Heading home with a newborn baby can be frightening. Authors Laura Jana and Jennifer Shu, moms who are also pediatricians, have released a new book that offers a wealth of "parent-tested, pediatrician-approved" advice to make the experience of settling in as a new mom a little less overwhelming.
In Heading Home With Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality, Second Edition, Laura A. Jana, MD, FAAP and Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP, offer new moms a wealth of information to make the transition easier. Read on for six expert tips.
6 Newborn tips
Breastfeeding: Staying well hydrated
While there is no truth to the old wives' tale that you need to drink milk to make milk, drinking plenty of liquids and staying well hydrated can definitely help keep things flowing. Some moms actually experience strong pangs of thirst associated with milk let-down each time they breastfeed, conveniently ensuring that they remember to rehydrate. Even if you don't notice these signals, use your nursing times as reminders to drink plenty of fluids and stay well hydrated.
Fending off fever: Don't go looking for trouble
There's nothing inherently risky about taking an appropriately dressed newborn out of the house, but it's wise to be a bit choosy about where you go. Crowded areas and small enclosed spaces are perfect places to come into contact with unwanted germs.
Taking a walk outdoors or sticking to wide open spaces will decrease the likelihood that your baby will be coughed on, sneezed at or touched by people who are sick.
Vaccines: Keep a record
As both as pediatricians and as parents, Dr Jana and Dr Shu encourage parents to keep good records about each and every vaccine your baby gets, starting from day one. Sure, this may seem like stating the obvious and, yes, your baby's doctor is required to document all of them as well, but you're going to be asked for this information many, many times in the coming years. You'll have to provide vaccine records for your child's entry into child care, elementary school, a new pediatric practice, a foreign country, college and more.
Dr Jana and Dr Shu can't stress enough how glad you'll be to have a neatly documented, up-to-date list of the names and dates of all your child's vaccines in one place. Whether it's in a baby book or online, stored for safe-keeping in your computer files or on a state registry, having a backup of your child's meticulously maintained immunization record will prove exceptionally useful.
Early learning: Time for a talk
Sound simple? That's because it is! While some new parents feel a bit silly talking to babies who can't talk back, this isn't the same as talking to yourself. Tell your baby about your plans for the day during mundane tasks, such as diaper changes. The nuances may be lost on him for a while, but he'll definitely be listening and learning.
Play it safe by making sure that you and anyone else who cares for your baby always puts him down to sleep on his back.
Media matters: No TV for the under two set
It is surprising how many parents set their babies and toddlers in front of the television, especially in light of the American Academy of Pediatrics's long and decisive discouragement of any media use or screen time for children under the age of two. This includes television, computers and DVDs marketed as "educational" for babies and toddlers. Although this recommendation has been met with understandable resistance in the parenting world (along the lines of asking devoted football fans to forego watching the televised Super Bowl), it is important to note that it is based on very real concerns. Most importantly, we know infants and young children really need positive interactions with real, live human beings. Even though it may be convenient for busy parents, TV-watching for those under the age of two is a two-dimensional and passive pastime.
Find more tips in Heading Home With Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality, Second Edition, which is available on the American Academy of Pediatrics official Web site for parents, HealthyChildren.org and in bookstores nationwide.
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