The new momÂs handbook
Feeling clueless about motherhood? Here are answers to your top 5 worries.
Baby challenge #2
(the 24-hour diner
The key here is to go with the flow. “Babies are designed to not go long without eating,” says Parks. “You need to accommodate that.” A newborn’s eight to 12 feedings (six to eight if you’re bottle feeding) aren’t evenly spaced, so a four-hour break in the action now may result in a feeding frenzy later. Some other pointers:
- The first weeks are the hardest. After two or three weeks, most babies settle into a feeding pattern.
- To make night feedings more manageable, feed the baby in bed or in a comfortable chair where you can doze. Keep the room dark.
- Don’t worry about intake. If you count at least eight wet diapers and five bowel movements every day, your baby is getting enough.
Baby challenge #3
Bathing doesn’t have to be a dirty job. Babies are basically inoffensive creatures, so how dirty can they get? All you’re doing is spot maintenance.
Postpone that first bath until the umbilicus drops off, usually in a week or two. In the interim, “top and tail” every day by wiping your baby’s face, head, neck, hands and diaper area (in that order, please) with a warm, wet washcloth. Also, clean your baby’s eyes with water-soaked sterile cotton balls, and swab the umbilicus with an alcohol-soaked Q-tip several times a day. If finger- and toenails are long, trim one or two at a sitting with baby nail clippers while your little one is sleeping. Don’t use commercial wipes until your baby is about 3 months old. Use a wet paper towel or washcloth instead.
When bath time finally arrives, keep the production to a minimum. These steps can help smooth the way:
- Prepare the bath and line up everything you need — washcloth, baby soap, dry towel — before undressing your baby.
- Make the room comfortably warm.
- Bath water should be lukewarm and no more than a few inches deep.
- Keep it short, even if you miss a few spots. Skip the shampoo if you think it’s an ordeal.
- When you can, try bathing together!
Baby challenge #4
(structuring your day
“Babies are very Zen,” Parks observes. “They take you to this place where time doesn’t have any meaning.” True enough, but at some point you’re going to want to take a shower. Or visit the grocery store. Or pop over to a friend’s house. And simple as these things once seemed, you will spend hours, maybe even days, trying to figure out how to accomplish them. Here’s how to get started:
- Think small. First, nail down the daily challenges of showering, getting dressed, brushing your teeth and eating lunch. Then move on to returning phone calls and shopping. But don’t expect to get everything done in a day as you used to.
- Keep the diaper bag packed and ready.
- Work with your baby. “Identify the baby’s schedule for eating, napping and bowel movements,” suggests Murphy. “This will help you determine his happy/content vs. cranky/overwhelmed times.”
- Put yourself on the agenda. “You’ll get frustrated if you always put your needs last,” warns Murphy.
- Get help. Just do it.