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The Maternity Nanny’s Top Ten Tips for New Parents
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1. SAFE SLEEP
Follow the Lullaby Trusts guidelines for safe sleep. www.lullabytrust.org.uk (formerly the foundation for the study of infant deaths). They give clear, simple advice on how to ensure your baby is sleeping as safely as possible, including positioning in the cot, room temperature and the benefits of using a dummy/soother.
2. FIRST AID
It is very reassuring to go on a paediatric first aid course. The British Red Cross www.redcrossfirstaidtraining.co.uk run “First Aid for Baby and Child Courses” specifically for parents, designed to teach you a range of first aid skills, to help you cope with emergency situations for babies and children.
3. CARE AND SUPPORT
A relaxed and rested mum is better for baby than a tidy house – ironed clothes are overrated! Rest when you can, remembering to turn off your phone and perhaps even putting a “Do Not Disturb, Mummy and Baby sleeping” sign on your front door. If relatives want to come and stay, make sure they are looking after you rather than the other way round! If you have time before you have your baby, stock up your freezer with home cooked meals to save you having to cook when you are caring for your new baby.
4. SLEEP WELL
Establish good sleeping habits by encouraging your baby to settle themselves to sleep, by being put into their crib awake. Babies often grizzle for 5 – 10 minutes when settling to sleep. Try not react to every tiny noise that the baby makes when they are asleep, they may just be coming into lighter sleep and might settle back to sleep after a few minutes. Differentiate between night and day feeds, by keeping night time feeds calm, in dim light and with little interaction. Try to ensure that the last feed of the evening is a really good feed. If your baby falls asleep half way through the feed, it may be a good idea to change the baby’s nappy, to wake up the baby and then encourage the baby to take some more.
Remain open minded about breast feeding. It takes time and determination to establish breastfeeding. As well as receiving help from your midwife and health visitor, there are lots of organisations that can offer you additional support including The NCT, The Breastfeeding Network and La Leche League. It is a good idea to have formula, bottles and a steriliser at home, so that you can have a choice of feeding methods available and will not need to do a midnight dash to the supermarket if you are struggling with breastfeeding!
6. KIT AND EQUIPMENT
Speak to friends with babies and ask what equipment was essential and what they could have done without, or what is still unused in the box!! Try out all new equipment before the baby is born. You do not want to be working out how the sterilizer works or how to make up bottles with a very hungry baby, crying for a feed. Practise putting the car seat in the car and also putting up and collapsing the pram.
7. INFORMATION AND ADVICE
Don’t confuse yourself by reading too many books: use them as a reference or guide, rather than a set of rules that must not be broken. Just because a book says your baby “should” be asleep at a certain time, he or she probably won’t be! Trust your instincts: if what you are doing feels right, and you and your baby are healthy and happy, stick with it! Everyone has an opinion on how to bring up a baby, and many are very keen to offer advice, often without being asked!
8. SAVE TIME
Having an upstairs and downstairs changing kit saves you continually running up and down the stairs. A large storage basket is ideal to keep nappies, wet wipes, cotton wool, muslins and spare sets of clothes in. Place a doubled up muslin, well tucked in, at the head area of where the baby sleeps in the crib or moses basket. If the baby is a little sick, you only need to change the muslin rather than all the crib bedding.
9. FRESH AIR
Try and get out for a walk with your baby everyday – even better if you can tie this in with a coffee, a slice of cake and a natter with a friend!
10. KEEP LIFE SIMPLE
Love them a lot! Keep one end clean and the other end fed. Everything else is optional!
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