Your little angel is out and now you are parents. Excited to take her home but suddenly you face the fear of having no idea how to care for the little one. This adorable little darling in your arms needs gentle care. These baby health care tips will guide you on how to deal with the daily needs of your child.
Baby Care for Newborn (0 – 2 Months)
Holding your child for the first time gives you the best feeling in entering parenthood. Taking care of a baby can be overwhelming at first and sometimes you might think that you are lacking at some point. Don’t worry, follow these steps and I am sure that you can manage. Eventually, you will gain confidence in caring for your baby’s needs.
Carrying your baby
Your newborn is not strong enough to support his head. So be very careful when you lift your child to carry in your arms. Always support his neck and head with one of your hands/arms and the other on his bottom and trunk. You see how strong and big your hands are and realize that they are made this way to support this little angel.
Feeding and burping your baby
Feeding time is the best time to bond with your baby, carrying her in your arms and seeing her face up-close. So take your time and enjoy this moment.
I do believe that breastmilk is the best milk for babies. It has antibodies that help protect the baby from getting sick. It also contains all the nutrients that a baby needs in their early years. The size of a baby’s stomach at day 1 is about a size of a marble with a capacity of 5 – 7ml which increases as the days and weeks go by.
The most common problem during breast feeding is how to get a good latch. It might be hard at first but as you and your baby learn and find the most comfortable position, it will be the best time for the both of you. Sit comfortably and relaxed, take one arm to support your child’s back and neck closing him into your breast. You can use a breast feeding pillow or a folded blanket to raise your baby’s head to your breast level. Hold and squeeze the breast to narrow it for the baby to latch easily. There are several breast feeding positions such as cradle, cross cradle and football hold. Try to do different positions to find the most comfortable for you and your baby which allows a good latch for effective breast feeding.
Switching sides is best so you can ensure that the baby gets all the nutrition coming from both of the breasts. After breast feeding, it is advisable to pump immediately to protect the milk supply.
Breast feeding should not be painful. When a good latch is established, the nipple should be on the soft spot of the palate. When the breast is not deep enough during feeding, the baby has the nipple between the tongue and the hard palate making it painful for the mom and may cause damage to the nipple and may decrease the amount of milk expressed.
There is a wide variety of milk to choose from but most of it are made from cow’s milk processed to make it suitable for babies. In choosing what milk for your baby, you have to make sure that it is an infant formula appropriate for your baby’s age. It is best to consult your doctor to help you choose the right milk for your child.
Safety first, preparation and hygiene are very important in feeding your child. All feeding equipment such as bottles, teat, and caps should be clean and sterilized. Use warm soapy water in washing and rinse thoroughly. You can use a steam sterilizer or a pot of boiling water to sterilize the feeding bottle. The preparation area should also be clean and safe prior formulating the milk for feeding.
Read the milk label and check for warnings and expiry date to ensure that the milk is safe for consumption. Know the correct formulation in mixing the powder and water. Understanding the right quantity is essential as it can affect your baby’s health. Too much infant milk powder may make your baby constipated or dehydrated. On the other hand, too little would mean not enough nourishment for your child so be very careful and use the right amount of formula milk and water.
It is recommended to boil the water to be used in preparing the milk. Boiling kills most bacteria that can be harmful to your child’s health. Make sure to cool the mixture before feeding it to the baby. You can test the temperature by dropping some milk to the palmar side of your wrist as it is sensitive enough to feel if the milk is still hot or just enough for your baby to feed. The baby bottle to be used should be BPA free which is safe for use drinking liquid from.
The milk should be freshly made each time to reduce the risk of infection. Remember that bacteria multiply very fast so a milk that was not used and stored at room temperature should be discarded after two hours. Do not think that you are wasting that milk but instead, think of it as saving your child from getting ill.
There are two ideal positions to get your baby to burp. First is to carry your baby on your shoulders then gently pat or rub his back. Second is by supporting his head and chest under his chin with your fingers. Leaning your baby forward at a 45 degree angle and gently pat or rub his back. Sometimes the baby will try to lift his head backwards so the positioning of the baby is very important, leaning him forward can help prevent an untoward accident.
Sometimes you will see a spit during burping but that’s totally fine. The color of the spit may be yellow-ish or milk-ish and there are instances when it also comes out from the nose but you have nothing to worry about.
Vitamins are supplements provided to babies to help with their nutritional needs. It is best to consult your doctor for recommendations.
Bathing your baby
Proper hygiene keeps a baby away from germs and harmful bacteria. Bath time is not just for cleaning your baby’s body but also a time for fun. Bathing will help your baby get freshen up and helps to promote a night of good sleep.
Safety first. Before bathing your baby, make sure that you have all things you will need within reach, this is to prevent you from leaving the baby while he bathes. It is good to have a list so you won’t forget anything. You will need a baby tub, two sets of clean lukewarm water one for washing and one for rinsing, 2 baby towels one for washing and one for rinsing, mild baby soap and shampoo. A dry baby towel and set of clothes. For your baby’s soap and shampoo, try to use mild and unscented products to reduce the possibility of skin irritation.
Caring for the umbilical cord
Just let it be. Never pull or remove the umbilical cord as it may cause continuous bleeding. The umbilical cord will fall out on its own in 1 to 4 weeks of time. During this time, it is important to keep the umbilical cord clean and dry until it falls out. Fold the diaper to keep it from touching the umbilical cord and avoid the pee from getting in and protect it from infections.
Changing your baby’s diaper
When you have a baby, it is inevitable to be a master of diaper change in just a week. You change your baby’s diaper every now and then until he learns potty. There is a wide variety of diapers out there to choose from. There are reusable and disposable diapers it is up to you to choose what’s best for your baby.
Reusable diapers are cost efficient but you are required to change them more often to avoid leaks and it is also messy and tiring to wash. On the other hand, disposable diapers will cause you a lot because your baby will use about three to five of them a day. It is a baby item that should always be kept in stock. It is easier to use, baby friendly and you just throw it after use. I actually prefer using disposable diapers instead of washable ones.
Caring for your little boy
If your baby has been circumcised, it is important to keep that area lubricated. Use petroleum jelly around the tip of his little thing and use a gauze pad to support it or add a little more petroleum jelly on the diaper that will be in contact with his little thing.
Caring for your little girl
You may notice that your little girl’s flower is a bit red-ish, big, or seems to be swollen. You may also see some white discharge and these are okay. These are normal and it is like this because of the mother’s hormones. You can clean those discharges with lukewarm water as you wash or bathe your little darling. You do not need to completely remove all of these white discharges when you wash her but if your baby girl has pooped, you can gently spread out the folds of those little petals and wipe the poop clean, stroking from front to back. It is important to remove all residue of the poop to avoid irritation.
Treatment of diaper rash
If your baby gets a diaper rash, it is best to change her diaper more frequently or try a different diaper to see which is more suitable for her. This may happen because of skin irritation. If ever your baby has skin rashes, you can make use of a topical ointment with zinc oxide which can serve as a skin barrier.
Dressing-up your baby
Just like how you are wearing jackets in a cold winter or wearing a sleeveless in summer, your baby needs to get dressed according to weather conditions. Whether it is hot or cold, appropriate clothing is essential to keep your little one protected and comfortable every day.
Babies seem to have inherited blood from a vampire for they are more active during the night and sleep mostly at daytime. Kidding aside, babies don’t know the difference between night and day. They wake up almost every 3 – 4 hours to feed. Here are some tips to help your child get a healthy sleep.
Did you notice that babies get startled so easy and then they move their arms upward? This is called moro reflex, which can sometimes interrupt a baby’s sleep. Swaddling a baby helps them calm and relax. It mimics the environment they have when they are still inside the womb. Swaddling help promotes better and longer sleep.
Precautions to Swaddling
Remember to always lay down your baby on his back. Stop swaddling when your baby has learned how to roll. It can happen between 3 – 4 months. When the baby rolls over, he might not be able to get back on his own and this may cause SID (Sudden Infant Death). Do not wrap your baby too tight, or too loose. Swaddling the baby too tightly may cause an abnormal hip development, swaddling too loose will enable the baby to get free and the loose blanket may cover the baby’s face.
Quiet and Peaceful Mood at Night
It is normal for a baby to wake up at night. Due to their small stomach, they needed little but more frequent feeding. To help them differentiate between day and night time you may want to lessen the interaction with your child during the night. Keep a quiet and cozy ambiance with a dim-lit room, minimize talking and try to put the baby back to sleep without making her agitated. When daytime comes, on the other hand, try to communicate more with your child. Talk to her as you change diapers, sing her a lullaby while feeding, and make her see your face whenever she is awake.
Clutter-Free Crib / Baby Bed
Keep her sleeping area free of anything that may cover her face. Pillows, stuffed toys, bumper pads, extra blankets, clothes, and other things placed on her crib may cause the baby to suffocate.
Soothing your baby
Babies cry for many reasons and crying is their way of saying that something is not right. As you take care of your little one, you would know him better and you will also learn about his cues whether he is hungry, sleepy, or uncomfortable. Watch out for these cues and you would know what he needs.
Swaddling can help your baby relax and it helps soothe a fussy little newborn, it helps them feel secure.
Swinging, swaying, rocking
Swaying, swinging, rocking cradling is the most effective technique used to soothe a crying baby. A gentle moving motion helps a baby quiet down and the hug she receives while being carried gives her warmth and feel loved.
Singing a nice and lovely lullaby helps babies sleep. Babies love to hear their mother’s voice and it helps them get to sleep.
Pacifier / Thumb sucking
Sucking a pacifier or a thumb gives them comfort. Pacifiers can work very well with a fussy baby.
Your baby might be crying because of a wet or dirty diaper making her uncomfortable. Check if your baby needs a diaper change.
If your baby is well-fed, has a dry diaper, in your arms and you have done everything to his comfort but he is still crying and seems distressed, uncomfortable, or in pain, then this might be a sign of colic. Colic is the intense or excessive crying of a baby which comes out of nowhere and whatever you do is ineffective to comfort your child. It usually occurs during the 6th week of your baby and mostly happens at night time.
This crying episode can also bring stress to the parents as it is really difficult to know what is bothering your baby, what part of his body is aching and why he is crying. Sometimes passing gas or pooping alleviates the bothersome feeling of the baby.
Tummy time is done by lying your baby on their belly. This is very helpful for them to increase the strength of their head, neck and upper body. You may start tummy time in his early weeks for 1 – 2 minutes and repeat a couple of times in a day when they are awake and active. You can make it a part of their routine and always be there to watch them so could see if they are doing well.
Tummy time can help a baby develop the strength they need to advance their motor skills. It can be the foundation that will enable them to roll over, crawl, and sit up.
Shaken baby syndrome
The shaken baby syndrome is a serious matter that I would like to include in this article in baby health care. In caring for your baby, you will experience a lot of things that will make you overwhelmed with stress. There are many factors that may contribute to your stress like having not enough sleep but please NEVER ever take it out to your baby. Seek help if you think that you cannot handle it alone.
Babies cannot speak nor show or point to you what they want, they can just cry. Crying is their only way to tell you that they are hungry, sleepy, in pain, and everything that is making them uncomfortable. Sometimes when a parent is too stressed over a baby who is crying and crying they tend to lose control and shake their baby or spank them to stop them from crying but trust me, there is no good result in doing this.
Your baby will not stop crying unless you address what’s been bothering him and the shaking will have a huge effect on your baby. Shaking a baby may cause brain injuries and head trauma and sometimes even death. This precious little angel is a fragile baby who needs love and cares more than anything so please be very gentle.
The best way to take care of your child is to take care of yourself too. If you are in good shape, you’re in good mood and you are no doubt able to take care of your child with a clear mind and a happy smile.
Baby Care for an Infant (2 Months – 12 Months)
Days and weeks have gone by and there she is, a happier and bigger baby. You are done with learning how to care for a fragile little newborn and now you are excited to see your baby achieve each step of her milestones. Every baby is different so their development may also vary. Don’t worry too much if your little one is a bit late or a bit early in achieving each little milestone as they are growing in their own phase. Here are some baby health care tips for a growing infant together with milestone achievements.
From newborn up to 6 months of age, a baby is supposed to be fed with milk alone, no water, no solids. It is because their, kidneys are not ready to digest water or solids yet. You may start to introduce semi-solid foods at the age of 6 months as a complementary food to breastmilk or formula milk.
You may notice that your baby has started to show interest in the food you eat, and it is a good start to feed them food puree or mashed. Puree is like a food smoothie, mostly done with vegetables and fruits so baby can eat them. My baby actually loves carrots puree, it has a sweet taste and attractive color. It is advisable to cook or boil the vegetables for baby consumption. Cooking/boiling it will kill the harmful bacteria that may be present in it. You can also try combinations of different fruits and vegetables to make the food healthier.
Crawling, Sitting, and Standing
Baby’s skills and strength may vary for each kid. Some started to sit before they can crawl and some learn to crawl before they can sit. Whatever it is, they are definitely going to learn all of that in their own phase.
As parents we should be on standby to guide and support them as they learn new things. Provide a safe place for them to move around. A play mat or a soft cushioned not slip floor is essential to safeguard your child from bumping her head, knees, and elbows as she tries to move her body.
According to American Dental Association, an infant may start teething at the age of 6 – 12 months. Your baby may experience irritability, drooling, and fussiness due to the pain of her teeth pushing out. You can help your child ease the pain of sore and tender gums by giving her something safe to chew on. A cold teeter is a good example of a chew toy that can soothe your baby’s gums.
Consult your pediatrician if you notice that your baby has a fever, diarrhea, or rashes.
Playing is fun and it is a great way to help your baby learn. Playing games is healthy for babies as it helps them develop their motor, sensory, and cognitive skills. A colorful rattle toy can help your baby respond to sound and promote color recognition.
It also plays an important role in building emotional trust and a special bond between the parent and the child. Seeing your baby’s smile relieves stress and makes you feel happy. They are easy to entertain and it is easy to make them laugh. One of the most common games you can play with an infant is a peek-a-boo game, they love your face and it is their favorite toy. You can also place a toy at a distance and encourage your child to crawl or walk towards it. There are many games you can play with an infant with or without toys.
A baby’s sleeping pattern changes as she grows older and older. At newborn, they tend to sleep about 14 – 17 hours a day. At about 3 months of age, you would notice that your baby is awake for a longer period and you get the chance to play with them. According to the National Sleep Foundation, an infant 4 – 12 months of age sleep around 12 – 15 hours a day.
Play with your child during the daytime. An active baby during the day will become sleepier at night. This is a good practice for your child to get used to sleeping at night. Set a sleepy ambiance in your baby’s room and minimize noises to promote a good night’s sleep.
Your baby will eventually understand words as you talk to them every day. You may hear your child say her first word at around 7 – 12 months. Babbling is a sign of your child trying to communicate. She may start to imitate the sounds she hears more frequently.
To help your child develop her communication skills, it is best to talk to your child at all times. You may narrate what you are doing like changing her diaper or bathing her, if you do this every day, you are practicing her hearing skills and it will help her learn words. You can also point out things around the house and say the words describing them. It is also nice to have a picture book to play with, it can be anything like pictures of animals, fruits, colors and shape, letters, and numbers.
You will most likely visit the pediatrician multiple times during your baby’s first year for scheduled vaccinations. Vaccines are very important for babies as they help to protect them from getting sick. They will get immunity to common illness which can be prevented. Your baby’s pediatrician will probably give her a baby book with a page there designated to track and record all your baby’s immunization. It essential to take keep
During these routine visits, the doctor may check the developmental milestones of your child to see if they are healthy and growing right.
Care for Older Baby (1 year – 3 years)
Children before preschool are still considered babies. Toddlers are older babies who are more agile, more responsive, and more intelligent, as this is the age of fast learning.
Remember to avoid yelling at your baby. Shouting or yelling may influence their learning process and they may acquire yelling in their speech.
Playing allows them to use their creativity and discover their area of interest. This is the best bonding time for the parents and kids. You can also use play to strengthen their physical development as well as speed up their cognitive development. Babies and kids are like sponges who absorb everything that they see and learn so it is a good opportunity to use playing as a method of teaching your babies.
Start training your baby to sleep early and encourage her to have a nap in the afternoon. Be consistent at the time of your baby’s sleep and nap time and develop a healthy sleep routine for your baby. A baby with a full night’s sleep can be more energetic and less fussy in the morning. Getting enough sleep help to improve their mood, mental health, and physical growth.
Introducing healthy food for toddlers is a big challenge for parents. They are more active therefore, they should have more balanced meals every day. Feeding milk alone may not be enough to support their growing needs for nutrition.
You can make mealtime fun and enjoyable if you will eat together and try to include your baby’s favorite stuffed toy on the table. Make creative and colorful plates with different shapes and figures. Sometimes I use my child’s cooking toy set and put the food in there just to help her eat the vegetables I serve.
Try as much to avoid junk foods and too many sweet treats. Children have been known to have sweet tooth, well we all like sweets, but once they have a taste of it they will definitely crave it. So what you can do is to hide those sweets somewhere out of reach and it is better if they do not know you have them at home.
Toddlers are the best students, they grasp information and learn at a fast phase. They become interested in what adults do and you may see them start imitating you. There are plenty of educational videos, learning materials, and engaging toys, which can help your little ones start learning.
Jumpstart their learning process with picture books, animal puzzles, matching games, and counting steps as you go up the stairs. There are plenty of ways to include learning in their daily activities.
Physical and motor development
Babies at the toddler age are more active. This is the period when they learn to walk, run, jump, dance, and climb-up the furniture. As parent, we should pay much attention to them as they are very much likely to explore everything around them. It is a good idea to baby proof your home especially the room where your child mostly spends his time. These little children can be too excited and they may sometimes test their limits and play roughly which may cause them to fall or bump on to something.
Running, kicking, pushing, throwing, and jumping are just some of the physical development your baby will master in this stage. Encourage your child to move a lot to improve their motor skills and increase their muscle strengths.
Little toddlers like to try the things they see from you so if they see you insert a plug, they are most likely to try poking or inserting things in there so to prevent these accidents do precautionary measures and place outlet covers on the power sockets which are within reach of your child. If you have tables or other furniture that have pointed corners that may cause injuries it is a good idea to put table corner protectors. Keep an eye on them when playing to prevent accidents.
After they have learned their first word, toddlers will start to acquire more words and may be able to start saying a combination of few words to communicate. Exposing them to educational videos can help improve their speech.
You can stimulate your baby’s speech through play. You can show your child an object and give her a description. For example, you get a ball and show it to her, saying this is a ball, b-b-ball, the ball is round, r-r-round, the ball is green, g-g-green, the ball is bouncing, b-b-bounce, so on and on. You can also do this when you go outside and help her familiarize about nature and the things surrounding her such as a flower, birds, cars, clouds, moon, and the stars.
Taking Good Care of Yourself
Yes, we are still talking about baby healthcare here and one of the most important tips is not to forget about yourself. There is so much going on with the new baby around. You may forget about make-up and fashion but do not forget about eating healthy, drinking plenty of water and sleeping. Getting enough sleep might be difficult with a baby waking up almost every two to three hours, especially at night when your baby is more active. But try to get some sleep while your baby is asleep. Get support from your partner and help from your relatives. In the most difficult time, you can ask your doctor for a way to manage your and your baby’s health needs. So now you are ready to take on the challenge of being a parent. I hope that these tips are helpful to you as you step into parenthood. Good luck to you and love lots.
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