The experience of being a first-time parent can be exciting and overwhelming in equal measures. Despite the advice you get from family and friends during your prenatal period, parenting and especially baby care may still be challenging.
For instance, you may have questions on how to bond with your baby, what to do when the baby cries and you have no idea what it wants, giving your baby a pacifier, breastfeeding, and so forth. To help you navigate through some of these unique mother-to-child scenarios, below are 8 tips to start you off.
1. Prioritize Breast Milk :
Breast milk is far more superior than baby formula. It contains antibodies that lower the risk of bacterial and viral infections as well as allergies. Also, breast milk digests easier thereby enhancing bioavailability of the necessary nutritional components.
Working mothers can express breast milk which is then stored, warmed, and fed to their baby in their absence. It is recommended that you feed your baby exclusively on breast milk for the first 6 months.
2. Maintain a Warm Environment :
Before the baby’s natural thermoregulatory mechanism kicks on, ensure the immediate environment is warm and cozy enough. You can use a thermostat to set specific temperature ranges at least for the first few weeks.
Do not overdress the baby especially on warm or hot days. This can lead to overheating and the development of rashes and heat illnesses.
3. Bathing Your Newborn :
Real baths do not begin until the umbilical cord stump has fallen off. Even then, bathing should be monitored to avoid heat loss during and after a bath. Ensure the water is at the right temperature and make the baths short. Sponge bathing is also recommended for newborns.
When you live in colder areas, make the bathroom warm enough before the bathing process begins. Exposing your baby to extreme cold may lead to hypothermia.
4. Change Diapers Frequently :
If you have never taken care of babies before, diaper changing may seem like a nightmare. On average, you will do diaper changes every two to three hours, but this frequency will drop as the baby approaches 12 months.
Getting the best changing table pad can make the process easy and comfortable. Look for a table that is sturdy, preferably with guard rails and ample storage drawers or shelves.
5. Personal Hygiene When Handling the Baby :
Babies are sensitive and it is in your best interest that you maintain proper personal hygiene. Immediately before and after interacting with the baby, wash your hands with an antiseptic solution.
As much as you can, minimize the baby’s contact with strangers at least for the first few months. Clothes can be contaminated with allergens or microbes hence the need to watch out for their cleanliness.
6. Do Not Interrupt Sleeping Sessions :
First-time parents often get concerned at the length of their baby’s sleep. On average, expect newborns to sleep for up to 18 hours a day. However, babies are different and some will be more active compared to others.
Do not wake them up in the middle of their sleeping cycles because doing so interferes with their natural activity patterns. When you see your baby sleeping for shorter hours, contact your pediatrician and check for any anomalies.
7. Watch Out for Signs of Neonatal Jaundice :
Newborn babies are susceptible to physiological jaundice. For full-term babies, this tends to disappear within 10 days, but for preterm babies, it may extend for a few more days. In case your baby develops jaundice that persists, it could be the pathological type and this requires immediate medical attention.
Lookout for the yellowing of the skin and sclera (whites of the eyes). Don’t opt for phototherapy unless advised by or done under the care of a pediatrician.
8. Make the Crib Comfortable :
It is not uncommon for babies to sleep on you and immediately you transfer them to their cribs, they wake up. The major cause for this is insufficient warmth and comfort in the crib. The best way to counter this trend is to prewarm the crib and gently slip the baby in between the warm blanket folds.
In addition, locate the crib away from drafty windows, fans, and air vents. This helps in ensuring a regular indoor environment.
There are other tips out there you can include in your checklist. However, the above should set you on the right path to nurturing your bundle of joy. It is important you spend as much time with the baby as possible so that you can bond and create a familiar atmosphere.
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