Advice for New Parents

I was just emailing unsolicited baby advice to a colleague with a kid due in a few days and realized I could distill my advice in a very few number of steps now.

1. Sleep whenever you can in the first two months. Just give up the notion that you're going to get anything done. Pay bills, but don't try to be productive outside of work if you have to work during that period. I gave up way too much sleep thinking that it would be better to be awake while Ben slept. Big mistake.

2. Get a Miracle Blanket and swaddle the kid.

3. If the baby is "colicky," talk to your doctor about reflux. Ben has reflux and a very simple, safe prescription stopped his discomfort. I expect a good portion of colicky babies have acid reflux. It's very common but not always treated.

4. Create a CD of rain or buy one. Rain, hairdryer noise, etc., whatever you need that produces white noise that makes the baby sleep. We wound up cutting a few discs and settled on rain noise.

5. Dads: Change diapers. C'mon, it's not so bad. The first three or four were tricky in the hospital. I have now changed, like, a thousand. Get over yourselves. Your partner will love you even more.

6. Moms: Ask for breastfeeding help from trained lactation specialists. We and so many of our friends couldn't get a perfect latch for a while and couldn't get a breast pump to work ideally. We finally asked enough people, including lactation specialists, and got the right answers to make it all work.

7. Best single piece of advice from a post-partum doula (lots of other advice was good, too): after the initial weeks, the baby should take naps in his or her crib in their own bedroom if you plan to have them sleep at night in their own crib in their own bedroom.

8. Don't use swings to get the baby to sleep all the time. One set of friends wound up with a baby that wouldn't sleep without the motion, which was a rough transition for them, and somewhat unexpected.