Idiot proofing parenting

This week has highlighted just how much I don’t know about having children. I’m not talking abstract things, the bigger picture or parenting techniques, I mean the small nitty gritty things.

We’ve started bottle feeding at night so there I was, preparing the steriliser, when it struck me that there seemed little point in sterilising things if I then put them together with my bare hands. It was only when my sister visited on Friday that the answer presented itself. “Do you use tongs with this?” she said.

Oh. TONGS. That makes sense. (Although putting a bottle together with them  is going to require some dexterity…)

And then I was reading Mother and Baby magazine (my Mum bought me a subscription for Xmas) when I see a letter that asks, “when can I start using baby wipes to clean the baby at nappy changes?” They recommended 6-8 weeks, with cotton wool used before then.

Oh. I have been using wipes since E was born. The only time we’ve used cotton wool to clean her was topping and tailing her in the first week. After that I got nervous about possibly banging her head on the sink’s mixer tap so we switched to bathing her instead.

So it turns out other people know much more than I do. My excuse is that I haven’t ever had anything to do with babies – friends and relatives with children for the most part don’t live near me so I haven’t picked any of this stuff up. And apparently some people practice this kind of thing when they’re children. I remember being with a friend who was massively into children in her bedroom many years ago – she made me pretend to feed her baby doll and told me, in tones that implied I was pretty useless, that I’d forgotten to check the temperature of the milk on the back of my hand first. (I was reminded of this when we started using the bottles so in a way she did do me a favour but who really wants to spend their childhood pretending to look after children? No wonder I used to prefer racing my bike up and down the garden…)

Luckily these have been small issues but if anyone has tips – large or small – that you think I might find useful, then do pass them on. You might think it’s obvious but there’s a good chance I’ll not have considered it before…

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