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August 18, 2010 / Living Life Our Way

Words of Wisdom? My message to all new parents-to-be

My message to all new parents-to-be

In general, when you become a parent, you will find people are quick to give tonnes of advice. Most of this seems to be fairly ‘one size fits all’. My personal suggestion is to be aware of this and remember above all else that all babies are individuals, just like adults, they each have their own personalities and preferences. The same ‘rules’ cannot be true for all babies and the same approach will not suit all either. The one thing no one said to me (and I would have found most useful to hear) is that everyone is different and you should do what works for your family, so trust your own instincts and do what feels right. Even professionals sometimes offer personal opinion rather than an ‘expert’ one and many ideas are very outdated old wives tales.

Being a parent is challenging but also amazing, just remember difficult phases pass by so quickly in the grand scheme of things.

THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BIRTH:

I think that getting mentally prepared, eating healthy and relaxing before birth is all far more important than getting baby equipment ready. Think of nesting as preparing yourself rather than just preparing your home, particularly if that is largely through making purchases. You will have time to get what you need when s/he comes along and I honestly think that what new parents will find essential is a really personal thing. Obviously there’s going to be some necessities that are the same for most parents and babies, but I think this is surprisingly little. However, expectant parents often wonder what are essential purchases so here are my thoughts on what to buy.

Where will s/he sleep?

Lots of people say babies sleep better alone, but SIDS safety advice recommends sleeping in same room for 6 months. There’s lots of bad press that says co-sleeping is dangerous but these statistics are totally twisted and it is safe if common sense is used and guidelines are followed. Co-sleeping is great if you are committed to breastfeeding and/or if you want to maximise sleep as it is far nicer than getting up in the night! Also great for bonding. Many people these days seem under the impression it makes children clingy and less independent. However I believe it makes children more independent and more confident in the long run by giving loads of much needed security while they are young so it gives them solid foundations to thrive. BUT the truth is all babies are different. What is right for one baby won’t always work for another, and no two families are the same. If you will possibly co-sleep then first consider safety. Make sure the bedroom environment is suitable for your new addition and perhaps think about getting a bedside co-sleeper or putting your mattress on the floor even.

What bedding will you use?

Some babies like to be swaddled others like to feel free. Again all babies are different. We found sleeping bags useful but not at first because newborns are usually too small for them. Sheets or thin blankets can be used for swaddling or can be layered so are flexible and therefore useful for a newborn. Don’t bother with the specifically designed swaddling sheets/ kits, they not very versatile and are expensive, whereas simple blankets or sheets can be used as you wish.

Feeding- breastfeeding?

Obviously most people don’t know exactly how long they will breastfeed for initially but assuming you plan to breastfeed for at least a few months then you might want to think about clothing that makes it easy to feed while out and about. Also possibly consider a pump if you think you will need to express milk at any time (which is fairly likely). We took a baby-led weaning approach to solid food alongside breastfeeding on demand. Later on, some people approach naturally cutting back on breastfeeding by using the ‘don’t offer, don’t refuse’ method, which seems to work well for many.

Carrying and travelling

A good sling is a great investment. There are many different types that are worn and tied differently so it is worth finding out if you have a local sling library nearby where there will be a selection to try out or ask other baby wearing mums (and dads) if you can try theirs out.

Babies are not recommended to be in car seats for long periods regularly because they are not good for developing spines so I would personally suggest not to rely on travel system you put the car seat directly onto. For the same reason if you think you will use a pram often then it is sensible to ensure it is a well designed flat one. Some also change into rear facing pushchairs for when baby learns to sit up securely, which is good for communication and bonding.

Clothing

In my personal opinion it doesn’t seem worth bothering to buy fancy outfits for the first few months because you will probably get bought some anyway and simple outfits are far more convenient. You will need a decent supply of bodysuits, vests and sleepsuits though. There are lots of lovely different types of cloth nappies and many areas have advice support for this, so if you wish to choose reusables do find out what is available locally.

Muslin cloths are handy for EVERYTHING in the early months!

Entertainment

Different babies like different things. Bouncers, rockers and swings are such an individual taste so not worth getting until you know your little one. Wait and see what your baby enjoys by borrowing or testing out the toys at baby groups, friends’ homes etc…

Some good parenting resources are:

Baby Calm by Sarah Ockwell- Smith (also see her website http://sarahockwell-smith.com/)

The Baby Book by Sears (great for general reference, attachment parenting)

What Every Parent Needs to Know by Margot Sunderland (really interesting as based on latest scientific research which expels some myths and many of the old wives tales you will hear)

No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley (hints and tips rather than do’s and don’ts!)

http://www.alfiekohn.org/index.php

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