Baby Advice You Really Need

by Gary Drevitch
Copyright (c) 2004 G+J Publishing, Inc.
July 2004

Totally practical tips from sitters, store owners, flight attendants, and other people who deal with lots of infants every single day.

Nanny Patrol

A lot of new parents call me when they're looking for a nanny and say they want to hire Mary Poppins. Well, Mary Poppins basically did as she pleased. So be careful what you wish for. Look for somebody who's a team player.

Janet Cook, recruiter for a nanny agency New York, N.Y.

Night School

I don't believe in trying to force a sleep schedule on a newborn, but you can start to cue him into the difference between night and day. When he wakes up in the middle of the night, don't turn on the lights or the TV, and keep interaction to a minimum. When you're done feeding him, put him back to bed. Keeping things low-key will help an infant learn that nighttime is not playtime - and he'll soon be sleeping soundly.

Lindsay Stitt, R.N., baby nurse Milwaukee, Wis.

Breastfeeding 101

Everyone expects to go home with a new baby and be an instant nursing pro. Breastfeeding is natural, but it requires a lot of coordination. Allow yourself a learning curve, and ask for help early, while you're still in the hospital.

Freda Rosenfeld, lactation consultant Brooklyn, N.Y.

Couple Time

When a baby comes along, a lot of things get put on hold. Make sure that your relationship isn't one of them. We always babysat for our friends so they could have date nights, and they returned the favor. It's vital that Mom and Dad get time together. If you don't make your relationship a priority from the start, by the time your baby leaves home for college, you may find you really don't know each other anymore.

Carrie Britton, mother of six Lubbock, Tex.

Risk Management

Parents have to be very aware of the perils of choking and poisoning in the first year of life, because babies put everything in their mouth. You need to be vigilant about babyproofing. There are dangers new parents might not think of on their own - for example, a crawling baby can pull off the rubber tip of a doorstop and choke on it. And even parents who know that dry-cleaning bags are a suffocation hazard often don't realize that other plastic bags are just as perilous.

Larry Stone, babyproofer Chicago. Ill.

Stress Signals

My advice for new moms: Don't be embarrassed about asking for help. It's not a sign of weakness. Worry about your health and the health of your baby. Let someone else do the laundry!

Kristen Schadt, new mom Rowayton, Conn.

The Friendly Skies

If flying with a baby entitles you to board early, one parent should get on the plane right away to install the car seat and stow the paraphernalia. The other should wait in the lounge area are bring the baby only after everyone else has boarded. That way, your child won't be confined any longer than necessary. Once you're in the air, don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. We carry diapers in every size in case you run out, and we all know how to warm a bottle.

Cathy Lawler, flight attendant Ashburn, Va.

Borrowers Beware

Buying or borrowing a used car seat is no bargain. The instructions may be missing, or the parts could be worn out. Plus, you don't know the seat's history: A hairline crack or overstretched webbing on the harness could make the seat unsafe and put your child at risk. Manufacturers recommend that any seat that's been in a crash be destroyed.

Nancy Delaney, car-seat inspector Detroit, Mich.

Attention, Screaming Shoppers

If your child becomes a crying monster in a store, just leave. When your little one can't be consoled, you can make life easier for yourself and your baby - as well as our customers and staff - by calling it quits and coming back another time.

Terry Schmitz, bookstore owner Brookline, Mass.

Let It Be

Many new moms rush to take the baby out of the crib or stroller the moment she whimpers. Slow down! Maybe she's just rolling over. Maybe a pacifier would do the trick. If you wait, she may just go right back to sleep. The world won't end if she fusses for just a minute or two.

Ronni Soled, leader of a new-mothers group New York, N.Y.

Feed. Clean. Kiss. Repeat.

You're going to get lots of well-meaning advice on how to care for your child - from parents, relatives, books, even talk shows - much of it conflicting. I see parents who are almost paralyzed by this onslaught, and they end up not trusting their instincts and unsure of how to care for their baby. But when you get right down to it, all you really need to do for your baby is feed him, keep him reasonably clean, and love him and kiss him a lot.

Mary Ann Lofrumento, M.D.,, pediatrician Chatham, N.J.

Job Training

It's important for your caregiver to be certified for infant CPR. If an emergency comes up, you want to be sure she can handle it. In fact, if you find a sitter you feel good about and want to keep, I suggest you pay for her training.

Jennifer Williams, babysitter Chicago, Ill.

Grand Advice

Listen to this bubbe: Do not forget to eat! You need your strength. And here's another thing: Keep us grandparents at bay. We love to spend time with your happy new addition, but even if we live next door, set limits on our visits - include beginning and ending times.

Susan Zucker, grandmother Hamden, Conn.