Call in Reinforcements
Although many new moms find it difficult to ask for help, or accept it when offered, even Supermom can't do it all on her own. If your mom, or even your mother-in-law, wants to help care for her precious grandchild, take her up on it. Friends may offer to bring you dinner and hold your baby while you nap ... let them! Oh, and whatever you do, don't sideline Superman! Even if you're breastfeeding, he can take on other caretaking responsibilities like burping, diaper changes and general comforting.
Once those difficult first few weeks are over, you may also find yourself looking for a band of like-minded Supermom comrades to share in the joy and struggles of your new "super" life. There are several ways to meet other moms with baby in tow:
• Check out new-mom forums like those at parenting.com or cafemom.com. Facebook is another network where new moms can share photos and witty comments about their new lives without even having to shower first.
• Sign up your baby for a class! From Kindermusik to Gymboree, there are programs designed for even the youngest of babies. The classes stimulate your little one's senses while introducing you to a new group of moms with babies in the same age group as yours.
• Find a playgroup. It's another (free) reason to get out of the house and meet other new moms. To locate a playgroup in your area, search meetup.com or join your local Mothers of Preschoolers International (MOPS) at mops.org.
Saving lives and protecting the innocent are part of the moral code of conduct every good superhero lives by. Unfortunately, our Superspawn do not come equipped with protective shields, so when driving, make sure you follow car seat safety guidelines.
• The smart folks at the AAP recommend that your baby ride in a rear-facing infant or convertible car seat in the backseat of your car until she is at least 1 year old and weighs 20 pounds, or even longer if she fits in it comfortably. If your child outgrows her infant seat before she turns 1, consider buying a larger rear-facing seat that can accommodate a child that weighs up to 40 pounds. Graco's My Ride 65 Convertible Car Seat is one of the few rear-facing seats that accommodate babies up to 40 pounds.
• It can seem like installing a car seat properly might actually require superhuman ability. Three out of four of them are used and installed incorrectly, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Carefully read the instruction manual prior to installation, and then call in another superpower to double-check your work. Certified child-passenger safety technicians can review your car seat installation and make necessary changes. Visit nhtsa.dot.gov/cps to find a list of safety-seat inspection stations near you.
• Once your seat is installed, make sure your Superbaby is properly secured. The harness retainer clips should be positioned at armpit level, and the harness straps should be snug, lying flat and tight across her chest.
• Never use a car seat that is more than five years old or one that has been involved in an accident. If you have a hand-me-down car seat (or crib, or any other type of gear) make sure it has not been recalled due to safety reasons. You can call the manufacturer or check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's Website (cpsc.gov) for an updated list of recalled products.