9 Super Basic Infant Care: The Definitive Guide
Are you an anxious mother-to-be? Or are you a new mom with a head full of questions and worries? “Am I doing this right?” or “Goodness, is this normal? “ I’m sure such thoughts pass through your head every day. Don’t panic. In this article "9 Super Basic Infant Care", I have put together everything you need to know to take care of a newborn, so read on and keep calm!
#1. 3 month old baby milestones
The moment you step through the door with your newborn baby in your arms, you start to wonder how this so tiny and fragile bundle will turn into a grown-up person. So, let’s summarize in short, what milestones your baby will reach in the first three months of his life and what you as a mother should do to help him/her.
Baby should do
3 weeks old baby
Baby can recognize your voice and can focus on close objects. Speak to him as much as possible and look at him during mealtimes.
4 week old baby
Baby responds to your voice, cries for help, and makes cute sounds. You should also make noises in response.
6 week old baby
Baby has better movement control, starts to smile. You should gently put him in a sitting position or tummy down on your forearm, supporting the head.
8 week old baby
Senses and muscles continue development. Baby can now lift his head about 45 degrees. Encourage him by dangling a toy in front of him or use a mirror.
12 week old baby
Baby starts responding with “coo“or “goo” sounds and tries to get your attention.
He smiles with a big smile, imitates movement and expressions, grasps and shakes toys, plays with his hands.
You should make him a part of the family activities and let him experiment with toys with different textures.
• Always wash your hands before handling the baby;
• Always support the head and neck;
• Don’t shake the baby or jiggled him on your knee;
• Don’t let anyone smoke around it;
• Make sure that you fasten the baby into the carrier or the stroller.
#2 Breastfeeding: reduces the newborn baby’s risk of being admitted to the hospital
Advantages and disadvantages of breast feeding:
First, let’s take a look at the advantages for your baby:
- Breast milk contains naturally the right balance of nutrition to satisfy your baby’s needs, and it is easily digestible;
- Your milk contains antibodies that could protect your baby up to a year if you breastfeed him for the first three months;
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of constipation, diarrhea, eczema, and asthma;
- Breast milk contains growth factor and hormones that help your baby’s development and it can’t be recreated in formula milk;
- Lowers the risk of SIDS by half.
There are also benefits for you, for example:
- You can burn up about 500 calories a day;
- Breast milk doesn’t require any special preparations and it’s free;
- Reduces the risk of various cancers, especially breast cancer and ovary cancer;
- Women who breastfeed feel a stronger bond with their child and are less like to develop postnatal depression;
- Menstruation vacation and fewer problems with weight.
The disadvantages that you should keep in mind are the following:
- There are blood viruses like HIV or hepatitis B that can be passed to your baby through the breast milk;
- For some women, it is stressful, painful and tiring to breastfeed;
- You can’t leave your baby for long periods;
- You can’t measure how much your baby has consumed.
After we have covered the topic of advantages and disadvantages of breastfeeding and you have made your mind, the important questions come:
How to breast feeding?
Here is breastfeeding video:
The first breastfeeding is a scary time for every new mother as she wonders “Am I doing it right?” Generally, there are four breastfeeding positions that you can try and choose the one that’s the most comfortable for you and your baby. They are:
- The classic cradle hold– in this position you cradle your baby’s head in the crook of your elbow. The baby should be lying on her side, and her face, stomach, and knees should be facing you, and you should support her neck, spine, and bottom with your arm. This position is more suitable for slightly older babies that can latch easily on the breast.
- The cross cradle – in this position you lay the baby on its side. Make sure that it’s well-supported and touching you. Use your right arm to support the body and right hand to support the head, if you plan to feed on the left breast. This is a good position for babies that have troubles latching on the breast.
- The side-lying or reclining position – it requires you to lie on your feeding breast side with your back supported, while the baby lies on his side with chest against yours. You can cradle the baby’s head with your bottom arm or top arm. This position is good if it’s uncomfortable for you to be sitting down.
- The football hold – in this position you tuck the baby under your arm and support her neck, shoulder, and head with your hand. Her nose should be on one level with the nipple and her feet pointing towards your back. It’s an easy position for new mommies.
How often should a newborn feed?
The answer is simple – whenever your baby seems hungry. During the first month, the baby would nurse 8-12 times a day – meaning an interval between 90 minutes and 3 hours. Newborns should not be left hungry for more than 4 hours, even during the night.
Best way to burp baby after feeding:
Always burp your baby after mealtime is over because gas bubbles get stuck in his tiny stomach and can cause discomfort and fullness. To burp your baby you just gently pat his back. You can do that with the baby over your shoulder, sitting on your lap or by laying it down on your lap on his belly.
what happens if baby doesn't burp:
Is it ok for the baby not to burp after eating? Well, as your baby gets older, you shouldn’t worry if he doesn’t burp after every meal – this simply means that he swallows less excessive air with each feeding, but keep in mind that if you don’t burp your baby often, that may lead to gassiness and spitting up.
Baby always hungry:
If your baby seems to be too hungry, too often or if he doesn’t gain weight as he should do, consult with your pediatrician. You may have a problem with the milk or you’re doing something wrong. Be on the lookout for signs of breast infection (mastitis or clog duct) like soreness, red lumps or fever. These need to be treated as soon as possible.
Handling with baby spit up and vomit
#3 Sleeping on the back reduces the risk of SIDS
How to put baby to sleep?
It’s night time for your precious little bundle. How should you put him to sleep? The answer is only one – always on his back, not on his stomach, not on his side.
The researchers have linked cases of babies put to sleep on their stomach with that frightening nightmare of every parent –SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome) also called the crib-death. They presume that this position hinders your baby’s breathing since it puts pressure on the jaw or that it can increase the risk of the baby re-breathing their exhaled air (carbon dioxide), especially if the baby is sleeping on a soft surface.
Don’t worry that your child may choke or aspirate, if he is lying on his back. Studies have shown no increased likelihood of such accident.
So always make sure to place the baby to sleep on a firm mattress with a bed sheet that tightly fits and that your crib meets safety standards. And don’t put anything else in the crib – no toys, cushions or blanket –these things can impede your baby’s breathing and suffocate him. And make sure that there are no dangerous items within your baby’s reach, especially cords, ties, ribbons.
when can babies sleep on their stomach?
You should continue to put the baby to sleep on his back until he is at least a year old, but don’t worry if he starts rolling on his stomach during nap times when he is strong enough to roll back to front and vice versa by himself.
Bed sharing or co-sleeping:
Considering all this, some of you may be wondering if it won’t be better and easier if the baby sleeps next to you on the bed and the answer is – not exactly. Bed sharing or co-sleeping as some call it may be dangerous since there’s risk of suffocation and some classify it as a SIDS risk.
However, co-sleeping doesn’t mean only sleeping with the baby in the bed. You can have a separate crib or a bassinet next to the bed and still be able to reach and comfort the baby when there’s a need.
You are not spoiling them if you put them in the room with you and researches have revealed that babies that co-share room with his parents grow to be more independent and less fearful. It’s all up to you, but make sure that you take the necessary precaution.
Is my newborn baby sleeping too much?
After reading such scary thing, you start to wonder: Is my baby sleeping too much? Well, it’s hard to answer. Newborn babies sleep a lot, and I mean a lot, almost as much as cats. On average a baby would sleep around 16.5 hours during the first month, but he may sleep only 12 hours or even 18 hours. By the 3rd month, he will spend 14 hours asleep with naps during the day and around 5-6 longer naps during the night. So as long as he seems healthy and happy, don’t spend too much time worrying.
Baby grunting and straining in sleep:
Moreover, babies are not quiet sleepers, and they wake up a lot since half of their sleep time is spent in REM mode. But as they grow older, their sleeping pattern will change, and they will sleep deeper and quieter.
Also, your baby will make plenty of noises during his nap time, but it’s important to learn to recognize normal sleep sounds and sounds of distress. Irregular breathing including short breathing pauses and weird noises can be completely normal, even though they are pretty scary.
But parents sometimes tend to freak out when they hear that their baby grunts while sleeping. Babies grunt, rattle even whistle while sleeping - this should not alarm you, but you shouldn’t ignore it.
If you are worried that the grunting may be something serious, look for a blue tongue or skin, weight loss, fever, and lethargy which may indicate a serious breathing problems, but if your baby looks happy, active, and enjoys his meals– there is probably nothing to worry about.
We have covered feeding, sleeping, so what comes next?
#4 Hush baby, don’t you cry
You can also take a look at this YouTube clips for more ideas how to calm your baby
There is nothing more troubling for a parent than hearing his baby cry. But why do newborn babies cry so much? Well, there could be multiple reasons –hunger, dirty diaper, tiredness, pain, fever, teething, or a desire for comfort and attention. If you can’t find an obvious reason for the crying, the culprit might be colic. In this case, here are some tips for relieving colic pain:
- Use a warm hot bottle
- Try a massage
- Move the baby to a quieter or noisier place
- Drive her in your car or take her for a walk
- Try different positions
- Swaddle your baby in a blanket
- Bathe and offer a pacifier
- If you suspect she might be gassy, try to ease her gassy stomach
Changing a baby's nappy:
Helping baby with hiccups
Baby arching back and crying
However, if you see your baby arching her back and crying, it’s best to consult with your pediatrician immediately. It might be nothing, but an arched back while crying might mean pain, nerve damage, kernicterus (especially in combination with jaundice), cerebral palsy or gastrointestinal reflux.
And don’t worry, with time you’ll learn to distinguish when your baby is crying because of pain, hunger or lack of attention and you’ll be able to respond to her cries accordingly.
#5 The first bath – how to do it?
It’s bath time. It’s not necessary to bathe your baby every day – three days a week should do it. However, handling a wet, slippery and wiggling baby can be a real challenge for anyone. Especially, if you don’t have any experience, but don’t worry there is a first time for everything. Safety first, so do remember these things:
- Never, ever leave the baby unattended even for a minute;
- Never put him in the tub while the water is still running;
- Keep the water temperature around 100 F ( 38 C);
- Gather all the necessary bathing supplies, prepare a towel, a diaper, and clothes;
- Make sure that the room is warm enough;
- Fill the tub with 3 inches of warm water, check the temperature with your hand
After you have undressed your baby, slip it gently into the water feet first, and support his head and neck.
- Use mild soap and not too much, washing him from top to bottom, front and back with your hand or a washcloth
- Splash him with water regularly to keep him from getting cold
- Rinse and clean him with a clean cloth, and gently lift him out of the tub supporting his head and neck with one hand and his bottom with the other
- Wrap him in the towel and pat him dry
- ress him and you are ready
If you are not confident enough, you better ask somebody who has experience bathing babies to help you the first couple of times. Until you get the hang of it.
How often to bath baby?
#6 Skincare: tips and suggestions
How to clean baby belly button?
Wait, wait, some of you may say. How to clean the baby’s belly button? What about the imbecile cord? How should I deal with it? Here is the answer:
You should clean it several times a day and keep it dry until it falls off on its own. First, wash your hand before touching the cord and look for signs of infection – like a foul smell, discharge, pus, redness, tenderness, and lethargy.
After that, you gently wipe the cord with a cotton swab, dipped in warm water and then you dry the stump with a clean cloth. Don’t use lotions, powders, etc. and don’t cover it with the diaper when you dress the baby, either use a special diaper or fold the front down.
You can clean your newborn’s belly button after the stump falls off with soap and water when you bathe him.
Care for circumcised infant
You also might wonder what to do with your boy’s circumcised penis. Well, the circumcision is not as traumatic as you might think and it heals for about ten days. To lessen your baby’s discomfort, you may use two diapers to cushion his penis.
What you need to do is keep the area clean – clean it after every diaper change with soap and warm water. Doctors have different opinions whether you should continue to put bandages on the healing area, so ask your pediatrician about it. Anyway, you will have to smear a little petroleum jelly on the tip, even if you don’t cover it up.
You also should keep an eye for infection. Some redness, a yellow discharge, and even a little blood is normal, but persistent bleeding, yellow oozing that last more than a week, fever, redness after 5 days have passed are not normal, and you should consult with your doctor.
Skin problems in babies
And just when you have dealt with the bath and the cord, you discover a red rash on your baby’s body or tiny red bumps. What are those, you wonder? Should I speed dial my pediatrician? Well, there are many conditions that can cause rashes and skin problems in a newborn. In short, they are:
- Infant acne – it looks like pimples and blackheads. It’s not pretty, but it will disappear on its own after a few weeks, just don’t squeeze the pimples.
- Cradle cap – it’s a crusty scalp rash with yellow scales, deep red bumps, and dandruff - like flakes. It happens if there is too much sebum and the old skin cell can’t shed normally. Apply petroleum jelly or mineral oil to loosen the crust.
- Infant eczema – it presents itself as small, fluid-filled pimples, which can burst or ooze. It starts from the face and quickly spreads over the whole body. You can apply moisturizer after a bath to relieve the symptoms.
- Dry skins – happens to everyone and especially babies. Just make sure to moisture the skin regularly.
- Heat rashes – it can develop when your baby sweats too much, which causes his pores to clog. It looks like little red bumps that can show anywhere, but in a newborn heat rash on the face is very common.
- These bumps most often can be found, where the clothes fit tightly over your baby’s body. The rash is uncomfortable for your baby, but not harmful on its own.
- However, this means that your baby is too hot and may overheat. Move him to a shadier place and loosen/ remove the excessive clothing. You may give him a lukewarm bath or apply wet cloths over the rash.
- Don’t use cream or other lotions on the rash it will make it worse. And don’t let the baby scratch itself.
- Consult a pediatrician if the rash doesn’t disappear after a few days or your baby has a fever.
- Sunburn – red, swollen patches that blister or peel. Best to limit your baby’s time outside when the sun is the strongest and always use a sunscreen. If your baby got sunburned, you can apply cool compresses for 15 minutes several times and use aloe vera.
- Diaper rash – sore, red bottom - very easy to recognize. To avoid diaper rash change the diaper often and keep it clean and dry.
The most common birthmarks
But, there’s some strange spot on my baby, and it doesn’t look like a rash? Well, it could be a birthmark:
- Mongolian spots – they are bluish/ grayish and look like bruises. More common in African, Asian, Indian, and Mediterranean babies.
- Café-au-Lait Spots – flat and irregularly shaped patches varying in color from beige to light brown.
- Port-wine Stains – they usually appear on the face or the limbs. They are purplish-red in color, flat or barely elevated and enlarge with time. They are very rare.
- Stork bites – very common salmon-colored birthmarks on the nape of the neck, (Did you get it? Stork, nape?) forehead, eyelids, around the nose. They fade with time and shouldn’t worry you.
For photos and more information you can visit - http://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/photo-gallery/baby-skin conditions.aspx#16
# 7 Early infant oral care
Cleaning baby gums:
Even though your baby doesn’t have any teeth yet, infant oral care is crucial basic infant care. It’s a good idea to start cleaning your baby’s gums:
- a wet washcloth or a piece of gauze
- wrapping the cloth around your index finger
- gently rubbing it over her gums
Baby mouth problems:
However, you’ll probably encounter some mouth problems along the way. For example, a significant percent of the babies are born with gingival cysts or Epstein pearls. These are yellow/ white nodes along the gums and the mouth’s roof, but they are not painful and usually not a reason for concern.
Another common infant mouth disease is thrush which presents as white or yellow patches in the mouth. The main culprit here is yeast, and it possible for your baby to transfer the yeast infection to you or vice versa.
This is treated with oral fungal medication, and it usually takes up to two weeks to disappear. Other mouth decease includes canker sores and Coxsackie virus.
It’s also recommended that you clean your baby’s tongue to lower the risk of infection and mouth disease. Moreover, cleaning the tongue removes unnecessary food particles, bacteria, and bad breath.
Cleaning newborn tongue:
- get a small piece of gauze (or baby tongue cleaner)
- dip it in warm water
- hen cradle the baby with one hand and clean the tongue with the other one
- gently rubbing over the surface in circular motions
- You should do that at least once a day
#8 Health tips and advice
Health tip I: Know the enemy
No matter how careful you are, it’s possible that your baby would experience some stomach and digestive problems. Here are the most common ones:
- Reflux - if your baby is spitting up often after feeding he may have reflux. This means that the valve between the esophagus and the stomach isn't working as it should be, but don’t worry, it usually gets better with time. To help burp him often and keep him upright for about 20 minutes after feeding.
- Vomiting – It’s generally caused by a virus, but it should run its course for a couple of days. Keep an eye for signs of dehydration and consult your doctor, if the baby can’t keep anything down.
- Diarrhea – It’s usually caused by a virus like a rotavirus. You should keep the baby hydrated and consult a doctor if his diarrhea gets too severe or doesn’t go away in a couple of weeks. It could be a milk allergy.
- Constipation – it’s common for babies who start to eat solid food. If you suspect constipation try feeding him with food like oatmeal, prunes, pears, etc.
- Colic – if your baby is crying a lot without a medical reason, he may have colic. There is no cure for it, you just have to try, and sooth the baby.
Health tip II: Gassy baby
Babies are always gassy you should remember that. They eat all day, and they pass gas all day, it’s normal. But, if you suspect that your baby is having troubles, and are looking for ways to help a gassy newborn, you may try some gas-relieving techniques like a warm bath, a gentle massage or moving the legs of the baby as if he is riding a bike. If you don’t have any success, you should consult your pediatrician.
Health tip III: Tummy time
It’s important that your baby has a tummy time. He probably won’t like it very much, but it’s necessary to help develop his motor skills. By being on their tummies, babies learn to push up, roll over, sit up and eventually crawl and stand up.
You should do this when he’s not hungry or too tired. Keep him company by either sitting on the floor or placing him on your tummy. Also, provide entertainment – toys, books, music –to distract him. Eventually, when he is able to roll on his own, it won’t be so difficult for him.
Health tip IV: Nail care
Specialists also advise that you keep your baby’s nail short. You can clip them and use an emery board to smooth the edges while he is asleep or when he is distracted. It’s not a good idea to put mittens on his hands since babies need to be able to explore things with their fingers. It’s unlikely that they would scratch themselves seriously. Besides, babies love to play with their hands.
Health tip V: Get your kids vaccinated
Immunization protects your child from various life-threatening diseases and should be taken very seriously. At birth, your baby will be vaccinated against hepatitis B and again 1 or 2 months after the first dose. The other vaccines that your baby will receive in the following months include:
- Diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis vaccine (DTaP);
- Haemophilus influenza type b vaccine (Hib) – to prevent meningitis;
- Inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV);
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV);
- Rotavirus vaccine (RV);
- Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR);
- Hepatitis A.
Here is an immunization calendar that you should be familiar with and make sure that you’re not lagging far behind. Here, it is if you want to look at it: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/immunization-chart.html#
Although some parents have deep concerns about vaccines, the most important health tip that I can give you when it comes to your baby’s health is not to miss a shot. Some of these diseases are very serious for a tiny little baby with a developing immune system. Besides, most of you have been vaccinated, haven’t you?
#9 Code red: When to panic?
Are you worried that your baby may have problems with the development? Well, it’s important to remember that babies are different, and you can’t expect them to develop equally. However, there are some red flags that you should bring to the attention of your pediatrician if you notice them.
Early intervention means that treatment can start as soon as possible.
Spotting Baby Vision & Hearing Problems
These all can indicate problems with the motor, vision or hearing ability if baby:
- has sucking problems, especially if the baby doesn’t latch strong enough;
- doesn’t blink at bright lights, can’t focus and doesn’t follow objects with eyes;
- his arms and legs seem stuffed;
- doesn’t respond to loud noises;
- his lower jaws trembles frequently;
- doesn’t grasp objects;
- can’t support his head;
- doesn’t babble or imitate sounds.
Signs of autism in babies
- doesn’t return your smiles;
- doesn’t respond to his name;
- doesn’t wave or point;
- doesn’t try to get your attention;
- doesn’t cuddle or want to be picked up;
- doesn’t try to imitate you;
- doesn’t play with others,
Sometimes parents are told to wait and see if, but trust your instincts. If you think something is wrong, act now. If the development problem is due to a disease, it’s very unlikely that it will disappear with time. Better to know now, instead of worrying constantly.
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