Discussing Babies For Beginners
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A chat with the author of Babies For Beginners; a great book with loads of brilliant advice for new parents.


Zoe Cummings: First time parents are inundated with advice on how to look after their new borns? Magazines, books, friends and families a room full of words of wisdom which often needs too information overload and she will worry about just exactly how they're going to manage. Roni Jay, Author of the no nonsense book, Babies for Beginners, and then for Mother and Baby magazine are here today to cut the crop and give you the advice you really need. Thanks very much for joining us here. Now Roni, why is it, the parents feel under such pressure? Roni Jay: Well, there is an enormous amount of information that comes with parents from all directions, from their own parents and they're in laws, from their friends, from big brothers and sisters who have done it before and from magazines, from television programs, and it's not the advice necessarily isn't good, but that is just so much of it, that they stop worrying about the real details very suddenly. It just, they go into overload and with all the sleeplessness and the stress that goes with having a new baby anyway and the feeling of responsibility. You just need to be worrying about whether you remember to wash the baby's hair before you put it in the bath or afterwards. The important thing is that you don't drown the baby, that really is the only important, if it comes out clean and they went in, it's a bonus, and you're doing fine as a parent, but it is all that massive information that comes to you that you just need to as you say, cut the crap and look over of what really matters. Zoe Cummings: Linda, what do you find that parents worry about the most and what are the top ten list of excruciating worries? Linda Standfield: There are so many. I think one of the big worries for new parents if they are going to drop their baby, we get lots of readers on the magazine who write and saying, am I going to drop my baby when I pick it up. That's a big one. Holding the baby properly, all they're going to be able to feed the baby. you know, obviously you only got two options on feeding that's the big concerns about breast feeding; oh should I book a feed, should I breast feed. There are so many worries. It's hard to sole pick a top ten to be honest with you, but obviously, being a parent is a whole new experience, its life changing, it's something that you've never done before, if you're having your first baby. So, lots of concerns going on. Zoe Cummings: Roni, the book takes a very amusing approach to getting these messages across to the readers. What is that you would say to, for example these concerns that Linda has raised? How would we approach those? Roni Jay: Well, it's really a matter of, I mean each exercise the book and we do start with exactly what Linda is talking about, you know that how to hold the baby, so that you don't drop it. The absolute basics the books cover. And with each one, then we look at the core objective, which is to bath the baby to make it clean and it was before for example, and then the key focus, which is the only thing that really, really matters, which is don't drown the baby or get some food inside it, or whatever it is that you're trying to do. and then, the core idea behind the book is that, that is really only thing that you need to worry about; the rest is all just a bonus, you know if you're pressing the baby and you do all the poppies up in the wrong order, it just doesn't matter, everybody ask for poppies up in wrong orders, well, that's completely impossible to get right into and to get a lot of practice. But it's just simply a matter of recognizing, if the baby's warm and comfortable, it doesn't matter, which poppy it is done with. Zoe Cummings: Why is it that we become so concerned with the strength details; rather than just focusing on these basic needs that a baby has? Linda Stanfield: I think there is so much information out there like when you were saying, and you do get a different piece of advice in every single person, you may, so you come across or your mom. There is lots of different products on the market. Now you can get things like you know warmers that wipe up to get that -- there are crazy products out there and obviously some of them as old as, if we really, really need them and we don't. So, it's just a lot of advice from lots of different people and lots of different products out there, which do make life easier, but you don't necessarily need them. I think the basic message is, if your baby is well fed, if his napkin is getting changed, if you're giving him lots of love and cuddles; you're actually doing a great job. Zoe Cummings: What would you say, Roni constitutes, Linda mentioned that a happy baby; how would you know if you're watching your baby then, she is okay is happy? Roni Jay: Well, actually babies terribly helpful, they let you know very quickly, and then terribly easy to please, I mean the older that they get, the more complex their emotions are, but when they're small basically, if they're crying, they're not happy, and if they're not crying their happy, it's almost as simple as that. Zoe Cummings: So, simply. If your baby is not quiet, you could take it that you've done a good job and be --? Roni Jay: Yeah, you're doing fine, I mean if the baby hungry, it'll cry, if it's cold, it'll cry, if it's ill, it'll cry, and if it feels completely abandoned and frightened, it'll cry. If it doesn't feel any of those things, then you're doing okay. Zoe Cummings: Now, do you think that your book appeals mainly to men and women alike or is it more aimed at perhaps women who primary care givers in general or do men seek a look at it as well? Roni Jay: Yes, actually I had an email recently from a reader who just contacted me to say that she hadn't been able to get her husband through to anything at all before the baby was born, which was doing another week or so. And she had left babies for beginners lying around and she was delighted that he picked it up and had said that he was now starting to think that maybe actually he would change the occasional nappy. And it was one of the things I really wanted to do writing the book because, I think men do have a tough time. they want to get involved in the baby, but most of the material that's out there is aimed at women and they don't feel comfortable reading it's not necessary they will own the information, but it's not written in a way that involves men as much. And that was a lot of the reasoning behind the humor in the book, and the way that it's written was so that women will appreciate it, but men also will feel comfortable in reading it and because they get less information, maybe they go to class it antenatal classes, but often that's it. They'll suddenly feel more confident and more able to help and that's to everybody's benefit, there is the mother and the baby and everybody. Zoe Cummings: And don't you find the main pit falls that you parents tend to fall into when they're trying to decide, whether they're doing a good job or not? Linda Stanfield: I think crying is a big thing. Lots of parents worry if their baby cries and it sort of, crying is your baby's way of telling you that something is wrong, but I think that many parents just like oh, the baby is crying. What I am going to do with it, I mean now you know I do did it myself when I had my first child. I felt that I was never going to be able to workout whether it was hungry, whether he was tired, whether he want to be played with that course of time goes on; you learn about these cries., you learn how to make your baby and it does actually come instinctively. Zoe Cummings: And how much if that is, if you're listening to a baby cry, it's possibly the most frustrating, heartbreaking thing to listen to, but, of course, it adds to the stress you're feeling which the baby picks up. How can you avoid that? Roni Jay: We are in stress. It's a terribly difficult thing to do and that's a matter of standing back and recognizing that the baby has programmed to cry in these situations and there is something, you know you'll do everything that can about it. and actually a baby that never learns to cry, it's not going to be a particularly unadjusted adult, you know you can't protect your children from everything forever and even as tiny babies, you know, if the baby has to cry for five minutes while you warm up the milk for it, it's only a tiny thing and babies have very, very low thresholds of tolerance for that kind of thing and just because the baby cries, it doesn't mean it's as upset as you would be, if you were sobbing with hunger. Zoe Cummings: And do you find Linda that to that these pressures have increased in the past few years, or do you think it's an issue that has been around and parents had suffered from it for decades? Linda Stanfield: I think all new moms, obviously where it doesn't matter what decade you're in, for all new moms, it's a learning experience. And if you never had a baby and if it's your first baby, you don't know what to do with it. You know, that's the thing, it's a complete life change. So, I don't necessarily think that it's useless. I think yes, there is a lot more information out there for new parents now. So, you read everything you come across. Yes, it's not essential in getting well completing No, I think being a new mom is a hard work, it's a tough job. We all cope with it and we all do it. Zoe Cummings: Do you think that the society's expectations nowadays are higher? Roni Jay: I think perhaps because of more information out there, people feel more as they are being watched. You know what? I mean then I always felt as that they were being watched by the you know their immediate family, but I think now perhaps people are more self-conscious, you know if you're out and doing a super market shop; I had one child, but when he was quite small about sort of five months he just screamed whenever I took him into the super market, he would last five minutes, and then he would scream and scream and scream. And people would keep coming up to me and saying does something wrong with that baby and I say no he just does this everytime when I take him into trying to say that's just as bad. He just be out and the second I took him out through the door, he starts off, he just to begin it for some reason. I can understand, I'm not crazy about super market shopping this out. But you know there is that feeling that people will come up to you in street and tell you if they think that you're doing it wrong, they think they know better than you. that your child is ill and not just being bloody minded. Zoe Cummings: And if you're a new parent and does has this way to cope with that when people come up to you and offer their advice? Linda Stanfield: Well, I think you find them, whether you're taking advice on board or not, it's up to you, isn't it? I mean I was given so much advice and I wanted advice when I had first baby because I really did, you know I just started to know what I was doing. But you know there are certain things obviously, that you would take on board and can be really useful, I mean some of the best pieces of advice I got up in that coffee morning, some complete moms I've never met before. So, it's really, you know what's sensible and what's not and you take on board what you can't from the advice people give you. Roni Jay: I think it's important as well to remember that every baby is different and whoever is giving you the advice, is giving you advice that is hone from their experience of fair babies. And that may not be the same as your baby. So, if advice doesn't feel right or you feel that it's patronizing or that it's not going to work. That's fine, you're probably right. You know your baby better than anybody else does. Zoe Cummings: And if you were to choose one thing that perhaps parents should buy, should spend the money on, rather than the super duper nappy warmers or white warmers. What would it be that they should invest in? Roni Jay: Well, apart from the car seat, which is compulsory if you're going to put your child in a car. If you want to relatively low cost buy, preferably to buy before the baby is born, the thing that I appreciated most and has people are recommended to have also used it. I have recommended is one of those very long bean bag pillow things that fantastic when you're pregnant. You can use it to breast feed the baby when it gets a bit older, you can prop the baby up before it can set out by itself, and it's just got so many years, for relatively initial outline. Zoe Cummings: What have you found from your readers? What have they suggested? Linda Stanfield: It's a basic thing, but Musling clothes, its comes up over and over again. You have been never having too many Musling clothes. Does know what happens, your baby is always going to be safe after if they feel they always -- or when you're putting it nice outfit on them go out of the house. May be just cover them with all Musling clothe until you're going out, but that's my top tip, get Musling clothes. Zoe Cummings: And it also can be used again as dusters etcetera. Linda Stanfield: Well, they also become -- they're great for comfort when your baby gets older and if you're baby 0:12:07, my child in particular have Musling clothes as a comforter, and you never run out of them, you can always buy more, it's different to having teddy bear that if it's lost, it's gone forever, but a Musling cloth you can replace all the time. Roni Jay: Can I just add actually another tip that, which picks up exactly on that, which was something that somebody told me before my first child was born is that your child would almost certainly latch on something at about six months that they may not let go off. My six year old, he still uses his comforter. And the canny thing to do is for you to choose before they're six months where bathing is going to be and make sure it's something that you've got more than one off that you can just put round without them noticing that will go through the wash without any problems and Musling is as good as anything else. put it in the moistest basket or whatever with them from when they're timing and their latched on to that for you instead of picking that teddy bear that you can't get anywhere else to replace if it and though not allowed take away and put through the washing machine. Zoe Cummings: Great. Thank you. Plenty of advice there for new parents. Roni Jay: Thank you.