A NEW baby is so helpless. So is a new mother when the times comes to tackle the feeding and bathing of baby all by herself for the first time. T shall never forget the first time I bathed Doreen. My knees began to shake and would not stop. Bath her! It took me all my time to hold her steady! But that is a first reaction and lasts only a few minutes. Soon that helpless feeling goes and you tackle the bathing and feeding in a practical way.
With baby, as with all household problems, system is the saving factor which allows a new mother to get through her baby jobs and her housework and still have a half-hour to herself.
Work to a prearranged plan. See to it that you and your baby get the job over comfortably and without undue fussing. Before beginning to bath baby, arrange the day clothes on a small, low clothes-horse, and all the accessories on a low table. I stress’ low ‘because one can easily knock baby with the elbow if one has to reach higher than arm’s level for things.
Don’t forget to remove your rings and necklaces when working with baby, and don’t wear a dress which buttons down the front. The buttons could hurt the child in many ways. Have short sleeves and make it a rule never to use ordinary pins on yourself or on baby. Keep your finger-nails short and clean and always wash your hands before you lift baby for feeding or bathing.
Often a loose skirt means that baby lies in a curved lap during dressing operations. If you wear a tight slip and sit with legs apart you will find that you have a firm lap. Never have baby’s head lower than his feet when fixing nappies – carefully lower the knee of one leg.
When working with baby, use a chair without arms. I shall never forget the fright I got when Doreen’s head came in contact with the arm of my chair. I wondered for weeks if I had damaged the little soft part of her head.
Never fuss baby before bathing or feeding. Get on with the job as quickly as possible and try to be alone with baby during bath-time. Having onlookers tends to make you nervous and prolong the proceedings. Try to ‘do ‘baby in less time each day, until you can bath and dress him in fifteen to twenty minutes.
Nightdresses should fasten at the back so you need not pull them over baby’s head, which may frighten him. Unknowingly, mothers may instil fear by pulling things over a baby’s head.
Start feeding as soon as possible after bathing. A quarter of an hour feeding, then five minutes of ‘loving ‘baby, then a quarter of an hour to finish feeding, is a good average. Finish the feeding without any further fuss and without disturbing the infant more than you can help.
If only young mothers would realize how important it is to disturb a child as little as possible after it is fed there would be fewer discontented babies. Sleep is never far from a child that has been fed. If you start to fuss baby after a feed you will drive sleep away and make him irritable.
Before putting baby into bed, slightly warm the flannelette sheet on which he rests his head. This has a soothing effect and helps to bring quick, contented sleep. Don’t use a pillow in a new baby’s cot until the neck is strong enough to lift the head; baby sleeps better when lying flat.
Tuck a blanket round baby’s feet, then add the bedclothes. Turn the first cover over the bedclothes a good four inches – this prevents the edges of the covers from poking baby’s face and also prevents him from getting blanket edges into his mouth.
At ni1/2ht, add one blanket extra to those you use during the dtiv. If vou arrange the blankets lengthwise across the cot and not down it, you will be able to tuck the blankets round the baby’s mattress and, when later the child wants to kick, the blankets will not be displaced so easily.
One thing more – and a very important thin<? – eive baby a loved doll or animal to lie beside him. If vou train him this way it eives him somethine to ‘hold on ‘to when Mummy isn’t there. Infants feel lost without the nearness of something they love.
BE KIND and helpful to a baby – he is trying hard to get on. Dress him gently; move arms and legs gently; lift him carefully and not jerkily. Kindness all through a child’s life is the most precious thing his parents can give him.
Let your husband take his share of giving the bottles and changing nappies. He will want to do all this for his child. I soon found that my husband was as good with the babies as I was – in fact better, for I was inclined to fuss, whereas he had a calm way with him that seemed to soothe.
You and your husband should enjoy the baby together. Why not? You are a happy little family. If you start this ‘get-togetherness ‘when you are young parents you will keep it all through your married life.
It is up to the wife to make arrangements so that she and her husband can get away from the baby now and then and enjoy each other’s company. I never advise the husband to keep the baby one night and the wife another so that each can have a night out. Get a baby-sitter from the start.
A young mother is inclined to get so wrapped up in the child that she unintentionally forgets the little extras she used to do for her husband before baby came and the husband thinks he is being neglected. Let your husband see that you need him more [ban ever, and you will keep united.
Once the ‘togedierness’ of marriage is broken it is never regained, and husband and wife get used to spending their leisure apart. Leisure times together are important for a happy marriage. In the home the husband and wife are apt to take each other for granted alter a time, but dressing up for an evening out recaptures some of the ‘togetherness ‘that means so much.
My mother used to say to me: ‘Try never to forget why he married you.’ I have found that to be wise counsel.
More married men have been driven to other women by loneliness and that feeling of being shut out from their own family than from any other cause. A mother is sometimes too ready to exclude Father from the family kingdom. It’s not because she wants to keep him and the children separated, but usually it is a desire to get the children out of the way and the house looking tidy before Father comes home. And, perhaps, to allow time to titivate herself for his return.
They say the woman with no children makes the best wife. I don’t know about that, but I do know that there are many mothers more concerned over the welfare of their children than that of their husbands.
Wives have to work hard, but then so do their husbands, and I feel we could sometimes do more to make fathers feel more welcome in the family circle.
Relatives will want to fuss the baby – especially if it is the first in the family circle. Hearing the news, an auntie will probably choose a pink or blue outfit for a gift as a matter of course. Why pink or blue? Auntie should use her imagination.
Until a baby develops a colour personality it takes its colour theme from its mother. When choosing a gift for the new arrival, think of the mother and her colour likes and dislikes and you will not go wrong. If mother favours lemon, then choose a lemon outfit. If the baby is a girl, choose an outfit in a pale colour with dark trimmings; the opposite is the rule when choosing for a boy.
But if you give the present before the baby’s arrival, keep to white – in fact, whenever in doubt, give white. The mother can add her own favourite colours in the trimmings.
If the gift you wish to make must be inexpensive, why not give a selection of ribbons, some wools, a roll of cotton-wool tied with a big ribbon bow, three white handkerchiefs, or a scrapbook? Why must it always be a matinde coat? Most first babies get more matinee coats than they can ever wear.
If living near, aunties will no doubt want to take turns as your baby-sitter. Very nice, too, but here’s a word of advice! Be firm from the start and don’t allow silly baby talk to the child – by relatives or anybody else. ‘Didsiwidsi hurt himself den? Mumikins make it better.’ The other day I heard a mother say that when her three-year-old fell down. What a language! What’s wrong with: ‘Did you hurt yourself, dear? ‘It is much easier for a child to understand. Why teach a silly language?
I once listened to an impressive talk by the headmistress of an infants’ school on ‘Keeping little children busy.’ She said thar many mothers do not realize the harm they do by teaching their children that ‘A is for Apple, C is for Cat,’ etc. That is not the way children are taurrhr in schools today, and it is harder for them to unlearn and start again than it is for the untaught child to start learning in teacher’s way. If a mother feels she must teach her child something, let her teach him to add – teach the tables.