What First Time Parents Should Know About Raising A Baby
I remember a friend who became a mother for the first time; she looked different back when she was still single. She had bags under her eyes and she started to gain weight. Looking at her then made me think how stressful it is to be a first-time mom.
Raising a child is no easy job especially for first-time parents. It is already hard to take care of our own self, so much more if you have another person to take care of. There are a lot of things that you need to think about. Sure, you have your parents and friends to ask for advice, but a firsthand experience is the best teacher. However, it does not hurt if you start to find ways to widen your knowledge when it comes to taking care of your baby.
What are the basic things every first-time parent should know?
1. You should be familiar with baby’s behavior.
Perhaps one of the things that most first-time parents feel the most difficult is to identify the baby’ cries. Since your baby cannot talk yet, he will react to everything around him through his cries. There was once a study about the various meanings behind baby’s cries. One of the conclusions from that study was to encourage parents to get familiar with their baby’s behavior and to be responsive to the baby’s cries.
Every parent should understand that babies do not cry for no reason, so you should be responsive when you hear them crying. Sometimes, what they actually need is their parents to soothe them and reassure them that they are safe. Being responsive to your baby’s cry is also one way to establish a good connection with them. On other occasions, babies cry because they feel uncomfortable. In this case, you have to check the following as they might be the cause of your baby’s cry.
- Hungry- This is mostly the reason why most babies cry especially in the middle of the night. Since babies only have milk as their main source of nutrition, it is understandable that they usually get hungry a lot and need to eat several times a day.
You can prepare a bottle of milk before going to sleep so that you can easily feed your baby in case he got hungry. Just prepare a considerable amount though; you do not want to have a lot of leftovers in the morning.
- Thirsty- When you feed milk to your baby, but he somehow turns his head sideways, he may not be hungry but rather thirsty. Give your baby a bottle of water instead of milk. Use distilled water to ensure your baby’s safety, or you can boil mineral water and then let it cool before giving it to your baby.
- Full nappies– Aside from being hungry, full nappies is also one the top reasons why babies cry. If you have just finished feeding your baby but he suddenly cries, check his nappy first to see if it already full. You can easily determine when the diaper is full as it will become a little bit heavier when you touch it.
If you feel to notice this, the urine stocked inside the diaper might cause irritations and rashes to your baby. So, make it a habit to check the diaper from time to time. Moreover, urine is not the only thing that can make the diaper full. Sometimes, feces could be the cause. Just like urine, feces matter can also cause irritations and rashes if remained unnoticed.
When changing your baby’s nappy, make sure to use alcohol-free wet wipes so as not to irritate the skin. Baby’s skin around the genital area is quite sensitive as compared to other parts of the body.
- Hot/low temperature- Sometimes babies cry because they feel uncomfortable of the temperature. If you think this is the reason of your baby’s cry, you can check his back for sweat. Change your baby’s clothes immediately to avoid any health complications. However, if the temperature is rather low, you can let your baby wear think clothes or swaddle them with a blanket.
Babies process food differently than adults. Their digestive system is not yet fully developed, so solid food is not advisable for them. The best food for babies from 0-6 months old is still breast milk. Doctors even suggest continuing supplemented breastfeeding up to 2 years to ensure that your baby gets the needed nutrition. Breast milk is the leading source of nutrition for babies; it has complex nutrients such as lipids, proteins, carbohydrates, and other components needed by the body. It is also a good source of colostrum, a yellowish substance that is rich in antibodies to keep your baby from any infections. Colostrum is produced during the first few day after giving birth.
2. Do not skip vaccine shots.
The world has become a dangerous place to live. New diseases are found, and the cure is still under experiment. This is why vaccines are necessary. One shot can actually protect your baby from various health problems like chicken pox, mumps, flu, and much more. Vaccines are given in several sessions; this is why many parents forget to complete their baby’s vaccine shots. You can make a schedule for this and set an alarm on your phone to remind you of the schedule.
3. Set a sleeping guideline to avoid accidents like rolling over your baby.
There are several reports of horrible incidents wherein parents accidentally rolled over in their sleep and suffocating the baby in the process. Although this accident can happen, it does not mean you cannot do something to avoid it. You can still sleep with your baby safely if you implement simple guidelines like putting several pillows around your baby before going to sleep. Keeping your baby close might actually be safer than putting him in a crib in the next room.
4. Your baby’s doctor is not the parents, so do not think that they know more than you do.
Most of the first-time parents’ dilemma is the wrong mindset that doctors are better parents than them. It is easy for them to feel like doctors are better than them because doctors often give them advise and all. However, your baby’s doctor is not your baby’s parent. What they advise are just general guidelines; it is you who know your baby better.
Following doctor’s advice is good; however, some doctors are experts in breastfeeding. Some of them do not even have the experience of breastfeeding or being parents for that matter. Perhaps it is better to seek advice from doctors or professional like lactation consultants who have experience in breastfeeding.
Some people might recommend to just trust you mother instinct, which is often helpful, but it is still better to be sure and ask for an expert’s second opinion You and your baby’s health should be your priorities.
5. Do not spoil your baby with too much attention.
There is a boundary between giving enough love and care and showing too much attention. As first-time parents, you might find it hard to ignore your baby’s cries, but there are times that you must learn when not to show attention just to implement a little discipline. Showing too much attention and heeding to all your baby’s requests may eventually spoil them in the process. You can give them love and affection by tending to their needs but not with their wants. You can give them rewards, though, but not too much.
6. Let you kids play outside
Electronic gadgets have changed the way kids define amusement nowadays. PSP, Xbox, iPod, cell phone, and many other electronic gadgets are what keep children of today’s generation busy. Gone are the days of running outside the house, making tree houses, and other recreational games. Most children are now holding electronic gadgets in their hands playing online games.
Technology is not the only one to blame for this unhealthy trend. Modern parents nowadays are too skeptical to let their children play outside. They are afraid of them getting dirty playing outside, so they tend to keep them inside the house instead. This is a common misconception by most fist time parents. Your home may protect you from rain and storms, but it will not protect you from germs. Even inside your own household, germs reside.
Keeping your children inside will only make them anti-social and miss half of their life as a child. Allow them to enjoy their childhood while they still can. Let them connect with nature and enjoy the world outside. They will have plenty of time inside the house once they get older.
What to expect now that you have a new member in your family?
Having a baby certainly brings new changes in the parents’ life. While some parents are pretty good at adjusting to these changes, there are those parents (especially the first time ones) who are having a hard time coping with it. To help you prepare yourself in facing these challenges, here are the things that you should expect when raising a baby.
1. Less sleeping time
I often heard parents complaining about how they lack sleep and feel very stressful after having a baby. They made it sound like it is the baby’s fault that they feel stressed. Sure, you might have less time for sleeping, but if you know how to manage your time well, you can still have a good night sleep.
Less sleeping time is way different from lack of sleep. Lack of sleep could mean 8 hours of lying in bed but still unable to fall asleep while less sleeping time could mean having 5 hours of sleeping straight and sound.
As parents, you must learn that you have another person to take care of who is mostly dependent on you. Being parents require sacrifices and sleeping time is one of which.
2. Increase in budget
Now that you have an additional member of the family, you can expect an increase in your budget. Do not think that because you just have a small little creature as the newest member of the family; you will only expect a small increase in your budget. That would be the biggest misconception so far as having a baby is almost 50% increase in your usual budget.
Raising a baby is not only about an additional budget for food, but you also have to think about the health maintenance, baby things and equipment, education, and much more. It takes more than just changing diapers and feeding milk. This is why before deciding to have a baby, you must have a stable income and some savings in the bank.
3. More household chores
Babies are babies; they crawl, walk, run, and play around the house which often means additional chores for parents especially for mothers. The usual morning run that you used to have may be changed into laundry time and sweeping floors. Parenthood means being versatile in doing a lot of things simultaneously.
Parents should spend their time wisely. They should also know what chores or things to prioritize first. This way, you will not just save time, you also save your energy.
4. More patience
It is easy to get frustrated especially if your baby cries a lot. Some parents do not even want to hear loud noises like a baby’s scream, but being parents is not just about being a mom or a dad, it is about caring for another person who is your baby.
Yes, it might be a little frustrating sometimes; but for first-time parents, it is quite normal. You are not the only person who undergoes the same situation. If they were able to surpass it, then you too can do it. Patience is the key. You have to be patient and gradually learn from the experience.
5. Fewer night outs, more house time
Since you will be very busy taking care of you baby and your family, you have to manage your time wisely. This means that you will have less time for night outs and parties. You can still go out on occasion, though, but not as frequent as you used to before. The moment you decided to be a parent, you have to accept the responsibility that your family should come first now. You can still go out from time to time, but it would more of a family bonding time rather than a friend’s night out.
6. Physical changes
This applies more to mothers. Now, that you have a baby to think about, you may have less time for yourself. Aside from than natural changes after giving birth, changes will continue to show as your lifestyle might also change.
Most mothers gain weight after giving birth and tend to sport shorter hair as compared before. Their choice of clothes might also change. In a nutshell, their priorities in life will change.
What are the common mistakes all first-time parents should avoid?
Now that you know the basic things and expectations every first-time parent should know, you must also take the time to read about the common mistakes all first-time parents should avoid.
1. Waking the baby to feed him/her
Babies know when they are hungry or not. When they do, they are not like adults who can suppress the feeling and just stay quite. Babies easily express how they feel. If they are hungry, they will surely show it by crying. You do not have to wake them just to breastfeed.
Another reason why this should be avoided is that babies needed their sleep as much as parents do. If you wake them up in the middle of the night, it will already be difficult to get them to sleep. If your baby will not sleep, it means you too will have to skip sleep.
2. Panicking over unnecessary things
According to Dr. Hoffman of Pacella Parent Child Center, most new parents panic and fuss over everything, from simple vomiting, loud crying or screaming, low eating appetite, and much more. When the baby gets a little older, the parents’ panic does not stop there; they will start worrying about sanitation, injuries, and others. If all of these things go on, you only end up wasting the entire year of your child’s life. Learn to distinguish serious matter worth panicking about and small things that you can just let them pass.
3. Neglecting proper sanitation of baby’s things
Since babies can easily get infected, parents should always keep baby utensils sanitized. Milk and water bottles should be cleaned regularly and properly. Baby’s clothes should be washed with mild soap instead of the usual bleach and powder we used. Baby’s skin is far more sensitive than adults’.
4. Using medicine not prescribed by doctors
In an attempt to cure the baby’s illness immediately, parents often forget to see a doctor and ask for a prescribed medicine. Instead, they ask their friends, parents, grandparents, or whoever is near at that moment. Maybe it is because of the fact that we often get carried away with our emotions, and we fail to think rationally. However, whatever happens, always give your baby the prescribed medicine given by the doctor. Do not just follow what others tell you to buy. It is better to be sure than sorry afterward.
5. Not letting the baby cry
When the baby cries, the automatic reaction of the parents is to stop the baby from crying. Baby’s cry is just their reaction to certain stimuli. The best thing that you can do is to find out why they are crying in the first place. Your attempt at stopping them from crying is futile if you will not find out the cause of their discomfort. Jennifer Walker, a registered nurse, said that babies are designed to cry. That is their way of communication. You can cuddle and console them, though, but just let them cry it out.
6. Being too focused on the baby to the point of ignoring your marriage
Your baby is a blessing that you should be grateful about, but so is your husband or wife. Some mothers are too focused on taking care of their baby that they often forget that they also have a husband to care. The arrival of the baby should strengthen the bond between man and wife, not the other way around. If this situation becomes worse, the marriage may be compromised.
Take care of your baby as every parent should do, but also find time to take care of your husband or wife. Being a parent does not mean your duty is now focused on your baby, it means your duty has now doubled, for your partner and your baby.
7. Letting one spouse do all the load
The baby is both the mother and the father’s responsibility. Most often than not, it is only the mother who feels the weight of the responsibility of raising the baby. This may be the case before when most mothers are just staying at home and have to career to think about. Today’s generation is rather different; women just like men also have a career to build and an income to earn.
Sharing the load in taking care of the baby must be equally divided between parents. This is also a perfect time for fathers to spend some quality time with the baby.
First-time parents often have self-doubt whether or not what they are doing is right. Remember, there is no such thing as perfect parenting, but you can give your baby the best care that they surely deserved. Since we are now living in an advanced society where almost all information can be accessible in just one click, you have no excuse not to know even the basics of parenting. To help you get started on the journey of parenthood, follow the information as mentioned above and embrace the life of being a parent.
No matter how hard it may be to raise a child, you will be rewarded afterward with their smiles, kisses, and hugs. Cherish every single moment with your baby for you might not be able to do that when they grow up.