Written by Catie Wilkins

Lifestyle

Two chubby little hands’ worth of tips for new parents

The scale of the upheaval caused by the arrival of a whole other – and 100 per cent dependent – person in your household means you’d be silly not to take advice wherever you can get it. New mother Catie Wilkins happily passes on what she has learned thus far in the form of 10 pretty sensible-sounding tips.

Phoebe1. The rules are there are no rules (childcare laws aside). So play to your strengths.

If you are a very social person, do lots of social things with the baby. If you love a pyjama day, have lots of pyjama days with the baby.

Some people would go mad if they didn’t leave the house at least once a day, and some people go mad if they try to do too many things. If you love singing, sing to your baby. If you don’t, you don’t have to. You can do other things with them instead. Or you can play them nursery rhymes on your iPhone. Or Whitney Houston.

But you don’t have to do some baffling tick-list to become some imaginary super-mum. Babies only really need food and cuddles to start with anyway.

2. They’re never too young to get started on drugs.

The guidance says eight weeks for baby Calpol and three months for baby ibuprofen (like Calprofen or Nurofen for babies). The latter is particularly good if they’re in pain from teething because it helps reduce inflammation.

3. Like a good Martini, you want their night-time nappies extra dry.

The extra dry nappies (that tend to come in green packets) are great at helping them sleep for longer at night, as they won’t wake up so often, feeling wet and uncomfortable. That’s the theory anyway.

4. Bibs: Social convention because all the other babies are wearing them, or actually useful?

Useful (when the full-on drooling starts). Turns out bibs are not the leg warmers of the baby world. I went from wondering why everyone had bought me them to getting through four a day. If and when your baby starts teething/drooling like that’s their X-Men super power, you want a good thick bib to stop their clothes getting wet.

Funky Giraffe do some awesome ones that are extra thick so you don’t have to change them every two seconds. They also have different size settings with the poppers so they last as the baby gets bigger, fun patterns, and they look like cowboy neckerchiefs, so you can pretend your baby is an extra in a film. (I don’t do that.)

5. Q: How do you know when you’re ready to get on a bus with the buggy all by yourself?
A: Probably around the time when all your new mum friends are laughing at you for not doing it.

(NB I only learnt to ride a bike aged seven because my four-year-old brother had just mastered it.)

Taking a pram on a bus is a scary business the first time you do it, but it’s also the easiest way to travel with a buggy.

Buses have a two-pram max, so if there are already two prams on the bus you’re waiting for, you can’t get on it (unless the bus driver is seriously blasé – which I have seen happen).

Also if a person in a wheelchair gets on, they outrank you and you have to get off. Which is fair enough. This makes buses sound a bit stressful, but if you’re the first pram on a not too busy bus, you get to sit next to your pram. Ridiculously, this now gives me a buzz and real sense of achievement.

“Like the evil Queen in Snow White, babies love mirrors. And apparently they’re not even vain; they actually think their reflection is another baby until they’re about 15 months old.”

6. A baby’s Desert Island Discs would be white noise.

Babies don’t really like silence. The womb is a really noisy place. There’s blood gushing through arteries all around their little pre-birth ears. This means white noise is a really comforting sound that can help distract, relax and send them to sleep.

There are several apps that recreate this for you. I use Soundsleeper (mountain river setting). Not all the time, but it’s a great extra thing in your arsenal for when your baby is overtired or grumpily refusing to nap.

7. If you get off a bus early because of traffic, and find yourself in the middle of Piccadilly Circus with a buggy, try to ensure you are also running late.

Quite a specific piece of advice, but it can be applied to other meeting points for mayhem, worldwide.

The focus that trying to reach your destination will give you makes a pleasant distraction from the otherwise overwhelming panic of being in London’s busiest place with a buggy containing your most precious possession.

8. Blankets vs grow bags.

If you’re a light sleeper anyway, the sound of your baby kicking off their blankets eight times a night (no matter how tightly tucked in) is eventually going to make you stressed.

Enter the grow bag. Un-kickable off, they come in a range of togs: 2.5 for winter, 1 for summer, and – my new favourite discovery – 1.5 for somewhere in between, which is nearly always the temperature. TK Maxx have a good range.

[Note from an Ed with older kids: Once babies start crawling and/or pulling themselves up in their cots, you might want to look for the grow bags which have legs in them. These are not called Grow Legs.]

9. Like the evil Queen in Snow White, babies love mirrors.

And apparently they’re not even vain; they actually think their reflection is another baby until they’re about 15 months old.

Lots of play mats come with (totally safe, unbreakable) mirrors, and with the right positioning this can keep them nicely occupied for a bit.

10. Nappy bins vs not nappy bins.

Some people say they are a waste of money, but they really do deal swiftly with the smell of baby poo. So the question you have to ask yourself is, do I really want to go to the outside bin to dispose of this stinky nappy every time my baby poos?

@catiewilkins

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Written by Catie Wilkins

Catie Wilkins is a writer, comedian and children’s author who likes jokes and stories.