Raising a healthy baby can, at times, be harder than it sounds. There are probably hundreds of books on the subject, and you'll get advice (sometimes unsolicited) from any number of sources, everyone from strangers to your family. My single best tip would be to yes, research it and seek advice, but in the end, always go with your own gut.
On the one side, I think we as parents have a sixth sense about when something is terribly wrong. Sometimes, doctors and family members will dismiss it as no big deal. Shoot, sometimes it is no big deal. But when you are laying awake at night with that awful feeling like a claw is twisting your gut about your child's fever or whatever is ailing him or her, you don't have to ignore it.
That isn't to say you should hit the emergency room every time your child has a cold, but you know when you get that awful feeling.
On the flip side, I think we also know when our child is really OK and doesn't need a doctor's visit. While it's better safe than sorry when in doubt, a cold truly isn't an occasion to call 911.
Again, it goes back to you being the parent and knowing when something is or isn't wrong with your child.
I know before my first was born, I was terrified I would have no idea what to do or how to care for a baby. I was an only child and had almost no experience with babies. I devoured books on babies. I stalked the internet for every tidbit of information I could find.
In the end, as simplistic as this sounds, I found that I did truly often know the right thing to do. It isn't often (ever?) black and white, and daily as parents we make decisions about our children's health. For every choice about our children's health we can make, there are people (experts and parents alike) who will argue vehemently for both sides of the equation.
There are no yes and no answers. There is no real manual.
I made my own baby food for the twins, for example, but was working full-time and knew my sanity wouldn't allow me to handmake every spoonful of food they ate. I made some. I bought some. There is no book that tells you the perfect balance of childrearing vs. self caretaking. Still, we know when we are overwhelmed and need to do less so we have that much more of ourselves to give to our children.
Yes, read the books and search Google. Sure, ask your friends and family. But you are the parent, and odds are good that the decisions you make with your child's and family's best interests in mind are sound.
Trust your parenting gut.
Photo of baby by mokra at sxc.hu.
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