It feels wonderful to be a parent, overwhelmed by the responsibility of a tiny, delicate and perfect small human being. It takes a large amount of care, patience and energy to bring up a baby. It starts right from the time when the newborn is brought into the room, which may be couple of hours later in a normal delivery. Handle the baby with tender loving care, always supporting the neck and head whenever you lift the child up. Since the baby cannot regulate its body temperature, keep the room at a constant temperature of 20 to 25 c. Touch the back and tummy of the baby to see if he is comfortable: add/remove the layers of clothing accordingly. You can also keep a watch on the nails of hands and feet -
Start breast feeding as soon as possible. In the first time mothers, It takes a little longer and may appear impossible but have patience. Initially only a few spoons of whitish yellow sticky fluid (colostrums) is secreted and that is all that the child needs. Proper milk flow is established only by the third day. Don’t be tempted to start formula feeds. If you think the baby is not satisfied, consult your doctor. Avoid visitors handling the newborn specially if they have cough or cold. Keep flowers and bouquets away from the baby’s cot.
Continue breast feeding the child for at least the first six months. Feeding should be as on demand of the child, which may be very two to four hours and not by the clock. Use alternate breasts each time. The baby should be in a reclining position with head elevated. After every feed put the child on the shoulder and pat firmly till he burps. If there is difficulty in burping, make the child lie on its side. Some babies bring up a little milk after every feed, There is nothing wrong if the baby is growing well and gaining weight. The mother should take a good diet rich in proteins, consisting of milk, cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid excessive fatty foods and foods which cause flatulence.
Bathe the baby daily using any of the baby soaps or glycerine soaps. In winters, bath and sponging can be done on alternate days. Since the babies cannot regulate their body temperature make sure that the room is warm and free of draughts. The water should be warm and not hot. Make sure you have collected everything you may need, before you start. Hold the baby inside the water, hand under his arms so that his head is resting in the crook of your arm. Use the other hand to gently trickle the water from the bath-
After the bath wrap the baby in a soft towel immediately and dab dry taking special care of creases and folds of the skin. After 30 days it is good to massage the child using any oil except mustard oil. Powder if applied should be sprinkled on the palm of your hand and then rubbed on the baby avoiding the crease. Soft cotton clothes should be used. Front open dresses are better as they are easy to manage and buttons don’t hurt the child. Cap and woolen shoes are a must in winters. No mohair, angora or brushed yarn please.
The umbilical cord falls off within 4 to 10 days. The base of the stump should be cleaned thrice daily with spirit or any other antiseptic. Never apply talcum powder over it. Avoid using plastic/disposable nappies in the initial few weeks as it may lead to a nappy rash. Do not apply ‘kajal’ or’ ‘surma’ into the eyes or try to clean nose or ears with ear buds. Do not give honey, ghutti or gripe water to the newborn child. The newborn does not need water for the first three months.
A newborn should pass urine and stool at least once in the first 24 hours of life. After the first week a breast-
Disposable or washable nappies can be used. Although the former are more convenient they are more expensive and can be reserved for outings or during nights. Washable ones should be passed through an antiseptic solution at least once a day. Through ironing also helps in their sterilization. Ensure you have collected everything before you begin a change. Always clean from stools into the urinary tract. Some babies may still develop a nappy rash in spite of all precautions. In such a situation keep the area clean and dry (open in summers). Apply a common nappy rash cream after every change.
The only language of communication a baby knows is crying. He may be hungry, wet, feeling cold or hot or just wants to be close to you for a cuddle. If you cannot see a reason, try a change of scene take him for a stroll or a short drive. Soon you would be able to interpret the different cries. Always see to the need of your baby as soon as possible. By picking up the child each time he cries, you are in no way spoiling his habits. In fact he would develop a better sense of security.
The newborn spends most of the time sleeping, sometimes only for short bursts. Always make him sleep on the back or side. A soft thin pillow can be used. Some babies are born with a reverse sleep cycle sleeping during the day and playing at night. Nothing much can be done to change the cycle. Fortunately it settles by itself in 6 to 12 weeks.
You will come across a lot of ‘experts’ who thing they know best. You will read books, articles and search the net. In all this concern never lose sight of the guidance of the expert-