Monday, September 24, 2012

Oh, Baby

When I was expecting my little princess at age 21, I was mostly clueless. I didn't really know how to take care of a baby. I helped take care of my sister and younger brother when they were babies, so I knew how to prepare formula and change diapers. I even knew how to put them to sleep. Let me tell you that a rocking rocking chair helped tremendously. I also knew how to entertain them. My sister, when she was this little chub with hair that stood as if it had a life of its own, seemed to be really amused when I'd dance in front of her. I was seven years old when she was born, and she immensely enjoyed the entertainment I provided. The sight - and smell! - of poop and spit ups were also not new to me, but aside from these, I knew I wasn't very prepared.

I tried not to remain that way, though. I guess I was humble enough to admit that I didn't know everything anything, so I made genuine efforts to educate myself. was bookmarked on my computer, and I willingly listened to what my friends who were already moms would tell me. I got invaluable pieces of advice from my mom, my mom's friends and from my OB-GYN and our pediatrician.

When the baby arrived, my mom was there for me all the way. She raised four kids of her own - including me, so she was excellent at helping me taking care of my little girl. The Husband was with me every step of the way, too.

Now that our little one is seven years old, I'm still not an expert on taking care of a child but I've learned some very good stuff that I thought I could share:

1. Think your child is sick but you're not entirely sure? When a child feels under the weather, it's usually tricky because when they're infants, they cannot tell you what's making them feel bad or what part of their bodies don't feel okay. Even as toddlers, they find it hard to describe what they're feeling. Sometimes, they don't have a high temperature or they don't feel pain. Just remember S.A.W.D. If your kid is sick, chances are, there are changes in Sleep (interrupted sleep, cannot sleep, sleeps too much), Activity (weak, has no energy, feels too tired), Waste (cannot poop, doesn't pee enough, weird-looking poop) and Diet (has no appetite, cannot keep food down, tells you it's difficult to chew) Going through the S.A.W.D. checklist helps you answer medical questions better when you bring your child to the clinic or the ER. This helps doctors diagnose her better.

In the pink of health

2. Let her build up her immune system, but be vigilant. Let her run around in the park. Let her put her hands in her mouth. You don't have to disinfect and baby wipe everything. Allow them to explore. Let them go through their oral stage.

chewing on her Nikes; she didn't walk in them, don't worry so they never touched the ground

Use your common sense, though. Don't let her near obviously sick people, even if it's a relative or yikes, a grandparent (Honestly, good luck with that) Don't bring her to crowded places, most especially if they're too young. I hate those people who bring newborns to the malls and to churches. My own mom didn't allow us to bring our daughter out until she was five months old and had had her vital shots. She also rode an airplane for the first time at 6 months old.

about to board a plane to Manila for a reunion on my dad's side of the family

3. You don't need a lot of baby furniture and baby thingamajigs. And yes, it's okay to use hand-me-downs. We got our daughter a crib and a playpen in one when she was born but we three ended up with a co-sleeping arrangement. (There are pros and cons to this so do what you think will work for you) She cried when we placed her in the crib. Even when we put her to sleep, the moment she was laid down in her crib, she wailed. She liked sleeping on my chest more. Of course. Nearer to the food source! (I breastfed her exclusively for two months then I had to go back to work; It broke my heart because I had so much milk, I swear, I felt like a human milk geyser!) You don't really need that bouncer, that baby monitor, that high chair, that bottle warmer, that baby food processor thingy. We did buy our daughter a walker, a bath tub and a stroller. Someone lent us a baby carrier slash car seat but our daughter squirmed her way out of it all the time. In the US, you cannot travel with a baby without a car seat but we're in the third world, so we make do. My husband and I certainly did. For our daughter's introduction to solid food, we mashed a lot things or we'd put them in a blender. She really liked mashed squash and mashed mango.

4. Do buy those baby health and grooming kits. They're very handy and great for travel. They should contain a nasal aspirator, a nail cutter/clipper/file and a digital thermometer. You can also buy them separately. Just choose a good brand.

photo from

5. Follow your instincts. My maternal instincts have never been wrong. At the end of the day, you get to decide what's good for you and your little one. Look at our not-so-little-one-anymore!

photo taken by my cousin, Erik, in Boracay - our little one's second time there - in December 2010

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