Who is this little creature who has taken up residence in your home? It’s your baby, who isn't as much of a mystery as you might think. Here are 12 important tips and secrets to help you keep your cool in year one.
Baby’s skin is very sensitive and easily sunburned. Keep your baby out of direct sunlight for the first year. Light cotton hats, covered strollers and removable mesh window shields for the car are good protective measures. Stay away from sunscreen until your baby is six months old.
A baby is born with more than 300 bones, but most are still cartilage. As your baby grows, cartilage will turn into bone and smaller bones will fuse together to create stronger bones (resulting in 206 bones by adulthood). Babies need a constant supply of calcium in order for their bones to develop properly.
Make sure that socks and soft booties are giving enough room to move around. Trim toenails straight across to prevent ingrown nails.
Skin-to-skin contact allows for a stronger bond between parent and baby. Research shows this also is an important factor in brain development, so be sure to practise some tender loving care!
If it’s been over six hours and your baby still hasn’t produced a wet diaper, he or she could be dehydrated.Babies are more prone to dehydration than adults and it can become dangerous. Call your doctor for advice. Also, on days when your baby is sick or when it’s hot, make sure you are providing him or her with plenty of fluids.
Babies can start teething anywhere from three months to one year old. Make the process easier. Use a piece of damp gauze to massage their gums, use a firm rubber teething ring, prevent rashes by wiping away excess saliva and offer cold washcloths or soft foods like applesauce, to sooth your baby’s discomfort.
For the first couple months, your baby will curl their fingers around yours if you touch their palm. This bonding experience can be pretty emotional the first time this happens, so have a box of tissues ready.
Your baby’s skull may look misshapen and feel soft in the middle, but this is completely normal. Called a fontanelle, it gives the head flexibility to squeeze through the birth canal. After delivery, it stays open to accommodate your baby’s growing brain. When shampooing, be extra gentle in massaging this area.
Like learning to walk and talk, your baby also learns to see gradually. Babies are born extremely nearsighted so they can see objects close-by sharply, but far away objects are blurry. At around three months they will be able to recognize faces from a distance and by six months there will be much improvement in depth and colour perception.
Immunizations save lives and make it extremely unlikely for your baby to contract a serious childhood illness. While timing may differ slightly depending on where you live, routine immunizations usually start at around two months, and then again at four months, six months, 12 months, 15 months and 18 months. By that age, your baby should be protected against 14 vaccine-prevented diseases.
Spitting up happens daily. But if you find your newborn is doing so more often than others, it may actually be infant reflux, a digestive disorder that occurs when acid from the stomach flows back up to the esophagus. Infant reflux is not uncommon among newborns. Breast milk can help with reflux, as it is easier to digest than formula. Whether you breastfeed or bottle-feed, try to hold your baby upright for 30 minutes after each feeding.
Even babies need exercise. Spending time on their tummies helps them learn to reach, pull up and crawl. So get down on the floor for a few minutes each day and see things from your baby’s perspective.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, May 2015.