Baby – You suddenly have this tiny life that is 100% dependent on you
Now that you have given birth, you are probably feeling overwhelmed…and a bit tired! Don’t worry, every new parent feels this way! You suddenly have this tiny life that is 100% dependent on you. There are probably a million thoughts running through your head: When do I switch to solid food? How long should I breastfeed? When do I need to call my doctor if my baby is suddenly acting differently?
In this section, we will discuss everything you need to know about raising a newborn…from how often to feed, developmental milestones, sleep patterns, baby-proofing your home, how to bond with your baby and a myriad of other topics. Take a deep breath, relax and enjoy your new bundle of joy! The following articles will give you valuable information to make this time a little easier for you.
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Raising your baby with care, warmth and affection| New mother guidelines
Congratulations! So the series of assumptions – how he/she will look like, will the baby be a Type A like his/her mother or the laid-back child like his/her father, and so much more, just ended. Now, the little one is in your arms. You have finally made it through the anxiety and excitement of 9 months. But what next? You frantically realize that you are clueless!
Well, here’s a thorough guide on everything about understanding and raising your newborn. Be confident and enjoy your new role.
Let’s begin with the weight
A full term infant’s average birth weight is around 7.5 lb. It typically ranges between 5.5 and 10.1 lb. However, this weight decreases by 3 to 12% over the 5 to 7 days of birth. It continues for the 1st week, after which infants gain weight per day.
For the first few months, the doctor will constantly monitor the newborn’s weight gain to ensure a healthy development. Once they are 6 months old, their body weight becomes twice as their birth weight.
The physical appearance of the newborn
While you can’t take off your eyes from the infant, you might also notice blemishes on his/her skin. Are those natural? Well, learn about your neonate’s physical appearance.
- The new delicate skin looks reddish or pinkish due to underlying blood vessels.
- Wrinkling of skin is because your newborn has just got exposed to dry air after being in fluid for 9
- Few breakouts in their skin might appear because the mother’s hormones are still present.
- At times, their skin might appear bluish when they sleep because their circulatory system doesn’t function speedily.
- Expect red pimples once the first month ends. Not to worry, as these would disappear soon.
- Practically, it’s odd-looking, often larger than the body or elongated if delivered vaginally.
- Gradually, the head will get its normal round shape within a few days.
- Caput succedaneum or soft swelling of the head that came out first during delivery will not last for a longer time.
- The anterior fontanelle or the skull’s frontal area has a large gap. Bones do not meet here, and doctors get useful details about the infant from it.
- Eyelids remain swollen and red due to pressure during childbirth
- At times, both the eyes might not move together, but that’s nothing to worry again, as long as one of those is not fixed in a position.
- Initially, the eyes might be blue. However, this would change after the first month.
- Eyes of infants start darkening, usually after 6 to 12 months.
- Tongue movement will be limited, but this is rare
- The mouth’s roof might appear to be pale gray. It helps the infants to fix their lips around the mother’s nipples firmly.
- Eventually, 1 to 2 teeth would appear.
Umbilical cord –
- Cord bump of your baby will always have a sticky substance. Make sure to clear it with a cotton swab every time you change it.
- Your child’s diaper should remain below the cord, exposing it to the air.
- Never try to pull off this stump or it would bleed, bring more trouble.
- If you find redness or some irritation, see your doctor immediately.
Experience this sweet journey of your baby’s growth from birth to 12 months; it’s a new journey for you too. Now, let’s move ahead towards the milestones your little bundle of joy will be going through in the upcoming months.
Developmental milestones of the neonate
In the first year, babies usually grow extremely fast and go through major achievements or milestones.
#Milestone after the 1st month
- Can hear properly to recognize few sounds (specifically parent’s voice)
- Moving head sideward
- Make arm movements
- Able to focus things 8-12 inches away
- They fancy human faces rather than shapes
#Milestone after the 3rd month
- Can open hands and shut them
- Bringing hands to mouth
- Using eyes to follow moving items
- Once their feet touch a firm surface, they will push down their legs
- Can grab hand toys
- Can identify known faces
- Gets the ability to imitate sounds
#Milestone after the 7th month
- Can reach out to objects using hands
- They can use their voice to express their displeasure or joy
- Peek-a-boo becomes the infant’s favorite game
- Can sit-up
- Can respond to their name
- Have great interest in mirror reflections
- Distance vision is matured
- Full-color vision development takes place
- Using hands and mouth to feel new objects
#Milestone at 12th month
- Hands and knees position
- Can sit properly without any help
- Learn to stand with the help of furniture support
- Walk a few step, possibly without support
- Can easily trace hidden objects
- Tries to imitate sounds and words
- Learns to use simple gestures
- Ability to identify pictures if named
And this is how the little one will celebrate its first birthday. Coming back to raising the newborn, there’s a lot more for a new mother to know.
Guide to proper breastfeeding
Mother’s breast milk plays a major role in the healthy development of a baby. So, it must begin within 30 minutes of the new life seeing the day.
- Those who are breastfed are healthier, experiencing lesser incidences of virus attacks, cold or pneumonia.
- Breastfeeding lowers the risk of SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome almost to half.
- Chances of some childhood cancers can also be reduced.
- It can also protect the newborn from various developing allergies
- It strengthens their immune system
- Breastfeeding controls obesity for both mother and child
- Mother’s milk can gift the newborn with a greater IQ
- What’s more? Your child’s will have better eyesight.
- As a mother, you will feel more confident.
- It also reduces chances of breast or ovarian cancer.
According to research and analysis, “Infants who are breastfed have better response to vaccinations.” Hence, doctors recommend starting breastfeeding as soon as possible
Latch on – When everything comes together!
Now, in breastfeeding, the most important part is the latch. It is the moment when the neonate takes a mouthful of the mother’s nipple including areola and sucks it to draw milk; the moment when everything comes together.
So, once a good latch is established, breast soreness of mother reduces while the infant sucks in all the nourishment he/she needs.
To get through it right with proper positioning, here are some of the techniques you must follow.
- While feeding, you must have a good back support and be comfortable.
- If required, you can also use a stool to rest your feet. Do not strain your shoulders and neck.
- Good breastfeeding pillows also work wonders.
- Your infant’s chin should not touch his/her chest. Ensure the head is slightly tilted.
- Make sure you are not leaning towards your child or it may cause strain, affecting the infant’s position as well.
- Your little one should be tummy to tummy always while feeding.
- Neonate’s nose should be positioned opposite to mother’s nipples.
- To make swallowing easier, hip, shoulder and ear of your child should be properly aligned.
What if all these go wrong?
- That whole feeding procedure would become painful
- Your infant will feel uncomfortable
There’s more on breastfeeding you need to know
Mother’s milk is very easy to digest. So, neonates often eat from 8 to 12 times every day for the 1st few weeks. With their small tummies, they get hunger pranks quite often within 2 hours. While crying is a good signal that the little one is hungry, but doctors suggest not to wait for that; it’s better not to distress the child this much before feeding.
According to American Academy of Pediatrics, “Crying is hunger’s late indicator. So, you must try to feed the infant before this phase.”
[Note: Hungry cry would be typically low-pitched and short.]
There are some indications that your child is hungry.
- Emitting sucking sounds or smacking
- Nuzzling against mother’s breast
- Rooting reflex*
- Hitting you repeatedly on your arms or chest
*Rooting reflex: Neonates opening their mouth turning their head to one side for finding food.
FAQs of new mothers
- The newborn sleeps every time. Should I wake him up?
Infants should wake up on time. If that doesn’t happen, you must wake him up for nursing. In their initial days, newborns are usually sleepy and they don’t give any hunger cue. However, they must be fed every 2 hours during the day and once at night.
- For how long is it okay to wake my little one up from sleep?
After your child has got a balanced pattern of gaining weight, you don’t have to wake him up further for feeding. Let your newborn set his/her pattern and be comfortable.
- Is hand sucking a reliable indicator of hunger?
Not always! It is a reliable indicator as long as your infant is in newborn phase. From 6 to 8 weeks after birth, neonates gain the tendency of exploring every new objecting using their hand and mouth.
Another instance when infants suck their hands is when their gums prepare for teeth and become tender. So, you cannot always rely on hand sucking as a good indicator of your child’s hunger pranks.
Other essentials of raising your newborn
Well, along with breastfeeding, there are other essentials of nurturing your newly born bundle happiness. Keep scrolling!
- Ensure a consistent ritual
Every family should have a bedtime ritual so that your child should be prepared for what is coming next.
- Baby nap schedule
Again, for the first 3 months, observe the newborn’s evolving schedule. By the time infants complete 9 months, they will naturally choose the 9 am and 2 pm slots or napping.
However, parents should never force the child into any fixed schedule.
- Mothers should always sleep close to their babies
If a mother sleeps close to her child, it regulates their stress levels, heart rate and immune system. Not just that, but by sleeping close, breastfeeding becomes easier.
- Potential diseases
During the neonatal period, your infant might have the risk of potential diseases including –
- Herpes simplex
- Benign neonatal seizures
- Neonatal meningitis
- Nourish your newborn emotionally
No matter if the neonate in your lap has around 100 million cells in its brain, the part responsible for thinking and movement remains immature. So, they need –
- Soothing environment
- Human touch
- Physical affection
- Loving noises around
- Physical affection
- Make your baby feel safe and secure
Along with all these, be sure to sanitize your hands, give support to your infant’s head and neck, and embrace him or her in your secured wrap. Little by little with these tips and guidelines, this infant will grow into a strong, fit and healthy human being.
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