A newborn comes with excitement and traditionally this bundle of joy is a source of fulfillment and blessings. With all the pomp and colour, very few first-time mothers know how to take care of this new addition. Majority of first-time mothers find it difficult and have to rely on older women for guidance.
So how do you care for a newborn? There are many ways you can do this and here we look at the key issues surrounding baby care and how to nurse them.
Dressing a newborn is more about common sense than fashion sense. As a mother, you might be fashion trendy, but this should not compromise your baby’s well-being. Babies are sensitive to changes in room temperature because they are small and their bodies are still growing. Therefore, they get cold easily as they have trouble regulating their body temperature.
It’s recommended that the best temperature for babies should be between 20 to 22 degrees Celsius and this should inform how you dress your baby depending on the weather. By around 11 weeks, babies’ bodies start to regulate their temperature at night just like adults.
As a basic rule, baby clothes should have stretchable material, especially at the collar to make dressing easier for them. During the cold season keep the baby warm by covering the head, hands, legs and feet. It is recommended that when in doubt about how to dress your baby, look at what you are wearing then add one or two extra layers on the baby.
Breastfeeding is one of the key components of nursing and is key to the development of the baby and the well-being of the mother.
It is recommended that you breastfeed the baby within the first hour after delivery. This should continue for the next six months as recommended by Unicef as it promotes sensory and cognitive development as well as protecting the baby against infectious and chronic diseases
Remember for optimal development of the baby, a mother should breastfeed 8-12 times during the first month.
Breast milk is the most ideal food for the baby for the first six months. It is good to note that most newborns need eight to 12 feedings a day, that is about one feeding every two to three hours
Babies should be fed whenever they seem hungry. Thus a mother should look out for cues from the baby. The most common feeding cues include moving the hands to the mouth, sucking on fists and fingers, lip smacking and crying.
It is advised that solid foods should be introduced at around 6 months but not before 4 months. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) around the age of 6 months, an infant’s need for energy and nutrients starts to exceed what is provided by breast milk. This means that complementary foods are necessary to meet those needs. If complementary foods are not introduced around the age of 6 months, or if they are given inappropriately, an infant’s growth may falter
For a new mother, it is good to note that some babies sleep much more than others. You will find your friend’s baby sleeping for long periods while your baby sleeps in short bursts. Some sleep throughout the night, while some don’t. Always remember sleep patterns vary. During the first three months, a baby can sleep for around 8 to 18 hours a day.
According to Sleep Foundation, sleep is essential for human development. Poor sleep in infancy has been linked to problems with cognitive performance, social skills, obesity and quality of life later in childhood. Mothers are encouraged to sleep when their baby sleep to avoid sleep deprivation.
According to National Health Service (NHS) for the first 6 months, your baby should be in the same room as you when they’re asleep, both day and night. This can reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)
Immediately after you give birth friends and relatives are excited about visitation and it is necessary to have visiting rules to help manage yourself. It is recommended that you let people know which days and hours you are open for visitation. It is also paramount that you take advantage of these visitations so that your visitors can care for your baby as you take a rest.
Did you know that in some countries it is an offense to carry a child on your lap in a private car? While it is not illegal here in Kenya it is highly recommended that parents employ proper car safety methods while in transit.
According to the Australian government-funded organization Pregnancy, Birth and Baby below are the safety and legal requirements for babies while in a car
- Babies aged under 6 months must not sit in the front row of a car if the car has 2 or more rows of seats.
- Babies and children aged between 6 months and up to 4 years must not sit in the front row of a car if the car has 2 or more rows of seats. If the vehicle has only one row of seats, children can sit in the front row if they’re using an appropriate child car seat.
- If the front seat is being used for a child, rear-facing child car seats can’t be used if there’s a passenger airbag