Mythbuster: New Baby

Posted by savannahkase on January 29, 2014 in Advice, Parenting |
Bundle of Joy

Bundle of Joy

This past week had me reminiscing on bringing my son home from the hospital one year ago. At the time, I was not worried because I’d done my research on newborns – I’d read dozens of articles and a handful of books, plus I’d polled my friends and family who had lived the new baby experience and thus, were experts as far as I was concerned. Well, if there’s one thing I learned last January, it’s that every baby is different so no one is an expert. That said, there is certain advice that is just bad. This is a summary of the most common misconceptions about newborns:

  1. You’ll know right away if your newborn is going to take to breastfeeding. I thought it was as simple as either everything works for both mom and baby, or it doesn’t. Although it is supposed to be “natural” and instinctual, for most people, breastfeeding is anything but. Some babies seem to nurse right away, but actually have a poor latch, and others have trouble in the first weeks, only to go on to become master breast-feeders. There are a wealth of resources to help with issues that arise – from lactation consultants, to support groups, to books, to specialized products – but you need to know they exist and believe they can help. Check out La Leche League, Breastfeeding.com, or Kelly Mom for more.
  2. Babies have weak immune systems so you must sterilize everything. I’ll admit, I totally bought into this one. We had an easy-to-use microwave sterilizer into which we put every bottle, pacifier, rattle, and anything else that was going into our baby boy’s mouth. It turns out, however, that sterilizing bottles and nipples once when you first get them is sufficient; after that, washing with soap and water is fine. Your newborn is exposed to more germs through your hands than through most things you’ll put in her mouth.
  3. Hydration is critical (especially in the summer) so give your baby water in between nursing sessions. Several of my relatives told me that my newborn needed to drink water to replace what he was losing through sweat and to get him in the habit of drinking water. After asking our pediatrician, however, I learned that babies should generally not drink water before they’re six months old. Breast milk is made up of mostly water (more than 85%), but it also has the nutrients a newborn needs. You don’t want him to fill up on water when what he really needs is breast milk.
  4. Tummy TimeThe more tummy time your newborn gets, the sooner he will learn to crawl. Sure, spending time on her stomach helps develop neck and back strength, as well as body awareness, but every baby develops at  her own pace. A child’s development is largely determined by his genetic make-up and personality, not how much effort his parents put into “training” him. Just enjoy the early months with your baby without a strict timeline and delight in every new skill, even if it’s just grabbing a toy or supporting himself on his legs.
  5. I want my friends/family/coworkers/neighbors to meet my new baby. OR I am not going to leave the house because I do not want to expose my newborn to germs. I met people who fell into both camps – those who had open door policies and welcomed anyone bearing food to coo over their newborn, as well as those who did not take their baby to the supermarket, on the subway, or to church for the first six weeks for fear of contamination. Personally, I tried to find a balance. My husband and I invited select friends over for the first week, but it was a free-for-all after that. We brought our son out to dinner and on errands from his first day home from the hospital, but I mostly wore him in a carrier so that strangers would not get too close. And although he was born at the height of cold and flu season, I am proud to say that my baby did not get sick for the first nine months of his life.

    Out & About at 4 Days Old

    Out & About at 4 Days Old

  6. Newborns sleep a ton so I’ll be able to get plenty of rest. It’s true that most infants sleep between 15 and 17 hours a day, but those tends to be broken up into naps of 15-minutes to 2-hours each, and since it’s hard to know when your baby is going to sleep for a long time, it is nearly impossible to plan a simultaneous nap. Similarly, although some babies “sleep through the night” (i.e. sleeping five hours straight) at two or three months old, many do not, or (like mine) do so intermittently at best. Also, even when you’re in bed for twelve hours a day, you still may feel tired because your sleep is frequently interrupted. Unfortunately, this is not exclusively a new baby problem. As I’ve written, baby sleep issues can arise (or persist) well into the first few years.
  7. Developmental toys stimulate baby’s brains and get them a head-start on a life of learning. There are so many “baby genius” toys on the market, many targeted to newborns. We had soft blocks with black and white geometric patterns, an intricate mobile, lots of rattles, and cuddly animals that chirped, squeaked, and sang. We would dangle one and then another before our baby’s face to see which he preferred. When he’d start to cry, we would shake/squeeze the toys even more vigorously in an attempt to amuse and distract him from whatever was bothering him. The trouble was, it was our constant barrage of his sense that was bothering our newborn. Newborns do not need to be entertained. Every moment they are struck by new sights, sounds, smells, and sensations. We were over-stimulating our son, who really just wanted to stare at our faces.

    Enough already!

    Enough already!

  8. Putting baby cereal in a bedtime bottle will help your baby sleep longer. My boss really pushed this advice, which makes logical sense (if my baby has a fuller tummy he won’t need to wake as soon to eat), but my pediatrician advised that giving my newborn rice cereal could do more harm than good. Instead, we found that feeding my son as much breast milk as he wanted before bed – which sometimes meant following a nursing session with a bottle – helped him go longer between feedings. Introducing solid foods once he was older had an only marginal impact on how long he slept at a stretch.
  9. You shouldn’t respond to every whimper or else you’ll spoil your baby. To some extent, it’s true that you needn’t rush to your infant’s side during a normal period of light wakefulness, but I was pleased to learn that I could cuddle and comfort my newborn to my heart’s content. As your baby gets older, the trick is figuring out where comforting turns into creating bad habits. I loved not having to worry about that for the first few months since I wanted to hold my baby all the time!
  10.  Dads should defer to your “mother’s instincts.” One last myth to bust for all the hands-on dads. Within weeks, my husband was just as in tune with our newborn as I was, and while he lacked my magic soothers (breasts), he quickly developed his own calming, diaper-changing, giggle-inducing skills as well his own sixth-sense of when something wasn’t right with our son. It took a little longer for me to let go and trust my husband with our precious bundle, but we are all better for it.


Tags: , , ,

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2013-2019 Mom/Me All rights reserved.
This site is using the Desk Mess Mirrored theme, v2.2.2, from BuyNowShop.com.