The first few months after becoming a new parent can be stressful. After all, there is so much information out there. So many new products aimed at making life easier, and sometimes even marketed as a necessity, but weren’t available to your parents when your were born. Then, there’s the advice you are getting from your mother and grandmother. Just how much of their advice is outdated and no longer advisable? After all, you turned out okay, right? But then again, there have to have been some major improvements in childcare considering your grandmother never even seen a carseat when her children were born. For example, the reccomendation of experts is that you put your infant on their back to sleep based on the belief it reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, your mother was told by her doctors to put her babies to sleep on their stomach for similar safety purporses like decreasing the risk of infants choking. There is a lot of information out there. Whenever, in doubt your should always consult your pediatrician on concerns you have. However, keeping these seven things in mind will save you much time, money, and frustration during your baby’s first year of life.
1. Buying name brand infant formula is a waste of money.
All infant formulas both generic and name brand must meet the same strict FDA guidelines. The store brand version of your baby’s formula type has the same exact ingredients as its name brand counterpart. While, good marketing of the name brands lead parents to believe a particular formula has “special ingredients” aimed at making your baby smarter or healthier, they simply don’t have anything more than what generic offers. The truth is you are paying 40-50 percent more for a label, nothing more.
Breast milk is still best for your baby, but name brand formulas aren’t any closer to breast milk or any better for that matter. So, you are not cheating your baby or settling for less when you buy generic formula. Save your money for other things like college or at least some cool toys.
2. The best diaper rash treatment is air.
While products like Balmex create a nice barrier between baby’s skin and wetness, which will help prevent diaper rash, the best thing you can do for a rash already there is allow your baby’s bottom to air dry before rediapering. Also, sometimes its better to forgo baby wipes and use a soft rag with plain water for diaper changes since many wipes can sting diaper rash.
Save the messy ointment for nighttime changes when baby is changed less often. During the day, be sure to change baby whenever they become wet and immediately after a bowel movement to prevent rash even further.
3. There is no need to wash baby’s clothes with a special detergent like Dreft.
Again, clever marketing from the makers of products like Dreft would lead you to believe washing your infant’s clothes in special detergents is safer or healthier for you child. While about 10 percent of infants can experience skin irritation from leading detergents, the other 90 percent is in no way affected. So, for most parents, this practice is useless.
Besides saving yourself the convenience of washing baby’s laundry with the rest of the household’s, you’ll save yourself the cost of an unnecessary product which is typically more expensive than your normal detergent and less effective at removing stains. So, unless your child experiences a reaction, don’t bother.
4. There is no real need to sterilize bottles before each use.
Unless your baby’s immune system is compromised from prematurity or another condition and your doctor specifically advises you to do so, the idea that baby bottles need sterilized each use is a very outdated parenting practice. A good scrubbing with a bottle brush in hot soapy water is all you need. If it makes you feel better, choose an antibacterial dish soap.
5. Babies don’t need to be bundled in tons of clothing
While your mother and grandmother, may threaten to call child services if you don’t keep a hat and booties on your already swaddled baby at all times, a typical rule of thumb is to dress an infant one layer warmer than you dress yourself except in hot weather. Its true that babies tend to lose body heat easier than adults and need to be kept warm. But, dressing baby like an Eskimo can cause overheating, so resist over bundling infant and never put baby to sleep with a loose blanket.
6. Infants don’t need tons of toys.
There are many infant toys on the market today, more than ever before. While infant toys can aid development, there is simply no need for one of everything. A child with twenty toys won’t develop any faster than a child with five. In fact, overwhelming an infant with too many toys can cause harm since multiple toys can create a distraction keeping an infant from “bonding” with particular toys and mastering the skills the toy is meant to promote.
Instead, it is better to provide an infant with new toys every few months as they reach new developmental milestones. Also, keep toys age appropriate and resist the urge to provide younger infants toys designed for older infants or children. Not only can this create a safety hazard, it won’t make your baby develop any faster than they would otherwise. All toys should have an age range on the box.
7. Go easy on the hand sanitizer
While it is a good practice to keep sick people away and ask visitors to wash and/or sanitize their hands when handling a newborn, you can ease up on the germ patrol at around four to six weeks of age. Also, there are so many products aimed at “killing germs” and sanitizing, it is very easy to go overboard. Remember, while these products kill “bad germs” they also kill “good germs”, and yes, there is such a thing as “good germs.” Your infant needs “good germs” to help build their immune system, which becomes stronger with age.