Hello Baby - A Completer Guide from Birth to the First Six Months ( part Two)
I have dealt with the early days of birth in my previous article, the link for which, I have provided at the end of this article..
Now in this article we see the various stages of growth and development in a new born baby’s life!
The first two weeks
The new born baby’s day pass by fuzzily with the baby eternally feeding, screaming at nights keeping mom and others awake, soiling, waking up exactly when an exhausted mom is ready to take a quick afternoon nap and making the new mom feel that she cannot cope any longer – in general, mom and the baby are getting to know one another rather well.
A baby tends to grow up very fast so make the most of this time when you are both very important to each other. Let the housework, and other work go for a toss for a while, when you completely devote your time to your precious bundle. Touch her/him, love her /him and cuddle her/him all you like, like I said before they grow up far too quickly and before you know become individuals in their own right!
A word of caution here- don’t neglect your husband either since by the 2nd or 3rd week after delivery you should be normal. By now, you would have had the stitches removed and the doctor has advised that you are normal, with your dilated cervix having come back to normal and you have passed the stage of getting infected. You could go back to normal life and get intimate with your husband.According to old customs and traditions couples were refrained from having sex until the first 40 days or sometimes even up to three months after delivery , however, medically there is no need or reason to adhere to this.
The baby would have been immunized for TB by the BCG vaccine. A lump may appear three or 4 weeks later and may soften and ooze up to 2 weeks or sometimes even for a few days longer. Leave it alone and at the end of ten or 12 weeks, a small scar will be visible indicating that the vaccination has been successful.
Oral Polio Vaccine ( OPV) are drops and should be postponed if your child has diarrhea. Your baby also gets vaccinated against Hepatitis B. The OPV drops and Hepatitis B have to be given at regular intervals.
Most babies by this time would be focusing on faces especially mother’s, since she is all the time around. The baby also lifts the head briefly while made to lie on the tummy ( in fact this practice of making the baby lie on its tummy for a short period of time is advised by most pediatricians) The baby is also able to recognise voices, especially mother’s voice and move the head to whichever side or direction the voice comes from.
There may be some psychological changes that may take place in a new mom especially if she had been working until late in her pregnancy and was used to having people around her or had a busy social life. So, instead of becoming grumpy and irritable, simply accept your status and keep in touch with friends as and when time permits you by making phone calls and sending messages , also requesting them to visit and spend time with you and your little one. In fact it is a great time for calling family and friends to your home since they too would be interested and curious to see your precious bundle.
Your baby may now be able to do all the following things
- Follow a moving object with her/his eyes and also smile at you and other faces that she/he sees from close.
- Respond to your chatter and talk to her with cooing sounds and gurgles and also kick vigorously to show that she/he understands and is responding to your talk.
- Bring her/his hands together which is the first coordinated movement in a baby’s life, other than focusing her/his eyes.
- The baby will now be able to hold head up to 45 degrees and also loves being held and cuddled.
- She/he will also be awake longer and by now you would have discovered what her sleeping patterns are.
However, if and when there is any discrepancy in the rhythms of daily activity as compared to other babies, try not to get upset since this is normal and each baby is different and has its own individual pattern. So you must not get hyper if Dinky or pinky-next-door sleeps more or less than your baby or cries less than your baby.
Your pediatrician will now check up if your baby is developing normally. She/he will be examined carefully and all the details will be normally noted down and compared with her/his testing at birth and right up to six months. If you are breast feeding, you may be prescribed vitamin drugs and iron for your baby. Between now and eight weeks she will be immunized against some more killer diseases.
There will be shot against DTP ( Diphtaeria, Tetanus and Whooping Cough ) after which the bay might develop mild fever ,soreness and pain and swelling at the site. A small painless lump may remain for a few days or even weeks. The Hib ( Haemophilus Influenza b) vaccine protects against a deadly bacteria which is responsible for a wide range of serious infections in children such as meningitis, Croup, blood infections, skin and connective tissue infections, and infection of the membrane surrounding the heart. It is given at the same time as the DTP.
There will be one more shot against Hepatitis B. Vaccine should be given only when the child is healthy without any illness like fever or cough. If for some reason some of your baby’s shots are postponed, there is no real cause for concern. Immunization can pick where it lets off, starting all over again is not necessary.
In the mean time, you the new mom, are also due for your postnatal check up to see that your womb has gone back to normal. Your doctor will also be able to suggest a contraceptive that is best suited to you. If you have not resumed intercourse uptil now, according to traditional lore and customs , it is time to do so now.
- Now your baby may be able to hold her/his chest off the bed while lying on tummy and also sit on your lap with its head steady.
- Your little one will also be able to follow an object moved from one side to the other a and also bring its hands together in front and may be able to hold an object.
- The baby will be squealing and cooing back at you in a dialogue of its own, and will listen to voices and especially recognises the mother’s voice and also responds to it. The bay will also smile back at others and generally developing its sociable instincts.
- Sleep, feed and even toilet time table will become more regular and will want company and may cry when left alone. We see babies looking this side and that just to see if there is someone around.
At this period of growth the speed at which your baby is developing will be very noticeable. Let the baby proceed at its own pace, in order since some babies don’t do much at first and then a few weeks later, they suddenly start to develop in spurts. Your baby will also be forming his/her own personality (difficult to believe but nevertheless true, they develop certain personality traits as early as that) and you are bound to have a few tussles about the issue. On the other hand a crying baby may suddenly settle down and become the placid baby of your dreams, however be warned that such idyllic setting would not last forever!
Try to fit the baby into your routine and don’t let the little one disrupt your home. Because there are other priorities that need to be considered especially time given to your husband since he wants you as his partner as well as the mother of your child. Start socializing as a couple, whenever possible possibly leaving the baby with grand parents or even taking the baby along if it is agreed upon by both of you.
Babies can be all absorbing and once in a while it is better for both of you to have a change of scene. Another very important thing is to encourage Dad to spend time with the baby, since he is as important as you in the baby’s life.
After a month’s gap it is now time again for DTP, OPV and Hib shots..
Four and a half months
By now your little one would be on the go having crossed many milestones. He/she will be able to sit up well when the back is well supported.
- The baby at this stage can reach for objects and often grasp them and also shift objects from one hand to the other. Sometimes we get to see the baby dropping the object from one hand and picking up with the other hand.
- The baby also becomes more vocal talking to herself/himself and also reacting to others when called by her/his name.
- He/She is also able to show anger, frustration and protestation and raises the arms to be picked up.
- Holds the cup or bottle with two hands and recognizes other faces as well. Most normal babies would have gained weight by this stage and weight about 6 kilos.
According to experts this is also the best time to introduce the baby to solid foods as the little one is now able to sit up and is better able to handle a varied diet. Of course, you be prepared for a cleaning marathon, for there will be spills aplenty! But do relax and try to enjoy these feeding times since they don’t last forever.
While introducing new food to the baby, do it one at a time, ideally one teaspoon, once a day for a week.This way you will know what does not agree with her. Watch out for rashes, tummy upsets and constipation. The new food should be given between milk feeds, thinned with either water or milk to an acceptable consistency. Increase the solid content and quantity gradually.
You can start with stuff like kichdi, suji kheer, ragi porridge, commercially available cereals, mashed vegetables and fruits. Mashed fruits like banana, stewed apple or pears, chickoo and papaya are all very good for the little one. When you start introducing these foods start by offering three teaspoonfuls of water and fruit juice or vegetable juice or puree between meals and increase the quantity gradually to replace one milk feed with the solid food.
One more month has gone by and it is now time again for another set of DTP, Hib and OPV shots!
This is indeed a milestone that many parents dread since you have a super active kid on your hands that is raring to go places because by now the bundle of energy is sitting well with support , in some cases even without support.
- The baby cries for a toy and tries to reach out for it when it is beyond its reach and pull on a toy when you try to take it away.
- Tries to crawl and even bear some weight on legs. Discovers the feet and leg and plays with them for long periods of time.
- Clap with hands, attempts to locate an object that has fallen over, and if the baby is on the cot or a chair there is every likelihood of him or her falling over, so one has to be all eyes and ears at this stage.
- Dislikes some strangers and refuses to smile or go to them even when they coax or you coax the baby to go to them. At the same time tends to become annoyingly clingy to mom or dad or both.
- At the same time babies tend to be very joyful, playful and full of activity - they love socialising and enjoying the company of other children in the house, piggy rides and such other baby games and great fun to be with!
- There will be some discomfort in the form of baby’s first pearly tooth making its appearance. You have to clean it with gauze every now and then and after a couple more make their appearance, you could give the little one a small tooth brush so they learn to brush it, and later even put a tiny bit of paste on it without fluoride.
- Increase the juice and mashed fruit and vegetables to half a cup and the porridge can be a full feed replacing milk along with pureed vegetables and other cereals forming another full feed. So you can now replace two milk feeds with solid feeds.
You can also slowly introduce the baby to eggs by giving a teaspoonful of half boiled beaten egg yolk mixed with warm milk and a pinch of sugar. Normally, the pediatrician will give another full check up at this stage and also recommend some changes in diet most of which I have covered above.
Future Immunizations include
- Measles, Hepatitis B and OPV – 8 to 9 months
- MMR ( Measles and mumps) and German Measles – 15 – 18 months
- DTP and OPV – 18 – 24 months
- Typhoid – 2 and a half years
- DTP, Opv and Typhoid – 4 – 6 years.
Will cover some practical pointers in my next article , part three under the same heading !
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