Be baby ready
Baby Whisperer Sharlene Poole shares the 10 things she likes new parents to know before baby arrives.
You are bombarded with a monumental amount of information when pregnant – there’s so much to learn as you research and make decisions about the exciting time ahead. You also have the ability to cope with this deluge much more during pregnancy than you do after your baby arrives, as you haven’t yet entered the sleep deprivation phase of parenthood!
It takes time to learn everything that a newborn brings to your world.
The focus during pregnancy is mostly on your wellbeing, your birthing options, reading/researching parenting styles and what products to buy. So many parents have said to me – after their babies have arrived – that they wish they had spent more time learning about the first few weeks with a newborn and what to expect, as they suddenly found themselves quite unprepared.
There is so much information, however, that chances are you simply won’t take it in and understand it until you hold your wee baby in your arms and have made it through the ‘honeymoon’ phase. (The saying “It went straight over my head” comes to mind here!) Having said that there are some simple but fundamental points that I like new parents to know before their baby arrives. My top 10 tips that can help you as a parent in the early weeks with your newborn are:
- Where possible, talk with family and friends about parenting styles. It is great to have the opportunity to ask questions or even to hold a newborn if you can. This will help your confidence in the early weeks, when most parents feel they are all fingers and thumbs.
- Be prepared. Nothing will help you more than taking the time to stock the freezer with meals that are breastfeeding-friendly and easy to heat and eat.
- Be still. Limit the number of visitors you say yes to. You need time to establish the bond with your baby and master the art of feeding. Be selective about the number of guests you have and consider how comfortable you are in their presence, as your baby will be aware if you are not relaxed.
- There are varying opinions when it comes to winding babies, but I do believe that learning an effective winding technique is one of the best tools for helping your baby in the first three months of their life.
- If you have a visual and active newborn, one that has never been the sleepy newborn like those around you, take time to create good patterns and rituals around their time awake and asleep. These babies find it hard to fall asleep and often get over-tired or display colic-like symptoms or painful signs, when in fact many of these babies simply love consistency and calm repetition through a soft routine-type day.
- Seek advice early if you are struggling. It is not normal for newborn babies to be unsettled daily, like once thought. They’re telling you something and you may need a family member, friend or professional to help you work through the possible reasons for it.
- Think about what you would like for the future when it comes to their sleeping environment. Many parents love to hold, rock or feed their babies to sleep in the first three months, but then ask me later why their baby doesn’t like being put down. While there is no right or wrong, it is wise to give your baby a balance if Attachment Parenting is not the direction you are planning to take.
- Be patient. It takes time to learn everything that a newborn brings to your world. Babies sense impatience and need the respect of time – time for parents to learn and for the baby’s ability to adapt to this new, stimulating world of ours.
- Dress your baby in layers using natural breathable fabrics. Often babies don’t have enough layers that can be taken on and off depending on their environment. They have to create heat if they get cold, which can affect their ability to put on weight and thrive. Equally, you can over-dress a baby if not using breathable fabrics, especially in a car seat or if wrapped in bed. Check your baby’s body temperature by placing your fingers down their back between their shoulder blades. If sticky they are too hot, but if there’s no heat they may be a little cold. They should be warm to touch.
- Enjoy! This time goes very quickly and your little newborn doesn’t stay this little for long. Don’t wish this time away, just enjoy it in the best way your can.