By Dr Tushar Maniar
Becoming parents for the first time and bringing a newborn home is a phase of mixed emotions. The joy, love, excitement, stress, anxiety, worry and apprehension of being a new parent to such a tiny little human can be overwhelming. Add to it a global pandemic and you have an even more daunting task ahead of you.
Your monthly paediatrician visits are now over a screen instead of meeting them in person. You have to think of new ways to procure daily formula and wipes for your little one as everyone else is hoarding these supplies. Covid-19 has given rise to way too many challenges for a new parent and you have no choice but to get going with it. If you are a new parent and don’t know where to begin, here are 6 easy tips to get you started.
1. Prepare your home for the little one
You know you are expecting your baby soon and you need to set up your house for the little one. Under normal circumstances, you would have had friends and family help you set it up. But now that you have to do it all on your own, it is easier to space it out through your pregnancy whenever you have time. Read books on how you need to care for your little one. Training and education tools are available online and you could also consult your paediatrician or a lactation consultant to understand all that you need to be prepared for. If you plan to have a nursery for the newborn, set it up in gender neutral shades before the arrival of the little one. This way you have one task less to worry about after you get busy with your baby.
2. Ensure you have all necessary supplies
Covid-19 has pushed people to hoard on to basic essentials without thinking about others. With the homecoming of a newborn baby, your daily needs for basic essential items are going to increase along with an addition of baby necessities. It is necessary that you have an adequate supply of formula, baby wipes, clothes, bottle, nipple, and other baby equipment ready.
3. Learn proper feeding techniques
Appropriate positioning and feeding techniques are crucial for feeding your baby. You need to ensure your baby is able to feed and swallow well. Some babies are unable to latch on to the mother’s breast or some newborns find it difficult to breastfeed. In order to understand your baby’s troubles while breastfeeding, observe and learn all the feeding techniques. Get your doubts cleared by speaking to your paediatrician or a lactation consultant. Practice the positions like the elevated side-lying position or the standard cradle-holding position to be able to feed your baby comfortably. Understand your baby’s cues when he/she communicates for needs like hunger, stress, fatigue, fullness, or sleep. Recognise them and attend to your little one accordingly.
4. Recognise red flags
When you are around family and friends, someone in the lot is experienced to notice any abnormal red flags during feeding times. With the Covid-19 pandemic, you are left to fend for yourself and play the parenting role all alone. Speak to your paediatrician and understand the visible symptoms that you need to be careful about. Know when you must seek medical attention and when you can handle on your own.
5. Vaccinations and doctor visits
Speak to your paediatrician regarding the current protocol for physical and virtual consultation. The global pandemic has changed the normal protocol for many healthcare practitioners. Vaccinations are to be taken as per schedule. Fix your appointments beforehand in order to avoid any further delay. Speak to your paediatrician in case of any queries or any doubts regarding meeting him/her physically. Discuss the safest vaccination timeline for your little one and book your appointments accordingly.
6. Ensure adequate safety
While it is important to stay home and stay safe during the pandemic, you can think of taking a stroll or a walk with your little one occasionally. Mental health is equally important, and it is necessary to get some fresh air for yourself and your child. Put your little one in a stroller and go for a walk across the park during non-peak hours. Maintain adequate distance from others and try to avoid crowded spaces while you are with your little one.
Nurturing your newborn is not an impossible task. It is difficult and can be daunting at times, but you will surf through smoothly. Every parent knows what’s best for their baby and you will too. Don’t let the pandemic and its uncertainties bog you down. Your care for your little one is always going to be topmost priority, pandemic or not.
(The writer is Head of Department – Centre for Child Health Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital)