Hello Baby - Some Practical Pointers (Part Three)
The Last and the concluding part of the article, that deals with the babys' birth and the first six months in it's life and the various changes that come with the arrival of the little angel
All over the world people wait eagerly and celebrate for the new arrival and no wonder that there is such an excitement when the event actually happens and you have the special little one amidst you. This special event also brings in its own set of duties and minor problems that need to be tackled and taken care of. I am giving some practical tips to handle such situations as and when they occur..
Milk is your baby's gold medal food at least until the little one is fur months old, it is all the food he/she requires. Whether you opt for the breast or the bottle here are some pros and cons of each
Nourishment and growth - Breast milk has all the right substances like proteins, fats, carbohydrates and minerals in the right proportions for your baby. It is made with the type of ingredients which can easily be digested and used by the baby's body. It has the right balance of fluids as well. The baby regulates his/her own length and frequency of feeds. Breast milk contains exactly the right proteins to build the baby’s body so that the growth which takes place is of muscle and flesh. The calcium content is also absorbed better. The fat is used more for energy and warmth, which means that the baby does not become too fat and flabby and anther great advantage is, baby does not need any extra fluid at all !
Health points - Breast milk is sterile, it is very difficult for it to get infected. It contains antibodies against certain infections which the mother might have had. More importantly, breast milk contains other antibodies which build up in the baby and help to stop him/her from developing allergies such as Asthma and eczema. Since these anti bodies are very high in the first 3 weeks, it is better to feed the baby at east for that period of time since there are may health benefits which the baby would never receive otherwise. It is also true that nappy rashes and the chances of your baby suffering from constipation or diarrhea are much less when the baby is breast fed.
Bonding - The milk is at body temperature and you and your baby will come close to one another during feed time. The bay gets used to your touch and your smell and you will become familiar and love the touch of your baby’s hands and face against you.
Added Bonuses - The extra fat that your body carries during pregnancy is burned out while milk is being made. The sucking of the bay makes your womb and tummy contract and gets you back to pre-pregnancy size more quickly. Breast milk is of course free! It can be pumped out and kept for 24 hours in the refrigerator or for 8 hours in room temperature.
Nourishment and Growth - When breast milk is unavailable or for some reason you are unable to feed your baby, milk from other sources have to be given as an alternative. If fresh cow’s milk is what is available, the milk should be boiled, cooled and then diluted with clean boiled and cooled water. To start with , experts recommend 1:1 and about 1 and a half teaspoons of sugar may be added to make up for the reduction of calories. Gradually you can decrease the water, so that by the time the bay is 4 months old, he/she is getting undiluted milk.
Artificial milks- They are based on cow’s milk but with reduced proteins, fats and salts which the newborn cannot digest, so more easily digestible substances are added. This means that your baby will be well nourished and grow well. Since it takes longer to digest, the baby stays contented for longer period of time. You know how much you are feeding, but there is also the danger of over feeding ( if you add too much milk powder ) or under feeding ( if you add too much water to the feed). So it is important to follow instructions given by the manufacturers strictly even though it turns out to be expensive. You also need to give some extra fluids to the baby.
Health – There are absolutely no anti bodies in bottle milk to protect your baby against infections or allergies. In fact, a baby who is prone to these may react to the protein in the bottled milk and start getting some allergic reactions. No doubt that many babies are safely fed by the bottle but one must make an extra effort to keep the bottles and utensils scrupulously clean. Since most formula milks are fortified with vitamins and minerals the baby will get the required nutrients. However, most doctors suggest that one must stop bottle feeds altogether by the 12 months of age because it has been proved that continued bottle sucking can cause a particularly severe kind of dental decay.
Bonding _ Of course you can give your baby just as much cuddling and touching as you would do while breast feeding by holding the bay close to you instead of propping up the bottle and the bay on a pillow. This habit can lead to dangerous consequences like choking besides stopping the bay from enjoying the feed time which becomes almost like a routine exercise. In fact it is a good idea for both the parents to take turn while feeding so that the little ones dad too gets to know the baby, its routine and needs.
Added bonuses – You don’t have any embarrassing situation when you may have to feed the baby in public .You also need not worry about leaky breasts and dry vagina which is common is lactating mothers(which often becomes very uncomfortable).
Actually when we talk of sleep problems it means that the mother is not getting enough sleep which is the most common problem among new moms. We have to remember that little babies cannot last through the night without being fed, changed and tended every three or four hours – night or day. You will have to accept this fact of life and then catch up on your sleep whenever you can. But most often by the end of the first year most babies tend to sleep through the night, so it is the first few months that you need to worry about.
Even now during early months he/she is getting the required 17 -18 hours of sleep despite all the waking , wetting and crying. It is just that initially the baby is yet to develop a regular sleeping pattern and cannot distinguish between day and night. That’s why the little one keeps waking up for food and comfort round the clock. But, in three or four months your baby will settle into a time table of sorts and he will sleep for longer stretches and by six months normally will have one nice long period of sleep about 6 -8 hours.In addition several naps of one to two hours ( may be 3 or 4 naps depending on the activity level), totaling up to 14 -15 hours. The problem will be that the baby’s long period of sleep may not sync with mom’s and to her tired mind the bay and she is not sleeping enough!
You can try out certain practical measures that may prove helpful..
1. Respond to the babies cries each time and feed the baby until he or she is 3 months old.
2. Try to regularise a sleep pattern like keeping the room dark and quiet instead of having a zero watt bulb burning all night and even when you have to feed, do so and pat the baby encouraging him/her to sleep.
3.Try to limit day time naps to a maximum of 3 so that the baby is tired and ready to sleep more during the night time. The above tips will definitely help in establishing a sleep pattern in babies which in turn will benefit both baby and you.
Once the baby has been fed he or she needs to be burped. A breast fed baby has to be burped after each feed. You can either pat or rub the baby’s back putting the little one on his/her stomach on your lap. Once the baby is a little older, it can be held upright with its head nestling against your shoulder and pat back gently. Some babies burp best when placed in a sitting position and supporting the head and back.
Bath Time, Clothing and Nappies
Make it a point to bathe your baby only when he is content and fully awake, neither too hungry nor too full. Bath time should be fun time that has to be enjoyed by both you and the little one and also dad if he is around. Using a mild oil like any of the commercially available baby oil, almond oil or olive oil, massage the baby’s limbs and other body parts before giving a bath. Let the oil get absorbed for a few minutes before bathing the baby. You can use small plastic tub on a low stool or a table and baby soap.
Pay special attention to under arms, folds at the top of the thighs, behind the knees and ears, around the chin etc. Dry thoroughly with a soft towel and powder the baby’s entire body lightly with some mild talc. Here care should be taken while using baby creams and powders, so that they don’t clog the pores and remain in the folds and get infected. Too much of talcum powder may even infiltrate the baby’s lungs.
Take care never to leave the baby unattended in the bathtub even for a few seconds. Keep a hand on the baby’s back , even if you have to turn away to reach something and in the event you have to answer the door bell, wrap the little one in the towel and carry him/her with you.
Once the bath time is over, wipe the baby dry and dress him/her in comfortable preferably cotton clothes , since synthetic do not allow for evaporation, hinder perspiration and can also provoke prickly heat and itching . There is plenty to choose from whether you make your own at home , buy them ready made or get hand me downs from friends and relatives. Don’t go over board and buy far too many first size dresses, a set of six to eight will do to start with. Babies grow very quickly and chances are that you will get many gifts from those who visit your home.
You will also need at least two dozens of muslin nappies. Keep the more expensive disposable ones for travelling, outings and holidays. Plastic panties should be used sparingly since they can cause rashes and discomfort if they are not made out of good quality plastic and don’t fit well. In fact most pediatricians advise to leave the baby without a nappy once in a while to keep the area aired and dry.
This should start right from the time you set eyes on your baby. It will help both you and baby bond and build up the baby’s self esteem – this according to psycho analysts, which can have a long lasting impression on a human mind. It is important to watch all the baby’s movements, and observe everything the little one does, like reacting to sounds, moving the head when he sees people approaching etc It is imperative that you attend to his/her needs immediately, like picking up when they cry. Such actions make them secure and children who know that their needs will be responded to promptly feel more secure and trustful.
Offer lots of affection and love, cuddling the baby as much as possible specially while feeding. Babies who are loved and cared for are secure babies and remain so all through their life. Talking to the baby is important since he or she responds back in baby talk and gurgles which is a social response and normally babies are able to pick up the physical and verbal signs of affection. You are also laying the ground work for meaningful conversation and communication. The baby will learn how language works and how to interact with other people. The little one will also learn to read your expressions and feelings.
Care, concern and protection can be communicated by hugs and attention given to the baby which makes him/her feel loved and valued. The little one will also sense if you are uncertain or anxious just by the way you hold and handle him/her. Babies are able to feel your anger, depression and different moods. Your moods can affect the baby’s moods too since babies tend to soak up your emotions.
Babies and crying
They seem to go hand in hand, since one can never imagine a baby that does not cry. You will also be surprised how quickly you learn to recognize your baby’s cries from another baby’s even in a crowd. We also notice that baby’s cries change at different times and why he is crying? Like when he is hungry, sad, wet, in pain or hurting, ill, tired and sleepy, insecure, bored, teething whatever! Babies resort to crying to show all their feelings and emotions because at that stage that is the only language they know.
Unrelenting crying can sometimes drive you up the wall and may even make you lose your temper especially when you are already stressed about some other matter. However, you don’t need to drop everything you are doing and dash to see what is wrong with the little one. On the other hand like I already mentioned earlier, responding to your baby’s cries will definitely not spoil him. In time you will figure out the difference between your baby’s many different cries – like the one that can go and on unless you attend to it or the ones that stop after a while when his/her attention gets diverted with something else.
However, don’t feed the child the moment he/she cries since it may be for a different reason altogether that he is fretting like wet nappies or soiled underpants which when changed will take care of his mood. When the baby is continuously fretting and whimpering, it could only mean illness, so you have to consult a doctor.
One can never take a chance with any of the minor or not so minor illness that babies tend to get, so make sure that you take immediate action and call a doctor when the following symptoms occur.
- There is any difficulty in breathing, apart from a common cold and a stuffy nose.
- The baby’s behavioral pattern changes suddenly
- The baby has Diarrhea for more than 24 hours, never go in for any home medicines and expect the baby to get cured since this can be fatal.
- When the baby vomits continuously for over an hour. Many babies do bring out when they are over fed but that may be just once, so anything over that is to be attended by a doctor.
- There is high fever, over 102 degrees and the baby looks and feels very sick.
- When babies pass very little urine or no urine, in the beginning it may not seem serious but when it gets prolonged , the little one is bound to feel uncomfortable and start fidgeting and crying.
- When the baby is lying limp and very quiet and is not taking any interest in things around nor feedig as usual.
- When the baby’s skin is pale and blotchy or there are skin rashes .
- When your baby is constantly pulling his ears and screams as if in pain.
This aspect is as important to a happy and contented family life as bringing up the little one .You have to remember that you are a wife too and that your husband too has to make a big adjustment in his life style. You both have changed from a carefree roving couple into a family with loads of experiences all round. For the woman the change comes slowly as the baby grew and moved inside her but for the man it is much harder. Husbands tend to feel jealous at times, even become resentful of the demanding little one.
It is very important to let your husband know that he is as important as the little one and show him by actions that the baby has not replaced him rather enhanced the life of both of you.Be tender with each other and get to know the bab together since this forms the foundation of a happy complete family. Most of the time families shoe cracks and begin disintegrating with the arrival of a baby. When it is a shared experience you will find that it is a most exciting and happy time for both of you.
There will also be two sets of grandparents and assorted relatives, all interested in the new arrival and each of them would want to give some tit bits about baby care, in all probability contradicting each other. Your extended family is important and you will need their support, so hear them out patiently. But finally remember that you and your husband are the parents and you must decide what you both think is the best for your baby.
Some Safety Measures
It is better to think of possible dangers from day one, as baby deevelops so fast that before you kknow it he/she will be here, there and everywhere! So do take some precautinary measures just in case ..
- If you have polythene coverings on sofas or mattresses that can be reached by the child, take them off since it could suffocate the little one.
- Never have a pillow in the cot or pram ,again there is the danger of suffocation.
- Never leave the baby propped up by himself/herself with the bottle in hand, this can lead to choking since babys can never keep themselves in one position.
- Never leave anything hot anywhere near the baby - the little one could burn himself or herself.
- While changing nappies, make sure that the safety pins are not opened - you could stick them into something which is much safer. In fact it is better to avoid the safety pins altogether and tie up the ends of the napkin together.
- Babies tend to roll and turn suddenly, beware of this and as far as possible never leave the baby on a table top, soifa or a cot unattended.
- While taking him/her out in a car, make sure that either one of you hold the little one securely or put in a carry cot on the back seat well wedged in so that a sudden stop or jerk will not topple him/her.
- Never leave the baby alone in the c parked car while you both go attending some chores, this can be very dangerous since the sun can overheat the little one !
- Never sit on a window ledge or on the side of a roof top and feed your baby, since many parents havee this habit and like to feed babies in the open air and don't realise how close to danger they really are.
- A baby needs to be stimulated and that's precisely why we givem toys which can be a great learning experience for the little one.Make sure that the color doe not run and also that it has no sharp edges since the baby can get hurt .
To conclude, it is no doubt a great responsibility having and bringing up a baby, but with some preparations and necessary knowledge it can not only be a great rewarding experience but also a lot of fun and you might want to do it all over again !
- Hello Baby - A Completer Guide from Birth to the First Six Months ( Part One)
- Hello Baby - A Completer Guide from Birth to the First Six Months ( part Two)
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