Your Baby's First Year For Dummies
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Your baby’s first year is a precious time that will pass all too quickly — in retrospect. To help calm your new-parent jitters, cover the basics: Make sure that you have a list of essential phone numbers handy, know what symptoms dictate that you call the doctor immediately, and understand the many reasons your baby cries. And for yourself, repeating an affirmation or two can help you keep your perspective and your sanity.

Phone numbers to have handy

As a new parent, you’re nervous enough during your baby’s first year, and the last thing you need is to not be able to find a phone number when you need it.

Make a list of key phone numbers and post it in a prominent place — or several places — so that you don’t add to your stress at a stressful time. Some of the numbers to put on your list include those for the following people and services:

  • Pediatrician

  • Local emergency room

  • Local poison control

  • Poison Control Emergency: 800-222-1222

  • Daycare/sitter

  • Mom’s cell phone

  • Dad’s cell phone

When to call the doctor right away

Your baby’s first year is a time of wonder, joy, and uncertainty. You’ll learn not to panic every time your baby cries, but there are times when your bundle of joy needs a doctor’s attention right away.

If your child experiences any of the conditions in the following list, get in touch with your doctor immediately:

  • If a baby less than 3 months old has a temperature of 100.5 or higher, call immediately.

    In older babies, fever is okay and can be treated at home. Do call if the fever is over 101 and/or lasts longer than three days or if the baby has other symptoms.

  • Baby is having difficulty breathing.

  • Baby has a cut that is still bleeding after you’ve applied pressure for ten minutes; or the cut has jagged edges, is a puncture wound, is significant and located on their face, or is in an area where it’s unlikely to stay closed by itself (a joint, for example).

  • Your child has sustained a head injury and has lost consciousness; has dilated or uneven pupils; is extremely irritable (inconsolable) or lethargic (unable to wake); is very pale; seems confused or unable to perform his usual activities; or has discharge from his ear(s).

  • Your child has been vomiting for several days or has had a case of projectile vomiting.

  • Baby has had a severe allergic reaction to a food or medicine (hives or swelling of the tongue, lips, or eyes).

What's causing the baby to cry?

During your baby’s first year, you’re still getting used to their needs, moods, and method of communication — which most often is a healthy yell. No need to panic, just run through the following list to discover the reason for your baby’s distress, which can help you find the way to alleviate it.

  • Full diaper?

  • Hungry?

  • Needs to be burped?

  • Tired?

  • Injured?

  • Overstimulated (too much going on in the area)?

  • Frightened?

  • Is something (a tag, or a toe stuck in a sock the wrong way) irritating the baby?

  • Illness (fever, diarrhea, runny nose)?

  • Is the baby cutting a tooth (general crankiness, drooling, blue spot on their gum)?

New parent affirmations during your baby's first year

Being a new parent can make you feel more than a little frazzled. During your baby’s first year, take advantage of whatever helps, including the affirmations in the following list. Repeat them whenever the need arises. And expect the need to arise often.

  • I am a responsible person, even though I may not always feel like I know what I’m doing.

  • Just because my child has crying jags (and/or doesn’t sleep through the night at 3 months), it doesn’t mean that I’m doing something wrong.

  • I will not always be so tired.

  • I will not feel so old a year from now.

  • My breasts will not always feel like they’re going to crack off and/or explode.

  • Fatigue is just a state of mind.

  • I really am fortunate to simply have a healthy child.

  • Eventually, my baby will learn to walk, eat on their own, and have a life all their own — these infant days are fleeting and precious.

  • My house doesn’t have to be picture-perfect (or spotless) to ensure that my baby has a wonderful childhood.

  • My child doesn’t need the most expensive clothes, toys, or baby accessories to be happy.

  • Yelling at my baby only scares them: They don’t grasp my intended message.

  • My working outside of the home is not going to damage my child emotionally.

  • I can’t sanitize the entire world; my child will get sick from time to time.

  • When the time comes, I will allow the baby to safely explore the world instead of hovering.

  • I will not compare my child to my friends’ kids, or take stock in comparisons other people make.

  • I will try to read to my baby every day.

  • My pediatrician will not think I’m unintelligent for asking questions about my child’s development.

  • Baby-proofing is a job that’s never truly finished.

  • I can and will find a responsible babysitter so that I can have some one-on-one adult time once in a while.

  • I am really learning about myself by caring for my child.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Dr. James Gaylord has a dual Board Certification in Pediatrics and Internal Medicine and has been in private practice in Burnt Hills, N.Y. since 1997. He is a 1988 graduate of Albany Medical College, where he also served as an assistant professor from 1993 to 1997. His training includes a residency in Pediatrics and Internal Medicine; he also spent a year (1992-93) as chief resident in Pediatrics. He continues to train medical students in his private practice.

Michelle Hagen is a freelance writer and editor and the author of 8 books. She has a degree in literature from Empire State College.

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