“What if she doesn’t come with instructions?” and other silly parenting questions

I didn’t know where to put this. If it is the wrong forum maybe a friendly mod will happen by and move it.

The first question should be “what the hell were we thinking?” I have this question in my mind every day. Don’t mistake me, we want this baby, we love her already, but we feel awfully unprepared for the task, even after devouring books, websites and literature about child-rearing.

Now on to the real questions:

How fragile are newborns? Any chance we’ll “break” her?

Have any of you done the cloth diaper thing? How did it go?

When they say “babies should sleep on their back”, do they mean with face pointing to the ceiling, or can they rest their face on one side?

Will it be possible for my husband and I (two newbies) to handle the situation at the beginning? Or will we have to call the cavalry (my mom) to help out?

And a silly question: any idea as to the real origin and meaning of the name Nadia?

I have many more questions, but I guess I can ask them later.

Newborns are a lot sturdier than you’d expect. They do have noodle necks, so support her head until she starts doing it herself. Yes, it does happen: even the most loving parents sometimes drop the newborn. Most of the time the baby is fine, but the parent is an emotional mess for a little while…

Used disposable diapers for Kid #1, mostly cloth for Kid #2. If there would be a Kid #3, I’d insist on mostly cloth again. Spend the money for decent quality diapers and diaper covers, you’ll be glad you did. The stuff they sell at WalMart and similar stores isn’t good enough for diapering (good for spit-up rags etc though). Lots of online stores sell diapering supplies and most have good advice as well.

Babies should be laid down on their backs to sleep. If their heads roll over to one side, that’s fine. Once your baby starts staying awake for more than just eating and diaper changes, do remember that babies can, and most experts say should, be placed on their stomachs during at least some of their playtime, to help strengthen their back muscles.

If you can get help in the beginning, then call in the cavalry. It’s an exhausting job those first weeks, and the first time you’re never sure if you’re doing it right. Someone to wash dishes, answer the phone, and reassure you that the baby is happy and thriving thanks to your tender loving care can be a godsend. However, beware of houseguests who want to come to “help” when their idea of helping is occasionally giving the baby a bottle (and who will probably tell you, if you’re breastfeeding, that the only reason you’re “doing that” is to keep them from bonding with baby). The last thing you need is a houseguest who expects to be entertained, fed, and cleaned up after; you will get enough of that from the baby. You know your mom, you know what she’s likely to do.

Good luck to you and your partner; you’re in for a grand adventure!

My dad says the most important thing he learned being a new parent is that “babies bounce.” Obviously you must be responsible and take reasonable measures against serious baby-injury, but also be prepared for the fact that Baby will get hurt from time to time. But don’t worry because they get over it quickly.

The absolutely most important things, IMHO, to realize about babies (which I’m sure you know, but sometimes in the stress of raising a newborn, we forget): First, they are people. Everything you do with and for them is to encourage another person, plain and simple. It’s much more intense than the usual support and encouragement we adults give each other (and older kids), but that’s what it is. They are just as aware and intelligent as we are. Every moment with a baby is a chance to help someone’s life. It’s awesome.

The other thing is: don’t take anything they do personally. The little guys really don’t and can’t mean anything at all by their actions.

I’m not trying to imply ignorance on your part by any of these statements. :slight_smile:

Oh, and call in the cavalry. A lot.


Ah, you’ll be fine - just don’t drop 'em or shake 'em and they’re pretty tough little buggers.

We used cloth nappies because disposable ones were hellishly expensive in Japan - I actually prefer them for avoiding rashes, but bear in mind that you’ll be doing a *lot * of washing if you do, and you’ll need plenty in hand: they can go through 8 or 10 a day without breaking stride.

Put 'em on their backs at first, to avoid suffocation: they can move their heads sideways fine, but newborns can’t turn over like we can. If they’re sleeping happily, leave 'em be.

As far as you and your husband “handling it” on your own, most of it’s just common sense, and will quickly become routine. Just be prepared for the interrupted nights and lack of sleep, especially for the first three months. If your husband’s working, he may need you {and the troops} to carry the a bit of the load for a while: it’s hard being super-dad changing nappies and helping with the feeds at 4am and doing a full-time job as well.

Call in the troops when needed, if they’re cool with it - if your Mum’s willing to help, let her. Like flodnak said, it may be something as simple as keeping an eye on the baby for a couple of hours in the day while you sleep: normal time-keeping will be a thing of the past for a while, so sleep when you can, let the housekeeping slide if you have to, and don’t be too proud to ask for help - it’s not a sign of weakness, just good sense.

It seems daunting, but the actual mechanics of caring for a baby really are easier than they seem at the outset: feed 'em, burp 'em, wipe 'em, wash 'em and put them to sleep. Repeat several times a day for a few months.

They’re exhausting mechanics, but after a couple of weeks you’ll be an expert, and the first three months do go past incredibly quickly - mostly in a sleepless blur - and then you’ve done the hard part.

All the best, and feel free to post again if you need more advice or suggestions: we seasoned veterans are always willing to show how knowlegeable and gung-ho we are. Feed 'em tomato sauce and potato chips? Sure, why not? Seriously, though, it may not seem like it at 3am when you’ve had 2 hours sleep and are up to your elbows in shit for the third time that night, but you’ll never have a more rewarding experience. The bad parts will pass in a blur, but the good bits you’ll remember all your life.

Books and websites and such are fine resources, but recall that for thousands of years, humans have been birthing and rearing children successfully. Accept that you will make mistakes - all parents do - and recognize that your mistakes probably won’t scar the child for life.

Most of all, trust your instincts. As a parent, you know your child better than anyone. Smile and nod at all well-meaning advice, but do what you think is best - you’re probably right. Don’t put a give a lot of weight to “at age 2 months, baby will…” because your baby will develop at her own pace. Some do things earlier, some later, some things can’t be rushed or encouraged.

Just relax and enjoy it. Before you know it, your little bundle will be off to college, and the house will be really empty… sigh

Nadia is Slavic in origin, and it means “hopeful.”

Yes, children should be put to bed on their backs. “back to bed” is the mnemonic motto. Keep their room warm enough to avoid the need for lots of covers. No covers at all seems barbaric to most of us, but babies lack our prejudices. Also keep the baby’s room dark. It helps in the growth and development of their eyes. It also helpe them develop a strong circadian rhythm.

But, babies tend to survive the adventure of inexperienced parents better than the parents do. Do call granny in, though. Everyone needs a grandparent or four to make their life better. The first year is so exciting, and so filled with joys and terrors you want granny to get in on it. Later, she can be emotionally bullied into giving you some free babysitting. The kid will take care of the rewards for granny part.

I am “hopeful” that Nadia will have a joyous life. Bless her, Lord, and those who love her.


Yikes! When I first read this I didn’t understand what you meant. I thought you meant our own grannies (who can’t be any older or infirm). Then I realized that you meant our moms. Another of those subtle changes after we have kids, eh? :slight_smile:

The good thing is that my husband is going to have 2 months of vacation after the baby is born. And he’s more than willing to help, even if he’s even more ignorant than I am. The second good thing is that we have domestic help, somebody that comes three times a week to do the laundry, cleaning, watering the plants and other menial tasks. She’s offered to cook if necessary during those days. My husband can also come up with a tasty meal too (probably pasta every day). My mom works, and I would not like to burden her (though she’d love it) and also, I don’t know, we are a bit selfish, we’ve been waiting for this baby for a while and don’t want to share her so soon. Things might change upon her arrival though.

I have bought kooshies diapers, they seem sturdy and the best quality available. They are also easy to use, even my husband can use them. The question is, how do we wash them (obviously not with the rest of the laundry). Any special detergent you’d reccomend? How about disinfection?
You have no idea how much I appreciate your help. Some of my friends don’t know everything/anything and my mom forgot everything.

Advice Du Jour
If you are going to breastfeed, be careful of what you eat as certain foods affect the baby as well: tomato sauce, onions, beans…and a whole bunch others that I cannot remember now.

The most important think you can do as a parent is: RELAX!

Babies eat, sleep, poop and cry. In most babies, they cry for each stage of needing food, a change and general crankiness. The more time you spend with your little one, the more you will recognize the signs of " ohh.oooh, that rubbing of the eyes means they are getting sleepy." or " His face is turning red…he’s pooping. (always comical.) or just recognizing when your child is overstimulated and it is time for a nap. ( Nap time is sacred.)

Just relax.

Some times they eat like drunken frat boys and sleep incessantly (usually a sign of a growth spurt.) and other times they don’t want anything to eat and never ever seem to sleep. As far as I know, no baby has ever died from lack of sleep or one meal where they got just a spoonful or two of rice.
A routine is the most important thing for establishing sleep habits. Bath/read/cuddle/toss into bed/night night baby/parents run down the hall with hands over ears is a nice proven method.

Some parents ( like myself) co-sleep. I never thought I would be one of those durn hippies. They fall asleep faster, sleep deeper and keep mama warm with their bake potato heat. Humans are pack animals and babies are only babies for such a short time. Cuddling with them is one of the pure joys in life…cause eventually they are embarrassed by their parents very existance.

The human race has been around for a long time. We are like carbon-based life forms of Cockroaches.

Oh, and take a vow to read to your daughter every day. Even if it is from your own books and magazines while she is in the grub stage and cannot reach out and grab the pages to stuff into her mouth. My promise to myself and my kids from birth on was “10 books a day” Baby books are quick and easy to do this with and takes possibly ten minutes.

The gift of your time and attention and the gift of reading are the greatest gifts you can give your children.
Good luck and webcam the first few weeks for posterity. :slight_smile:

Yes, read to your children!

Read them stuff they cannot possibly understand, too. Babies are a whole lot smarter than anyone realizes. Read some good stuff over and over, as well. Snuggle time, with books so familiar you can “read” them without looking are great for babies, and even toddlers. Keep the book there, though. It helps pair the good feelings with the object, so that a book will become a desirable object in itself.

In a lot less time than you expect, Nadia will be correcting your reading errors. Great moment, when it happens.


Cloth diapers are run on the hottest cycle, with bleach. Rinse very well!

About the ‘back to sleep’ thing: be sure to make the baby rest his head on both sides–try to get him to alternate. If a baby sleeps too much in one position, it can flatten the side or back of the skull–most cases grow out of it without help, but a few babies need to wear headgear for it. My niece was kind of weird-looking for her first year with a flat head.

Moms are great. But don’t rely on your mom’s advice–check it first. Things are often very different now, so stuff that was quite acceptable when we were tots is verboten now. (Gripe water with whiskey in it, no car seats, and tummy sleeping are the biggies, but there are others.)

Huh, I went agoogling for answers to this and found out I did it all wrong, who knew?

My method was to keep a soak tub with a diluted bleach solution, then gather them up every other day to plop in the washer, rinse and spin cycle, add Dreft baby detergent and run like normal, dry on low and use unscented softener sheets.

This site cautions you to use only oxygen bleach or baking soda to soak, natural laundry powders and vinegar, and never any fabric softeners.

Well, I did it wrong and yet we were fine, so there ya go, find something in between that’s effective for you. With baking soda/vinegar you won’t bleach out the cute patterns in the kooshies, but they’ll still get disinfected. The advice about closing the velcro tabs is good stuff, but you’d have figured that one out the first time you removed a giant diaper ball from the dryer anyway. Line-drying sounds great if you have the right resources, dryers work fine if you don’t.

Like Shirley said, Ma Nature is powerful, instincts will kick in and you’ll be fine. For example, I remember watching my elder sister feed my nephew some horrific-looking glop mixture of cereal, baby food and formula, I asked her why in the world anyone would ever eat that/how did she know she was supposed to do that and she just gave me a look like “Duh” instead of a substantial answer. She was right, when the time came for me to figure it out, I did so. Listen to the pediatrician, keep reading, and follow your instincts.


I’m just enjoying your nervousness (sorry).

They’ll let anybody have kids. Heck, they let me have two (and so far, not only have they survived, but seem to be thriving).

You can do it!

How fragile are newborns? Any chance we’ll “break” her?

The good Lord made them pretty idiot-proof. If they were that fragile, nobody would have lasted long enough to get the human race to 2005.

Have any of you done the cloth diaper thing? How did it go?

I have a friend that did. They were hideously expensive ($10-20 bucks a pop), made of this really soft lamb’s wool stuff. Overall, I’m sure she spent less on diapers than I did but she was more inconvenienced. She said with hers, she could dry them in the dryer all day and they would NEVER get dry – but if she hung 'em up and let them air dry, they’d dry overnight.

When they say “babies should sleep on their back”, do they mean with face pointing to the ceiling, or can they rest their face on one side?

I think we did face to the ceiling at first. As they get a bit older you can do the face on the side thing with no worries. You can buy these really cool sponge thingies to hold 'em still.

Or you might get lucky like my cloth diaper friend and end up with a baby who couldn’t sleep except on his tummy. Good times.

Will it be possible for my husband and I (two newbies) to handle the situation at the beginning? Or will we have to call the cavalry (my mom) to help out?

Sure, it’ll be possible, but if your mother is a typical Granny you’ll do well to get to hold the baby for 10 minutes on some days. Take any help that is offered by a responsible person! All new mommies need some time to themselves, and plus for that first year or so everyone’s going to want in on the baby action. USE IT, because when they’re 5 or so, the crowd of worshippers diminishes. (Infants are way easier to deal with than older kids.)

As far as whether you’ll need the help, that’ll depend on your labor & recovery. I needed my mom around for 2 months because I was so torn up and exhausted. You may pop the kid out in 2 hours with no problems and be rarin’ to go after about a week.

Nadia’s a lovely name, btw.

** Satirical Link** This just in: Baby starves to death by only being fed a spoonful or two of rice :smiley:

Trust your Grammy Shirl. More than that, trust yourself. You are going to make tons of mistakes and you know what? You’re human, so is your S.O. It happens. Big and small ones. Keep the love and caring in the forefront, a lot of other things fall into place naturally.

Recent parenting tale: I was in Barnes & Noble near Lincoln Center in NYC. I am walking arm in arm with the Fem-Bot, my most wonderful 13 year old daughter. We walk by the table laden with baby bibles. An extremely worried looking woman who was rather rotund with child was looking from book to book, eyes glazed. I said, " shopping for a baby bible?" She said yeah, but they’re all the same it seems. I found the one we had used, and picked it up saying, " This one worked for us- and just LOOK at how great my daughter turned out !!! " My daughter turned various shades of red and the woman cracked up…and reached for the book.

No book, or helpful pushy mom or aunt or uncle can replace your own instincts. Trust yourself… you love this baby and want only the best that the world can offer it. A few helpful thoughts from a father of two. ( they’re now sullen petulant unpredictable teenagers. )

  1. Nothing that comes out of your child’s body should be colored blue. :eek:
  2. Gatorade is not a replacement for Pedialyte.
  3. Babies really do bounce a lot of the time.

We did cloth diapers for the first child. A week after the second child arrived, we switched to disposable. Never looked back, and never felt I had more or less diaper rash issues with one kind or the other. I did have some fairly serious concerns right towards the end of the second child’s diaper years. It was my daughter, and they had come out with “super-duper leakproof” diapers that had a chemical powder trapped in the layers. Urine flowed into them and was made into a gel on contact, preventing leaking. There were- at least at those times- issues with how healthy or unhealthy it was to have that chemical compound up against the vagina. We stayed away from those brands, since there was no firm science one way or the other.

And…enjoy enjoy enjoy the experience !!!


I read a good tip on this last time I was at the OB’s office. It said alternate every night which way the baby is laid down in the crib: One night, the head will be facing the door, the next night the feet. Why? Apparently, as soon as they are able, babies will always turn towards the door looking for the bringer of food and comfort. Alternating positions every night should help prevent “flat head”. 'Course, I won’t be able to test this theory out until September, but it seemed reasonable.

I used exclusively cloth diapers for both my girls, except when travelling or visiting. I was really into cost-saving and environmental issues (actually, I still am). Dirty diapers were rinsed in the toilet and then placed in a diaper pail containing a bleach solution. They were washed in hot water with bleach and on sunny days dried outside on a clothesline. Cloth diapers also make excellent shoulder or lap shields when burping or holding the baby, and when no longer needed for their original purpose are wonderful dustcloths.

Don’t try to be perfect. There never was and never will be a perfect parent. Or a perfect child. Beautiful, yes; perfect, never. Relax and let yourself and your child be what they are. Remember that you are the best mommy your child ever had or ever will have. The fact that you love her and are trying to do the best you can is the most important thing. Babies have survived and thrived through all kinds of child-raising theories. Whatever you do now was probably considered heresy in some past age, and probably will be again some time in the future.

It is wonderful to have some sympathetic household help. Let your helpers do the cooking, cleaning, laundry and other housework so that you will be free to tend to the baby. Be ready to tell any helper that it’s time for them to go if they are no longer helpful. I sent my husband back to work after a week because he was mostly spending his time in the garage anyway.

Love her, cuddle her, pay attention to her, talk to her. Accept that for a good while you will not have enough unbroken sleep. Sleep when the baby sleeps if at all possible. For many of us, the early infancy of our children is the most challenging and at the same time most magical time of our lives.

Regarding Nadia, it’s short for Nadezhda (Надежда ), which means “hope” in Slavonic.

I decided for cloth diapers mostly because of enviromental concerns. I also have the advantage of living in the Caribbean, where we have sun almost every day and I have plenty of space to hang clothes to dry. What kind of bleach did you use?

Hmm… er… I’ll keep that in mind. :eek:
Any suggestions about good books for infants?

Sure. This is the baby bible to which I referred up there. ( and, I was just kidding about the blue stuff… :wink: )

Your Baby and Child from birth to age 5 , by Penelope Leach.

Good stuff, not too preachy.