Newborn, Parenting

Shopping For a Newborn 

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No matter how much you plan, one can never be fully prepared for a baby. There are a hundred things to learn, read and buy before the baby is even born. 

To make it a teeny weeny bit easier for a first time mom, here’s a list of things you need to buy (or consider buying depending on your parenting choices): 

  • Baby cot/ crib, sheet and bedding : If you plan to give baby his own sleeping space you need to buy a crib. A bassinet works well too but is outgrown within a few months only so is not an economical purchase. If you plan to co-sleep you may choose to not buy a crib. We co-sleep with both our kids (and absolutely love it!) but we still bought a  cot both times (we had moved countries when baby2 was only 3 months so had to buy it again rather than using the one from baby 1). Our objective was to have a safe place for baby to sleep during the day, and to put baby for a while as I attend to household chores where I can’t have him near or even to go to the bathroom. If you don’t buy a crib, please do buy a separate bedding for the baby. You get mattress and bolster sets for babies and these help babies recognize and feel comfortable in their own space.
  • Changing table: Very helpful, made diaper changes and sponge bathes convenient for us. Best bought as an attachment to chest of drawers.
  • Chest of drawers: To keep baby clothes in. The tiny clothes get lost in grown up cupboards very easily. We bought one with a changing table at the top and it was the best baby purchase we made.  This is what we had, and absolutely loved. 
  • Baby Monitor 
  • Baby Sling/ Wrap: Very handy for carrying baby close, and frees both your hands to work around house or grocery shopping.
  • Stroller: Buy a sturdy pram with thick wheels to give baby a comfortable ride. Comes with or without car seat attachment.
  • Car seat: It is not mandatory to have a baby in car seat in some countries like India but it’s a very useful purchase. It not only keeps the baby more comfortable and safe, it’s convenient for the parents as well. If you are driving alone with the baby the car seat comes in handy, even if you are not, you don’t have to hold the baby in your lap throughout the ride. When it’s not mandatory one may feel uncomfortable putting a new born in a car seat but don’t worry it won’t harm the baby. If you plan to buy when your child is older the child may not adapt to it at all. This can be bought as an attachment to the pram or separately.
  • Baby bouncer: It’s like a baby easy chair. Highly recommended for times when baby doesn’t want to lie down and every one needs a breather. Comes with vibration and music options. We had both Fischer Price and Mother-care bouncers but both our kids preferred Mothercare.   
  • Baby bather: I was gifted a baby bather by a friend and it was the best gift ever. It is so convenient to give baby a bath while he is comfortably lying on the bather. No worries of holding him properly, no fear for having him slip from your soapy hands… Just joyful bath time!   
  • Blankets: Even if you deliver in summer, you need a blanket to lightly cover the baby for a few days at least. If it’s cold then of course you need more than one. Try not to buy wool blankets as they may  cause allergy in a newborn.
  • Swaddle sheets: Square sheets of soft cotton material to wrap the baby for  first couple of months. 4-5 would be good.
  • Hooded towels: To snuggle in after bath. 3 is a good number to have.
  • Hand towels: To clean spit-ups. You can never have enough hand towels and burp cloths. 
  • Macintosh/Quick dry mats: To keep under baby while changing nappies or even during massage times. Buy at least 4 if you plan on using diapers and about 10-12 if you plan on using cloth nappies. They are available at most chemist and baby shops and come in many sizes. Don’t buy too many of small sized ones as you would need these until your child is toilet trained.
  • Cloth nappies / newborn size diapers: Get a big stock as newborns soil nappies really really fast, about 8-10 diapers a day, but they also outgrow this size fairly quickly.
  • Baby wipes: Try getting unscented alcohol free ones. 
  • Weather appropriate clothing: Buy comfortable soft clothes for the baby. Try and avoid clothes that are too complicated to put on and take off. Front open ones work best. Pick the ones that are easy to open and close, onesies with buttons instead of snaps are a big NO irrespective of how cute they look. Avoid any fancy laces, buttons and bows that are too stiff and can poke the baby. Avoid buying too many outfits because babies do outgrow them very very fast. 
  • Caps, socks, mittens: Soft cotton ones. Color coordinate is possible 😊
  • A spare dustbin: With a tight lid and a pack of trash bags for the baby’s dirty diapers.
  • Baby bag: When you take baby out you want all essentials in one place so buying a bag of right size is very important. The side pockets and zippers on the outside are very useful.
  • Toiletries – baby body wash, cream etc: Buy unscented toiletries if possible. Johnson products are not recommended by doctors anymore because they tend to cause allergic reactions in some kids. Use of talcum powder is not recommended either. The best diaper rash cream is coconut oil and baby Vaseline. You can use either of these with each diaper change, or mix the 2 in equal parts and store in a jar. This magic potion will keep rashes at bay.
  • Oil for massage: Coconut oil, Almond oil or Olive oil can be used. You will also need an old sheet to massage baby on.
  • Baby grooming kit: Comb/ brush, baby nail cutter, ear buds etc.
  • Baby toys: Cot mobile, rattles, toys with music, play gym 
  • Baby detergent: You get special detergent in the market for baby clothes. Buy any known brand.
  • Dettol, Savlon or any other antiseptic liquid: To wash baby nappies, quick dry sheets and soiled clothes.
  • First aid kit: Thermometer, cotton balls, alcohol swabs, nasal aspirator and some simple medicines like Nasoclear, Himalaya Bonnisan, Baby Tylenol or Crocin drops etc.
  • Hand sanitizer 
  • Bottles: If you plan on introducing bottles to your baby whether with formula milk or expressed breast milk you will need good quality bottles. There are several good brands available in the market. Pick one with anti colic teats. You will also need a bottle brush and bottle cleaning detergent for cleaning.
  • Bottle Sterilizer: there are many available in the market, but if you want to avoid the expense and save precious kitchen space you can choose to boil your baby bottles and accessories for 10-15 minutes, or can use a microwave steamer (idli maker would work perfectly) for the purpose. I’m too lazy to boil so I use my microwave idli maker. pour some water in the base tray and instead of the idli trays keep the things that need to be sterilized. Cover and microwave for 2 minutes. Make sure the bottles/accessories/ toys are microwave safe. Most branded bottles like Avent, Pigeon, Chicco and Medela are microwave safe.

What the mother needs (besides some sleep and rest that is ): 

  • Nursing bras: Buy this before you deliver, preferably in the last month. I tried Triumph but didn’t like them too much but loved Mothercare brand bras. 
  • Breast pads: A must have to avoid embarrassing wet-chest moments. Both disposable and washable ones are available in the market. I was happy with Pigeon brand disposable pads.
  • Nipple cream: Again the market has many options but you can either use virgin coconut oil or just squeeze out a bit of breast milk, rub all over the nipple and let air dry for a minute to avoid cracked nipples.
  • Breast pump: Even if you don’t plan on expressing breast milk to feed the baby, you sometimes need to buy a breast pump to give relief to engorged breasts in the early days. A manual pump worked well for me but you may explore electric one if you think you’ll be using it more than a couple of times everyday. However in case you are not too sure try not to spend on an expensive one.
  • Post delivery belt: Get it from a chemist shop rather than buying online. The cotton dupattas open up so quickly.
  • Feeding pillow: I never needed one but have friends who swear by it.
  • Sanitary pads: The overnight ones work great. Remember to change often.

Try and buy more expensive items and items that will last a while in person, toiletries and diapers are best bought online. 

I have added everything that I needed or considered buying. In case you bought something useful which is not in the list please let me know.

Goodluck with the shopping and the delivery. 😊

xoxo

– A

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Newborn, Parenting

Preparing Your Firstborn For A Sibling

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Parenthood is an interesting journey. It is sometimes challenging, sometimes fun, sometimes frustrating and sometimes delightful… its many things but boring. There are some who find the journey so enriching that they want to have more than one child, yet there are others who find it too overwhelming and are happy raising one. The number of kids one chooses to have is a very personal choice and calls for a separate discussion altogether. Those parents who do decide to take the plunge and plan to have more than one… read on, this post is just for you.

The very first parenting challenge of having more than one child is preparing your first-born for the arrival of a baby in the family. Sibling rivalry is universal and no matter what you do there will be a tinge of jealousy and insecurity in the mind of your elder one for the younger brother or sister. We can only try to minimize the jealousy and focus more on developing a healthy affectionate relationship between our children.

The first-born is always special and gets much attention from immediate and extended family. Adding another baby to the equation changes the dynamics and the first-born seizes to have the center stage, something that even adults find difficult to accept sometimes. A child with his tender emotions has to feel betrayed and caught off guard with such a drastic change. Children are sensitive creatures and small things make a lot of difference to them. While bringing a sibling in the already established parent-child equation parents need to be sensitive towards the older child’s emotions and make conscious efforts so he takes the news positively.

I delivered our second child when our daughter was still 2 months short of turning 3. When we planned the baby, my husband and I knew that VMJ would herself be in a challenging stage when the baby was to arrive and it would need a lot of patience and love from our end to help her bond with the baby instead of feeling insecure about her place in our lives. The primary reason my husband and I wanted to have 2 children was because we want a life long companion for our daughter so if she didn’t feel happy with the baby’s arrival or bond with her sibling, it would beat the purpose of having 2 kids.

We wanted to give our daughter enough time to process the information and deal with her immediate feelings, so we told her about the baby as soon as I entered my second trimester. We told her what fun it would be to have a baby in the house, how she will have a friend who will live with her, how they can go to school and vacation together, how she can be the older sister and teach the baby how to eat, play and everything else she wants. We made it sound like an exciting thing and she resonated our feelings. Children are very intuitive, they have an inherent ability to gauge our deepest sentiments, so if you say something in a happy tone but are not too convinced about it yourself, children realize something is wrong. So when you tell your child how exciting it is going to be, believe that it is indeed going to be exciting.

When VMJ got a little comfortable with the idea of a baby, we gradually started to bring the baby in our talks about the family. We have a small ritual, every night KJ, VMJ and I hug each other and sing the Barney song “I Love you, you love me, we are a happy family. With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you, won’t you say you love me too”. We started telling VMJ that family now means Papa, Mummy, VMJ herself and the baby and when we sang the family song she hugged and kissed the baby too along with each of us. When the baby started to move, I would have her touch my tummy and she was absolutely delighted. She talked to the baby, spun stories about what the baby might be saying when it moved and showed the baby bump the crafts she used to bring from school. 

One day VMJ came up with a name for the baby. She was overly fond of Oreo biscuits those days and wanted to name the baby Oreo. That also helped her bond better with her unborn sibling. She used to talk to people about Oreo and take his name in conversations and songs. She was very excited for the baby’s arrival. We also tried to make it as comfortable and pleasant for her. While booking the hospital for my delivery, we considered whether or not it was child friendly and booked one which allowed children to visit freely. We didn’t want VMJ to feel that Oreo baby kept Mumma away from her for 3 days and start her relationship on a negative note.

All was going well and VMJ was looking forward to the day Doctor Aunty would get Oreo out in the real world. Since I had a planned cesarean, we told her before we left for the hospital that she would be staying home with her Buji (my sister-in-law) until she can see the baby. She was so happy about finally getting to see Oreo that she complied without any complaints or questions. And boy how happy she was to see her baby brother for the very first time!! You needed to see her reaction to believe it… she was thrilled beyond words. She couldn’t believe her eyes and was in awe of his tiny fingers and toes. My husband brought her to the hospital every day, twice a day. Oreo too responded the most to VMJ’s voice and would move his neck every time she called his name. When we got home, VMJ wouldn’t leave the room Oreo was in and even if she did, she would come running the moment she heard him cry. 

To make her feel responsible and less insecure, we had told her that she is our baby and Oreo is her baby, so she was all the more concerned for him. She would watch him get massage and sponge baths, she helped pick out clothes that he would wear, she brought me napkins to clean his mouth after each feed and helped with other small things. She sang songs to him and taught him ABC and counting too!

It was going smooth like a dream… until my husband had to travel for work. Now VMJ is a daddy’s girl all the way and whenever her dear Daddy is away for more than a few days she gets upset, and this time it was a long long trip. With him gone and the baby at home, she was disoriented even sooner this time. She started demanding to be in my lap when it was time for me to nurse the baby. Since the baby was small it was possible for me to accommodate them both in my lap together, and I did every time she asked me to. A couple of days later she started asking me to feed her dinner as I nursed the baby, and I did that because I didn’t want her to feel jealous. After a few times of this she started demanding I hold only her and not pick the baby to nurse. To solve this, I used to hug her and kiss her all over first and then say now its baby’s turn. This made her happy and she also used to kiss and hug baby before I picked him. After a few times this also stopped working, so I used to give her something to eat or orange juice to drink while I nursed, or a new book that we read together. I also started to hold her in lap more often than I did before the baby was born. It took a lot of love, patience and distracting tricks to make her feel comfortable and secure again. 

Now she knows the baby has to be fed when he’s hungry and she herself tells me to nurse the baby when he cries. She gives the baby a new name everyday – calls him her madan gopal, gullu, babu, pyaru, bebu… anything that catches her fancy. She tries to entertain him by showing him a rattle or a toy, caresses him when he wakes up, sings to him and cuddles him all the time. Yes, we still have occasions when she wants someone else to give him bottle and wants to be in my lap, gets a wee bit jealous when KJ picks up the baby before her once he’s back from work, but those are very few and far between.

The joys of having a child is unmatched, in fact its second only to the joy of having 2. Every day it fills my heart with great love to see my little darlings play together. In only 5 months they seem to have bonded so well… both their faces brighten up to see the other and their eyes have a unique sparkle for each other. Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs but at the same time, there is nothing quite as rewarding.

This has been my journey so far. Would love to know your experiences and tricks on handling sibling rivalry too.

Stay blessed

– A

Bedtime, Newborn

How to sleep train your newborn

Almost everyone warned me of the sleepless nights when they got to know I am pregnant. And honestly I was scared a bit. In my last trimester hubby and I attended a 1 day parenting workshop organised by my Gynae and her team. One session was dedicated to new born care by a lady Paediatrician. Why I emphasize on the lady bit is because being a mother herself she gave very practical advice unlike what most male Paeds give, like it is okay to keep your LO in diapers as long as you do leave her in nappy for a few hours every day… maybe right after she has pooped so the skin gets air dried and chances of getting rashes are less. Anyway, coming back to sleep training. The Paed shared a trick to help get new moms a better night’s sleep. See, your baby will get up every 2-3 hours for feed and that cannot be prevented but you can train your LO to sleep at decent time and go back to sleep right after a night feed so you can sleep peacefully until the next hunger pang. I am only sharing what she shared with us at the workshop. It is a tried and tested method and ensured peaceful nights for me and hubby.

Newborns do not have the concept of day and night. It’s something you need to teach them. During the day keep the house well lighted and maintain normal noise levels. Talk in normal tone and don’t stop yourself from watching TV because the sound might wake up your sleeping baby. Close to bed time, dim the lights and reduce the noise level. Don’t play with the baby, don’t make much eye contact and don’t talk in loud voice. Soon the baby will begin to understand that when its light and noise around, it’s time to wake up and play and when it’s dark and quiet it’s time to rest and sleep. With VMJ, we used different lights for day and night time. Close to her bed time we used yellow light of night lamp in the bedroom. Tubelight was switched on only when we needed to look for something. We also didn’t let her spend much time in the bedroom during the day, except for bathing and napping. The idea was for her to associate bedroom with sleeping only. It worked very well for us and she would sleep within half an hour of going in the bedroom, no matter what time we took her there. You can make a bedtime routine of light massage, lullaby, feeding or reading a bedtime story as the baby gets older. 

With VMJ, we used to sing only one lullaby every night so that she could associate that with her bed time too. You can pick a particular spot, a particular blanket or a sleeping buddy for your LO to make bed times easier.

Wishing all new moms a good night’s sleep.

xoxo,

-A