Congratulations and welcome to a new stage in your life – parenthood! Or maybe this isn’t your first baby and it’s welcome back to the magic kingdom!
In an instant, your new baby has changed you from a couple into a family. The irony of your new essence, parenthood, evokes what I like to call a babylove addiction, which in a poetic sense, may be likened to a line from the old Eagles song, “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.” In a few months, you’ll look back at photos and squint to recall life before babylove.
But first, there’s work to do. Your transition will require intense concentration and physical endurance (tempered by angelic smiles, the softest skin, and the sweetest giggles). You’ll likely not find time to tackle these tasks after baby is born, so tackle these top four areas before your little bundle arrives:
- Declutter floors/stairs, secure throw rugs (for safe, late-night baby soothing).
- Install childproof locks (wise parents practice fumbling with them before they’re sleep-deprived) and night lights in strategic places.
- Place extra pillows around for comfortable infant feeding in any chair or couch.
- Practice rapid installation and adjustment of baby car seat in all vehicles.
Chow and Chores
- Make double portions of meals you enjoy, and freeze half. Cool thoroughly and label with ingredients, date and freezer life-expectancy. If using plastic bags, make sure they are specifically made for freezer use. Find food-safe practices recommended by the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
- Buy or borrow a freezer and stock it. This will save many trips when you do NOT feel like going out.
- Avoid microwaving baby’s food or milk. Microwaves work by vibrating molecules, so food and liquids heat from the inside out. The friction produces uneven heat. The contents of a bottle that may feel cool on the outside but could burn baby’s mouth and throat!
- Breastfeeding moms remember to eat a balanced diet and take in an extra 500 calories a day. Don’t forget to feed yourself at night when you’re awake feeding baby. Plan ahead. Hubby can prepare a plate of healthy snacks before bed, plus a pitcher of juice or water and keep it by your breastfeeding area. Snacking at night allows your blood sugar to stay at a more even level, which protects against low dips. Fasting causes a cascade of hormone swings and results in mood swings to match.
- Plan in advance how you will handle pet care, especially during the first few weeks after the baby’s birth.
- Use a crib tent to keep your curious cat from jumping in to snuggle with your baby; it may make for a cute picture, but it could be dangerous since many cats like to snuggle on top of their people!
Ammunition – Keep germs at bay
- Always wash your hands before touching your baby (and after every diaper change); insist that visitors do the same.
- Stock up on liquid soap, hand-sanitizer, and paper towels.
- Bar the door to anyone with a runny nose, cough, fever, or other cold/flu like symptoms. If you get sick, wear a surgical mask or a scarf around your baby. Turn your head away to cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue – never your hands, and wash your hands every time you use a tissue.
- Prohibit smoking in the house, and If you smoke, quit.
- Avoid crowds when possible (walk in the mall early or late); this is particularly important if your baby is born during the fall or winter flu seasons.
- Protect baby from the elements, especially the sun (dark skinned babies also need protection!).
- Avoid smokers.
- Let curious toddlers touch your baby’s leg or foot, as opposed to her hand or face.
- Bring more than one diaper and change of clothes in the diaper bag.
Got it? Good. You’re ready for action. Now go out there and enjoy your new baby.