Expert Hospital Helpers

Moms to be and new moms are overwhelmed with advice like "Savor the Moment," but they are hungry for truly practical new parent wisdom. Jessica Hartshorn, Senior Lifestyle Editor for American Baby Magazine rounded up top infant experts and asked them for their very best, useful, tips.

Nurses offer the best hospital helpers. So, let dad go home at night. Don't make your partner sleep in a horrible hospital chair. Once you get home, Dad needs to be on baby duty, and if he has slept in a chair for two nights, he'll be useless. Drop the phone if you happen to be texting or chatting when the pediatrician or lactation consultant swings by your room. Use that time to get all you can out of the hospital's specialist while she's available. Keep a notebook and pen by your bed to jot down any questions as you think of them. It's nice to get gifts, but have Dad take them back to the house, ideally the night before you leave the hospital. You don't want bouquets, balloons, and stuffed bears all crowding the car when you're discharged with the baby.

Medical experts offer sneaky soothers. Research shows that babies who are massaged are less irritable and sleep better. Try giving a massage after the bath, 10 minutes before nighttime sleep, with a little baby oil. The key is using slow strokes and moderate pressure. Set an example. To soothe your baby you have to be calm yourself. Your face betrays how you feel. If you're frowning, he'll see that. Smile, be comforting, and talk to your infant.

Teach your newborn "night." Most newborns will sleep for a single four to five hour stretch during a 24 hour period. You need your baby to do that at night. If she wakes while the sun is down, keep lights dim with little conversation. During the day if she starts to doze into a third hour, gently wake her up. Preserve night sleep. It will keep you sane.

Let your baby settle himself. It's fine to hold your newborn until he drifts off, but if he's always held, he'll begin to expect to fall asleep in someone's arms. Let him settle himself to sleep sometimes.

Give your baby a meal before you go to bed yourself, around 10:30 or 11pm, so that he doesn't wake up wanting to eat a half an hour after you've finally managed to sleep. You may have to lightly wake him, which is why it's called a "dream feed." Using a pumped bottle of breast milk rather than nursing can be better because it's less rousing.

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