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Everything you ever wanted to know about babies

posted 17 Sep 2011, 05:48 by Dom De Vitto   [ updated 22 Oct 2012, 02:43 ]
Bottles
Get some 'Dr Browns' or equivalent 'anti-colic' bottles. These allow air to get to the back of the bottle while the baby is drinking, which prevents them gulping, and air getting into the teat. If they gulp or drink aerated milk, that will cause them to burp, be sick and also their stomach won't be full of milk, it'll be full of air and milk. So these bottles reduce sicking up, result in larger, quicker feeds, and ultimately, longer sleeps as their meal was bigger.
Sterilizing the bottles: Just get a microwave sterilizer, even though you can get fewer bottles in one microwave, it takes 5 minutes for 4-5 bottles, vs. 2 hours for 6-7 in a chemical sterilizer.  Chemical sterilizers require the bottles to be rinsed really well, and any residue at all won't be good for baby's stomach.  Putting bottles in the dishwater is fine, but remember to rinse the bottles under a hot tap before use, as the dishwasher will leave a slight salt residue, and too much salt is bad for babies. I recommend dishwashing it uses really hot water - hotter than you'd want to put your own hands into - but you need to check that every nook and cranny of the bottle is clean afterwards, or milk quickly becomes cheese which becomes mould when it's not washed properly.  This is not pretty.  Anti-colic bottles in particular have lots of nooks/pipes, and these need running through with a (usually supplied) pipe-cleaner.  I usually wash/rinse by hand with lots of soap (baby milk is very fatty), put them through the dishwasher to be sure, and rinse them with water from a boiled kettle just to finish.

Milk
Make up the bottles all at once, once a day, e.g. last thing at night.  Cool them quickly by plunging them into a sink of cold water, enough so that the bottles won't actually warm the water above 5degC - so the water is about the same temperature, all night, as a fridge. First thing in the morning, move the bottles from the sink to the fridge. This is because you can't put hot bottles straight into the fridge, but a sink of cold water will cool them quickly (giving germs minimal chance to grow) and still stay cold all night.
'Swirl' the bottle to mix the powder - never shake a bottle! That puts air into the milk, which will end up in the baby's stomach, causing sickness, longer and smaller feeds and shorter sleeping time. The idea is to get as much milk into the baby as you can at every feed !
Having all the bottles made well in advance avoids making them at 3am, when counting 3/4/5/6/7/8 or 9 scoops of powder and adding the right amount of water, is highly prone to error.  Making them all at once means it's easy to see if one has too much water (so not enough food to fill them up) or too little (leaving them thirsty) - balance is important, and it's easy to compare 6 bottles and be sure they all look 'the same'. Heat the bottle in a microwave, for 10 seconds.  Electric bottle warmers are impossible to get right - too much water in the 'pot' and the bottle takes ages to heat up, too little water and the bottle gets too hot, in either case, leaving the bottle in too long - e.g. 90 seconds, rather than 75, means the bottle is too hot, and is going to take 5 minutes to cool down. During all the mucking around, the baby is usually crying.....I hate electric bottle warmers.
Microwaving means the same amount of heat energy is put into every bottle, every time, and it's easy to 'swirl' the bottle to mix away hot/cold spots before testing the temperature on your wrist - perfect.
'Hungrier baby' milk is fine, for kids that need it - your midwife/nurse will advise if/when the baby seems to want to eat the world and is over 6 months old. Avoid 'follow-on' milk for 9-month old+ - this is marketing crap - I think it should be banned. Children at 9 months should be eating *food* - a balanced, normal, diet - maybe with a bit more yogurt/milk than adults (for the calcium) and food cut into very small pieces, but otherwise, normal food. Oh, and it's probably time to cut out any/all added salt you add to your own 'normal' meals, as this isn't 'balanced', and too much salt is bad for children, and adults :-)


Monitors
Technology keeps marching on, but the (version 1) Angel Care monitor we had was a godsend.  It has three settings:
a) Where it gives you a visual reading of movement, or noise from the baby. (via a 'stack' of led lights)
b) Where it does (a) but also lets you hear the sound, like a normal monitor.
c) Where it does (a) or (a) and (b) and also monitors a 'mat' put under the baby's mattress, and gives a loud alarm if there is no motion (e.g. breathing) for 30 seconds.

What's amazing is that (especially first parents) tend to worry that the baby isn't breathing - the periodic 'click'/LED-flash gives you a warm feeling that everything is ok.  Occasional forgetting to turn the 'transmitter' off before removing the baby for feeding/changing will test the monitor is working...and make you 200% awake :-)
At night, the LEDs give you at-a-glance visual knowledge that everything is ok, and in (c) mode, you get a 'click' every 10ish seconds for every movement, so you don't even need to look at the monitor to know everything is ok.  It's a real godsend.

Video monitors sound like a great idea, but do you really want to be staring at them, thinking 'are they breathing?', or do you just want to hear a click every few seconds. From experience, you can even watch TV with the monitor sat under the screen, clicking and flashing it's lights in a way that's comforting but not too distracting!
'Talkback' monitors - where you can speak to your baby, are pointless - if you baby is crying, it needs feeding, changing or winding - you can't discuss, negotiate or debate with it over an intercom.

Carriers/car-seats/Pushchairs
Get something that suits your lifestyle, but keep it as light, small and manoeuvrable as possible. Bear in mind that you'll be carrying it a lot, and putting it into your car, in the rain, when someone has parked too close.... Combined carriers/car-seats/pushchairs are good, but remember the carriers (which double as car-seats) tend to be very heavy (5kgs+) and this isn't something you want to be carrying far without a pushchair - unless you want to look like Popeye after a month.
Be aware that some cars (e.g. Vauxhall) only disable the front pasenger airbag when used with a particular (expensive) brand of carseat, and can't be disabled manually.
It's probably worth just resigning yourself to the fact that you'll need another carseat once the baby is out of the carrier (6 months-ish), as a carrier big enough to be a carseat for a 6-month-old is probably heavier than you'd ever want to carry more than two yards.


Nappies
Get a few for when the baby is due, but as you don't know if it's going to be 5 or 10 pounds - hold off getting too many initially.  Avoid cheap ones - 'leaks' are not amusing, and make any previous plumbing disaster you've encountered seem trivial and enjoyable.  Be warned - boys, of all ages, wee when cold, and can shoot 45 cm in the air from birth.  Not such a problem with girls.  Speed and co-ordination is essential and will come with time - after 6 months of practice you'll be critical of the pit-crew for 'Team Ferrari' for taking more than 6 seconds to change 4 wheels.


Creams and Wipes
Sudocreme is amazing, IMO - we still use it for every/anything, but baby rashes were why we bought it originally. The right nappies can reduce the likelihood of rashes, but they are near impossible to avoid. Tesco 'Fragrance Free' baby wipes (light blue pack) are really cheap, and really good - our kids reacted to even the fragrance-free top-brand ones, but Tesco's own brand do the job perfectly - I guess it's just over-engineering by Johnson/Huggies etc., and my kids are over-sensitive.  Don't flush them down toilets though - they don't break down, they block up.  Buy thousands - you will need them, they also take makeup off pretty well too, says my Mrs.


Nappy bags
Fragranced nappy bags. This beats the computer as the invention of the century. Not so sure about the 'nappy-auto-bagger' devices you can get, as you still need to put wipes in the bags too, but if it helps shave 2-tenths of a second off the time it takes a change a nappy, it'll be worth the investment - though I've no personal experience.  2-tenths of a second not seem a lot? Imagine holding something that is *really*, *really* smelly, 10 times every day, for six months.  Those tenths add up.....
Oh, and in case it wasn't obvious by now, despite the jar of baby food being labelled 'Peach and Pear', this will bare absolutely no relation to the smell appearing in the nappies.  I am still at a technical loss to know how (and why) the human body can convert from one into the other.


Talc
Cover them - babies sweat a lot. As long as they get a bath every couple of days to wash it away, giving them a good dusting will help stop rashes.

Good Luck !
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