Many first time parents lament the fact that babies don’t come with operator manuals. Fortunately, there are usually plenty of family members and friends who are eager to provide you with all the advice you could possibly want. Of course, your child’s pediatrician and his staff can be founts of information, too. But before your first child arrives, here are a few tips that you’ll want to know.
First of all, all babies cry. Don’t panic when your little one turns on the water-works. Just keep in mind that crying indicates a need. The baby is hungry or gassy, teething or tired, wet, cold or hot. Perhaps his clothes are too tight or he just doesn’t like that little cap you keep putting on his head. Crying doesn’t usually indicate a major problem and it shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. Simply use the process of elimination to determine what is causing the tears and don’t fear each little whimper.
Second, develop a routine as quickly as you can. Get the baby on a convenient feeding, napping, bathing and fun-time schedule, and all of you will be happier. Take your cues from the baby’s needs but don’t forget your own. This is particularly important if both parents work. But don’t be surprised if your schedule occasionally goes awry. After all, life isn’t static. Special events occur. So be prepared to roll with the unexpected and then get your baby back on schedule as quickly as possible.
Third, make time to get yourself and the baby out of the house at least once a day. That might mean a simple walk to the mailbox and back, or it could mean an excursion to the park before lunch. The change of scenery and air will allow you to feel part of the world, instead of like a shut-in. And it will stimulate your baby’s senses. He or she will enjoy the change of environment as much as you will.
Fourth, you and your spouse must sleep. In those first weeks after you bring your baby home, that might mean sleeping in shifts. Don’t fret because it won’t last forever. Your child will eventually begin sleeping through the night. In the meantime, you need the proper amount of rest to ensure your own good health and clarity of mind. If you don’t have the luxury of taking turns, consider bringing in a relative or good friend to help out. The entire family will be happier when everyone is well rested.
Finally, while new babies are delicate, they are also built to survive. Don’t panic over every little thing and you’ll quickly discover that family life is exciting, fun and rewarding.