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Newborn Baby Tips: Common Sense Advice For New Parents

04/09/2013 12:43 EDT

As any expectant parent knows, there’s no shortage of advice available for all things baby-related. Look no further than the enormous "Parenting" section at the bookstore as proof – or the exponential growth of Mom blogs, for that matter.

With so much (often conflicting) advice out there, it’s difficult to make even the most basic decisions, from what type of diapers to buy to what kind of food to nourish your little bundle of joy with. To make things a bit less complicated, we've compiled some of the most reliable, tried-and-true, common sense advice available to help guide you through some of your most pressing baby-related conundrums.

Midwife or doctor?

The midwife vs. doctor debate is a very entertaining storyline on "The Mindy Project." Mindy Kaling’s character, an ob-gyn, convincingly argues that doctors are the way to go because they’re equipped to handle complications that may require, say, an emergency C-section.

Of course, you may be looking for more substantial pros and cons than those offered up as sitcom fodder. This in-depth TIME article provides a comprehensive look at both sides of the debate. Ultimately, this is a very personal decision that comes down to your own preference. Midwives do offer unique advantages. For instance, if you have your heart set on a water birth outside of a hospital setting, midwives can offer more flexible, customized birth plans for low-risk pregnancies.

Breast-feeding or bottles?

The professional consensus is that breast is best, because it helps boost your baby’s immune system, it offers all of the nutrients your little one needs and it’s easier to digest than formula.

But if you’re unable to breast-feed or it’s something you’re just not comfortable with, formula can nourish your baby if used properly. The Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Jay Hoecker points out that if, for whatever reason, you decide not to breastfeed, you shouldn’t feel guilty. After all, you’ve got better things to expend your time and energy on with a new baby in the house!

Organic food or conventionally grown?

Organic food has fewer toxins, but it’s not necessarily more nutritious. In fact, a recent study by the Stanford University School of Medicine indicated that organic foods don’t offer more health benefits than their non-organic counterparts. The study did find that children on organic diets didn't have as much pesticide residue in their systems, but the amount of pesticides in conventionally grown foods isn't enough to cause concern.

Government regulations surrounding food are quite rigid in Canada, so you don’t have to worry about non-organic foods hurting your baby. Of course, if you prefer to feed your little one organic food, there doesn't appear to be any harm in that. But if you’d rather not break the bank on organic fare, you can rest assured that won’t make you a terrible parent.

Cloth diapers or disposable?

Sure, cloth diapers are better for the environment. But when you’re sleep-deprived and struggling just to keep up with the most basic tasks, are you really going to want to add washing soiled cloth diapers to your to-do list? Actress Elizabeth Banks summarized the dilemma perfectly when she tweeted, "Thought about cloth diapers once. Then I had a baby."

That said, there are benefits to going the cloth route. Cloth diapers tend to be more comfortable, and may help your baby toilet train up to a year earlier than her disposable diaper-wearing counterparts. Cloth diapers can also save you a lot of money, since they’re reusable.

Sleep training or co-sleeping?

It can be tough to let your new baby out of your sight -- even at night. Many parents opt to co-sleep with their babies, but that can be potentially dangerous. Babies tend to roll all over the place while they’re sleeping, and cribs keep them in place, infant sleep expert Dr. Richard Ferber pointed out to Parenting Magazine.

Co-sleeping does have its benefits. For instance, night feedings are a lot more convenient if you can just roll over to breast feed instead of walking over to the crib. Dr. Ferber cautions that if you do go the co-sleeping route, you should have a plan so that you don’t get to the point where your baby can’t sleep without you. After all, you and your partner will probably want your bed back to yourselves at some point!

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