Becoming a parent is the easy part, but how to become a good parent is where most people go wrong. You need careful and meticulous planning in advance to make sure the baby you are going to have, never has to face any kind of trouble while growing up. This planning should ideally begin before you decide to have a baby, but preparing yourselves after the knowledge of pregnancy may not prove to be too late either.
Poor judgement and poor information are the two factors which make parenthood more difficult and less enjoyable than it’s supposed to be. While poor judgement has no remedy except that it can only be improved with experience (which, ironically, involves making more poor judgement), there is absolutely no reason that would-be parents can afford to be poorly informed in modern times. With the experience of their own parents on hand plus all the shared information readily available on the internet and in books from all over the world, it is impossible for expecting parents to be poorly informed about bringing up a baby. Below is our own list of 9 things that are essential for expecting parents, but which tend to be forgotten by most:
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1. There are options other than a hospital birth
While entrusting a safe and healthy delivery of their baby into the hands of experienced doctors at a good, reputed hospital is the most preferable choice for parents (especially first timers), there are instances when one might want to do the entire procedure at home. The reason for a homebirth could be anything – personal preference for a more relaxed, home environment or a religious obligation or a desire to give birth without any medical intervention like pain killers. So if you are looking for options other than a hospital birth, you need to seek recommendations for midwives, doulas or other birth practitioners. There are various websites and organizations which can help you find experienced persons for the job.
2. Which hospital procedures to follow/reject
If like most parents, you decide to go for a hospital birth for your baby, be sure to familiarize yourself with all the standard procedure that your baby and the mother will have to go through. Choose which procedures you are OK with and those you think are unnecessary or unsuitable for your baby and the mother. There might be instances when you have to be specifically clear about not wanting a certain hospital procedure (like Circumcision). Also, learn from beforehand if you will have to sign any waivers in advance and make sure that there is always a person with your baby, even if it means accompanying the nurse everywhere she goes.
3. Choosing your pediatricians beforehand
Find a pediatrician or a family doctor who knows and understands your needs/concerns regarding your baby’s health. Ask him about his advice for new parents – everything from whether to go for circumcision or not, to what vaccination schedule your baby must follow. Make sure that he/she supports your choices and is not just OK with them, and takes time to respond and register all your queries regarding parenting and your baby’s healthcare.
4. Infant healthcare practices and basic household safety
Every new parent should learn all the essential practices and guidelines that will be useful within the first two years of a baby’s growing years. Take some time to find out about what baby signs and their cries mean, how massage helps your baby’s body growth, gentle discipline and basic household safety guidelines. Also, look for more natural ways of healthcare for your baby; you don’t want doctors pushing antibiotics into infants or 2 year old kids.
5. No solid foods for the baby till 6 months, while continuing with breastfeeding till 2 years
Medical experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months, followed by slow introduction of solid food for babies. Breastfeeding gives them protection from various kinds of food allergies and diseases, and avoiding solid food for first 6 months helps the digestive system to mature and also protects babies from obesity. Most mothers tend to stop breast feeding their babies once they grow teeth or when they introduce solid foods or they tend to wean once they start going back to work. This doesn’t have to be the case and as per the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation, mothers should breastfeed babies till 2 years and partially wean or set limits to breastfeeding their babies if they feel the need to do so.
6. Co-sleeping is beneficial for the baby
Contrary to a somewhat popular myth that sleeping with your baby can be dangerous and leads to an unhealthy growth pattern, co-sleeping can be quite safe and actually necessary for your baby. Research has shown that babies are often healthiest and feel most secure while sleeping with their parents. Co-sleeping families also tend to get a better quality of sleep and the children are often registered to grow up with a higher self-esteem and tend to be more independent.
7. Installing a good car seat is essential
Learn how to install a good car seat for your new baby and also, which position is best suited for him/her to be seated in the car. It is always advisable to have a high quality safety car seat installed in your vehicle to ensure maximum protection for your kids. Also, it is recommended to keep them rear facing for as long as possible, i.e. until they have completely outgrown the safety car seat while rear facing. However, if you think that it would be too soon to let your baby sit in a normal car seat, facing the front, you should always go for a second new car seat. Be safe rather than sorry!
8. Employee benefits and privileges
Find out about the kind and duration of maternity/paternity leave that is available at your workplace. Talk to your employer about whether you can have flexible job timings or do part time. If you are an expecting mother, find out at your workplace if there are any rights to pump/nurse from your HR and then find a convenient place where to pump and store your breast milk. Also, if both of you are working, find out what kind of privileges (childcare, healthcare) you are entitled to from your organization or elsewhere.
9. Written will and proper insurance plans for your baby
Anyone with children must have a written will to make sure that in case something unfortunate happens to the both of you, your child continues to get the proper levels of protection and care. It might appear an intimidating and somewhat unnecessary thing to do until you are a parent, but it is an essential process and once you find a good attorney, you will find it to be quite easily done too. Getting a life insurance may add a little extra burden on your pockets, but it is an equally essential step to ensure your child’s well being in the event of a tragedy. Whether both of you are working or not, it is always advisable to have some form of insurance so that when the need arises, your child has the proper and necessary funds.
These are a few necessary tips that should serve as a good advice for new parents, but these are not exclusive nor the only worthy ones. Contact your family members, elders for good advice. Read as much as you can about child care and new parents and babies, and then apply your own instincts because no one can actually know well enough about what is good for your baby! Every baby is unique and requires his/her own way of looking after, which you as a parent will only be able to understand and conform to over time. Countless people will tell you how becoming a parent changed them forever and how they had to make a lot of adjustments to their well settled lives, but at the same time they will also let you know that they cannot imagine the life they used to have before they had kids! And therein lies the beauty of this difficult phase of our lives, so just relax and try to enjoy while it lasts!