Earlier this week, my nephew celebrated his third birthday. That means, in six weeks, my daughter will turn three as well. For some reason, it seems like a big landmark. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking back to pregnancy and infancy, attempting to remember what it was like. It seemed like a good opportunity to pass along some newborn tips.
My sister was about two months ahead of me in pregnancy. She would give me the skinny on what I had to look forward to, from the second trimester energy surge to third trimester back pain. I will never forget the mix of joy and envy I felt when she gave birth. I had a beautiful little nephew. But I was still pregnant and Rachel wasn’t. Sucksville.
After a few days of parenthood, my sister passed down the wisdom she’d managed to acquire so far:
- Always pee and get a glass of water before a breastfeeding session, as you never know how long it’s going to last
- Sometimes you can get an infant to stop crying by flicking the lights on and off
- You can’t have too many of those huge pad things they give you at the hospital, so steal some, too
- Don’t be a hero, take your pain medication as prescribed
- A super fussy baby can be soothed to sleep by turning on the vacuum cleaner
The single greatest piece of newborn advice came from my dental hygenist. She told me to read Happiest Baby on the Block, by pediatrician Harvey Karp. I read it, and learned the five secrets of soothing a newborn; swinging, sucking, shushing, swaddling and the side/stomach position. Put these techniques together, and your little baby feels as safe as when she was back in the womb. After reading the book, I found out there was a Happiest Baby DVD, as well. My husband watched it, and all of the sudden, all his fears about not knowing how to care for a baby were quelled. He had a tool kit and he loves tool kits. I highly recommend the DVD as a baby shower gift for first time parents, coupled with a couple of good swaddling blankets. (But notice I don’t recommend this in the “I’m going to link to Amazon and make money off it” kind of way.) There is also a Happiest Toddler on the Block book and DVD. I’m hoping Dr. Karp keeps pace Nora’s growth and I can look forward to the Happiest Middle Schooler and the Happiest Teenager.
My biggest tip for new parents is this: hold your baby every second you possibly can. It’s impossible to remember every detail of your child’s infancy, but you’ll always remember the closeness of those first months, the feeling of that tiny body clinging to yours, the smell of her head. Those are the only memories you need.