Infant care class a warmup for parents of winter newborns

Story Image

New Baby Care

Dec. 3, 7:30 - 9 p.m.

Feb. 4, 2013; 7:30 - 9 p.m.

Valley West Medical Office Building
1310 N. Main St.
Sandwich, Ill. 60548

$15.00 / Couple. Registration required.
Register online at

Or call 815.786.3962.

What does a baby in swaddling clothes really look like? How do you keep a newborn healthy and warm in the wintertime? These and so many other questions are on the minds of new parents who want to do everything right.

Parents of babies born during the winter have a few extra precautions, says Krissy Ross, a registered nurse who is a certified childbirth educator at Valley West Community Hospital in Sandwich.

She recommends covering a baby with one layer more than the parent is wearing. That extra layer may be a blanket for riding in the car or going for a walk. A hat and hand covers are essential in the cold months.

Winter newborns also present a dilemma for beaming parents who want to show off their baby, but have to think about limiting their exposure to others during the cold and flu season. Children are not eligible for flu shots until they are more than 6 months old.

"It's tough, but parents really need to limit the number of visitors for the first few months," she said. "And they need to ask each person to wash his hands before holding the baby. If the visitor has any type of illness, I recommend they don't touch the child at all."

Swaddling is an age-old technique that keeps the baby feeling comfortable and secure, regardless of the weather outside. That technique is one of many tips and demonstrations offered to expectant parents and caregivers during Valley West Community Hospital's "New Baby Care" class Dec. 3.

"We try to hit all of the major areas new parents wonder about from birth to one year," said Ross.

"Parents wonder how they'll know if their infant is getting enough to eat, and how to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome," she said.

"There is a lot of concern about SIDS, and today the recommendation is to put babies to sleep on their backs," Ross said. Yet it's also important for neck muscle development that an infant spend time on his tummy, which also allows his head to maintain its natural shape, she said.

"I like to point out that if you are lounging on the couch and putting your baby on your chest, the infant is getting 'supervised tummy time.' The dads really like hearing that this position is important for the baby," she said with a chuckle.

The distinction she draws is that babies should not be set on their tummies while their parents nap nearby. "That's not real supervision," she said.

Using dolls, the nurse demonstrates how to swaddle an infant so he feels secure. This also points up the fact that newborns should not be using pillows or loose bedding.

Parents and caregivers also pick up information on the latest regulations regarding car seats and immunizations. "We emphasize that infants need to be in rear-facing seats, and optimally the seat should be installed in the middle of the back seat," she said.

For babies born at Valley West, the state-recommended vaccinations begin while the baby is still in the hospital. From there, the hospital provides parents with the information on subsequent shots and the immunization laws regarding public school attendance.

While the nurse wants parents to feel prepared, she doesn't want them to feel overwhelmed. So instead of recommending books with hundreds of pages, she hands out about a dozen one-page tips sheets on topics including safety and how to take a baby's temperature.

The "New Baby Care" class is offered every other month, and it's recommended for parents before the child's birth. Moms who plan to breastfeed are also eligible to attend a free class the following evening to help them get feeding off to a good start.

"This is a very popular class, which we've offered about eight years, so we think parents are getting what they really need,'" Ross said.