By Alexandra Khoo
You’ve read every possible parenting book and you’ve kept a close watch on how to take care of baby from your confinement lady, but reality strikes now that you’re all alone with baby and beginning to wonder why no one told you that parenthood in the first year can be bewildering.
Here’re some things you’ve not been told about and how to survive the first year with baby.
1. Feeling helpless
Baby’s crying again and you haven’t a clue on what he wants. Well, that’s just your baby communicating with you.
Crying decoded – Check if your newborn’s hungry, wet or dirty, cold or hot, wanting to suck on something or bundled up for comfort or security, lonely or overwhelmed by noise. If baby cries a long time around the same time every day, it’s probably colic. Have your paediatrician check baby for colic and also if baby’s running a temperature or has diarrhoea.
2. Not liking baby (only for a while)
The crying, sleepless day and nights, endless chores and baby poop, loss of freedom to do the things you enjoyed doing sans baby, loosing track of worldly news, Facebook and online dramas can be frustrating. You’ve totally lost your cool and that tender loving feeling for baby.
That’s okay as this happens to most parents with a newborn. It gets better after a few weeks when you gain more experience in the care of baby. When the little tyke smiles and laughs, your heart will be all aflutter with love and that’s why no one told you about not liking your baby!
3. Doing the wrong things
You keep making mistakes! Don’t beat yourself up about this; all new parents make mistakes and nobody’s keeping a score card. As the saying goes – “Learn from your mistakes and carry on with your new-found wisdom”.
4. Gaining and loosing friends
Now that you’re part of the mummy kingdom, you’ll make more mummy and daddy friends. With a wave of baby’s magical wand, his sweet face will have strangers and you opening up to one another. You’ll be surprised to find that you’ll make lifelong friends from this new group of baby-loving people.
On the other hand, you’ll find yourselves drifting away from some of your friends and vice versa. This happens because you may have less in common with those who are not keen on baby talk. Sadly, you’d need to move on or perhaps pick it up again with some of these friends when baby grows up.
5. Eating 5-second meals without chewing
“And the winner of the fastest eating human goes to...” – YOU! Initially, eating quick meals on rotation with your spouse is a common thing as you have to take turns caring for baby. It’s alright just as long as you don’t choke on your food! As baby grows older, remember to have night dates with your spouse after roping in the grandparents or friends to take care of your little one for a few hours.
6. Turning into your mum or dad
Oh no?! The bad news: genetically, there’s a high chance that you will turn at least slightly into your mom or dad. The good news: you’ll find out that there are many good things about parenting you can learn from your parents. There are also many advantages to your child having a good relationship with his grandparents, like learning traditions, manners, moral values and old stories.
7. Becoming Florence Nightingale (with singing thrown in!)
Other than nursing baby, you’ll learn about first aid and some tips, starting with the umbilical cord stump! Later on, when baby’s learning to crawl and walk, you’d also be as vigilant as a nurse to prevent falls and learn what to do if baby bumps his head. You’ll also develop some nice vocals to sing your baby to sleep.
8. You’ll find the child in you
Playing with baby, self-praising your great genes, and doing silly things to keep baby entertained, happy and comfortable will bring delightful moments and is a great stress-reliever. Soldier on with your monkey faces and funny sounds!
What the expert says
Mr Lau Tat Chuan, an experienced father who serves pro-bono as director of The Centre for Fathering shares his tips to parents with newborn:
- Don’t over-schedule: Keep your schedules as simple as possible during the first few months of parenthood. Don’t fill up every moment during this important period of immense change in your life.
- Involve daddy: Draw your husband into the caring of your new baby. There will be many women hovering around the little one (mother-in-law, mother, aunties, etc.), so encourage the father to come into the picture and help care for baby too.
- Ignore some of baby’s cries: Condition your child early and tolerate baby’s cries. Don’t allow habits to develop which you’ll regret later on.