Prior to Zoe arriving on the scene, I had virtually no experience with newborns, or babies of any age for that matter. But now I’m an expert!
Ok, hardly an expert, but I have learned a few things about newborns:
- they come with excellent communication skills (both verbal and non-verbal)
- they’re likely to have more wrinkles than the average septuagenarian
- they’re amusingly indifferent toward ridiculous outfits (for a little while, at least)
They say that babies don’t come with instruction manuals, but they do in British Columbia. The manual is called Baby’s Best Chance (full PDF), and it’s definitely handy to have around. Given the plethora of information available there and elsewhere, I won’t attempt to be comprehensive. Instead, I’ll just share a few of our experiences with Zoe.
When in doubt, blame a stork
Zoe was born with a large pink birthmark on the back of her neck. Apparently these so-called “stork bites” are fairly common and generally disappear within the first year. There are several different kinds of birthmarks, some worrisome, some not. Mayo Clinic and KidsHealth have all the details.
What you see is not necessarily what you get
During the pregnancy, Lacey and I wondered whether Zoe’s eyes would be blue (like mine) or green (like her’s). Now that Zoe’s here, though, we still don’t know! Why not? Well, they’re currently blue, but that could easily change:
If a baby’s eyes are brown at birth, they will remain so. This is the case for most black and Asian infants. Most white infants are born with bluish-gray eyes, but the pigmentation of the iris (the colored part of the eye) may progressively darken, usually not becoming their permanent color until about 3 to 6 months of age.
Hair colour changing… sure. But eye colour? Somewhat unexpected.
If you’ve never changed a diaper and parenthood looms, take heart! Neither had I. Now I’m so fast that Lacey almost doesn’t believe me. Here’s one such exchange I recall:
Lacey: Oh, she wasn’t dirty?
Me: No, she definitely was.
Lacey: And… you changed her diaper?
Me: You know it. *blows smoke from imaginary pistol*
I might be embellishing a bit. Truthfully, though, I kind of like diaper duty. The problem is tangible, the feedback instantaneous. Nine times out of ten, when Zoe’s fussing for no apparent reason, a quick diaper change does the trick.
We’re using cloth diapers from a Montreal company called Bummi’s. Our experience so far has been great: effective, easy-to-use and inexpensive. I’m planning to crunch the numbers in a little while to see just how much money we’ve saved compared to using disposables.
Get your stories straight!
When you’re learning something new (say, parenting), it’s especially frustrating to have people giving you conflicting information. Our experience at BC Women’s Hospital was generally great, but it sometimes seemed like everyone we talked to had different information than the person before. A couple of examples:
Nurse 1: She’ll be back up to her birth weight in 2 weeks.
Nurse 2: It normally takes 3 weeks to regain the lost weight.
Nurse: You need to feed her every 3 hours, even if it means waking her up.
Pediatrician: Babies don’t come with watches. She’ll wake up when she’s hungry.
Lactation consultant: To get your milk supply going, you should try feeding her every 2 hours.
These may seem like trivial matters, but when you’re in that situation, it matters a whole lot. Printed material suffers from the same inconsistencies, by the way.
I think the reality is that babies are complex and diverse individuals, and one size doesn’t fit all. But where there’s healthy variation or debate about the best approach, that needs to be made clear up front.
Armed with this knowledge, I hope you’ll be a little more prepared than we were.
Well, that about wraps it up. In parting, here are a handful of resources we’ve found helpful so far:
- Happiest Baby on the Block – Great tips on calming a crying baby. The DVD is probably the easiest way to digest the information.
- BabyCenter newsletters – Weekly emails are a convenient way to stay informed about your baby’s development, including what to expect in the near future. Equally helpful during pregnancy.
- KidsHealth and Mayo Clinic – Lots of helpful articles covering a wide range of topics.
Have any newb questions? I’ll do my best to answer.