You’ve read a number of parenting books, scoured the Internet for advice, and drilled your doctor. Still, motherhood is apt to throw some surprises your way. Here, some parenting advice you may not have gotten when preparing for your baby.
Parenting tip number 1: Babies don’t always sleep when they’re tired.
It defies logic, but a tired baby doesn’t always equal a sleeping baby. In fact, an overly tired child tends to be irritable and hard to settle. The trick is to look out for signs that your baby is tired and to put her in her crib before she gets overly sleepy. Some signs that your little one is tired are: clenched fists, yawning, eye rubbing, making jerking movements, or pulling at her ear. If you miss the signs, don’t despair. After your new baby is a few months old, she’ll probably start learning to self-soothe, which will make it easier for her to go to sleep on her own. And if you do get desperate, a car ride, a stroll around the block, or a gentle rock in your arms will often help send her to dreamland.
Parenting tip number 2: Germs are everywhere (but don’t panic).
When you become a new mom, you suddenly start noticing how germy and grimy everything appears. You’re constantly ready to catch a dropped pacifier in midair, and you’re always wiping down your baby at the first sign of any spills and messes. While it’s true that some exposure to germs early on can help strengthen your child’s immune system, you don’t want your baby to get sick, either. Practice smart germ control by insisting that anyone who holds your new baby do some hand washing first. Also, keep friends and family who are already sick away from your baby, disinfect your home on a regular basis, and clean your baby’s hands (and your own) frequently. But remember: Some germs are unavoidable. Don’t panic if you see your child put his playmate’s toy in his mouth — there’s only so much you can do.
Parenting tip number 3: Learn a few baby soothing techniques.
When your new baby is fussy, you’ll need to know how to calm him down and relax so that you can both feel better. Babies are all different and like different things, but a gentle massage may be an effective way to soothe your baby and comfort him when he’s upset. Try warming some lotion in your hand and starting at his forehead, working down along his nose, cheeks and chin, and finishing at his neck. Another way to soothe your new baby is to put him in a sling to keep him close while you go about doing things around the house.
Being a new mom can bring on self-doubt, and it’s perfectly normal to have worries. Just remember that your own instincts can be your best weapon against fear. Each time you encounter something new and cope with it, the experience will help turn you into a more confident mother.