Taking care of babies can prove to be tedious, especially if you are a new parent. Overflowing with suggestions about neonatal care by relatives, friends and even acquaintances, new parents can eventually, become clueless about how to tend to their babies the ideal way. However, some simple do’s and don’ts can solve the majority of parent woes.
Breastfeed for the first six months
All babies should receive exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months. Mothers milk is known to assist the baby with optimal growth, overall development and meet their evolving nutritional requirements, along with preventing mothers from possibilities of breast and ovarian cancers. The milk—known as colostrum produced by the mother during the first few days after delivery, provides essential nutrients as well as antibodies to boost the baby’s immune system, reducing the likelihood of death in the neonatal period. Skin-to-skin contact with the mother through breastfeeding fosters mother-infant bonding and keeps the child warm, reducing the child’s risk of dying of cold (‘hypothermia’). Especially avoid giving the baby home-made kadhaa or gripe water because the baby has to be breastfed for its immunity.
Maintain Basic Hygiene
Babies are sensitive, lack a strong immune system and thus need optimal protection from any possible infection. Make sure your relative or friends who are handling the baby has clean, sanitised hands. Ensure the baby’s room and surrounding area is pest free and doesn’t have mosquitoes which can be a potential carrier of infection. Consult with your doctor before using any kind of creams for mosquito prevention since baby’s skin can be fragile and react to creams.
Umbilical cord care
- Taking care of the umbilical cord wound is very important for the first four weeks. Do consult with your
- clinician to see the preferred way of handling the infant’s naval area. Call your doctor if the navel area looks red or if a foul odour or discharge develops.
Putting the baby to sleep
Don’t be surprised if your baby is sleeping 16-18 hours a day. New-borns tend to take frequent naps of 2-4 hours but don’t expect them to sleep throughout the night. Due to a small digestive system, the baby needs food every few hours and the gap between meals shouldn’t be more than four hours. Most babies cannot differentiate between day and night, they may stay awake during the night and sleep during the day. In such scenarios, keep the lights and sound around the house at minimal during the night. Keep engaging the baby during the day by playing with it.
Be gentle with your baby
Avoid shaking the baby while putting it to sleep or playing with it. Shaking can cause injury in the baby’s brain. Even while waking up the baby, tickle its feet or blow gently on their cheeks, don’t shake the baby while waking it. The newborn is never ready for a rough play and can sustain injuries very easily.
Do not panic for every small hurdle while taking care of your baby, keep in touch with your paediatrician. The baby tends to spit, vomit, have too many bowel movements and cry often but that isn’t necessarily a cause of concern. Speaking with your paediatrician about all your concerns at once and go for regular health check-ups will suffice. The babies tend to observe and adapt to the energy around them, hence being peaceful may help you raise a healthy baby.
Don’t stop them from crying
Babies can cry despite being perfectly fed and covered. Crying doesn’t necessarily mean something needs to be fixed in the baby because it’s the only way of communication for it. However, if the baby is crying for hours, then call your paediatrician and check if it has a rash, redness, fever or small injury anywhere on the body.
Also Read: Know About The Problem Of Low BP In Infants
Don’t ignore the oral care
Just because the babies don’t have teeth doesn’t mean it doesn’t need any oral care. The babies are never too young for healthy oral habits. Use a wet gauze to gently clean baby’s gums. Ensure the baby is getting enough fluoride through drinking water to prevent cavities.
Don’t try home remedies for babies
Be it grandparents, relatives or family friends but opting for advice for any health complication in the baby should be avoided. Trust your paediatrician and seek medical advice for things such as fever, rash, inconsolable crying, bump under the skin or any other health complication rather than opting for home remedies.
(With inputs from Dr Sanjeev Sabale, Consultant Paediatric and Paediatric Neonatology, Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, Vile Parle)
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