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Parenting Really Is Just Like It Used to Be


Pick up any newspaper or magazine, and you'll get the message: "Nothing is the same as it was 25 years ago! Better learn to adjust to the new world, or be left behind!"

We're here with good news. The following basics have remained the same since you brought your infant home from the hospital a generation ago:

Babies need to be fed on a regular basis, and breast milk is still the preferred food

Helping the new mom negotiate nursing by getting her the tools she needs can be a great service. A breast pump helps her keep a supply of milk available for the baby when she can't be there; and the Boppie, that horseshoe-shaped pillow, gives both Mom and Baby comfort while nursing.

Babies need lots of physical contact

So volunteering to hold him while his parents get things done can be a great service. Physical contact with caring adults establishes the foundations for empathy, affection and family closeness that we all need.

Babies still need stimulation for brain development

The latest research tells us everyday experiences in an infant and toddler's life - what she sees, hears, feels, tastes, smells and plays with - are directly responsible for the way her brain is wired. Everything, from her ability to develop feelings of love and empathy, to language, crawling and walking, grows from these experiences. Because neurons are governed by the "use-it-or-lose-it" rule, it's important to provide visual, auditory and tactile input. Bright colors, shapes, movement, music and the human voice are all are interesting to babies; on the other hand, spending time in front of a TV screen isn't good for them. So help the new parents introduce variety to the day. Among the many low-cost, high-impact old playtime favorites: pots and pans to rattle, empty boxes to crawl in and blocks to help build hand-eye coordination.

Babies still cry

It has been said that babies can cry at a decibel level greater than a jackhammer! Advice on how crying is handled may have changed, however. Long crying jags are not good for babies or their parents. The first year of life is a trust-building period, so quickly responding to their needs when they cry is important, as is learning to distinguish one type of cry from another. Is this a hungry cry? A wet-diaper cry? Or a cry that signals that the baby needs some hugging time? Gradually, parents and grandparents can discover the differences by spending staying close to the baby and learning the signals.

Babies still want to taste everything they hold

You can help new parents keep safe toys available that are stimulating and appropriate for the baby to put in his mouth.

Babies still babble as they begin to practice what will eventually become language

To help, you can babble back by repeating the sounds the baby makes. That stimulates her to make more sounds and shows her you hear her. In addition, researchers say the natural singsong or "parentese" that adults use when talking to babies (for example, emphasizing the last syllable in a word like "bot-tle") helps them stay interested and alert.

Diapers are still necessary to contain all those fluids babies produce!

Keeping new parents supplied with diapers and wipes can be a lifesaver.

This information is not a substitute for personal medical or psychological advice.

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