As my niece is just a few days away from having her first baby, and it seems like a lifetime ago when I had my children, I thought I might impart some of the information that I have gained over the years.
First of all, the new baby! Baby arrives, and so do all the visitors, guests and presents. Stuff piles up everywhere! Where there was once an orderly home, there seem to be boxes of nappies, sterilisers, baby clothes, toys and gadgets everywhere. The chest-of-drawers to hold the baby clothes is full to the brim, and it’s such a time-consuming job to look at the labels to see which age the item of clothing refers to, ie real tiny baby, 0-3 months baby, 3-6 months and it gets confusing when a gift arrives that is 0- 9 months and parent sits there pondering about which drawer to put it in. So the first tip is to go through the baby clothes once a week and sort them into ‘too big’ or ‘too small’. This is the easiest way to do it, and will save you money buying stuff you don’t need and favourite relatives will be delighted to see baby dressed in the expensive outfits they bought!
The next tip is about feeding, doctors and health professionals generally consider it’s a good idea for a mother to try and feed her baby herself, and if that doesn’t work out, then bottle feeding is fine. Our understanding when we had babies was that anti-bodies gathered up over years by mothers, are passed on to babies and that baby benefits from this. For any bottle fed babies, it is absolutely imperative to be 100% certain that the bottles are made up correctly and that they have been properly sterilised and cleaned. We also always used to give a little cooled boiled water every day to baby. My second tip is, before baby is born, go shopping, select the baby milk of your choice and practise making bottles before the big day. Try tasting it though, it usually tastes horrible!
Then there are the sleepless nights. The way we dealt with this was to feed the baby on demand, but no more often than every two hours, and sleep when baby sleeps. Feeding on demand means when baby cries and seems hungry, baby is fed. Other reasons for crying will be nappy needs changing or tummy ache from wind. During the night, once the baby is a few months old, cooled boiled water in a bottle can be given, and baby soon gets fed up with waking in the night for just boiled water and the first full night’s sleep feels like bliss!
And then when to feed with solids? This depends on the baby’s size and weight and how content and happy baby is with just milk. We used to mix a little rusk with milk once baby was 3 to 4 months old, and feed baby with the mixed milk/rusk on a teaspoon, just a little at a time. We started with a quarter of a rusk, mixed with a little milk, so that it became a smooth and about the same consistency of the food found in baby jars, for example apple sauce. We didn’t give any food other than milk and water during baby’s first three months.
You must check with health professionals before you make any major changes to the baby’s diet, or speak to your GP or a doctor and go through your feeding plan with them.
Last but not least, the clothing for the baby to wear really should be cotton, as opposed to polyester, or any other man-made fabrics, and this applies not only to baby vests, baby grows but also essentially to the bedding, sheets and towels.
Before you buy the cot mattress really think about it. This is the one area where cost does not come into the equation. There is a relatively new school of thought, during the last decade, where it is considered that babies do not suffer as many cot deaths when they are placed on their back to sleep. The fact is, babies are tiny – they have tiny lungs. Some of the mattresses purchased by parents are made of synthetic materials, particularly the covering on mattresses, some seems to be of a synthetic type of rubber or waterproof covering and it is possible that any chemical fumes from a new mattress covering could possibly add to the sequence of events that may cause cot death syndrome. Therefore it may be a good idea to select a mattress that is made from organic or cotton material, or as near to that as possible, buy the mattress well in advance, wash it down to remove any residue of chemicals from mattress manufacture and leave it in a room to air off any of the hazardous chemicals that may be used during the mattress/covering manufacture. Then, using a good amount of natural bedding, for example 100% cotton sheets, cotton covers and cotton quilts, which can be obtained from a well known high street store known for their quality, may go some way to ensuring the safety of your new and precious baby.
And finally, get lots of fresh air, we’re buying an above ground swimming pool for our niece’s small garden once her baby is born, due any day now.