Addressing Newborn Parenting Concerns during a Pandemic
New parents are already overwhelmed by the sudden shift in daily lifestyles- questions, concerns, anxieties and now, this all amidst the COVID pandemic. Usually, new parents can seek out social supports and external help—but what happens now, when we are all restricted in our movements and our contacts? What happens when grandparents can't come over to help out, or when neighbors don't stop by to drop of meals and check in? What happens when families are hit with sudden job loss, loss of childcare, and other restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic?
As a pediatrician, my heart and thoughts go out to these very parents, afraid to ask questions, to see the doctor, fretting over what’s normal and what’s not normal. I won’t give personal medical advice, but this blog post is dedicated to the new parents, where I review and discuss some items and questions that may have related to newborn products and their safety.
I polled my followers on Instagram a few days ago to ask what products they had questions about as new parents and randomly picked three to explain more in-depth on, so here we go!
I’m actually a fan of swings if used appropriately. One of the benefits of swings off the top of my head are having your arms free! The swing can do a great job to calm your baby while the movement soothes and occupies them. Many parents find that swings can calm a crying baby when nothing else seems to work!
You can put your infant in the swing at home, provided they are supervised. Please be aware of the weight limit and read the instructions carefully, as some of the swings are dual bouncers or rockers, and the weight limit may be different when they are balanced on the floor versus hanging from the mechanical swing base. Be sure the swing that you’re considering buying has not been recalled. I recommend you register the products with the brand’s company and check the Consumer Product Safety Commission website (www.cpsc.gov) for recalled products.
I don’t recommend making it a habit to have your child sleep in the swing. It’s ok to let your baby nap in a swing during the day for the first two months if necessary. After that, you can still use it for fun and comfort but don’t use it as a bed. Motion sleep keeps the brain in a light sleep, and as infants mature, they need deeper sleep as well.
Make sure you always properly secure the baby in the harness. That means if it’s a 3 or 5-point harness, you will likely need to unsaddle them. Never leave them in the swing unsupervised or out of your line of vision.
If you’d like to use a night light in your child’s room, by all means, it’s totally OK too! Especially if you’re sharing a room (but please no bad sharing! ) with your infant. It will be easier for sure to see what you’re doing in the middle of the night, especially with diaper changes!
It does help to develop circadian rhythms if you keep the room dim or low lit in the evenings and the natural light coming in during the day naps. You can feel free to use any kind of nightlight; it doesn’t have to have music or nursery rhymes attached to it. I do like to use night lights that can be adjusted to have dim lighting personally. One of my favorites is the Vava brand which has cool, warm, and white light. It also comes with cute stickers so you can decorate the nightlight if your child is older and would like to have a nightlight. It also runs on charge so you don't need to have it by an outlet.
Wearable monitors make a variety of claims depending on which model you’re using. Most of them promise to alert you if your baby stops breathing, or if your baby’s heart rate or temperature declines significantly overnight.
Wearable baby monitors seem like a great concept in theory — they attach in some way to your sleeping baby and promise to alert you to any biomedical changes that occur and alert you to potential danger. Some of these companies, Owlet, Sense-U, Snuza Hero, all do the some variation of the same thing. Unfortunately, records and reviews show that many commercial wearable devices not only raise a lot of false alarms, sometimes they miss worrisome indicators altogether.
Parents often rely on home monitoring products in an effort to protect babies from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), an unexplained death that can happen to seemingly healthy babies, often during sleep. These wearable monitors often provide a false sense of security to parents who use the products. Also, some concerned parents treat these products like they are medical devices that will deliver hospital-grade monitoring, which isn’t the case.
These products do not require pre-market approval by the US Food and Drug Administration, meaning there is little oversight and regulation. Instead of relying on these devices, which are known for false alarms that can heighten parental anxiety, I recommend parents to focus on sleep methods we know to lessen the risk of SIDS:
- Laying your baby on his or her back
- Sleeping in a crib or bassinet with a firm mattress
- Removing pillows, stuffed animals, toys, or bumpers
- Reducing associated risk factors such as smoking
Speaking of, I plan to do an informative post on safe newborn sleep in the upcoming weeks so stay tuned! Remember, your pediatrician is here to help. Never hesitate to call for advice. Your pediatricians is an excellent resource for understanding your baby and your own needs. As new parents, we want you to call, and we expect you to call. Don’t let this pandemic take oversight of your new bundle of joy.