Welcome to parenthood! Feeling a little overwhelmed by the job? Rest assured that you are in excellent company as generations of parents have spent countless hours asking themselves, “What am I doing?” The good news is that babies are resilient, parental intuition is strong and there is a wealth of knowledge at your disposal.
We asked two local experts to weigh in with their advice on what new parents need to know. Dr. Sandrock, in practice for 25 years and a father and grandfather, has been a pediatrician at Northeast Cincinnati Pediatrics since 1995. Dr. Nicole Baldwin, also a physician at Northeast Cincinnati Pediatrics, has been in practice for 10 years and was voted one of Cincinnati’s Top Doctors of 2017 by Cincinnati Magazine. Here are the suggestions they’d like every parent to take.
Don’t get all your information online
While every parent has done some late-night Googling on something worrying them about their child, Dr. Sandrock says, “Do not search the internet for every question you have about your baby.” While some information is useful, the internet does not provide the necessary context or apply the information specifically to your child like a physician can do.
Stay on top off vaccinations
“Vaccinations are safe and very important,” says Dr. Baldwin. “They help protect your precious little one from many (formerly fatal) diseases.” Vaccinating your children on time is one of the earliest and best steps you can take to protect them.
Don’t hesitate to call your pediatrician
“The pediatrician is there to assist you in the care of your baby,” says Dr. Sandrock. “Come with questions. The pediatrician is there to guide you on growth, development and what you can do to help your infant.” Every newborn visit will include questions about sleeping, feedings and growth, so bring up any concerns you have. Dr. Baldwin adds, “Please don’t be afraid to ask your pediatrician questions. No question is ‘stupid’ and chances are we have been asked it many times before.”
Remember to care for yourself, too
Caring for a baby can feel all consuming, but neglecting your own health will only backfire. “Eat, stay hydrated and sleep when you can,” Dr. Baldwin advises new parents, saying that taking care of a newborn is hard work – and it’s only more difficult if you aren’t making time for you.
Give it time and trust yourself
Parenting is challenging at times for everyone, so don’t be discouraged if it feels like you haven’t found your groove yet. “Every child is unique, and what works for one, may not work for another,” says Dr. Baldwin. “It may take time to get to know your infant and learn what strategies work best for them (and you).” Even though you may doubt yourself, as Dr. Sandrock says, “You know your baby better than anyone.”
“Breathe. When you are stressed (and you will be), when you are tired (and you will be), when you feel inadequate (and you will), take ten seconds and just breathe. This moment will pass, and you will be okay,” says Dr. Baldwin.
“Enjoy your baby. If you are relaxed your baby senses this and will be more relaxed also,” says Dr. Sandrock. “Spend time talking to and smiling at your child. It should be fun to be a parent.”
Remember that parenting is a marathon, not a sprint! Ask for help and guidance from those around you and remember that your pediatrician expects to be an important source of support for you throughout your child’s development. Congratulations on your new baby – enjoy the ride!