Baby care for first time parents could be daunting.
It’s no wonder that well-meaning people readily volunteer tips and information on newborn baby care. The internet is awash with a plethora of Do’s and Don’ts articles and many of them look like duplications of each other. They strikingly match in ideas and suggestions. They are all very practical and offer a lot of very useful information and truly reflect the realities and desirable ways to provide care to infants.
An easy favorite could be the article titled, A Guide to First Time Parents, reviewed by Elana Pearl – Ben Joseph, MD. The article appears to be pretty comprehensive covering such topics as Getting Help after the Birth, Handling a Newborn, Bonding and Soothing, All about Diapering, Bathing Basics, Circumcision and Umbilical Cord Care, Feeding and Burping the Baby, and finally, Sleeping Basics. First time parents would benefit a lot from reading the article. It covers pretty much everything that first time parents would need to know and learn about baby care.
But there is another dimension to newborn baby care that parents, especially mothers should be aware of. It’s about the psychological and emotional frame that make up the infant’s parents. Not all parents become parents by deliberate planning and choice. Accidental parenthood may well result in reluctant parenthood. Many circumstances in life happen that are outside of the control of people. Parenthood, not by choice, usually happens to young people, because they may not be mature enough to rein in emotions and impulses that may result in unexpected onset of parenthood. How would the unprepared young mother handle the coming of the child? The same question could be asked of the young father. But thanks to motherly instincts, an unprepared mother could get by and be able to nurture her baby. Also, nowadays, information and technology are able to help any mother in the journey of motherhood.
Couples who have become parents, by deliberate planning and/or by choice, would be better equipped in newborn care and parenting. No daunting tasks that go with newborn care can faze the prepared parents. Primarily it’s their mindsets, that prepare them for the task. Being ready for parenthood, is not too much about age, but more of the psychological and emotional conditions of the parent. Consider the young woman who makes an informed decision and consents to settling down before having a child. Her mental and emotional disposition would be in happy anticipation of her child’s arrival into the world. Her partner who shares her disposition would be standing by her bedside, a picture of excitement, hands outstretched in eagerness to hold his newborn. Parents transmit their dispositions to the child. With that, happy parents would most very likely raise happy children.
In contrast, imagine the separated mother and therefore the fatherless child. Dr. Benjamin Spock, who revolutionized child rearing methods in the 1950s wrote so comprehensively in his famous baby book, that he had a whole discussion on separated parents and fatherless child.
Many do’s and don’ts in newborn baby care that appear in many articles may have had influences from the ideas and information found in Dr. Benjamin Spock’s widely read book, “The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care.” Except for some controversies that affected his personal standing in American society caused largely by his personal advocacies and political activism in his time in the 1950’s up to the 60’s, he had a large following among parents and people in general. The impact of his baby book was so extensive that it has influenced many generations of children in his time. Contradicting the old norms previously followed in child rearing and parenting, which was characterized by rigidity, he “supported flexibility and encouraged parents to show affection for their children.”
Mothers have instincts and that is the premise by which Dr. Spock made his book, as he started it with the statement, “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” Because of the high and wide applicability of the studies and observations advanced by the author, many new parents to this day, still find much help in it in their own realities of child care. Its wide use is evidenced by the continuing demand and the revisions it has undergone, now on its 9th edition.
Culture and tradition are also strong factors in child care. In many places in the eastern world, child care practices are handed down from generation to generation. Then again, there could be many influences on the practices from these societies; and the variances could largely be attributed to the differences in material progress and developments from their western counterparts. Yet, insofar as the human dimension is concerned, people will have that pervasive uniformity in the way they would tend and handle their children. The parental instinct, natural affection and tenderness would always be the overriding attributes in childcare.
The internet and the plethora of information it possesses have made access to the list of do’s and don’ts easily available and convenient for mothers in the modern world. But it helps much more when these are at the parents’ fingertips. Paraphrasing available information mentioned above, among the most outstanding of these are:
- Always sanitize your hands before handling the baby
- Always protect the head and neck of the baby
- Tenderly soothe and massage the arms legs and the body surface
- Talk, coo, and hum a tune to the baby all the time. Your child gazes and listens.
- Swaddle the baby to give him/her a feeling of warmth and security.
- When carrying, keep him/her close enough to feel your heartbeat. That’s bonding.
- Keep the baby clean using warm water, ointments, sanitary wipes; keep him/her wrapped dry in clean diapers;
- Ask and learn how to feed and burp the baby.
- Infants in the first 3 months sleep long hours. Let them. Then, allow them to find their sleep patterns.
- Feel the baby’s forehead or any body part at any time of the day, to detect any change in body temperature.
- Don’t refuse help from well-meaning members of close family and relatives;
- Don’t shake your infant whether in play or frustration… especially in frustration.
- Infants are tender and it’s not time to rough play him/her.
- Don’t leave the baby unattended for long periods. It doesn’t take much to take a peek at reasonable intervals whether he is awake or asleep.
The list is by no means exclusive and comprehensive and they consist of the physical process of baby care. But, they provide you a good start as first-time parents and let you develop confidence as you move along. More importantly remember to develop that mindset of readiness and desire of having your baby which is the substantive part of infant care, and being a parent.
Finally, when at times the task becomes too challenging than it should be, think about your mother instinct and always remember, “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”