Baby Ticker

Baby Care Basics

Bernard @ July 12, 2005, 6:33 pm -- [Week 35, Day 1]

Yesterday we took part one of a two part class called “Baby Care Basics.” Agnes has a lot of experience in dealing with newborns and infants, but I have next to none. I’m the youngest in my family and most of my cousins are close to my age. I’ve never babysat in my life. The only reason I have any sense at all about what babies are like is because I spent about a year traveling to Atlanta for work, and that’s where my nephew lives (and Suephy and Ed, of course). The hospital where we’re planning on having the baby offers this class in addition to the Lamaze class we just completed and a Breast Feeding class, which we’re also signed up for.

The class itself was pretty good. It’s run by one of the nurses at the hospital. She started by discussing the “Back to Sleep” program and how it’s reduced the incidence of SIDS by 25-50%. She then gave some more practical advice about how to avoid flat spots on the backs of our babies’ heads (slightly cant them to one side using a rolled up cloth, and switch which direction you lay the baby in the crib since she will often turn to look at the center of the room). The class itself was pretty big and there were quite a lot of questions. During the class we also saw a video on different ways of holding a baby, how to wash a baby, how to change a diaper, how to swaddle a baby, how to take the baby’s temperature and how to cut the baby’s nails.

The nurse’s information was pretty up to date. She brought up the fact that many doctors now recommend cleaning the stub of the umbilical cord with water instead of alcohol now. She also stressed that glass thermometers should not be used — digital rectal thermometers should be used instead. One person in the class asked about a number of practices that he had heard of, such as putting rice cereal in the baby’s bottle to help the baby sleep through the night and to prevent reflux. The nurse said that this is no longer recommended by doctors except in very specific cases. She also mentioned that the introduction of solid foods too early (earlier than 5 months) is also associated with the development of food allergies.

She had a lot of information on bottle feeding (breast feeding is a much larger topic that has a separate class). She talked about how often to feed, the importance of making the formula according to the directions so that it produces a liquid with 20 calories per ounce, and things like how long breast milk and formula will keep in the refrigerator and freezer. She talked about warming bottles and cleaning them. She mentioned that bottled water tends to be worse than tap water when making formula, because it sits around for so long. Distilled water is always a good option though. She also had a number of suggestions on how to help out a gassy baby. She demonstrated how to burp a baby and how to give the baby a massage if the gas has already moved down too low.

The two hours went by really quickly. Next week, during the second part of the class, there will be a pediatrician there to ask additional questions. Someone in the class had asked about the water you can buy at Babies R Us to make formula. It contains fluoride, which is missing from bottled or distilled water. The nurse said that it probably wasn’t worth buying, but that the pediatrician could say more about it. When I asked Agnes about it later in the evening, she said that she would need to actually see the label to see how much fluoride was in it. During the first 6 months, babies should not receive fluoride supplements (see page 8 of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations). Later, the amount depends on the age of the baby.

I learned a lot. Much of it was something I had seen or read in some form or another, but the reinforcement definitely helps. We’re already expecting that I’m going to be the one bathing the kids — Agnes won’t be able to do it for a while after her C-section. I also think it’ll be fun, though messy. I’m also responsible for the nail cutting. Anyway, I’m looking forward to our next class.