Part 1 â 0-3 Months
Youâve waited nine long months for your little bundle of joy and now theyâre finally here. You may have been taught by the nurses at the hospital of some things you will need to know about baby such as how to breastfeed, how to give them a bath, how to prepare formula if ever, but what about those little things? Most commonly discussed by those big âhow toâ books are all the big things, and though I will get to those, we need to first look at the small details that new parents often only realize they havenât read about when they get to that point, at which it is too late.
Preparing to Leave the Hospital:
One of the nuances present in new parents is that they tend to be slightly overprotective, and this applies especially when your baby gets exposed to the outside world for the first time, even if it is just from the hospital doors to the car.
Overdressing your baby may result in overheating and discomfort, this will make your baby cranky and upset during the trip home and that doesnât exactly make for happy memories, does it?
The trick here is to dress baby as you would dress yourself (mom, I mean) shortly after giving birth you might not be back to your full strength yet and may want to be comfortable in soft and lose fitting clothing that is easy to put on and get off.
Dress baby appropriately for the weather such as in a onesie or footie pajamas with a hat and mittens during the cold months or in simple cotton shorts in warmer weather.
If you have any lingering questions in your head before leaving, ask them. Never be shy because there are no stupid questions and a questioning parent is a good one. Make sure to ask and make arrangements for your babyâs first doctorâs visit, when hospital test results will be available, and when immunizations are due.
In The Car:
If you are taking baby home in the middle of winter, make sure dad steps out of the hospital before mom does to keep the heater going and to warm the car for when baby gets in.
Most hospitals will not discharge baby unless you have a proper car seat for the trip home so make sure you have one, borrow one, or rent one before making arrangements for your discharge. If you are planning on buying a car seat, make sure you get one with a reliable brand name and is compatible with your cars system.
Donât just choose a car seat for the look of it, ask the person in charge to take it outside and fit it into your car (they do that) in order to see of it is the right snug fit that baby needs.
Here are the two types of car seats available for you to choose from:
1. Infant Car Seats â an infant car seat means that it can only be used until the childâs second birthday or until they reach 22-35 pounds depending on manufacturerâs instructions.
Some parents seem to think that infant car seats are impractical as their use becomes irrelevant when they are outgrown. However, it is a known fact that newborns fit better in infant car seats and are more comfortable.
Recently, larger baby travel manufacturers have created âtravel systemsâ which is the combination of a stroller and an infant car seat which can attach together. These car seats though, are sometimes made and measured specifically to the fit of an already existing stroller type; it is these car seats that you will need to try out in your car for fit as they may not pair well with your carâs seat-belt locks.
Alternatively, travel systems offer convenience for parents as the newborn has a comfortable and age appropriate place to stay which is parent-facing and which can be adjusted for older children. The attachment of an infant car seat on a stroller also shields baby from brightness or excess dust and dirt by pulling down both shades and concealing him.
2. Convertible Car Seats â convertible seats are the kind of cars eat that stays in the car and never needs to be removed unless the child has fully outgrown it. This type of car seat does not fit into a travel system and is called convertible because it is sued as a rear facing car seat until the baby is 2 years old or reaches the weight limit (which may differ depending on different manufacturers). The car seat is then switched over to face the front from then on.
- Do not put a car seat, of either type in the front seat of your car. Airbags can be fatal to children in car seats even the rear facing ones.
- Do not base the quality of a car seat on the highest price.
- Do not trust store instructions for car seat placement. See the manufacturerâs instructions.
- Do not buy a car seat without seeing if it fits your car.
- Do not buy a second hand car seat or borrow one if:
- There are parts missing
- It is visible damaged or loose
- If you know it has been in a crash
- Manufacturerâs instructions have been removed
How You Feel:
Just having gotten home from the hospital you may be feeling tired, and this relates to both mom and dad. Mom may be feeling a bit sore and you both definitely feel excited that baby is home and canât wait to move him into his circus themes bed room with giraffes and baby lions on the wall.
Know that emotions other than positive ones are completely normal as well, such as being scared, anxious, or nervous. You are first time parents and a little anxiety always comes with that territory.
For dad who may be smitten over his new child, donât forget to pay some attention to mom too who did all the hard labor of bringing baby into this world.
For mom, donât forget that dad was there with you, he didnât sleep, eat, or drink as you didnât in the delivery room and has just recovered from the huge anxiety bout of seeing you in the pain of labor and not being able to do much about it or help you.
Make babyâs homecoming run as smooth and peaceful as possible. Tell the grandparents and your friends to come tomorrow when you as a couple are a bit more recovered from the hospital stay and when baby has settled in.
Other Members of the Family:
If you have other kids, you may have gotten them excited at this point about them getting a new sibling. Older children are much easier to handle as they will be genuinely excited to help out with taking care of baby.
Younger children however who may not get a full grasp of what is happening will be a bit more tricky. Make sure to always remember to pay plenty of attention to them and look out for signs of when they are unnaturally quiet, this could mean that they are sulking from jealousy in a corner and think that mom and dad are too preoccupied with the new baby to care.
A great trick to deal with siblings is to buy them gifts and take them home from hospital with you and tell your older child that his new baby brother or sister got him a present.
Some families will also include pets who may gain a heightened sense of curiosity at what you just all of a sudden brought home. In order to ease your pet into his new life with baby and for him to get to know baby, ask dad to take a used item of clothing home to your pet before leaving the hospital. This gives your pet an initial introduction of what to expect from the new addition.
It is normal for you to want to go at a slow and steady pace when it comes to visitors. You are, of course, still adjusting to this new big change and so is baby. Visitors however might get overexcited and want to visit right away and as soon as possible. This might be a problem if you are not ready to take visitors yet or if they all come flocking in at once.
Remember that this is your life, and your child. Your child, who might get overstimulated by too much people and by getting passed around like a football. Find a nice way of saying that you are not ready yet to accept visitors and that the baby will still be the same size next week; or accept visitors by schedule keeping their flow in a controlled number.
Have hand sanitizer or alcohol rub ready for your visitors and make sure you set boundaries for them especially if you have visitors who smoke.
Babies cannot tell you what they are feeling though we all wish they could. Watch out for these signs:
- A temperature of over 38 degrees Celsius â this is too hot for any baby under 3 months.
- Dehydration signs â deep and darkened eye sockets, sunken soft spot, the absence of tears when crying, substantially less wet diapers, the inability to keep liquids down, and diarrhea.
- A bulging soft spot
- When baby is hard to wake up
- Any signs of difficulty in breathing
- Blood present in vomit or stool
- More than 8 bouts of diarrhea in 10 hours.
It can often get to the point where it feels like babies are from a different planet. What some parents look forward to is the day their children learn to talk just so they can tell them what they want instead of crying. Bit with babies 0-3 months old, all they can do is cry. They cannot even point or look at what they want so how do you understand all this?
Newborns cry as their means of communication, in a period of 24 hours, a baby will cry for in between 1-5 hours and all for different reasons such as:
- Baby may be hungry and need a feed
- They might want to be held
- They might have been overstimulated and are tired
- Baby might have a diaper rash or need a change
- Baby might need to burp
- They might be sick
What is Colic?
Sometimes babies cry nonstop even when you feel as through youâve tried everything. This behavior is called Colic and is most commonly associated with wind though it isnât the only contributing factor to inconsolable crying. Try these tips out if your baby is inconsolable:
- Lessen the stimulation. Are you at a party? Abby might not like all the attention and the noise. Step away from everyone and let baby calm down.
- Alternatively, baby might lack stimulation and is bored. Try reading him a book, or play some music.
- Dim the room so itâs not too bright but not so dark either that baby canât see your face. Place him in a position wherein his back (not bare) is accessible to you, this could either be laying on his side or his belly, or you carrying him with his head rested on your shoulder. Gently give his back gentle pats or rubs.
- Make sure baby is comfortable temperature wise, they might be too hot or too cold.
- When was the last time baby was fed? They might be hungry, but is he was fed less than 2 hours ago but is still crying try to offer him a pacifier.
- Let baby hear your voice, tell him it is ok and that you are there with him. Sing him a lullaby.
- If you know your baby by now, you might know whether he enjoys baths or not. If he does, a nice warm bath might be beneficial.
- This is an important one: do not lose your cool. The situation will not get any better if both you and baby are in a bad mood.
Possible Causes of Colic:
- Allergies â make sure you have a doctor check if your baby is allergic to cowâs milk (if formula fed), whether they might be lactose intolerant, or whether they may be allergic to something you have eaten if breast feeding.
- Wind â did you remember to burb baby after feeding? Lightly press babyâs stomach and feel if it is firmer than usual as this could be an indication of wind.
- Ear infection or urinary tract infection â are babyâs ears red? It is possible that something may have crawled in there such as a small insect like ants; other reasons could also be excess water while bathing. As for urinary tract infection, girls are more likely to develop this than boys, make sure when changing a diaper that you wipe baby girls from front to back and never back to front.
- Nappy rash â check baby for redness, swelling, or rashes. This could be irritating especially with a diaper rubbing on babyâs thighs. It might be a good idea to take the diaper off for now, at least while baby isnât sleeping, or use a cloth diaper.
The most comforting thing for babies is to be snug in their parentâs arms where they feel your warmth. It has been said that a baby at chest level where he can hear your heartbeat is most comforted. There is, however, a stigma about âspoilingâ babies and how holding them for too long makes them refuse to be put down at all. There is no such thing. You can never spoil your baby at this age; matter of fact, the more attention he gets the better.
Skin to skin contact is often taught at hospitals upon birth which has also proven to be more effective in bonding and comforting baby. The best thing about skin to skin contact is that dad can do it too.
There are specialized baby slings made to âbaby wearâ; this is when a parent carries baby around as much as they can in a comfortable and soft cloth sling rather than having both hands busy all the time. It is said to promote bonding and comfort.
Baby may be small but he is already making attempts at interpreting his surrounding environment, help make this a positive experience by:
- Maintaining eye contact with baby for as long as you can. Babies like to stare but try to let him be the first to look away.
- When you are looking at baby and especially when baby is looking at you, smile.
- I am not telling you to baby talk to your baby. But donât talk to your baby like he is one of your employees either. Use a softer and milder tone so baby interprets comfort through it.
Tiny as they are, babies have emotions too and they may not express it well yet at this stage but are fully capable of being noticed to be happy, scared, angry, curious, or excited. When you smile at your baby and speak to them with a comfortable soft tone, they may interpret this as love of affection as baby can recognize your voice.
Babies will not be able to know the direction of your voice though so if they hear you angry, even if it isnât directed towards them (and why would it be?) this might cause them to feel confused and scared. Be careful with your words when you are around baby.
Your baby is very observant and uses his eyes even when you donât think that he is. He is constantly observing the world around him, his environment, and the people around him. He can recognize faces, voices, and places more than you think.
Baby will be stirred more towards bright contrasting colors so make sure you have lots of toys spread throughout the room so babyâs vision can move around too. Soon enough, you will be able to tell if he has a favorite toy by him twisting himself to look at that toy until you get it for him.
When your baby kicks his legs in a fit of giggles, turns his hands into fists when he is frustrated, or turns towards his favorite toy as mentioned above, this is the beginning of communication. Baby may still be too young to formulate words but through these gestures he is able to give you a hind of how he feels or what he wants and that is communication.
Observe your baby and soon enough, you will understand him and what he means by his movements. Look out for these:
- Kicking feet
- Hand gestures â making fists, clasping, clapping, clawing
- The beginning of facial expressions.
Encourage baby to communicate by talking to him, and reading him stories with different characters using animated voices. Observe him for his reactions.
Providing baby with comfort is important as this allows you a gateway to stopping a potential fit of crying when baby is upset. You can sue babyâs expressions or gestures to determine what comforts him more than others.
Small as he may be, he doesnât just need your attention, he wants it too. With gestures and expressions as the initial form of communication will also come an understanding of your childâs likes and interests. Hone these and acknowledge them by giving more attention to what he wants as well as what he needs.
- When your child is looking at you, always smile at him.
- Maintain eye contact and be careful with your facial expressions. Use animated expressions for stories and when playing.
- Handle him gently and with physical affection.
- Encourage him with positive words.
- Show an interest in his current known likes such as playing with his favorite toy or re-reading his favorite book.
- Go to them when they cry and give them a hug.
What does a child gain from attention?
- Security â babies need to feel secure in order to let the positive emotions flow. In order for this to be achieved, a baby needs to gain confidence in the person handling him and know that that person is gently and kind.
- Confidence â the earlier you begin to use positive and encouraging words with your baby the better. Use them even if you think he doesnât understand. This builds confidence early on.
Staying positive may be hard at times, even when you are with your little bundle of joy, it still might be hard to completely shut your mind off to other things going on in your life. This is normal, even if you have a child, being happy 24/7 is impossible and definitely not normal. A balance in emotions is fine, you just need to learn to handle them or conceal them when around baby.
Work â whether it may be difficulty adjusting back to working life after maternity or paternity leave, or whether everyone at your job is really just an asshole, your working life could affect you negatively and your mood could be brought home with you. This is inevitable as no one can switch on and off at any instance.
You might be able to address thing by focusing on all the positive and good things in your life during the trip home. If you are experiencing sadness and separation anxiety from baby, think of how you are working for him and his future.
Responsibilities â everyone has responsibilities, whether itâs paying the bills, helping plan your sisterâs wedding, or getting ready to go back to work; but the chances are, with these might come trouble, a rough patch, or anything that didnât go as smoothly as planned or expected which will then bring on stress.
Stress causes you to be in a bad mood and as previously mentioned when you donât watch how you act or talk around your child, he will perceive your agitation and begin to get anxious and afraid.
In these situations it is important to recognize that you have already been through a lot and still have more to face, you need a break so take it. get a breather by having a warm bath or going out for the night; dad can handle baby for now.
Health Issues â you might have some already existing medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and such. Or it might even be that you have simple ailments such as frequent allergies. Being sick places you in a difficult situation when it comes to caring for baby. Of course, we want to give them all our free and extra time instead of spending it to get better but it is necessary to pay attention to yourself too.
Take comfort in knowing that the provision of the best environment for baby is through mainly you and if you donât take care of yourself then babyâs environment may not be maintained to its best potential.
Alternatively, you may be tired. Being tired is normal; as a matter of fact, many parents state that if you arenât tired, you arenât doing it right. Baby has two parents for a reason, and sometimes it is ok to tag team when one of you needs to rest.
Relationships â in the midst of peek-a-boo, clapping at the baby mobile, singing songs, and reading little red riding hood, you must realize that you are a grown up and as all grown upâs go through relationships, these relationships might also be a cause to alter your concentration.
Whether you are the traditional couple who are married, in a relationship, whether you are a single parent, gay, or lesbian, trouble with relationships is a completely normal part of life. Never forget that baby is within hearing range and when he hears a raised voice that may sound angry, he will get confused and might blame himself.
Also, be careful not to neglect those around you. Spend time with your significant other, and especially with other children and family members.
The all important milestones are present for us to ensure that our child is developmentally in the right stages. Much too often, parents seemingly obsess over these milestones and begin to panic when they are not reached. Let me begin by mentioning that milestones are the estimated average of what children reach at a certain age, it is not set in stone that a child becomes developmentally challenged if they do not reach them.
Many children develop at their own pace and learn at their own time, rushing a child will cause them stress and that is something you do not want at a very young age. Never rush your child, guide them towards learning.
The First Month:
The first month just after your baby has been born will already have milestones reached. Babyâs learn fast and are quick to adapt to the new world that they are in.
- Eye contact â babies will begin to make eye contact. Though it is known that out of the five senses, vision is the last to develop; your baby in his first month will make eye contact with you. This is the chief sign that he wants your attention and wants to be carried, cuddled, or played with.
- Colors â ever wonder why so many newborn toys come in red, black, and white? It is because out of all the colors, these three are the most contrasting to each other and baby will respond to colors in contrast or very bright colors. Baby might continuously stare at a toy until you get it for him so leaving toys in strategic locations around the house will help in developing babyâs vision.
- Smell â from birth, baby will have a keen sense of smell. This is known by newborns turning their heads when rested on their motherâs chests in order to make themselves face the breast to feed.
- Hearing â even before they reach the first month mark, baby can already recognize voices, yours in particular and can tell based on your pitch whether you might be happy, sad, or angry.
What is your role in aiding your 1 month oldâs development? Try doing some of the following tips to help your baby reach his milestones.
- Responding â babyâs communicate by crying and they expect a response. One common worry by some parents is that they might spoil their child which hear means that if they acknowledge crying and pick baby up when they cry. That baby will actually cry more in order to get their way. This is not true, at least not at this age. Babyâs cry because they need something and they expect that comfort brought by their parents, help your babyâs development by responding when he cries and hence letting him realize that his actions will generate reactions.
- Connection â babyâs form a connection with you through eye contact. It is their form of bonding with you which you should acknowledge. When your child is looking at you, look back and do not break the connection until he does first.
- Smile â your facial expression is important in turning the connection into a positive attachment. Smiling makes baby feel safe and secure.
- Quality time â children are never too young to read too and you can do it as much as you want. Reading to a child orients them with language and learning a better way of communication.
When to Worry:
- If baby is not making eye contact with anyone, including you.
- If baby is not making any sounds besides crying.
- If baby does not respond to bright lights or colors.
- If baby does not get an intake of the recommended amount of milk or is intolerant to it.
- If babyâs arms and legs are immobile.
- If baby has extended crying periods that seem to be outside of the normal.
The Second Month:
Expect more crying in the second month as babyâs crying peaks at 6-8 weeks which passes at about 12 weeks so donât worry.
- Your Bond â baby will have a stronger bond with you after his first month mark and will grow even stronger as he approaches 2 months. This bond will be met with a slight smile by baby.
- Alertness â baby will be more intuitive to sound and will recognize your voice as well as the voices of frequent visitors and his surroundings like noise from the television, washing machine, passing cars, and such.
- Mobility â baby may not be able to turn by himself yet but when you put him on his belly, he will be able to lift his head a little. Baby will also have noticed his hands and fingers and might make fists and open and close motions with them. Baby will also know to open his mouth when he notices a feed coming or to say that he is hungry.
- Vision â babyâs vision has improved and will be able to see you better. he will also recognize familiar objects such as his favorite toy and as mentioned above, he will know when a feed is coming and open his mouth if he sees a bottle or a breast.
When to Worry:
As an addition to the above list for the first month of when to worry.
- When baby doesnât focus on objects or on people.
- If baby doesnât notice his hands and fingers.
- If baby doesnât begin to smile.
The Third Month:
- Emotions â baby will be more expressive with his emotions and might not cry immediately for things but might instead make a face to express happiness, anger, excitement, or disgust.
- Matching â baby will be able to match faces with their corresponding voices and might smile when he hears yours because he then knows that you are coming.
- Communication â this stage is when babyâs crying paired with your familiarity reaches a new level. Baby may cry differently depending on what he wants and you might be able to recognize these cries.
- Vision â babyâs vision will be substantially improved and will be able to follow moving objects with his eyes. If you are moving around the room, baby might stare at you, follow you with his eyes and smile. Babyâs eyes can also follow his baby mobile as it goes in circles.
When to Worry:
- If baby doesnât notice faces.
- Baby doesnât support his head or tries and fails.
- Baby keeps his hands in a fist for substantially prolonged periods of time.
- If baby crosses his eyes a lot.
- If baby doesnât respond to noise, especially loud ones.
- If baby forgets skills that he once learned previously.
As parents, babyâs health is the top priority, this is why crying often worries parents. It is human nature to always think the worse when babies cry, it is normal for parents to get paranoid and sometimes think of the worst case scenario. This is understandable as you might always wish, as parents, that baby could just learn to talk and tell you what they want or where it hurts.
Keep Baby Safe:
- Necessary Precautions â the universal precaution is washing your hands. Even if you know youâve just been home all day not doing anything in particular or going out, it is still advisable that you wash your hands before and after handling baby. If you have any potential visitors that may have a cough or cold, it may be wise to tell them to come back another day when they are better and not giving their germs access to a sensitive baby.
- Medication â medication and their respective doses go by age and most medications that are suitable for you, wonât be for baby, even in smaller doses. Always ask your doctor before using any medication on baby and never self-prescribe.
- Ear protection â your babyâs ears are very sensitive during these early stages, loud startling noises from afar such as a car backfiring may be alright but be careful of seemingly innocent things such as a kiss with a loud smack right on the ear, an older child talking directly to the babyâs ear, or a toy that plays music that may be lying too closely to baby.
- Clean air â provide your baby with clean air to breathe in, if someone in your home smokes, make sure they do not get anywhere near baby as secondhand smoke may linger on their clothes. Alternatively, if baby is napping with the window open, make sure no one is smoking outside.
Also be careful with the use of room deodorizers, insect repellants or any aerosols as these may irritate babyâs nose and his skin as well.
With so many fashion choices out there (especially if you have a girl) it might be easy to make mistakes when buying babyâs clothes. A lot of parents also have the tendency to be overprotective and end up layering too much. Use these 3 simple steps as a guide in dressing baby.
- Material â the best material for baby is cotton or fleece. Wool, acrylic, and other synthetic material may irritate babyâs skin if they are extra sensitive.
- Size â Babies will become easily irritated with fabric that is too loose as there will be a lot of extra hanging material. But they will be even more agitated with tight fitting fabric as this might keep them from moving fully. Make sure you get the right fitting size for baby.
- Comfort â do not overdress baby, dress them as you would dress yourself on that day. If it is warm out, baby might not need that hat and sweater. Babies will become hot and distressed when they are overdressed.
Recently, there has been a surge in the popularity of cloth diapers though these have been around for generations. There really isnât a difference in cloth or disposable diapers when it comes to babyâs health and safety. The big difference here comes in price and convenience where the disposable diaper is obviously more convenient as it just gets thrown away but the cloth diaper is a LOT cheaper and more environmentally friendly but may be a hassle to clean.
It is really up to you as parents to make the decision on which diaper to go for but if you choose cloth, make sure you clean them properly. Rinse your cloth diapers before putting them in a wash (sort of like pre-rinse but manually), squeeze them dry and was them for a full cycle with warm water and just the right amount of soap. Do not put in too much soap as this may irritate babyâs bottom.
Technically speaking, babies only need a full bath once or twice a week but your baby may find a bath comforting or even enjoyable, then there is no harm in giving them a bath every day. Make sure you use warm water, age appropriate shampoo and a soft cloth on babyâs skin. Also, make sure that babyâs belly button is kept clean until it falls off naturally. Make sure baby is fully and properly toweled off after his bath before dressing him.
Some parents like to use baby lotions or powders, again, this causes no harm to baby and it is your choice whether or not you use it. Some doctors however, discourage the use of powder as it may cause allergies and a higher risk of urinary tract infection (for girls) when put on their bottom. Again, make sure you use age appropriate lotions and powders.
You need to cut babyâs nails as soon as you notice that they have gotten long, baby could scratch himself with them. Cut babyâs nails straight as rounded cutting might cause them to grow side-ward and cause ingrown nails which will hurt baby.
Just because baby doesnât have any teeth doesnât mean you shouldnât give their mouth a good clean. Use a finger toothbrush made with silicone bristles or a soft, thin washcloth on the tip of your finger. Make it damp and gently rub over babyâs gums and his tongue.
At this stage babyâs nutrition comes from milk. And whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, it is important to provide baby with all the nutrients that he needs.
Breast milk is rich in the immunities and nutrition that baby needs, it is always readily available and free and it offers you a nice quiet time cuddle too. For most women, breastfeeding comes easily, naturally, and without any challenges but for others, it may be more difficult than it seems.
- Discomfort â breast feeding in the beginning may feel alien to you (mom) as this is a feeling you are not used to (unless this isnât your first child). A baby tugging on your nipples may feel a bit uncomfortable at first and might even cause a bit of soreness but trust me when I say, it only takes a few feeds for you to settle into finding it completely normal.
- Problems â problems with breast feeding might include sore nipples which can be easily soothes with special nipple cream available at any drug store or a cold cloth; another problem might be mastitis which is serious and categorized with lumpy breasts where the milk has hardened which have also become discolored to a reddish-purple hue, and sometimes even fever. Mastitis is dangerous to mom and you should see your doctor right away.
- Refusal â some babyâs refuse to latch, it is always good to encourage them with the smell of breast milk by tickling their cheek with your nipple in order to encourage them to turn towards you and feed. If all else fails, you can always express into a bottle and feed baby through there; he will receive the same nutrients as if he was taking it in directly through you.
- Attachment â similar to refusal, many babies also have issues with attachment and the difficulty thereof. This may be because some women have either very small or very large nipples; it could also be because either baby or mom is uncomfortable. Besides the traditional and ever popular football hold to feed baby, you could also try placing him on a pillow on top of your lap to keep him up, some babies are more comfortable this way. Another position to try could be the side lying position where baby is on his back and mom is lying on her side.
- Work â you might have a very demanding job that requires you to be back as soon as possible, this might prove to be a difficulty for you. You do not need to worry about baby as you can always express in advance and leave the milk in the freezer for him to use later. Worry about you, even with baby safe with his supply at home, your mammary glands will still be in constant production and if this milk is not released, it may harden and possibly cause mastitis. Make sure you take your breast pump into work with you, you do not need to keep the milk if you donât have access to a freezer right away; I know it seems like a waste but throwing it away will be safer than keeping it in a non-refrigerated environment until you get home.
- Supply â this could work both ways, you might either not have enough supply or you might have too much. If you are one of the latter then no need to worry at all, an exclusively breast fed baby is a happy baby, no need to worry about the excess. For your information, there are some hospitals that accept breast milk donations for newborns whose mothers are not yet producing (as production can take up to 3 days after babyâs birth) so ask around, feed baby exclusively and give to charity too. Two birds, one stone.
If you are not producing enough breast milk or are only producing from feed to feed, do not worry. Feed to feed might be difficult for mom but your baby is still exclusively breast fed. If you are not producing enough even for feed to feed production, then mixing or alternating formula milk with breast milk is perfectly fine too and is done by many women. NEVER blame yourself for the lack of supply, a happy mom is more important to baby than a milk producing mom. Dads, keep an eye out for this.
No matter how much milk you produce, it is important to stay healthy in order to keep that supply going and to avoid getting sick.
- Drink lots of water â the best water to drink is distilled water. Mineral water might contain a lot of salt and tap water may not be safe in some places. However, if you happen to live in areas where you know tap water is safe then go for it. Milk production takes up a lot of liquid and it is important to replenish that not just to make up for supply but for your overall health and hydration too.
- Eat healthy â She who eats healthy, produces more milk. Make sure you get a lot of fruit and vegetables, as well as lean meats, protein and dairy.
- No Smoking and Drinking â the nicotine in smoke and alcohol pass directly into your breast milk and is ingested by baby. Need I say more?
- Caffeine â caffeine in large amounts can also cause babies to become irritated. It doesnât pass through to breast milk as fully as nicotine or alcohol does but it can still affect your baby.
- Medication – if you need to take medication, read the bottle or the little piece of paper that comes inside each packet and find out if it is ok for breastfeeding mothers. Some medication can go through onto your milk and cause harm to babies.
If you canât breastfeed, donât sweat it. the reason formula milk was made is for mothers to have options and most infant formula milk now has all the constituents that newborns need and could alternatively get from breast milk.
The great thing about bottle feeding is that dad can do it too.
Preparing Infant Milk:
The ratio of scoops to water will differ depending on the kind of milk and the manufacturer. Always follow what is written exactly and never use powdered milk in excess, this could thicken the milk and make it difficult for baby to digest. Also never mix infant milk with anything, this includes breast milk. If you are feeding with breast and formula milk, feed baby the breast milk first.
Make sure you use water that isnât too hot or too cold and always test the water before giving baby the bottle. Shake thoroughly to make sure all the powder is dissolved.
Make sure you use a bottle brush and soapy water. Never use pure washing soap as this is too thick and might leave remnants on the bottles. Separate all parts of the bottle, including the nipple from the ring that attaches to the bottle. You should have a special, smaller nipple brush with you that can reach to the tip.
After scrubbing your bottles, wash them out and either boil them or place them in a sterilizer. Allow them to cool afterward (for your own sake) but do not leave them in the water or in the sterilizer for too long after the heat has gone.
As your baby gets older, his personality will begin to show. His likes and dislikes will be clearer and with that will come tantrums, stranger anxiety and other new behavior. As your baby becomes more active physically and mentally, their behavior will also understandable change.
Stranger anxiety begins to inhibit children at the age of 7 months and is categorized by untoward behavior such as crying or attempting to break free of a person holding them whom they are unfamiliar with. For more sensitive babies, the mere presence of a strange person or being in a strange place could spark this anxiety.
Stranger anxiety is a normal part of babyâs development though it doesnât inhibit all babies. Babies show this anxiety because at this age they are already very familiar with places and faces that are familiar to them and are able to compare them with people and places that are unfamiliar or that they donât see as often.
Easily confused with stranger anxiety, separation anxiety is a babyâs untoward reaction based on the fear of being separated from you rather than being scared of a new or unfamiliar person or place.
Separation anxiety may be seen in babies even if they are with familiar people such as their grandparents or babysitter. They do not have anxiety towards the people themselves, as is commonly thought but rather are afraid of being separated from you and being left behind.
You can use these following tips to help your child get through these anxiety stages.
- Your childâs number one fear at this stage is being separated from you, when there are strangers around or when you are in a place that is new to him, keep him close and hold him to give him the impression and feeling of safety.
- Remember that your child is in tuned to your tone of voice. If you approach a stranger nicely and speak to them in a kind tone, your baby will get the impression that they may be ok to be around.
- When in a new place, allow baby time to adjust to his new surroundings before setting him down or letting him meet a new person. This applies to nurseries or play school.
- If baby has a comfort item such as a baby blanket or a toy, you could take it with you to add to his comfort.
- If you have friends or family that are eager to hold your child, inform them that it would be best to approach them calmly and speak to them first so they donât get startled.
- When baby finally lets someone hold him, pay attention to his reactions and expressions and respond before any potential crying.
- If you are in a situation wherein you need to leave your child with someone such as in a nursery or with his babysitter and he refuses to let you go and is crying, do not attempt to sneak out when he isnât looking like so many parents seem to do. This will distress a child further. Instead, tell them that the person you are leaving them with is ok and good and that they are safe.
- Let baby anticipate someoneâs arrival, even if you think they donât understand, tell them that someone is coming to visit or that you are going somewhere.
- If you are leaving baby at the nursery or with a sitter, allow ample leeway time for babyâs adjustment with you present before you leave him.
- Be positive and smile, tell baby you love him. It is normal for you as a parent to have separation anxiety of your own but showing your child that you are distressed will worsen his anxiety.
- When you return to your child, bring them a small reward or a present.
The louder baby cries the more distressed he is, right? Remember that moment right before the big tantrum where baby is in a scowl with his mouth hanging open ready to scream? They arenât doing that on purpose, as a matter of fact, some children can lose consciousness from this.
Common occurrences of breath holding usually happen when baby is crying, scared, or when they are in shock from an accident that has caused them to be startled or that has hurt them.
Breath holding can last in between 30-60 seconds and will normally stop on or before age 6. Donât worry, breath holding has been proven to have absolutely no effect on the brain or any harmful effects on the rest of the body.
Types of Breath Holding:
- Cyanotic â in this type of breath holding, baby is always crying. This type is categorized by babyâs faces turn a blue, purple, or red hue.
- Pallid â also called pale; this type is less common than the above mentioned and may not always be accompanied with crying. In this type, babyâs heart rate slows down and they become pale. It is in this type that children have the tendency to lose consciousness and also might end up in a sweat when it is over.
What You Should Do:
- Remember that breath holding only lasts for one minute maximum so stay calm and do not freak out. If you do, babyâs crying might last longer.
- Let baby lie on his side, this will help him breathe better.
- Never put anything in your babyâs mouth.
- Do not shake baby or try to do anything physical to get him to start breathing again, it wonât help and might even cause further harm.
Call Your Doctor If:
- Baby is having breath holding spells and is under 6 months.
- Baby has breath holding spells more than once a week.
- Baby looks fatigued or dizzy after breath holding.
- Baby displays signs of stiffness or shaking in his extremities.
- If you see that baby is about to cry or get upset, stop this and hold him. Bring him back to his comfortable state.
- If baby has had an accident or is startled, reassure them and tell them that you are here.
- Mention up and coming changes over and over again so baby become somewhat aware that something is coming and wonât become startled.
- You as a parent know your baby best. Know what you need to do to manage and control tantrums.
Babyâs emotions will begin to fully form and be visibly clear at around 9-12 months and these emotions can sometimes also include anger, irritability, agitation, disgust and such negative feelings.
Though it may be somewhat of a delight for you to notice the inhabitation of new emotions in your child, you must never show positive affirmation when they are angry as this will lead a child to think that it is ok to show any untoward behavior.
Some parents associate grabbing with reflexes and biting with teething and deem that baby therefore hasnât done it on purpose; this may be true in some sense but not all the time. Baby may, on some occasions, grab or bite on purpose when they are angry or are trying to get your attention.
Do not bite your child back. Yes, I said that. To some people this may be strange to hear but many parents believe that the way to get their child to stop biting is by biting them back and therefore letting a child know that this behavior hurts. Though children have emotions at this age, they are yet to associate pain with what they may be doing.
Look your child in the eyes and calmly but firmly say without a smile that biting and pulling hurts and not to do that anymore.
After the first three months your baby will be able to somewhat communicate to a better level what he may be feeling or what he wants by the use of different expressions, different sounds when crying (which you know the difference of), and by using his arms and legs. There may still be a level of difficulty, however and it still important to know how babyâs after 3 months of age communicate and what to expect.
The most common way that babies learn language is through imitation. Not just repeating words over and over again but repeating them with a corresponding action in order to teach baby not just the word but its meaning too.
- Babies love to copy, when you are trying to get them to learn a new word, get up close to them and let them see how you make the sound with your lips.
- Use your soft voice that your baby draws comfort from. Say vowels out loud and use different tones and pitches.
- If baby has a favorite song or rhyme then repeat it over and over again. Sing the alphabet over and over to acquaint baby with it sooner.
- As baby likes to copy you, he likes it when you copy him too. When he begins to babble, babble right back at him.
- Never rush baby. If he has just begun to babble, donât rush him into real words right away. Remember that you can never get these moments back so enjoy them while they last.
- The first form of communication with baby will be from you. In the younger stages when they are still unable to respond or express emotions, the communication will be one sided. Use your comforting tone, cuddle baby and tells stories with animated voices. Baby will be picking up on communication from here as their method of learning.
- Remain aware of tone, pitch and body language (yours) even if you are not speaking to baby directly, he will think that your voice is directed towards him if he hears it. If he hears you say something that may sound angry or loud, he might think it is directed at him and become scared or confused.
- When baby begins to play around with vowels and syllables, keep them at their most comfortable position to encourage them. If this position is being held by you then cuddle baby while he babbles.
- Baby wants your constant attention and as you have obliged since he was born, then your constant attention will be all he knows. If you are speaking with someone else, baby may want to get your attention back and begin to cry.
- Turn one sided conversations into two sided conversations. When baby is born, communication will be one sided as mentioned above, but when he begins to babble turn that one sided conversation into a two sided one by responding to baby.
- Talk even if youâre not sure he is listening or whether or not he understands. Youâll never know and you have nothing to lose but everything to gain.
What to Expect
The Fourth Month:
Right after baby hits the third month mark and as he approaches his fourth month, you might be able to expect the following new behavior with him.
- Baby will be more observant to your face as he is trying to link the prospective emotions that he is now familiar with to their corresponding facial expressions. This is a part of the communication learning process.
- Baby will begin to observe other peopleâs faces rather than focus solely and mostly on you as their new subjects of interest.
- When baby hears your voice, he will turn his head.
- At this stage, communication begins to be two sided where baby might reply to you with babbling, syllables, vowels, a smile, or kicking.
- Baby will be more expressive and show happiness or disgust at certain things.
- Baby will begin to feed his curiosity by reaching out, grabbing, and pulling.
- Baby might begin to turn from tummy to back at this age.
- If you sit baby up, he will have better control of himself as compared to before.
When to Worry:
- When baby doesnât make eye contact with anyone.
- When baby doesnât show any interest in faces.
- Baby doesnât make any sounds whether babbling, cooing, and such.
- Baby does not show signs of being able to control or lift his head.
- He doesnât grab or try to grab.
- Constantly keeps hands in fists.
- Keeps eyes crossed more often than not.
- Does not respond to noises, even loud ones.
- Is shown to loose skills that have once been learned.
The Fifth Month:
- In the fourth month, baby began to turn towards you upon hearing your voice. As he approached his fifth month, he will begin to turn towards other sounds that catch his interest and might even begin to recognize his own name.
- Babyâs speech as gone from just babbling and cooing to squealing in delight and blowing raspberries. He may even copy your pitch.
- Baby has discovered the mirror. If you have something like a bumbo chair, a highchair, or if baby is already on a walker, settling him in front of a mirror will be loads of fun for him as he will try to talk to himself.
- Baby has mastered the art of grabbing and will pull at everything he can reach.
When to Worry:
- Baby isnât grabbing things.
- When baby isnât trying to out anything in his mouth.
- When baby doesnât roll or doesnât attempt to.
- When baby doesnât try to follow objects with his eyes.
The Sixth Month:
- Approaching the sixth month baby will begin to distinguish the differences between the people around him. He will know his parents from him non-primary caregivers, frequent visitors, and strangers.
- Stranger anxiety will begin to manifest in this stage and baby will start to show a genuine dislike and discomfort when around new people or places.
- Baby is now a master of emotions and their perspective sounds. He might growl when he is angry and squeal for joy.
- Babyâs babbling will begin to take on two syllable words and he will be able to communicate better using his extremities such as kicking a person he doesnât like or kicking a blanket off when he is hot. He might even lift his arms up to show you he wants to be cuddled.
- Baby will be able to move an object from one hand to the other and back and forth.
- Baby will begin to take more control over his physical state by rolling more frequently and wiggling.
- Baby will begin to develop an appetite for solid food.
The Seventh Month:
- In this stage, babyâs imagination begins to come to play and he will begin to show favoritism towards certain toys or books.
- Stranger anxiety becomes coupled with separation anxiety during this month.
- Baby will learn to use his new found pitch and emotional storytelling via actions to let you know how he feels.
- When baby hears you say ânoâ he might just respond by stopping what he is doing.
- At this stage baby will have food preferences and let you know he is full by turning away.
- Signs of teeth may begin to appear which are categorized by reddening of the gums, more drooling, and more biting as a result of irritation.
- Baby will observe toys closely by bringing them closer his eyes and will bang things to know how they work.
- Baby will be able to roll from front to back and might begin to shuffle across the room before he learns to crawl.
- If you sit baby up, his posture will be substantially improved and might even be able to hold himself up for a longer period by using his arms to lean on.
When to Worry:
- Baby isnât showing emotions through expressions, sounds, or moving.
- When baby cant or refuses to sit even with help.
- Baby does not roll.
- Baby is showing signs of either being stiff or too floppy.
- When baby obviously cannot take weight on his legs even with help.
The Eighth Month:
- Approaching the eighth month, baby will begin to pick things up using his pointer and thumb. This could include food which baby might put into his mouth as the beginning of feeding himself.
- Baby and his two syllabled babbles might begin to include the words mama and dada but he might not yet necessarily know what these words mean.
- Baby appreciates peek-a-boo.
- Movement will begin to be present in the form of crawling, rolling, or the very amusing butt shuffle.
- Baby might begin to chew.
- He will respond when you call him and attempt to get closer to you.
- Baby can stand with support.
The Ninth Month:
- Approaching the ninth month, baby uses his hands a lot more by pulling himself up, supporting himself while crawling, waving bye bye, clapping, and grabbing.
- Baby will start to show signs of having a favorite person.
- At this stage, babyâs personality begins to show and you get the first glimpse of what he may be like.
- Baby will imitate sounds.
- Baby might walk while supported such as when you hold his hands, when he has contact with the entire length of the sofa, or with a walker.
When to Worry:
- When baby cannot or will not sit on his own.
- When baby is noticeably using one hand substantially more than the other.
The Tenth Month:
- Baby really starts to get noisy thing month. The babbling and baby talk will increase and baby now knows what mama and dada mean and can associate them with you.
- Baby will have an increased sense of awareness of what he wants such as being hungry, cold, or uncomfortable.
- Baby will walk with support and might even without.
- Baby will be able to follow simple instructions such as âcome hereâ
- He will use his pointer finger a lot more and point or poke things.
- Baby will attempt to hold and use a spoon while eating and is capable of keeping hold of it.
The Eleventh Month:
- At this age, baby might just sign with you when you sign his favorite nursery rhyme. Baby might even begin to bounce or âdanceâ.
- As babyâs emotions have developed, so has his sense of observation. It is in this stage that stranger and separation anxiety begin to lessen as baby will begin to develop a clearer sense of what may cause him danger or harm and what is safe and ok.
- Baby likes to hear sounds and might mess around with household objects rather than just his toys. A sudden interest in metal utensils in particular will be a subject for his grabbing and throwing.
- Baby will be able to stand unsupported for a few seconds.
- Baby will be more cooperative when he is being dressed.
The Twelfth Month:
- Towards your babyâs first year, his communication will have moved towards pointing, nodding, and shaking his head.
- Baby will begin to share and offer you things that he is playing with.
- He is becoming more independent and might be feeding himself with his hands and fingers more.
- Baby will be able to grip a crayon or a marker and will be able to imitate how you use it if you show him the proper way.
- Baby will me more familiar with words and their meanings such as his toys, books, or people around him.
When to Worry:
- When baby doesnât use single words or syllables.
- When baby does not show signs of emotion or feelings.
- If it ever becomes obvious that baby doesnât seem to understand you at all.
- Baby does not make an attempt at telling you or showing you what he wants.
- When baby does not point or wave.
- When baby doesnât crawl or stand with support.
Moving on from milk to solid food is a natural transition in the lives of all babies. When they are born, they have iron stores that they got from the womb and that are replenished through breast or infant milk.
However, as baby grows and his supply for nutrients grows with him, this demand will surpass the capabilities of his iron stores and you will need to replenish the supply with further means such as through solid foods.
When Will Baby Be Ready?
The common age for introducing solid foods is at 5 months on average. But you could also use these simple tips to determine whether or not baby is ready for solids.
- When baby is able to sit upright and has good control over his head and neck.
- When baby begins to display a clear interest in food. This can be noticed by seeing baby staring at your plate or trying to grab food from you.
- When baby opens his mouth when you give him food or when he sees a spoon.
Start baby off with a bland diet such as baby rice or cereals, smooth blends or mixtures are the best. If you prefer you could also use vegetables such as carrots or carbohydrates such as potatoes and mash them, foods like these are soft after boiling and so do not need to be purees though you could do that too if you prefer.
Keep babyâs meals interesting and expose him to as much tastes as you can to find out what he likes and what he doesnât like. When introducing him to meat, it would be a good idea to puree it first as baby might not immediately be adept to chewing.
As baby grows and his meal preferences grow with him, you could introduce lumps as he starts to chew. Again, begin with simple soft lumps (not meat right away) such as pasta, oats, or potatoes.
Donât be afraid of mess, it canât be avoided no matter how hard you try so might as well let it happen freely. Besides, this is how baby learns how to eat. Babies prefer to eat with their hands rather than the proper way and to start with, you should let them. The basic principle of eating is to get food in your mouth and nutrition in your body and baby is doing that whether he uses a spoon or his hands anyway.
Later on when baby understands the convenience of a spoon, he can practice using it to shovel food into his mouth but watch him and make sure he isnât putting too much on his spoon and it might be a good idea if you have a spoon of your own to feed baby while he feeds himself.
The younger children are the less they will be able to tell whether something may be dangerous or not. Safety can be a scary thing because you need to cover absolutely all the danger spots in your home in order to keep baby safe. In order to make sure that you get all the spots ready for him, follow these simple tips on keeping your home and babyâs environment safe.
With older babies such as those who can mention short words or syllables, using a word such as âouchâ for any minor incidents in the home would be useful as this teaches them to associate the feeling of pain with an actual word and will be able to tell you when they have hurt themselves. Alternatively, when baby hits that smacking, pinching, hair pulling, and biting stage, you can use this word and baby will know that it is hurting you and might stop.
If you have crystal antique ornaments sitting on your foot high glass coffee table, you might just have to put it into storage for now. But donât worry; once baby gets old enough to understand the concept of ânoâ and âdonât touch thatâ you might just be able to take it out again.
Home is where baby will be most of the time especially within the first year of his life wherein he will learn to observe, touch, and play with everything in his surroundings. It is up to you as parents to ensure that baby has a safe place to discover.
- Preparing in advance is always better in order for you to spot potential things you might have missed while waiting for baby to reach his curious stage. Get down on all fours (babyâs height) and see from there all the possible things you might reach.
- Make sure that your furniture is stable, this includes bookshelves, heavy chairs that baby might grab one side of, and coffee tables. You would think that a coffee table is stable since it has four legs and a stable balance and all but what I mean is the kind of coffee table that sits on a base and can be removable. Baby could try to pull himself up one end and unbalance things.
- Keep hot liquid and food out of reach. Keep them at the center of the table or far into your kitchen counter so that baby cannot even see them at his height. It would be a good idea to lay off the table cloths for now as baby might pull on one end and have everything on your table come toppling down on him.
- Use fireguards for heaters, radiators, ovens, and cooking counters.
- Watch out for your curtains. Blind cords are one of the leading causes of infant death in the US and in other countries.
- If you have stairs, safety gates would be an important safety tool to use as crawling babies in particular find stairs very interesting.
- Answer this question: where do you keep your cleaning fluids? Under the sink probably. Under the sink which is just babyâs height. Move all the cleaning fluids, aerosols, insect repellent, and medicines to the top shelf, far out of babyâs reach.
- Be careful with babyâs toys, especially gifted toys or toys of older children which have been brought into your home. Non age appropriate toys may have small parts that could pose as a choking hazard for baby.
- Make a list of emergency numbers and keep it where everyone and anyone can access it. Include emergency contacts which should be your (the parents) numbers, and secondary contacts such as grandparents or an aunt or uncle. Doctorâs number and other important contacts such as if baby has a specialist doctor.
- Look at the spaces between the bars in babyâs cot. If they are too close to one another baby might get his fingers or fist stuck between them. If they are too far apart, babyâs leg might fall out while he is sleeping.
- In order to prevent suffocation, make sure only the most minimal amount of things are in babyâs cot.
- If your cot is leaning against a wall or a window make sure baby cannot reach blind cords. Also, make sure the window is always closed.
- Ensure sides are up and locked into place.
- Keep frying pan handles facing towards the wall rather than towards you. If you step away this could be an interesting âpullâ for baby.
- Make sure cords are tied up and kept away from babyâs reach, especially cords to hot things such as the water heater or the toaster.
- Keep all cleaning fluids on the top shelf rather than under the sink.
- NEVER leave your baby alone in the bath.
- Make sure bath water does not exceed 38 degrees Celsius.
- When baby is already in the bath, do not add hot water to it as this could make the water unevenly warmed and that hot water could hurt him.
- Make sure medicines and soap are locked up on a high shelf away from babyâs reach.
- Never let baby stay on your lap when in the car, car seat compatibility was mentioned in the beginning of this book as well as babyâs weight and car seat position.
- Never leave baby in the car alone. Even on a day that isnât too hot or cold for a quick 30 second pop into the convenience store. This is ILLEGAL and if you ask me, just plain mean.
- Know that baby has more sensitive skin than you do so keep him covered when you are outside but not too covered that he might overheat.
- You could also use sunscreen to protect baby from the heat but remember that some sunscreens are made too strong and with chemicals that may not be suitable for babyâs skin. Use an age appropriate sunscreen.
- Get baby used to wearing a hat when playing outside.
- In cold weather, make sure baby is warm enough with the appropriate clothes but make sure that they arenât too snug and that baby can still breathe properly.
I know this may seem like a lot to take in for your babyâs first year but you might just be shocked to realize that once you take baby home, a lot of this stuff will come naturally. For the things that you need to know, they have all been mentioned.
As parents, the provision of the absolute best we can give is a given when it comes to our children and our children deserve nothing less than the best we can give them.