I’ve just read this post by Mamasaurus and it reminded me of the advice I wrote for a friend of mine expecting her first baby. I am by no means an expert, but these were things I found useful (and she didn’t mind me writing this for her…)
1. Ignore all advice. Except this one on ignoring advice Every baby is different and you will be the number one expert on everything to do with your baby (Daddy too, but you most of all). What worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you. It’s nice to get ideas, it’s nice to talk to other people and it’s good to ask for advice when you need it. But don’t feel obliged to follow anything, trust your instincts and definitely ignore well-meaning but unsolicited advice – it’s nice but it’s usually not useful.
2. Don’t stress breastfeeding. Definitely try it, persevere if it’s something you really want to do, there are breastfeeding peer support groups etc and plenty of help. It’s not easy. But if you don’t want to, can’t for any reason or just don’t like it (like I didn’t) then don’t stress it. A happy mummy is better for baby than breast milk. If it comes easily and naturally, enjoy it – no sterilising, no bottles to carry around etc.
3. Slings are fab. A stretchy wrap sling is best for a newborn – for example a Moby or a Close Carrier. Certain structured carriers are not good for babies (they hang by their crotch, rather than being supported by their bottom). A stretchy wrap snuggles baby and allows you freedom to do other things. I never had one with MG but did with DG and it was definitely essential with two: MG in a buggy, DG in the sling. But with one, it saves having to always take a buggy out, if you just want to go for a walk etc. Also apparently you can breastfeed in them, but I know nothing about that. But I definitely recommend. It’s lovely being close to baby but also having hands free to read a book or make lunch…
4. A digital ear thermometer – definitely an essential. Much quicker and non-obtrusive than other thermometers. They’re £30-£40 but well worth it for the peace of mind. I got one when MG was born and it’s still on the first set of batteries. On a similar note, newborns should never have a fever. If an under 8-week old has a fever (over 38C or 37.5C depending on what you read) then take them to the GP immediately, out of hours if necessary. It happened to me with DG at 5 weeks and a friend with her 2nd baby at 3 weeks. Both of us didn’t think it was important, both of us ended up in hospital with the babies. In both cases it was viral meningitis, of the kind that is not dangerous but as it takes a test of spinal fluid to find out, it’s treated aggressively to be on the safe side. In our cases, the babies would have recovered and didn’t need to be in hospital, but it’s best to be safe.
5. A baby gym – essential to leave baby lying under so you can do other things like go to the toilet, or eat! Any will do, I had a plastic 2nd hand one that did fine for both girls but there are also lovely fabric or wooden ones. Basically arches with things hanging down for babies to look at and to reach for when they get bigger. They only last until they start crawling (from 8 months ish) so not worth spending a fortune on. NCT sales are good for picking up 2nd hand ones.
6. Nearly New Sales – search online for NCT nearly new sales. They are fab for picking up bits and pieces that are “nearly new” for very little. I’m now selling more than buying at my local one but have got a lot of bargains at them.
7. Visitors in the early days / weeks / months – let them do things for you. I know it’s hard, I never managed it, but especially with baby’s grandparents, let them cook and clean and do your clothes washing and get their own cups of tea. You and baby are the most important, you need time to get to know each other in the early weeks too. If you don’t feel like visitors, don’t have them. Concentrate on you and baby. The house can stay a mess. You can live in PJs. On a similar note, preparing easy to cook meals for the freezer before baby arrives is good, or live on microwave meals for a bit if you need to! Let your friends come round and cook for you at your house. Let yourself be looked after, you have the baby to look after and nothing else matters when they are tiny and helpless.
8. Routines and baby books – your baby won’t have read the book, it won’t do what the book says it should. Every baby is different, sometimes you get one that fits one book, sometimes one that fits another, more often than not they don’t fit any recommended routine. Sleeping through is a myth – tiny babies have tiny tummies, they can’t eat enough to keep them for 12 hours. If they’re feeding every 2 hours, don’t stress it. It will change. A 4 hourly routine sounds great, but if you’re trying to get baby to stop crying for 2 of those hours then it’s not worth it. I managed to get MG into a 4 hour feeding routine, but she took an hour to take a bottle so night feedings were hellishly long. DG I never bothered with any routine. She fed every 2 hours but took 10 minutes so night feeds were no trouble. DG settled into a day-night routine in about 8-12 weeks, the same as MG but without me trying to enforce a routine. Having tried both ways, baby-led was much easier. But then DG was also a much more laid back baby. So back to my first bit of advice – ignore other people’s advice!
9. You don’t need to buy everything that the lists tell you to buy – most lists are written by people who want to sell you stuff! This is a good list, but again you don’t need everything: The List
10. If you haven’t already, join the Boots advantage card and sign up for Parenting Club – the changing bag that you get free with a pack of nappies is the only changing bag you need. You could spend a fortune on them if you like, but really this free bag is a great size, has enough compartments and has a good changing mat in a bag, will hang over a buggy’s handles etc.
11. Did I mention ignoring other people’s advice?
So what advice would you have given? It would be lovely if you could comment with any advice you would add, or take away…