Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Newborn Parenting Advice

Greetings friends and family,

Before our twins were born advice was easy to come by.  Every person with a child seemed to think they were an expert just because their child was still alive after a year.  Two weeks before Easton and Layla were born I was at the point of anxiety.   I knew they were coming, but had NO clue how to prepare, what to buy, or what to expect.  Then I received the best gift a newborn dad could ever get:  Valuable advice from someone with experience, education, passion, and a personal interest in my success.  

When the day of Easton and Layla's birth arrived I was light years ahead of other dads partially because of Joanie's efforts to equip me.

My sister took three hours of her precious time to document the basics of newborn care.  I'm not sure where she got it or the sources she used.  I don't really care either.  Bottom line is that her advice is truth we applied to our lives as new parents with great results.  I didn't intentionally horde the best advice ever given to a parent.  I was just so busy living by it day to day that I didn't think to share the wisdom.  Now, after four years of parenting I read through it with a smile on my face remembering how some scenarios played out successfully because of our adherence to the advice.  Now I can vouch for the value and accuracy of the content.  I'm no hero, just good at following direction!  So here it is...

The Best Advice No One Ever Told You in Parenting Class

1.  DELIVERY:  The aim of delivery is to get the baby out., but afterward, your aim is to get the poop out!  During delivery, you get pumped full of drugs and fluids and your digestive system is totally out of whack. In order to get a final release from the hospital, you have to prove that your digestive system is all in working order…so, whatever you do…eat fiber!  You want comfort food, but do your best to eat veggies and drink water instead.  Make a Hot Concoction of ½ Prune juice and ½ Apple juice and heat it up in the microwave….It is like an apple cider drink. Drink 3 each day you’re in the hospital and while you’re on pain medicines, and you’ll have less problems getting the bowel movement that you’re already dreading.

2.  GOING HOME:  Don’t plan anything for the evening you get home.  You’ll want your comfy bed.  You’ll need the rest, just to recoup from the transition to home.  And if you have ANY energy left, you’ll want to take pictures of the babies, so forget about having too many visitors on that day.  Let your family take care of you, hold the babies and keep things tranquil at home.  Ditto for the first full day home.

3.  HUGGIES GENTLE CARE WIPEES:  These sensitive skin wipees are soo soft and much better on a sore penis and fresh newborn baby bottoms than any other.  Splurge on these, at least for the first few weeks to ensure that you don’t have chapped hineys.

4.  BABY BATH TOWEL TRICK:  It is always hard to get a slippery baby out of the tub.  Here’s how to do it successfully. First, get a hooded bath towel.  Put a hook on the bathroom wall close to the reach of the tub, so anytime you need the towel, you can get it without letting go of the baby in the water.  Then, put the corner of the hood between your teeth, ready to put the baby in it.  Then you can use two hands to grab the baby out of the tub and pull the baby to your chest.  Then easily wrap the towel around him/her and put the hood over his/her head.  Viola!

5.  DIAPER PAILS:  There are NO pails which eliminate enough poo odor to keep the pails in the baby’s room.  (unless you want the house to smell like a litter box, don’t leave any diapers in the house overnight). There are many fancy diaper pails, with elaborate or simple bags and levers.  Don’t believe that this will help. Save your money for diapers or put the $40.00 in their college fund!!  These diaper pails are a pain to change, they will stink anyway, and the bags get expensive to buy for two years of diapers….I recommend simply buying a big box of sandwich zipbags that you can keep in the drawer of the changing table and can easily put in your diaper bag.  Every poo diaper needs to go into a sandwich bag and you’ll have a sweeter smelling room.  They are cheap, easy to use and you can take your dirty diapers to your kitchen trash can.  Just make sure it has a good LID and take it out each day.  No problem, no stinky nursery.  

6.  BABY CARRIER:  Carry your baby everyday in a carrier or a sling, even for just a few minutes….Start when they are little so they are used to it and so your back can easily manage their weight.  After they are bigger, it will be easy to carry them anywhere and keep your hands free.

7.  WHITE SOCKS:  Baby socks are a huge pain to keep together.  If you are like me, you lose even the sock mates to LARGE socks.  It  gets even harder when you have tiny socks and different kinds.  TWO suggestions:  1.  Buy white socks---all the same kind and all the same size and easily keep them together. Or  2.  Buy a pack of big safety pins, and keep them in a little basket in their dresser.  When you remove the matching socks, pin them together and then toss them into your laundry basket.  This will keep boy socks, or pink ruffly socks together, and are easier for doing laundry.  This small step saves a lot of hassle if you have lots of kinds of little socks.

8.  BABY TOY TOSSERS:  Babies are great at losing toys.  They toss them into carts at the store, onto the sidewalk as you walk, etc.  Little baby toys are essential for the car seat, the diaper bag, the play yard, the floor, etc, but you will lose lots of them unless you do the following:  Buy only toys that have a loop or some way to be hooked onto the Sassy rings.  (Buy at Target).  Connect these rings together to make baby chains to hook onto things.  Trade the toys on the end of the chain to surprise your little one.  Always keep at least one baby ring hooked onto the toy so you can quickly snatch it up and hook it onto a chain. My favorite baby chain is connected to my baby carrier (Baby Bjourn) and anytime we’re in a store or on a walk, there is a toy connected that Daphne can play with.  This keeps “Store Boredom” from hitting when you’re in the middle of Walmart and keeps you from leaning over picking up toys everywhere you go.

9.  INSTANT HAND FOAM:  My favorite is Bath and Body Works Kids Instant Hand Foam.  It’s much easier to use than the Purel liquid sanitizers.  The foam doesn’t leak out into your diaper bag. It doesn’t drip out of your hand and slime your clothes.  It even smells nice.  It is a fun way to share new scents with your baby, when he/she hasn’t even started eating foods yet.  I keep a bottle of this in the diaper bag, in the car console, in my purse, etc.  The boys even keep one in their car seat pockets.  We have a rule that EVERYONE washes their hands when we get into our car seats, before we start the car.  This is great when we’ve gone to church and everyone has “shaken hands” with our baby to touch her, and the boys are in the habit, so after school, after the park, etc, everyone uses it.  We are kind of wack-o about cleanliness (blame my doctor hubby), but regardless, we haven’t been as sick as most people…I like to think that our expensive hand foam makes the difference, especially during cold and flu season.  And, there are times, in public restrooms, that you just want to get out of the door, instead of keeping your sweet little ones in a filthy place.  But, you need to wash your hands.  This foam is good and not too harsh on your hands to use it a lot.  Fun flavors.  You can get them 3 for $10.00.

10.  CHANGING TABLE:  Keep one special toy on the changing table.  When they are little, show it to them every time you change their diaper in the daytime.  Daphne has a cute ladybug plastic brush that she loves to look at, and now holds.  I show her and she’s happy with changing time.  I can get the diaper changed with no complaints, she doesn’t put her hands in the diaper business or try to roll around, and she gets to hold her ladybug brush.

11.  SONGS:  Transitions are tough for little ones…getting in carseats, moving to the highchair, going to the swing, going to bedtime.  I suggest that you choose a special song for each of these occasions.  When it is time to go somewhere, we say “Time to go Bye-Bye” and sing a car song.  Daphne has more quickly learned what is happening because she is happy with the song and relates it to the activity. 

Bath song---splish splash, or This is the way we wash your hair”
Play yard---Itsy bitsy spider
Nite-nite—Jesus Loves Me
High Chair—“Fruit Salad, Yummy Yummy”  (Wiggles song)  “Green beans, Yummy yummy!”  “Orange carrots, yummy yummy!” 

12.  SIGN LANGUAGE: It is amazing that Daphne is only 10 months old and knows so many signs already.  Bye bye, more, all done, thank you, etc.”Open them, shut them” song..  When Eli was 1, when other kids were screaming at their moms at the dinner table, he was politely signing complete sentences…”Thank you, food, Mommy.”  “More, juice, please”

13.  THE MOMENT:  Part of the difficulty of parenting is figuring out what needs to be done.  By the time you realize that it is feeding time, diaper changing time, etc, the kid is screaming about it.  It is easier to manage the “moment” if you give them something to show them that you understand.  For example, when Daphne hollers that she’s hungry, I give her one of her little SPOONS.  She holds it, plays with it, and chews on it, knowing that I’m busy getting food for her. This keeps me sane, instead of listening to the bellowing for the entire 5 minutes that it takes me to get her food together.  Think of other “transitional” objects that you can teach them…or transitional songs to pacify them.

14.  FOOD:  It is so cute to get the feeding bibs (the big ones) the spoons, the formula and the baby food.  Most parents get the food, put it into the pantry, get the bibs, put them in the baby drawer in the bedroom, get the spoons and put them with the utensils, etc….This causes feeding confusion for you. And, it will be a long time (months!!) before you all sit down together and share a meal at the same time, and use the same utensils, food, etc.  So. I recommend you get one cabinet in the kitchen that you use for ALL baby things related to feeding.  Then when you empty the dishwasher, it all goes into the same area.  When you need to feed the baby, everything it at your fingertips, and you can easily put the entire meal together without running to the bedroom for the bibs, and across the kitchen for the formula.  All in ONE spot makes sense.

15. WASHING BABY BIBS:  When you take a bib off the baby, connect the Velcro before putting it in the hamper.  This will help the bibs NOT to snag other clothing or items in the washing machine.  I find it is easy to wash all the feeding bibs with my towels, to keep all the sweet potatoes off the light pink clothing.

16.  WHEN YOUR INFANT IS UPSET:  learn to “Shush” it---mom can show you and it works!!!  And, learn to do the “Daddy Dance”---Bron, hold your hand out, as if receiving money.  Lay the baby, face down, on your forearm.  Your hand is holding his/her chest, butt up at your elbow pit, and head is kind of drooping down.  Stand up, dance your best slow dance and put the baby to sleep.  WHEN YOUR LITTLE ONE IS UPSET:  Tell him/her a story!  I have found that Daphne is so interested in my “story-telling” voice and it keeps her attentive and calm.  Start with a story you know and love.  Use interesting voices and sound affects to keep them listening to you.  Now, Daphne loves to “Knock” when I tell the story of Goldilocks and pretends to run when I tell the Gingerbread Man.  Classic stories have a rhythm to them. The stories that repeat phrases, such as “SOMEBODY’s been sitting in my chair!!” or “Huff and I’ll puff..”, are great for learning vocabulary and for teaching them the cadence of language.

17.  PHOTO BOOKS:  Get a little photo book for babies and put pictures of familiar objects and people.  (favorite cup, daddy, mommy, sister, sock, favorite ball, bathtub).  Show this book to your baby and say the picture names.  This book will always be your baby’s favorite.  Change it as you are teaching new vocabulary.  This month we took Daphne to the zoo for the first time.  Now, she knows the elephant and giraffe and monkeys, and recognizes the pictures I took of them with a gleeful squeal.  (Make it personal and your baby will learn so much more.)

18.  PLACE FOR EVERYTHING:  Get a bench or make a place in your house for baby gear. (It isn’t easy to store all you need in the baby’s room.)  You need an accessible place for diaper bags (right as you enter the house? Or a bench in baby’s room), where you can open them, sort baby things, add stuff, etc). 

19.  EMERGENCY STASH:  Make an emergency stash in the trunk or under a seat in your car for the essentials.   (powdered formula packet, cup, bottle of water, diapers in the right size, baby jammies (in case of severe blow-out #2), wipees (lots) and a T-shirt for Mom.  There will be sometime when you will need this and you’ll be thankful for it. Later on, add a few jars of baby food and a bib.  Amazing how many times I’ve used my “emergency” stash. Last week I was quickly running out the door, forgot the diaper bag altogether and then had a poopy diaper to change in the preschool pick-up car line…Boy was I glad for my “stash”.

20.  EMERGENCY NUMBERS:  If you do not have a “CHAD” sticker, get one “every Child Has An Identity” for your carseat.  This lists the baby’s name, your name, emergency numbers, etc.  This is important in case you are ever in an accident and YOU are the one hurt.  You have two people who are depending on you now, so if you are in an accident, make sure that the emergency providers can calm the babies by knowing their names and knowing how to get ahold of the emergency contacts for YOU.

21.  DOCTOR’S NOTEBOOK:  Begin a small notebook (small 3 ring binder, perhaps), that you can put all  info about your doctor visit.  I know many mothers who do not do this and they can’t remember the dates of the ear infection, track allergy season, or remember other important details.  You THINK you won’t forget these important details, but with less sleep, you might…Just make a note on a page each time you go to the doctor, list your questions that were answered, write the weight/height details (for scrapbooking or baby book, LATER!!), and also write down any suggestions from the doctor, medicines prescribed, etc.  Through the year, if you see symptoms, write them down in this book (croup the first week of Oct), or wheezing after cat exposure, or trip to the mountains, rash after raspberries, etc.  Moms who do this throughout their kids’ childhoods will more quickly discover allergy connections and be able to get the medicines needed.  Also, it will keep two babies info more separate for you. (Just get a tab to separate the sections for Baby 1 and 2, perhaps??)


Anonymous said...

Funny to read this many years later! It's only after the kids are 4 that you have time to read again! haha. Love you! Joanie
ps--You're the expert now!

Anonymous said...

This is a great list! It would be good info to pass out to the pregnant clients at the Pregnancy Care Center. Maybe I can get it printed up for the clients. Joanie is a great mom and you two are becoming super parents also. Love ya gobs, MOM

The Four Webbs said...

I read it a few times before and after the twins arrived, but yes it took this many years for me to have some time to reflect on how many of those bits of advice I took to heart. It's up to Joanie whether the information can be used at the care center, but if so I'm sure the new moms would benefit.

Thanks Ma! We're excited to have you and Pa visit. Only 2 weeks away.