After my son was born, I attended a baby care class in the hospital where a nurse went over the basics of feeding, bathing, and clothing a newborn. I paid extremely close attention, because I wanted to do everything right. Being a journalist, I believe in research, so I had already read everything I could in books and online about baby care. But there was one expert I didn’t think to consult: my own mother. After I brought my son home, I realized she was the most valuable expert of all.
Bathing. I didn’t realize it right away. For instance, the hospital class had instructed us in how to take a warm, soft washcloth and use it to wash your baby in a set order of body parts (which I honestly can’t even remember any more). When I got home, my mother offered to help me give my son his first bath. But when she started gently wiping the “wrong” part of his body first, I told her – a mom of three – that she was doing it all wrong. To her enormous credit, she didn’t tell me how ridiculous I was being. She simply apologized and asked me to tell her how she should do it.
Sleeping. Aside from that episode, I soon recognized that my mother was a font of information that wasn’t in any of the books I’d read. When I couldn’t get my cranky son to nap no matter how much I cuddled or soothed him, she picked him up and soon had him sleeping peacefully. Her secret? A figure eight rocking motion that my husband and I quickly dubbed “the sleeper hold.”
Dressing. When we stared helplessly at the socks that were so tiny they didn’t even look like items of human clothing, and wondered how to get them onto a squirming infant's feet, my mother showed us how to roll the little socks and slip them on in seconds.
Entertaining. And when my son seemed restless and we were far from home, she was brilliant at using anything from toys to jazz hands as entertainment. Okay, admittedly iPhone® apps work great, too, but sometimes the low-tech approach works just as well!
Was mom infallible? No. There were things that we didn’t necessary agree on, but I did learn a lot by listening to her. And now that my son is older, I still do.
Beth Weinhouse is an award-winning journalist who specializes in writing about parenting issues and women's health. She's been an editor at Ladies' Home Journal and Parenting magazines, and her work has appeared in dozens of consumer magazines and websites.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.