Thursday, May 27, 2010

Getting Started

Welcome to parenthood! So that new baby is out in the real world. Now what? Here are the very basics. If you can do these 3 things you will be well on your way.

  • Feed the baby. You must choose between breast feeding or formula feeding. Any pediatrician is going to tell you that breast feeding is better for the infant, however, breast feeding is not going to work for every family. Especially, those with a high initial anxiety level. I have found anxiety level to be inversely related to breast feeding success. I will be posting about breast feeding in much more detail in the coming days. As far as formula goes pick a "regular formula." Formula companies have created a huge market for "specialty formulas" (formulas for gas, fussy babies, babies that spit up, etc) based on the issues parents worry about. (Yes, companies will use your anxiety to market products to you.) I will go into greater depth about formulas in the near future. A typical newborn will eat 1-3 ounces every 2-4 hours. However, during the first 24 hours of life it can be hit or miss, some infants just sleep a lot and are a little sluggish with eating.
  • Change dirty diapers. Pretty self-explanatory, right? Infants will pass a dark, tarry stool within the first 24 hours or life. This is normal. Over the next couple of days the stool will become softer, and often take on a seedy quality. Yellow, green, and brown are all normal colors of baby stool. A normal baby stool will appear like diarrhea to most adults. Breast fed babies will often have a decrease in wet and dirty diapers on day 2 and 3 of life, but this will ramp up significantly once mom's milk comes in.
  • Love on the baby. Hold them, rock them, and kiss on them. Let them sleep. A normal newborn can sleep up to 20 hours a day. Don't let sleeping worry you.

That is it. Pretty simple. All you have to do is these 3 things for starters. Don't make things more complicated than they need to be. Keep it simple.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Winning the Lottery

Even before that baby pops out, parents are worrying. Will the child be healthy? Will he be smart? Will he have his father's ugly nose? Which crib is the best? What about the 17 strollers at BabiesRUs? And on and on. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Once born, then the anxiety really sets in. Most parents have no real hands on experience with caring for an infant, especially one this important (this is the survival of your genes we are talking about). Everything is new and every little grunt or poop makes the new parent wonder if everything is alright.

In fact, everything is completely fine for the vast majority of infants. Most infants are perfectly healthy. Sure some will have issues, but statistically you are much more likely to have a healthy child than not. Yet, most parents dwell on that very small chance that something is wrong or going to go wrong. It is akin to the guy who is convinced he is going to get rich by playing the lottery. Most of us realize that the chances of winning the lottery are minuscule so we go to work each day. Yet, most parents are convinced that they are going to win the unhealthy child lottery. So they buy tickets daily, even multiple times a day. They are so convinced that they have won they rush to the emergency room because the baby has not had a bowel movement in a day. Fortunately, most of you are not going to win the unhealthy child lottery. That is just how it works.

Don't get me wrong, bad things can happen, but the vast majority of these bad things are not preventable, and, certainly, worrying that they might happen does not decrease the likelihood of them happening. Statistically, bad things are much less likely than most parents believe, and realizing that statistics are in your favor is a very good starting point for quelling parental anxiety.