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8 Things Every New Parent Should Know

You've survived the birth of your baby and now you've brought your little bundle of joy home.

And while your new baby will bring you plenty of happiness in the years to come, there are some things new parents should be aware of, said Dr. Stephen Turner, division chief of general pediatrics at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn.

1. Sleep Deprivation

"Understand you are going to be sleep deprived, and you and your spouse will be quite irritable," Turner said. "It's very tiring, and it's a lot of work, so be aware of that."

2. Laundry Overload

Think you had enough laundry to deal with before the baby arrived?

You'll have so much more once the little one arrives — between your clothes, your husband's clothes and the baby's clothes — your laundry load will definitely increase.

Factor in the baby's tendency to spit up, and you can expect to be changing the baby's clothes and even your clothes several times a day, Turner said.

3. Travel Time

If you plan on leaving the house, plan on giving yourself a full 30 minutes just to get ready to depart, Turner said.

"I think you should be prepared that leaving your house will take 30 minutes longer than it did before, and you will definitely leave something behind," he added. "In a diaper bag, keep extra diapers, wipes, baby clothes — even an extra shirt for yourself."

4. Prepare to Be Homebound

For the first two months of your baby's life, you should avoid taking the baby to enclosed, public places where they could catch germs, Turner said.

"For example, taking the baby for a walk around the neighborhood is fine, but really, when so many people are sick, avoid subways and shopping malls," he said.

When you do leave the house, say for a doctor's appointment, dress the baby in one more layer of clothing than you have on, Turner advised.

5. Rock-a-Bye Baby

Most newborns will sleep an average of 16 hours a day, or in-between feedings.

And new babies can feed every two to three hours, Turner said.

So try to rest when they are resting.

6. Medical Concerns

Don't go looking for sickness, Turner said.

"Only take the baby's temperature if he or she feels warm, or appears to not feel well," he said.

If the baby's fever is 100.4 degrees or higher, then contact the doctor.

Be on the lookout for any changes to the baby's coloring, Turner said, as pediatricians want to be aware of any jaundice that might occur.

Also, even if you are breast-feeding your baby, he or she will need to take a vitamin D supplement, as that is important source of calcium.

7. Introducing Solid Foods

Solid foods are introduced when the baby is between 4 and 6 months old.

"It's a personal preference of when to start feeding the baby solid foods," Turner said. "There is no wrong answer."

When you do introduce solid foods, emphasize vegetables and fruits. To get your baby to eat the vegetables, feed the veggies first, then reward the baby with fruit, since it's sweet.

8. Vaccinate Yourself

Many new parents think about vaccinating their children, but forget about their own vaccination needs.

Turner said new parents should make sure they are vaccinated against these diseases, in order to protect the baby: whooping cough, seasonal influenza and H1N1.