Becoming a parent is easy. For many people it only takes a minute or so. Less in some cases. But that doesn't mean that coping with the resulting baby is as easy. Here are a few tips on how to survive your baby.
The nine months or so of pregnancy are a doddle. Giving birth to a few pounds of human being is a breeze. The real challenge of having a new baby is when you get back home from the hospital, shut the door behind you, and suddenly realise that there's a whole new human life entirely dependent on you for everything. I remember that moment well. For me, that's when I truly became a parent I think.
But from the moment that front door closes and you're finally on your own with your new little responsibility there are certain things you need to know, and to remember. Some of these you'll have been told by the nurses and midwife at the hospital, although the chances are that you'll be in such a state that you'll forget much of this anyway.
Some of the tips you need to remember and be aware of aren't always mentioned though, and so here are my top parenting tips for surviving the first few days, and making sure that you and your little charge are safe and well.
1. Head Support. It is critical to remember that a new-born baby cannot support their own heads. The weight of the head is too much for their as yet undeveloped neck muscles, and so whenever you pick up, hold or move your baby you should always take very great care to ensure that their head is well supported.
You'll find many people will want to hold your baby, so when handing him or her over, make sure that the other person knows to support the head, watch for this, and take great care when taking your baby back off them. It's important not to allow anyone to play bouncing games on their knee, or throwing the baby in the air. You may think this absurd, which is good, but the truth is that sadly it does happen, usually because people just didn't realise.
2. Hand Sanitiser. Your new-born baby doesn't yet have a fully developed immune system, which means that he or she is very much more susceptible to infections. For this reason it is important to make sure that anyone around your baby, touching them or touching things that may end up being chewed on or sucked on, washes their hands thoroughly. The best thing is to have a bottle of hand sanitiser as is used in the hospital, and get people in the habit of using this before holding the baby.
Yes, it is true that exposure to germs is good for young children, but there's time enough for that. During the very early days it is far better to play safe and avoid any possible infection or illness.
3. Nappies. Your new little bundle of joy will dirty their nappy quite a lot. Ten times a day is about normal. I strongly recommend getting the nappy things all together handy, so that when it's time to do a change you can reach everything easily with one hand whilst holding your baby still with the other. We used a nappy basket with nappies, wipes, talcum powder and nappy cream all together.
When changing a nappy on a little boy make sure that you get the 'hose' covered quickly! For some reason once a baby boy feels the fresh air 'down below' he feels the need to pee. We always got in the habit of dropping a wet wipe onto his bits once the nappy was off as this helped to stop the effect!
When changing a nappy on a little girl always make sure that you wipe her bottom from front to back, as doing it the other way round can result in a very unpleasant urinary infection.
Don't worry if your baby gets nappy rash - it's very common. To help your baby make sure that you change a wet nappy as quickly as possible, and give them a little time each day with nothing on at all. Nappy cream helps - slather it on and you'll find that in two or three days it's much better. If it persists though don't ever be afraid of having a word with your doctor or health visitor.