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Expert Answers to Parenting Questions

Q: A new mom friend of mine is behaving strangely and I’m worried. For a while she refused to take a shower when the baby was napping because she worried someone would sneak in the house and steal the baby. Now, she checks the doors a million times, but she finally showers. She wasn’t obsessive-compulsive before the baby. Should I advise her to talk to someone else about this?

A: Being a first-time mom is so demanding with learning the new responsibilities of caring for a newborn on top of sleep deprivation and hormonal changes. That stress can be exhibited as depression or anxiety in some women. PPD, or postpartum depression, is beyond the normal baby blues and occurs in about 13 percent of new mothers. It is normal to have some uncharacteristic feelings after the birth of a baby. Many new mothers will complain of having mood swings, crying spells and feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Also, new mothers could experience the inability to focus, make decisions, or remember things, and have a loss of energy or lack of motivation.

Routines are turned upside down with the arrival of a new baby, and some new mothers are conflicted with the new baby-centered schedule. Household chores seem to pile high, and simple showers seem more like a luxury than a necessity. It is important for new parents to have a strong line of communication that is open and honest, and in addition, it may be easier for some women to tell a mother, an aunt or a trusted girlfriend about these imperfect feelings. However, when new mothers fail to take care of the needs of the baby, professional help is needed. An obstetrician may advise a new mother to begin a low-dose anti-depressant if these feelings persist for more than a few weeks. New mothers need to keep in mind that these baby blues are only temporary. Taking walks, eating right and getting sleep while the baby sleeps may help new mothers feel better. Also, asking for help from family and friends may be needed for an extra nap or dinner out with dad. Bonding with a newborn is such a special time for mother and child and, with support and guidance, it can be a beautiful experience.

Q: I started my first baby on solids at three months, but that was five years ago. I’m hearing so many different sides to this story – especially as it relates to food allergies. So when should I introduce solid foods to my baby.

From car seat safety to baby food feeding, mothers with multiple children of various ages watch trends change and standards improve. Today, most pediatricians will recommend babies beginning solid food, including the single grain cereals, at six months of age.

When beginning solid foods, one fruit, vegetable or single-grained cereal should be given at a time to baby. After three to five consecutive days, if no allergic reactions are evident such as a fine rash on the face or body and/or unusual gassiness or fussiness, a new food can be introduced. If an allergic reaction is apparent, stop the new food at once and take note. The new food may be successfully given to baby at an older age without the earlier symptoms. Solid food is simply an introduction to new tastes and textures. All of the nutritional value needed for a healthy baby diet will come from breast milk or formula for that first year of life.

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston has worked with parents and caregivers as a family educator with Commonwealth Parenting for eighteen years. She is the mom of four.
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