No matter how much you long for and plan for a baby, no one is quite prepared for the impact their new arrival has on their life. Babies have a habit of not behaving the way the textbooks say they should. The New Parents’ Survival Guide is packed with practical advice and bite-sized tips on how to deal with common problems you are likely to encounter, including how to care for your newborn, solve the breast versus bottle dilemma, overcome breastfeeding woes, calm your crying baby, solve sleep issues, manage minor ailments, and take good care of yourself.
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About the Author
Wendy Green works as a trainer for a health promotion program. She is the author of The Greatest Slimming and Healthy Living Tips in the World.
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The New Parents' Survival Guide
The First Three Months
By Wendy Green
Summersdale Publishers LtdCopyright © 2015 Wendy Green
All rights reserved.
In the months before the birth you will naturally want to prepare for your baby's arrival. It makes sense to buy all of the equipment you will need at least a couple of months before your due date – just in case your baby decides to make their entrance earlier than expected! With so many baby products out there, it can be difficult to decide what you really need and what is just an optional extra, so this chapter offers a checklist of the essentials you will need in the first three months, as well as one or two items that could make life easier, but are not absolutely necessary. The suggested quantities are just a guide.
In this chapter:
* Prepare the nursery
* Designate some 'baby areas'
Checklist – have you got everything you need?
* Nappy changing
* Breastfeeding equipment
* Bottle-feeding equipment
* Useful extras
* Basic baby's first aid kit
Prepare the nursery
You might want to decorate the room that will eventually be your baby's nursery, even though your baby will be sleeping in your bedroom until they are at least six months; this is the current recommendation for safer sleeping – but you should not share a bedroom if you or your partner smokes. It is certainly a good idea to decorate the nursery before your baby is born, as it will be a lot harder to find the time when you have a new baby to care for. Also it's best to allow plenty of time for the nursery to air after painting or redecorating to avoid any strong fumes in the room when you start using it for your baby. The nursery will also be an ideal place to store a lot of their equipment and clothing.
Top tips on preparing your baby's nursery
* If you have more than one room to choose from, pick the one that is closest to your bedroom.
* Preferably it should be a quiet room away from noisy roads and places where children play.
* Choose plain, neutral colours such as cream or beige so that it will be easy to update the room with colourful murals or wall stickers, posters and bedding, as your child grows.
* Use low-fume or child-friendly paints and natural floor coverings, such as a wool carpet or wood flooring to reduce the number of chemicals your baby will be exposed to.
* Choose washable paint so it is easy to clean.
* Blackout blinds and heavy curtains will help to ensure your baby sleeps soundly.
* Choose cordless blinds to avoid the risk of entanglement.
* Don't put your baby's cot near a window or a radiator.
* A comfortable chair/rocking chair where you can cuddle your baby and perhaps share a bedtime song or story is a useful addition.
Designate some 'baby areas'
Think about where you will keep your baby's pram or buggy when it's not in use. Most people use the hall or a spot under the stairs, but if space is at a premium you could keep it in your car boot or in a secure shed or garage.
Designate an area in your living room where you can store your baby's nappies, toiletries and a few items of clothing, so that you always have them close to hand. A portable baby box or a baby-changing bag is ideal for keeping your baby's everyday essential items all in one place.
Checklist – have you got everything you need?
While it is important to make sure you have all of the necessary items you and your baby will need in the first few months, you don't need to go overboard. One new mum, Pam, pointed out that many of the things she bought for her baby's nursery went unused. For example, she bought a cot bumper, only to learn that they aren't recommended for safety reasons – as babies can overheat or get tangled in the fasteners once they become more mobile. She also bought a changing unit, but found that she preferred to change her baby on a changing mat on the floor. So do bear in mind that a lot of items you'll see in the shops are unnecessary, or even a safety hazard, and if money is short it is best to focus on the key items you and your baby will really need and use. Provided you have the basics to start with, you can always buy extra items as and when you need them.
Six to eight all-in-one suits (babygrows) – perfect for the first three months when your baby will probably hate being dressed and undressed; they are cool enough for the summer and, with the addition of a vest and maybe a cardigan, they are cosy enough for the winter. They have convenient popper fastenings to help you change their nappy quickly and easily.
Six to eight vests (bodysuits) – these have envelope necks to make putting them on easy and poppers for easy nappy changes. In the winter they can be worn under an all-in-one and in really hot weather they can be worn alone. You can buy short or long-sleeved versions to suit different times of the year.
Four cardigans or light fleece tops – these provide extra warmth during the winter and on cooler summer days.
One coat or padded all-in-one suit – this is an essential item for winter-born babies but if your baby will spend a lot of time travelling in a car, as well as a pram, make sure you choose one that is not too thick, as your baby may overheat.
Warm mittens – if your baby is due in the winter.
Two hats – woollen or fleece hats for the winter will keep your baby warm when outdoors; remember your baby will lose a lot of heat from their head. For the summer cotton wide-brimmed (fisherman style) or foreign-legion styles will protect your baby's face, ears and neck from the sun. Those with an elasticated or Velcro strap that fits under the chin are great for making sure they stay in place. A couple of cotton jersey pull-on hats are ideal for premature babies, or for cool summer days.
You could get away with dressing your baby in the items listed above, but you may want to add some optional extras such as:
One or two dresses/sets of tops and trousers – these are good for days when you may want to dress up your baby a little.
Four pairs of tights/socks – socks have a tendency to fall off and get lost and if you buy all-in-ones suits, you shouldn't need them. However, if you want your baby to wear a dress or trousers occasionally, you will need some. Tights are ideal for baby girls to wear with dresses on a cold day – though they can be a little tricky to put on!
Two pairs of scratch mittens – these can come in handy if your baby has a tendency to scratch themselves with their nails. However, you might want to wait and see if you need them first.
Nappies (a 45-pack of disposable nappies or 20 reusable) – your newborn will need frequent nappy changes – as many as 12 a day – so make sure you buy enough to get you through the first couple of days. However, avoid buying dozens of nappies until you know your baby's weight – a pack of newborn size should suffice initially. There is a huge choice of nappies available, but the main two types are disposable or reusable.
Disposable nappies are the most convenient because you don't have to spend time washing them. They also tend to be more absorbent than cotton nappies, so they don't need changing as often.
On the other hand, according to the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), cotton reusable nappies work out cheaper than disposables – by as much as £900 – depending on which brands you compare (during the period your baby is in nappies) and are more environmentally friendly – if they are washed at 40?C and line dried. If you go for modern fitted cotton nappies rather than terry-towelling ones, they are as easy to put on your baby as disposables. Traditional white square terry-towelling nappies are the cheapest, but you have to fold them to fit your baby and they need to be worn with a nappy liner and plastic pants.
Basically the decision is down to cost and environmental considerations versus convenience. The choice is yours. However, even if you opt for reusable nappies it is a good idea to keep a pack of disposables in reserve for days when you haven't got any clean or dry reusable ones.
Nappy pail – this is a bucket with a secure-fitting lid where you can store soiled nappies, or soak them in hot soapy water, prior to washing. A nappy pail can also be used as a bin for bagged-up, used disposable nappies – so you don't need to keep dashing out to the wheelie bin so often.
Plastic nappy sacks – soiled nappies smell, so it's a good idea to put them in a bag before you bin them.
Baby wipes – if you intend using them (see page 24). For more information on caring for your baby's skin see page 83.
Barrier or nappy rash cream – a thin layer of cream should be applied to your baby's bottom at every nappy change to prevent and treat nappy rash.
A changing mat – these are usually foam filled with a wipe-clean surface. Some mats come with a removable towel liner but these are usually more expensive and not really necessary. You can also buy lightweight travel changing mats that fold up and have handles, so that you always have a hygienic surface you can change your baby's nappy on when you're out and about.
It could be argued that if you plan to breastfeed your baby you won't need any special equipment – however you may find these items useful:
Breast pads – these disposable or reusable cotton pads fit inside your bra cups and absorb any leaking milk.
A breast pump – if you/your partner plan to give your baby breast milk from a bottle at times then an electric or hand breast pump can make expressing milk much faster.
Two nursing bras – many women manage to breastfeed while wearing a well-fitting, comfortable bra – you can just lift the bra cup up during feeding. However, there are specially designed nursing bras with drop cups for easier access during feeding. They are also designed to give you extra support to the breasts at a time when they are likely to be a cup size or two bigger than usual. You can still wear an underwired bra providing it fits well and doesn't dig in – but they are not quite as easy, or comfortable, to lift up during a feed.
Hypoallergenic lanolin cream for sore or cracked nipples – such as Lansinoh HPA Lanolin, which doesn't need to be wiped off before you feed your baby and has myriad other uses including alleviating nappy rash and dry skin patches and as a balm for dry, cracked lips. Note: lanolin can trigger allergic contact dermatitis in some people, but this brand is recommended by Allergy UK for its significantly reduced allergen content. See the Directory, page 198, for further details.
Six bottles – you can buy inexpensive basic bottles that come in various sizes and can be used in standard bottle warmers, sterilisers and bottle carriers. You can buy anti-colic bottles, which may have a vent or a slow-flow/vented teat to reduce the amount of air your baby swallows when feeding. Some bottles are designed to be sterilised directly in the microwave. You can also buy disposable bottles that are useful for occasional bottle feeds or on a day out. Most major brands of baby bottle are now bisphenol A (BPA) free. BPA is a chemical used in polycarbonate plastics that is thought to disrupt hormones and potentially have a detrimental effect on a baby's growth and development. Another option, if you are concerned about other chemicals used to make plastic baby bottles, is glass feeding bottles, which are made from heat-resistant, toughened glass. The downside of these bottles is that they can shatter if dropped and tend to be much more expensive than plastic ones.
Six teats – a new baby will probably do best on a slow-flow or variflow teat, which allows your baby to control the milk flow in a similar way as they would at the breast. You can buy these both with the bottles and separately.
A bottle and teat brush – all bottles and teats need to be scrubbed and washed before sterilising.
Sterilising equipment – you can choose from electric steam sterilisers, microwave steam sterilisers, and cold-water sterilising units, which are used with sterilising solution (hypochlorite). If you prefer, you can sterilise your baby's feeding equipment by boiling it in a pan, though this will obviously be time-consuming. For more information on sterilising feeding equipment see page 74.
An electric bottle warmer – this is a useful item, though you could just use a jug of hot water instead. You can also buy a bottle-sized travel flask that you fill with hot water before you go out, to warm your baby's bottle when out and about.
Sixcotton bibs/muslin cloths – these are useful for catching milk drips, regurgitated milk or dribble during feeds.
A baby bath – this can make bath time easier, though it has to be filled and emptied manually and they do take up room, which could be an issue if space is limited. You can also buy baby baths with an extra wide rim that fixes on top of an adult bath. These have a plughole to let the water drain out into the family bath. Choose a sturdy one and make sure you measure your family bath before you buy, to ensure it will fit properly. Another option is a bucket bath, which, as the name suggests, is bucket-shaped to support newborn babies to sit upright, or in a foetal position, so your hands are free to wash your baby.
Alternatively you could buy a newborn bath support, which will enable you to bath them safely in your family bath; this means you can fill and empty the bath as usual and avoid having to carry water around.
Two baby towels – these are useful, but not essential because you could allocate a small bath towel to be used only for your baby instead.
A sponge or flannel– useful for washing your baby, but you may prefer to just use your hands.
Baby toiletries – it is not necessary to buy a lot of toiletries for your baby – especially in the first four weeks, when their skin can be especially sensitive and washing with plain water may be preferable. However, if you would like to use toiletries make sure you choose those especially designed for babies' sensitive skin; there are several brands to choose from, including supermarkets' own branded products; these are all designed to be gentle on your baby's skin – to avoid drying it out or causing irritation.
Baby wipes – having a pack of these can be useful, especially when you are out and about and don't have access to clean warm water. Experts recommend using cotton wool and warm water for the first four weeks – you could moisten some cotton wool balls in water and wrap them up in cling film or pop them in a handy plastic container, but if you prefer the convenience of baby wipes choose fragrance-free, organic or sensitive ones. If your baby develops a rash after using them, you can always revert back to using plain water and cotton wool.
Baby bath/wash – these are usually mild, emollient and pH balanced.
Baby shampoo– choose a mild formula that is designed not to sting the eyes.
Baby lotion/baby oil – this can be applied to your baby's skin after a bath to prevent their skin from drying out. If your baby develops eczema you may need to see your GP who may recommend using a suitable bath oil and emollient. For more information about treating minor ailments see page 131.
When it comes to deciding what type of bed to buy choose the one/s best suited to you and your baby's needs.
Moses basket – in the first few months, while your baby is small, a Moses basket can be good choice; it is smaller than a cot, so your baby will feel more secure in it, and it is lightweight with handles, so it is easy to carry from room to room. You can safely use a Moses basket until your baby is old enough to pull themselves up – usually at around three to four months. Most come with a foam mattress, a padded liner and a cover. You can also buy a stand, which means your baby will be raised up from the floor and the basket can be lined up with your bed for easier access during night feeds.
Excerpted from The New Parents' Survival Guide by Wendy Green. Copyright © 2015 Wendy Green. Excerpted by permission of Summersdale Publishers Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword from Denyse Kirkby,
Foreword from Sally Lewis,
Chapter 1: Be Prepared,
Chapter 2: Feed Your Baby,
Chapter 3: Care for Your Baby,
Chapter 4: Calm Your Crying Baby,
Chapter 5: Sweet Dreams,
Chapter 6: Home Nurse,
Chapter 7: Baby Milestones – What to Expect in the First Three Months,
Chapter 8: Look After Yourself,
Helpful Further Reading,