re most likely to hear.

  1. Sleep While You Can – This is, hands down, the most popular advice you’ll get from other moms. They’ll urge you to get all the sleep you can before your baby arrives, because it will be so hard to come by later. Actually, unless your medical professional advises that you take it easy, it’s better to be active during pregnancy.
  2. Make Noise During Nap Time – Many parents swear by running the vacuum cleaner in a sleeping baby’s room, or introducing other sources of noise in order to help them become heavier sleepers.
  3. Let Them Cry – You’ll be told, often by older parents, that it’s best to let a baby “cry themselves out” at night, rather than to comfort them. Proponents of this method claim that it helps an infant learn to comfort themselves and sleep more soundly at an early age.
  4. You Have to Breastfeed – Few new-mom subjects spark as much intense debate as the issue of breastfeeding. Devotees to natural feeding will list the health benefits, but can also be militant about the issue and can become condescending if they discover that you don’t plan to breastfeed.
  5. You Don’t Have to Breastfeed – Parents who chose to bottle-feed their infants are likely to advise that breastfeeding isn’t the absolute necessity that natural feeders claim, often holding their own healthy children up as an example.
  6. Umbilical Cord Should Be Cleaned With Alcohol at Every Diaper Change – Perhaps due to the drying nature of alcohol and a fear of bacteria, many parents tout the benefits of swabbing Baby’s umbilical stump with alcohol at each diaper change. This can actually slow the healing process, according the New York Community Hospital.
  7. Crib Bumpers Are a Safety Feature – While a padded crib bumper might soften the blow of a slight bump, they’re much more likely to pose a strangulation and suffocation risk. Some parents insist that they’re necessary, despite the inherent danger.
  8. Rice Cereal Helps Baby Sleep – One of the most popular bits of infant care advice claims that adding a bit of rice cereal to breast milk or formula will help your baby sleep through the night. In fact, a Cleveland Clinic study involving over one hundred babies found no correlation between supplementing with rice cereal and longer periods of sleep. Also, tongue movements typically aren’t developed enough for swallowing solids in the first four to six months.
  9. Newborns Need Stimulation – Shaking a noisy, brightly-colored rattle in the face of a newborn is more likely to startle and overwhelm them than stimulate. In the earliest days of life, babies are bombarded with more than enough unfamiliar external stimuli; save the rattles until they’re a few months old.
  10. Holding an Infant Too Much Will Spoil Them – Notoriously the advice of hard-nosed older parents, this tidbit of wisdom has been passed to new mothers for generations. For fear of “spoiling” a newborn, many will advise that you refrain from holding them as much as possible; studies have shown that this lack of affection may actually lead to lower self-esteem and confidence later in life.

10 Secrets to Bathing a Newborn

Bringing your new bundle of joy home from the hospital is one of the most exciting moments in a new parent’s life. It can also be one of the most nerve-wracking; limited experience with newborn care can make the task even more daunting. Bathing a newborn can be one of the more intimidating aspects of parenthood; here are ten tips to make the experience a great one for you and your baby.

  1. Stick to Sponge Baths in the Beginning – Before the umbilical stump falls off and circumcisions heal completely, it’s best to stick to sponge baths for your little one. Most pediatricians advise to keep these sites from being submerged.
  2. Use a Baby Tub – Handling a tiny infant in an adult-sized bathtub is awkward for parents and can be overwhelming for the baby. A specially-designed baby tub is best, but the sink will also do in a pinch; just be sure to support the baby’s neck and head during bath time, as a sink lacks the support features of the baby tub.
  3. Gather All of Your Supplies Beforehand – Before bath time begins, gather everything you think you’ll need and stash it within arm’s reach. Leaving even a barely-mobile newborn unattended, even for a second, is a huge parenting no-no.
  4. Invest in a Bath Thermometer – Bath water for a newborn should be warm, but certainly not hot. About 90°F is comfortable and safe for your infant’s sensitive skin. One of the best ways to ensure your peace of mind regarding temperature is to invest in a bath thermometer.
  5. Pay Attention to Creases – The creases of the neck, behind the ears and knees and any other places where skin meets are the most important spots to focus on when bathing a newborn, as they’re the most likely to have dirt and oil buildup.
  6. Be Confident – Adding water to a tiny, squirmy baby renders them slippery immediately. Focusing on keeping the neck and head supported while trying to simply hold on to wet newborn can be scary, but it’s important to be confident. Your baby will sense your discomfort and become anxious, which will only make the task more difficult.
  7. Use Soap Sparingly – Newborns rarely get dirty enough to warrant using much soap, which can dry their delicate skin and cause irritation. Use a specially-formulated pH neutral baby soap, and do so sparingly.
  8. Don’t Run Water While Baby’s in the Tub – Completely fill the sink or tub to the desired level before introducing your newborn; water temperatures can be affected by the actions of others in the house which could lead to painful scalding. Also, running water can fill a tub to unsafe levels very quickly, which you may not notice as you focus on bath time.
  9. Read Your Baby’s Cues – Some babies love taking a bath, and will quietly enjoy the experience. Others may be cold, uncomfortable and disoriented. Reading your baby’s behavioral cues and tailoring the task to their needs is the best way to reduce the stress of the situation. A happy baby should be allowed to linger in the tub, but an anxious one should be out and dressed comfortably as soon as possible.
  10. Avoid Chills – Be sure to bathe baby in a warm room with no drafts, and to pour warm bath water along their chest and shoulders every few seconds to avoid a chill. Even a baby who’s enjoying bath time will begin to howl if they become cold.