Personally, I had a very hard time as a new mom. There is just so much anxiety and apprehension to deal with, even with the vast amount of information available online and via books. It can never be 100% satisfying. And in this state, when I was already overwhelmed and nervous about my baby, these suggestions only made me into an even worse mess! One of the aspects of baby care where I received the most number of ‘suggestions’ was skincare. And it was while trying to make sense of all I was told versus all I experienced that I learnt some crucial life lessons as a mother.
#1: I was told babies have beautiful and soft skin
As a new mom, I was excitedly looking forward to feeling my little one’s soft skin. I had seen so many cute photos of smiling babies with perfect skin that I naturally expected my baby’s skin to be as soft and beautiful too. But alas! What I got was a little wrinkly little being, with puffy eyes and dry skin with patches all over! Not to mention the other unsettling things I could see: wrinkles, body hair, dryness, nappy rashes, redness...whatever happened to the promised ‘soft as a baby’ skin? It was then that I first realized that whatever you are told or imagine in your head is nothing like what you get. It was annoying for me to think that all the advice notwithstanding, no one told me about the reality of what to expect.
#2: I was told babies don’t need a shower everyday
One of the hardest challenges for me was my little one’s bath time. You hear so much about how delicate the skin of the newborn is that it’s bound to make you overly concerned. Initially, I sponge bathed my daughter. My doctor advised this as she was a preemie, but it wasn’t too long before I started massaging and bathing her thoroughly. I was told that babies do not need to be bathed every day, based on the logic that they don’t get really dirty. But water is where they’ve been for months before entering the world, and that’s where they find comfort! They may cry during their initial baths but they get used to it quickly – and grow faster. My routine of daily massage followed with a bath helped tone my baby’s muscles and relax her – so much that she now loves taking a shower! I know for a fact that children who aren’t given regular baths early on tend to not like it when they get into their toddler years as well. Also, winters shouldn’t be a scare – you can set the temperature of water so your baby doesn’t get cold and most importantly use a soap that is not just mild but also replenishes the lost moisture when cleansing.
#3: I was told babies should wear cloth diapers and be wiped with water
India is big on cloth diapers even now. In my family too, these were stitched specially in preparation for my daughter. But to say I was apprehensive is understating it. As a mother, the feeding and taking care of your child is enough to cause major sleep deprivation, and the last thing you want is the added chore of changing and washing several cloth diapers a day! It’s just not practical. I have found with time that a mother is best in tune with her child’s diaper and cleaning needs. Diapers are perfectly fine as long as you change them regularly, and moisturize your baby with a lotion after every change.
I was also advised to wipe the baby with water and cotton. It sounds fine, and this is what I did initially. But soon I found out that it dehydrated my baby’s delicate skin. My experience with wipes has been much better and my baby has faced no rashes or discomfort since. I also realized the importance of choosing the right wipes that are gentle and also moisturizing.
What my experiences taught me about child care
As you can see, among all the advice bombarded at me, not even 2% was actually worthwhile! Very little of it helped me prepare for what was to come. Thankfully, I realised this very early and stopped listening to everything I was told. I listened only to my instincts and the voice of my heart. And guess what, in the long run, this suited my baby and me just fine.
My daughter is now six years old, and I am in the third trimester of my pregnancy. When I think of my early experiences with my daughter, I wish I had someone to tell me that I should trust in myself. Today, I am thankful that we are more aware of the apprehensions and anxieties that new mothers face. We are trying, as a society, to be more understanding and supportive toward them, rather than burden them with even more pressures and judgment. Brands like Baby Dove are helping this cause wonderfully through a realistic approach to parenting that speaks directly to the heart of a mother. I really love their philosophy that there is no right or wrong way of being a mother, just your way. This breaks a mind barrier that I have observed around me too – every new mother wants everything to be “perfect” and “right”. But every baby is different and so is every parent, which makes this impossible and unrealistic. As a mother, I am glad that a brand like Baby Dove is trying to set the record straight and asking us to stop aiming for perfection. What we actually need to do is trust in our maternal instinct. This is nature’s best gift to us, and lets us look after our child like no one else can.
So, if you too are going through a similar phase, I have two recommendations:
1. Research a lot. Read books and watch YouTube videos on newborns and how to bathe them, massage them, etc. Well-grounded, scientific advice is far better than listening to contradictory opinions of everyone around you! Also, as you read up more, you will find that much of baby care is actually tuned to your natural instincts as a mother. You only have to realize and remember this
2. Never forget the importance of moisturisation. My experiences with dryness and dehydration have told me just how much extra care and moisture little ones need to cope with the atmosphere outside the womb. The new Baby Dove range have products that are hypoallergenic, pH neutral and gentle to the eyes with a mild and caring fragrance specifically developed for delicate baby skin. The fact that it is dermatologist tested and pediatrician tested makes it a reliable option to guarantee gentle and nourishing care for your baby. I especially love the Baby Dove Rich Moisture Bar which has ¼ moisturising cream, and the Rich Moisture Nourishing Baby Lotion that provides moisturization for 24 hours – they both provide superior moisturization, help keep a baby’s skin nourished through the day and the fragrance that is left behind is delightful.
3. Always remember the significance of your touch. Your touch, whether while bathing or massaging, will have a significant impact on your baby’s overall development. Babies recognize the touch of their mother as their sense of touch is the most developed one. Being in close proximity with you will help them visualize you with their still developing vision. You are the best caregiver for your baby, after all!
I am going to be a mother again, very soon. And this time, I am ready to be a confident mom who trusts herself and her abilities. Yes, the six-year gap does create some anxiety in my mind, but I think I am smart enough now to sweep aside the many myths on baby care, and embrace my instincts. So, new mommas, I won’t deny that motherhood is going to be a roller coaster ride of trial and error, topped with guilt and self-doubt in every decision you make. But it is a journey you need to take control of, and trust me, no one can do this better than you. You are not a perfect mother, but you are a real one – and real moms are winners in every sense of the word.
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