There are many books on the subject, of course; and you'll get more advice than you want from plenty of people. As a mother of 4 children, a La Leche League Leader and your Bradley Method teacher, my experience may be of some use to you. Take what works for you, and leave the rest. Remember, I'm an expert on my kids -- just as you will soon be an expert on yours!
Re: Bathing Baby
Just use a washcloth until the umbilical stump has dropped off. Babies don't get very dirty, so long as you're cleaning their bottoms when you change the diaper. Once you get a little practice, you can bathe a baby in as little as 5 minutes. If it's summer, and the water's tepid, there's no hurry. Otherwise, don't dawdle - you want to be done before the baby gets chilled - and cranky!
1.Choose a room free of drafts. A small room with a counter is great. The bathroom or a kitchen is fine.
2.Shut off the ringer on the phone. Fill the baby tub with just a few inches of warm water.
3. Get a towel, a washcloth,and a plastic cup.
4. Test the temperature on the inside bend of your elbow to be sure it's not too hot.
5. Fill the cup from the tub; set it aside. Drape a towel over your shoulder.
6. Undress the baby, talking calmly.
7. Sit the baby in the tub, supporting with at least one hand. NEVER take both hands off the baby.
8. Gently wipe the baby's face with a wet washcloth, being very careful around the eyes. You seldom need soap.
9. Gently wash baby's neck and body, getting in all the folds and creases. You can do this using a washcloth or just your free hand; a little liquid soap won't hurt. (Not the antibacterial type, though - something very mild is best.)
10. Lift and turn the baby around to wash his back and bottom. If you're afraid the baby will be too slippery, lay a washcloth over your forearm.
11. If the baby's a boy, don't retract the foreskin on the penis - leave it alone until he can do it himself - YEARS from now.
12. If the baby's happy, play in the water for a few minutes. ALWAYS have at least one hand on the baby!
13. With your wet hand, wet the baby's hair, put a tiny bit of shampoo in your hand to lather up his hair. Lean him back a little, supporting him across his shoulders, then, taking that cup of clean water, pour it little by little over the baby's scalp to rinse.
14. As soon as he's rinsed, lift him out and put him on your chest, resting on the towel. Fold the towel over him, or put a second towel on top of him. (Once a baby's head is wet, he gets chilled quickly, so shampooing is the last thing to do in the tub.)
15. Pat him dry and get him dressed before he gets chilled.
16. Later, dump out the water, when both hands are free.
17. If your baby actually needs oil or lotion, apply it when he's on the changing table - never make a wet baby slipperier in a room full of hard surfaces! If you want to use powder, put in on your hand, away from the baby - don't squeeze it directly on to the baby or a cloud of it gets in the air and into the baby's lungs: it's very bad for the lungs.
If both parents are home, you can shower instead. If Dad's got a hairy chest, he's got traction. (Heck, he may practically be a loofah!) Dad gets in the shower, rinses, then soaps up his chest. Mom hands baby to Dad, who holds him to his chest, then turns him around - presto! a clean (enough) baby! Dad leans to the side a bit and the baby catches some shower water to rinse off. Dad hands baby out to Mom who is holding a towel.
Or, parent takes a bath; partner hands baby to parent. When they're done, the dry partner takes baby and dries him off. What could be easier? (Some babies like to nurse in the tub with Mom, just don't get chilled. Sometimes a baby who isn't nursing well will do much better at nursing while in the bath with Mom. This is sometimes called "rebirthing" and is particularly helpful so if the birth was a C-section or very hurried or troubled.)
It is -- without exception -- the best thing you can do for your baby. Come to some LLL meetings and find out more. The benefits to baby and mom are tremendous and life-long -- sometimes even lifesaving! The benefits to partner and siblings are many. The benefits to the environment and your finances are significant. AND, once you get it down pat, very few things feel as wonderful as holding your dear baby close, knowing you're nourishing him or her as no one else can.
Dr Bradley refused to take a woman on as a patient if she wasn't going to breastfeed. He said that the most important reason for a natural birth was to get breastfeeding off to a good start. He saw breastfeeding as even more important than birth -- and that was his life's work! It really is that important!
Brace yourself: I'm going to be blunt.
Unless you're Jewish, don't do it. (And more Jews are deciding not to circumcise. You can have a bris without the cut.) There's no medical reason for it, and baby boys are not born with any extra parts that need to be cut off. If girls shouldn't suffer genital mutilation, why should boys?
It's your decision, and you can't change your mind afterwards if you circumcise, so you owe your child some serious thought before choosing something that every medical organization in the world agrees is unnecessary.
Yes, even the American Academy of Pediatricians and the CDC. Google intactivism. It's considered "cosmetic surgery" now. That means your insurance won't pay for it.
Since it's"cosmetic," shouldn't the patient get to make that decision? His body, his choice. If he wants to be circumcised when he's an adult, let him pay for it! Like a tattoo or piercing.
It's great for most people! If you're having a hard time getting enough sleep, try it. It's what most of the world does, and always has done. The only no-no's are having baby next to the wall, using a puffy mattress (pillow top, for instance), having lots of blankets, and being drunk, stoned, or enormously obese. And no water- or air-beds. Most people find co-sleeping makes for a happier, better-rested family all around. If you think friends and family will try to talk you out of it, but you like it, don't tell them about it. On that point. . .
IMHO, one of the most foolish errors new parents make is to share information that is nobody's business. We all like to be reassured we doing the right thing, but learn to trust your parenting instincts. One hard part of parenting is finding the balance between asking for advice from parents you trust and choosing your own path. Before buying into someone else's parenting advice, consider whether a) it works for them and b) it will work for you.
So do what works for YOU and decide as a couple whether it's worth the potential aggravation to tell others. (It seldom is.) Let people assume whatever they want. You're the grown-ups; you're the parents; you don't need anyone else's approval.
There! I just saved you from SO many family fights and snarky comments!
One other piece of advice for your pregnancy and throughout your baby's childhood: don't be too vocal about your decisions. For one thing, you may change your mind, and you don't need to have a "mistake" thrown in your face. For another, the more loudly you insist on something, the more delighted some people will be when it doesn't work out...........whether that's a completely undrugged birth, exclusively breastfeeding for 2 years, co-sleeping, cloth diapering, or speaking to the baby only in French! You might have thought you left "told ya so!" behind in 5th grade, but I'm afraid not. Do yourself a favor: the quieter you are about what you hope to do, the less ammunition you give others who may relish teasing you. Family members and friends who are normally on your side can get defensive -- and offensive -- if they hear you choosing a path other than theirs. Do what you think is best, then -if you like - share it as a successful done deal.
Re: Cradle Cap
This is totally normal, and nothing NEEDS to be done about it. However, most people want to get rid of it. (Cradle cap is just the baby's scalp skin not sloughing off very effectively. Sort of like dandruff that won't leave.) If it bothers you, you can put a little oil on the baby's head and gently massage the scalp with a baby brush. DON'T pick at it! I suggest you put a cute hat on the baby and ignore the cradle cap. As soon as his hair grows more, it will be covered. By then it will probably have all sloughed off anyway.
Schedules are for trains, not babies. New parents may think that if they "can just get the baby on a schedule," life will be orderly and easy. Ha! No way! No, your life has changed forever, and "orderly" and "easy" are barely visible in your rear view mirror!
We have patterns of behavior, and times we usually do certain things....habits, mostly. Think about things from your baby's perspective....you're changing and growing constantly...different people, temperatures, places...someone keeps changing your clothes, lifting your bottom high to wipe it, buckling you in, lifting you and moving you about...........you're not in control of anything - certainly not what time you're hungry or sleepy. What one thing do you need? To be put on some arbitrary schedule, to wait for your needs to be met? No way. To be close to Mommy and Daddy, snuggled safe and warm; to have food and comfort available any time? Oh, yes!
Keep in mind that you can NOT spoil a child under 12 months old. You can't. ALL the experts agree on this. (and it's hard to get experts to agree on anything!!) Until the baby's 12 months old, the child's needs and wants are the same. He doesn't manipulate you. She doesn't wrap you around her finger. They aren't conniving little sneaks. Their needs are genuine, and since they have no concept of time, and haven't yet learned how fully they can trust you, they really can't wait.......at least, not arbitrarily. (They've just GOT to wait once in a while when you're in the bathroom........but not when you're online.)
So notice the patterns, and be flexible. Babies take their cue from you. If you're stressed and hurried, that's what they respond to.
So what if they had a long nap or skipped one? If there's a reason, you'll figure it out in a couple of days. ("Oh, he's getting a new tooth.....ahh, she's fighting off a cold...")
Trust your instincts and your baby, not a clock.
If you have a topic you'd like me to write about, let me know. I've convinced myself that my advice is worthwhile! ;)