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10 BASE STEPS FOR NEW BABY PREPARATION

10 BASE STEPS FOR NEW BABY PREPARATION
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Baby is set to arrive in just a few months. You've read all the pregnancy books, stocked your maternity wardrobe and have been keeping regular appointments with your obstetrician or midwife. Next, your focus can turn to birth and Baby. How should you prepare?

1. Pack a bag.
Deciding what to bring to the hospital can be tricky. You don't want to arrive toting four pieces of luggage, but you don't want to forget an essential item, either. Before packing your bag, ask friends or visit Pregnancy Today for advice.

What did other moms find most useful at the hospital? A few essentials include entertainment for Dad (cards, videos, books), as well as a change of clothes and toiletries, snacks for both of you, comfort items like a favorite pillow, nightgown or robe, and a camera. Don't forget to add a list of phone numbers if you will be calling family and friends to spread the news. If you have a birth plan, bring that, too. Pack your bag – or at least make a list of what to bring – a month or more before Baby is expected.

2. Select your baby's doctor.
Choosing a pediatrician before your baby is born is an important step. This doctor will give a baby his first checkup, and be available to answer the many questions you'll have in those first few days and weeks. Both you and your spouse should feel comfortable with not only asking the pediatrician anything, but taking the advice and choices he or she presents to you.

For instance, what are the doctor's policies on routine immunizations? Does he support breastfeeding? Does he provide after-hours answers and care? Interview a number of doctors, weigh the importance of each answer and allow plenty of time deciding which doctor is right for your family.

3. Agree on medical decisions.
Will you circumcise? Immunize? Parents face difficult decisions about a baby's health even before he is born, so you should settle these important issues long before you leave for the hospital. After your baby is born, he may be given routine immunizations and you'll probably be asked if you want to circumcise him. If you, or your spouse, are not prepared to make these decisions on the spot, you could rush into something you won't be happy about later.

Spend time researching in advance the medical decisions you'll face at the hospital, sit down with your spouse to discuss what you learn and go into the birth experience knowing what's in store for your baby.

4. Buy the gear.
Which car seat is best for your family? Safest? Which one is easiest to install and does it have a separate base or carry handle? How about strollers? So many products are targeted at new parents, it's hard to decide which items – not to mention which models – are essential and what you can skip. Again, rely on other parents to tell you what they used most and what stayed in the closet. Try wheeling strollers around the baby goods store and read up on the safety ratings of car seats. Be sure you check for recalls before buying any used items.

5. Get educated.
If you haven't signed up for a childbirth education class, do it now before classes fill up. A childbirth course that teaches such popular methods as Lamaze or Bradley can give you an idea of what to expect during labor and how to cope with the various challenges of giving birth. These classes can also help your partner get an idea of what his role will be when the big day arrives. Aside from taking a course, you can also check out books about the birth experience or visit iParenting’s BirthStories.com for the birth stories of moms who've been there.

6. Stock baby's closet.
Besides needing something to eat and a place to sleep, your baby is going to need something to wear. You might get some clothing for your baby's layette as gifts or hand-me-downs, but remember that babies also grow very quickly in the early months – so go easy on the number of newborn outfits you buy. A modest supply of gowns, sleepers, caps and booties should get you started, as well as plenty of undershirts and socks in newborn and 3- to 6-month sizes.

Many moms wash all their baby's clothes before his first wearing in a mild detergent made just for delicates. This is not a bad idea, at least until you know if your baby's skin is extra-sensitive.

7. Breast or bottle?
Many parents-to-be are apprehensive about how they'll end up feeding their baby. Should they buy bottles, and if so, how many? Will they be successful in establishing breastfeeding?

The best approach to these questions is to get informed. When it comes to breastfeeding, the more support, the better. Drop by a La Leche League meeting now or ask your doctor for the names of some lactation consultants in your area. Keep their numbers by the phone. If you plan to go back to work, buy a good quality dual-electric pump. (Even stay-at-home moms might want a small manual pump for evenings out.) Whether breast- or bottle-feeding, you should establish a supply of bottles and nipples. For formula-fed babies, plan to use about 10 small bottles a day.

8. Prepare siblings.
If you have children already, some parents suggest you start preparing them for the new baby's arrival when you feel the danger of miscarriage has lessened and your older child starts to notice changes in your appearance. You can find books to explain the arrival of a sibling to younger children or enroll older children in sibling preparation classes.

9. Choose a name.
You may have combed countless Web sites for baby names and now have a list of 12 possibilities. Or perhaps you've already chosen the baby's name – but your spouse doesn't agree. While you're not required to name your baby the day he's born, the pressure is on as friends and relatives want to know what to call this bundle of joy. Try to decide on a name or two in the weeks or months before you give birth, then write the name or names on a 3x5 card to put in your bag. That way, when the time comes to record baby's new title, no mistakes will be made.

10. Rest!
Staying healthy in the final months of your pregnancy means not only going to regular prenatal checkups, but trying to relax and enjoy this time of relative quiet before the sleepless nights begin. But lying low doesn't mean becoming a couch potato. Exercise is an important part of pre-baby preparation. Mothers who exercise regularly find themselves more prepared for labor with increased stamina. Since your energy level may be lower as you become bigger and labor day approaches, take it slow and don't add anything new or daring to your exercise routine. (by Amy Carey)

 

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