House Calls: Babies really do come with instructions


Editor's note: House Calls runs every other Thursday. Today's column is written by Christina Seed, a doctor of osteopathic medicine at Sutter Coast Community Clinic.

"Congratulations and good luck!" said the nurse at Sutter Coast Hospital as we snapped our newborn's car seat into its place and buckled ourselves in for the short drive home.

As we were leaving the parking lot, we hit the first speed bump, and reality hit as well.

Although I had crossed this particular speed bump dozens of times before, it suddenly seemed much bigger. "Go slowly!" I advised my husband, frightened that our son would be catapulted out of the car.

No one had instructed us on how fast we should go over a speed bump

with a newborn in the car. In fact, no one had told me much about what

to do once we were released from the hospital.

As we gingerly made our way over the bump, I found myself feeling

overwhelmed by the fact that I was being entrusted to raise the precious

being sleeping soundly in the back seat.

Over the next few months we quickly learned the basics of newborn

care. At times it was challenging and there were many instances of

wondering if we were doing things correctly. Yet somehow, we managed to

get through those first few months.

I quickly learned to ask questions, read books and most importantly,

trust my maternal instincts. I also began asking friends and patients

how they felt as they became parents and I realized that my experience

of feeling underprepared was not unique.

In fact, most parents I have spoken with relate very similar

experiences of feeling overwhelmed by their new roles as mothers and


It's said, "Babies do not come with instruction manuals." This phrase

implies that parents have to figure out how to care for their little

ones on their own.

Although every baby is a unique individual and there is no single

approach that works all of the time, there are some basic principles and

guidelines that have been shown to help foster infant development.

There are also lots of tips and suggestions that can make the

experience of becoming a parent a little bit easier and a lot less


It is my hope in future columns to support other new parents by

providing them with some basic tips and resources that will help them

feel better prepared to care for their infants.

And, just for the record, going over a speed bump at 5 mph with a

newborn is a safe speed and, more importantly, will not awaken the baby.

Email suggestions for future House Calls columns to Beth Liles at

Sutter Coast Hospital,

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