You’ve just returned from the delivery room and gosh—you are a parent now! And just like that you’ve entered one of the most rewarding and equally challenging phases of your life. Parenting is a roller coaster ride—there are moments of exhilaration and exuberance, and there are others when everything seems out of control, leaving you terrified and witless.
We’ve listed down easy-to-follow baby care tips and feeding protocols that help you make this journey happy and safe for you and your newborn.
Moments of bonding
Infants have a heightened need to feel secure and only a mother can offer the comfort. The way you hold, hug, speak, kiss and gaze at your baby has a much deeper impact than you can imagine. So talk to your child while you change diapers, sing lullabies, and be generous with tickles and snuggles. The positivity contributes to a good mental health in the future.
Provide support to the head and neck
A baby’s head is the heaviest body part at birth and requires careful and constant support due to underdeveloped neck control. While carrying the baby or placing her on the bed, place your palm under the head to maintain balance.
No rough play
Be as gentle as you possibly can with babies. Avoid jerks, sudden movements or shaking them too vigorously. Apart from dizziness and nausea, some extreme cases may cause brain damage, seizures and can also be life threatening.
Swaddling the baby
Swaddling involves wrapping the baby securely in a soft cloth, preferably muslin or cotton. It is one of the most important baby care rituals as it makes an infant feel secure, calm and comfortable while avoiding over stimulation or startling him.
Burping the babyBecause babies can chew and eat by means of gulping, air enters their system leading to gas. This is why burping becomes very important to help relieve the discomfort. While babies can burp on their own, often they need a helping hand—with a soft hand, rub his back until he burps. The easiest way to burp your baby is to rest his chin on your shoulder and press him gently against your chest. This creates a slight pressure on his abdomen which helps in relieving gas.
Getting rid of gas
If your baby lets out a high pitched cry after feeding sessions, chances are that he’s gassy. Fold his legs and press them on his abdomen. The gentle pressure on the abdomen will relieve gas and instantly make him feel better. If this happens more often, review your food intake and eliminate dairy, soy, pulses and legumes from your diet.
Bathing the baby
Bathing a baby is an entirely new experience for you and your baby, so relax if the first time isn’t very enjoyable. Eventually, both you and the baby will get used to it. When babies are about 2-3 weeks old, sponge baths are preferred. As they grow, let them splash in water and play with bath toys (provides good stimulation). Place them in a plastic tub and pour lukewarm water on them. Avoid using soap as it may dry out their skin. Gently rub their hands and legs to remove dead skin. Pat dry and massage lightly with a good moisturizer or organic coconut oil.
One task when a baby is born is the dreaded diaper changing. A newborn will require a diaper change every 2-3 hours. Use baby wipes or clean towels to wipe the baby’s bottom. Thoroughly clean the front and back of the baby with lukewarm water. Pay extra attention to the genitals but do not scrub, as it may lead to skin irritation. Pat dry completely and only then put on the fresh diaper, to avoid rashes.
Sanitising Toys and Feeding Equipment
Babies get to know their environment by touching, feeling, hearing and more importantly, by tasting—whatever they get their tiny hands on will find its way to their mouth. With an immune system that is still strengthening, it is very important to keep their toys and feeding equipment sanitised. Sterilise them daily using electric or steam sterilizer or simply by immersing their toys and feeding equipment in boiling water. But before doing this, make sure you read the care instructions well.
As a parent you need to say goodbye to long nails for a couple of years. However, it is equally important to keep the little one’s nails trimmed; their nails are sharp and may hurt them or you! Always keep baby nail clippers handy and clip off the nails while your baby is asleep. Clipping off nails after bath will be easier as they are soft.
Cleaning eyes, ears and nose
The inner lining of eyes, ears and nose of babies is very delicate and utmost care must be taken while cleaning them. It is not advisable to insert cotton buds in their nose, eyes or ears. Take a clean cotton swab and clean the outer portions of their ears, eyes and nose. Do this, at least once every day.
FEEDING YOUR BABY
Breast is the Best
Care providers and health organisations will always promote breastfeeding (exclusively for the first six months) over bottle feeding and with good reason. Not only does it provide a good bonding opportunity with the new-born, it also has numerous health benefits for the baby and the mother.
Breast milk contains just the right amount of nutrients for brain development and overall nourishment, is easy on the stomach and its composition changes as per the baby’s growth and needs. Additionally, antibodies in breast milk helps build immunity against infections and in the long run, lower the risk of metabolic syndrome and cancer.
Breastfeeding releases oxytocin, a hormone that brings back the uterus in shape. The risk of developing breast cancer or uterine cancer post menopause also significantly goes down, if you breastfeed. Apart from that it is cost effective and can be done anywhere at any time. Need we say more?
Your baby eats what you eat
While alcohol must be strictly avoided, a few other no-no items that you need to be off during lactation are caffeine, self-administered medications and gassy foods (like beans, lentils or cabbage).
After six months of breastfeeding, it’s time to introduce your baby to semi-solid and soft foods. This stage is called weaning. Every child is different and will get comfortable to weaning at a different age.
Start slow by replacing one or two breastfeeding sessions. Soft cooked foods and preferably boiled and mashed fruits or veggies such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, bananas and melons are good options. Dal kanjis, moong dal soup, mashed khichadi and ragi porridge can also be given.
Keep a close watch on how accepting your baby is when it comes to trying new textures and flavours, and accordingly introduce more options. And yes, all foods to be made with zero spice.
Some of the most common allergy-causing foods in babies are eggs, peanuts and fish, and hence, keep these options away from your weaning foods list.
A few foods that you must completely avoid giving your baby are cow’s milk, citrus fruits, honey and corn syrup. Honey and corn syrup may contain harmful spores that may lead to severe infections. Cow’s milk may cause indigestion and diarrhea, while citrus fruits may cause acidity or intolerance in a few babies. Additionally, keep away any foods that may present choking hazard such as candies, popcorn, dry fruits or raw vegetables.