When you were pregnant, you promised yourself you weren’t going to be one of those moms who panicked about every little thing. Then you met your sweet little bundle of joy and, well, you started panicking about every little thing. And for good reason! The world can feel like a scary place for a tiny human with a soft skull and underdeveloped immune system — and it’s your job to protect him. Outlet covers and car seat safety are no-brainers, but what about the other stuff, like stranger germ danger and that moment you wake up in a panic at 3am because you realize your baby hasn’t pooped in four days? Well, as much as we’d like to, we can’t always protect our kids from everything, but here are some tips for those who are determined to try.
- Wear Your New Baby in a Carrier in Public
Everybody loves a new baby. And for some reason, a surprising number of people think it’s okay to just touch and kiss and get up real close to smell one. That’s gross! Just no. Who knows if they’re up to date on their Tdap or just touched the door handle on the way out of public bathroom? The best defense against these overly-friendly foes is to straight up strap your baby to your person when you’re out in public. Wear your baby on your body and people will be less likely to reach for your child because they’ll also feel like they’re invading your personal space. And if they try, just use your ninja-like mom moves to quickly whip your body around to the other direction — which is suuuuper awkward to do with a stroller or bucket seat.
- Use a Laundry Basket in the Bath
If you’re anything like me, you’ve kept your infant in the newborn bathtub way longer than recommended. Maybe you tried the real bathtub once and realized it was way too much freedom (and water) for a seven month old who still sometimes falls over from a sitting position when he gets distracted or excited. Help your baby (and yourself) transition to the regular bath by using a rectangular laundry basket in the tub for a few months. It adds some extra structure and stability for a wobbly sitter, keeps toys close by so he won’t go face first into the water when reaching for one, and you won’t have to stay up all night Googling dry drowning. (Obviously, with any kind of setup you still need to stay with your baby, but you worry about everything, so you already know that.) When it’s time to transition to the vast regular tub, you’ll both be more confident.
- Have a Nurse Line on Speed Dial
Before Dr. Google and Facebook mom groups, there was Ask a Nurse. It was a way for worried parents to have quick access to medical advice outside of regular hours. I remember my parents using it more than once when I was a kid. And guess what? It still exists. Most local children’s hospitals have a dedicated line with pediatric nurses on standby, and Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas, TX has an Ask a Nurse line that appears to be open to everyone in the US (888-563-KIDS). So next time you’re freaking out about something, don’t turn to Facebook; pick up the phone!
- Hang Your Houseplants
Oh, you’re afraid your baby is going to eat your houseplants and poison herself? Yeah, well, if you leave your plants within reach, you’re probably right. But don’t worry — you don’t have to re-home your philodendron just because there’s a tiny person teetering around your home trying to put literally everything in her mouth. Buy a few anchored ceiling hooks and macrame plant hangers (they’re very trendy right now) and get that gorgeous greenery up, up, and away.
- Stock Up on Pacifier Clips
Are you worried about your baby picking up some weird brain-eating amoeba after dropping his pacifier or favorite toy on the floor of the bathroom at the park? Sure, it could maybe happen, and it probably has happened on a network medical drama. If you’re that concerned, just affix everything with pacifier clips. With a little ingenuity, you can use a pacifier clip to secure just about anything to your baby’s clothes, car seat, or stroller. Stuffed animal? Loop it through the tag. Bottle? Put one of those small thick rubber bands that come on asparagus bunches around the bottle and loop the pacifier clip through that.
- Host a CPR Class at Your Home
Right around the time we started my son on finger foods — which was also right around the time he was putting anything and everything he could pick up straight into his mouth — I found a CPR trainer who was willing to come to my house and do a course for my husband and me, my in-laws, and our babysitters. This way, I figured, everyone would know exactly what to do and could jump right into action if the situation called for it. So get yourself and all of your kid’s caretakers CPR certified. If you don’t, we’ll take away your Paranoid Mom Card.