Congratulations on your new baby! You must be very excited, proud and maybe a little bit worried. Relax, do your best and sail forth.
In this series of articles, we are focusing on physical, mental and behavioural characteristics that are typically exhibited at each stage. However, remember that every child is unique and that is what we love about them. Some will exhibit certain behaviours early and some later. Just learn to enjoy parenthood and your children and go on the journey with them.
Also, when you read this series of articles, don't leave after reading one entry. Look at the entries for earlier and later periods also. This series of articles is written as a continuum and not as distinct entries for each period. For example, if your baby is six months old, read all entries from four to eight months.
Do bring it to your doctor's attention if there is an abnormal delay in reaching a developmental milestone. Regular visits to the paediatrician are required to ensure that your baby is progressing normally.
From the mouths of babes
- Your baby's skin will look wrinkly and her head will not be round
- You will be able to feel a soft spot on the top of the baby's head. The skull bones have not completely fused together at this spot. The human body does this so that the baby's skull is flexible during delivery and it can accommodate brain growth in his first year after birth. This soft spot usually goes away after 12 to 24 months. There is also another smaller soft spot near the top of the head's back. This usually goes away in four months.
- The amount of hair on your baby's head will vary from bald to thick, dark hair.
- Your baby will use about 10 diapers per day
- Scientific research has shown repeatedly that breastmilk is the best food for babies. It has been shown to increase immunity and intelligence. Your newborn must start breastfeeding, preferably within an hour of birth. For the first few days after your baby is born, your body will produce a special breastmilk called "colostrum". It is thicker and yellower than normal milk. Colostrum contains ingredients that are critical for your baby in the first few days of life.
- The Indian Academy of Pediatrics recommends that your baby should be breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months.
- Gently rock your baby, or stroke him to calm him down when crying.
- Always talk to your baby to let her know you are there.
- You can also use soft music to soothe your baby's nerves.
- Play with your baby.
- High contrast toys with primary colours
- Toys that make soft sounds when rolled or moved
- Toys with human face features like eyes
- Toys with simple designs (straight lines, simple shapes, bull's eye etc.)
- You may feel stressed and tired and feel like things are about to break down. You may want to cry for even the littlest problems. But do not worry, this is something a lot of women go through. It is called post-partum depression and your body is adjusting itself for your new baby again.
- Come and talk to us, the Parentree community, about your feelings. Many of us have gone through this.
- Some mothers do not lactate. Even if you are feeding the baby with a bottle, hold the baby exactly as you would when breastfeeding him.
- Take things one at a time and keep reminding yourself that the stress will go away.
- Get help from family and your spouse. Talk to them about this before your delivery, so they are ready for it.
- Get as much sleep as possible. Try to sleep when your baby sleeps.
- And remember, you will be a great mother, even though it may not feel like it now
- The baby has heard your voice a lot during the pregnancy. Continue talking to him
- Hold her, cuddle her and play with her
- Walk around while holding him
- Change your baby's diapers
1. Healthy Start, Grow Smart, Your Newborn, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C., 2002
2. Indian Academy of Pediatrics, IAP Policy on Infant Feeding
3. Toy Safety Publications of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission