Preparing for your first baby

When I was expecting my first baby, a cousin of mine sent me a Word doc with some great tips that were really helpful! As one parent to another, let me share with you her tips as well as my own. Here’s a few things you should know now, before your baby arrives.

Don’t over-prepare

Of course, you want to feel prepared and ready for the new one. But don’t spend money on things that you might not even end up using. For example, we had a few packages of newborn-sized white onesies. Sounds like a pretty basic thing that every baby should have in his wardrobe, right? Well, since we live in a warmer climate, and my little boy needed to be swaddled to sleep, he ended up getting heat rash because he was too warm. So he usually ended up sleeping in nothing but a diaper and a light swaddling blanket. He took so many naps during the day that it seemed silly to dress him in clothes between naps. As a result, my boy was almost always naked during his waking hours (much to the dismay of his grandma, who wanted to see him in his cute baby clothes).

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    • Amazon mom: If you already have an Amazon Prime account, it’s easy to sign up for Amazon Mom and it doesn’t cost anything extra. If you don’t already have a Prime account, consider getting one. It’s about $100/year, but for us it has been totally worth it. With membership comes a lot of perks, the best of which is their free 2-day shipping on tons of items. Whatever I need that I can’t find at my grocery store, I can almost always find it on Amazon, and I can almost always get free 2-day shipping with it. With an Amazon Mom account, you also get discounts on diapers and wipes. Not only that, but with their Subscribe and Save program, they will send you diapers on a schedule so you don’t have to remember to buy more. You just itemize which items you want to come every month (or every two months, or whatever you choose), and those items will all be shipped together on the same day each month. The more items you have being shipped together, the bigger the discount you get. I’ve compared prices between Amazon, my local grocery store, Diapers.com, and Wal-mart, and they are ALWAYS cheaper through my Subscribe & Save, even if I had coupons. And when you have a newborn, you’ll probably want/need to limit your trips outside the house as much as possible. So having things speedily delivered right to your door is a godsend. Shopping online is so much easier than taking your baby with you to the store. We probably buy something from Amazon at least once a week.

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    • Diapers: I recommend buying small packages of different types of diapers so you can decide which ones you like best, and then buying your favorite in bulk from Amazon. Hopefully, you’ll have received a variety of diapers from your baby shower. Since newborns have an all-liquid diet, their poop is really runny. I love Pampers Swaddlers because they have a layer of mesh that keeps the poop in the diaper, but also off their bottoms. When their poop starts getting messier, I like to switch to Huggies Clean & Dry, which has elastic at the back of the waistband. The elastic helps prevent messy poop from going up & out the back. Quick tip: When baby is pooping, let him recline. Do NOT let him lean forward unless you want the poop to shoot up and out the back of his diaper! Size: newborn diapers are for babies up to 8 lbs. In the beginning we used at least 8 diapers a day (240/month). Disposable Versus Cloth Diapers: Wait until AFTER your baby is born before you make this decision. Some people have an “easy” baby and find that they don’t mind doing the extra laundry associated with cloth diapers. For me, my babies were terrible sleepers, and I was a Zombie Mom for a few weeks because of sleep deprivation. Doing any laundry at all was an overwhelming chore. Doing extra laundry?? Super-duper bad idea.
  • Baby monitor: Any basic model will let you hear what’s going on in the baby’s room. You can find them for real cheap, especially if you look on Craigslist or other local sites. Rachel LOVES her video monitor, which also lets her see what’s happening. It’s super pricey, but worth it for us. After I put him down for a nap, if he starts crying, I can see if he’s crying because he’s hurt (ex: he has an arm stuck between the crib slats),  or because he dropped his pacifier out of the crib, or if he’s just tired and will be ok to keep crying a little longer. For the first few months, their cries all sound the same, so you never know.
  • Gas drops: since their digestive systems are not very mature at all, they have a hard time passing gas and it can be painful. Signs of gas cramps include fussiness and pulling his legs up to his chest, especially when he’s laying down on his back. If your little one gets gas pain, you can give gas drops as soon as you see the cues, or give it beforehand. Gas drops are safe to administer at every feeding. Also, to provide immediate relief, try one of these tricks: lay him on his back and push his legs up so that his knees come up to his chest and his toes touch his face, then bring his legs straight down, then back up again, repeated many times; or you can move his legs around as if he is pedaling a bicycle.
  • Swaddlers: It seems like most infants like being swaddled when they sleep, although a few hate it. I would invest in one swaddler at first, and if your baby sleeps well in it, then get more. Try a nice muslin cotton blanket. They are very light and breathable. Also, there are swaddle blankets with Velcro which makes it super easy to swaddle them in real well. Be mindful of the temperature in the room (experts say it should be somewhere between 65-75 degrees) and what, if anything, your baby is wearing under the swaddler. If/when they wake up during the night, check to see if they’re too hot (too warm and possibly sweaty) or too cold (feel their back and tummy; they should feel warm). Check for heat rashes in the morning.

Vitamin Supplements

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says to NOT give your baby any supplements, except as directed by your pediatrician, and except for vitamin D and iron, as noted below. For more info, see their book “Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, Birth to Age 5.”

Vitamin D: The American Association of Pediatrics says “human milk does not contain sufficient vitamin D to prevent a deficiency of this vitamin, which can produce diseases such as rickets (the severe form of vitamin D deficiency characterized by the softening of bones). Even though sunlight stimulates the skin to manufacture vitamin D, all children should wear sunscreen when they’re outdoors and sunscreen prevents the skin from making vitamin D” (from the AAP’s book, Caring For Your Baby and Young Child, Birth to age 5). You can find it in the grocery store, but it can be expensive, so I recommend looking on Amazon for one.

Iron: Newborns are born with enough iron stored up to last them for four to six months. After that, they can start eating solids, so they can get all the iron they need from a combination of breastmilk and iron-fortified foods.

Our pediatrician told us that research shows that infants who are exclusively breastfed have a higher chance of developing food allergies if they start eating solids at four months than if they start eating solids at six months, so he recommended we wait until six months to start giving Emrys solids. Therefore, he recommended we give Emrys an iron supplement between months four to six to make sure he was getting enough.  I had been giving it to Emrys daily, and then forgot about it a few days and definitely noticed a change in his demeanor. At five months, he normally laughs really easily at so many things and is such a happy boy. But one day, I mentioned to Jon that he wasn’t laughing for me anymore. Even Jon had a hard time getting him to laugh. He seemed lethargic, too. Then I remembered that my pediatrician said that babies who have an iron deficiency don’t act like their normal selves. If you give them iron, they perk right up. Sure enough, once I remembered to give him his iron in the morning, a few naps later he was almost completely back to his old self. My pediatrician also said that an iron deficiency can have a permanent effect on a child (i.e. a major difference in IQ points). So how do you know if your baby has enough iron stored up to last only four months, or five months, or all the way to six months? I guess you don’t really know. I’m glad I followed the pediatrician’s recommendation and started iron supplements at four months, since it seems he really didn’t have enough to last him through to six months.

How to administer supplements: The supplements usually come with a dropper, and it can be hard for them to take it from a dropper (especially because the iron supplement tastes SO BAD!). I found that an easy way to give it to them is to put a bottle nipple in baby’s mouth, and use the dropper to dispense the liquid into the nipple. Your baby will suck away! And it goes right past their taste buds, so they don’t even taste it. Yay!

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