Finally! The day has arrived and you are taking your new born baby home! You are excited, thrilled, scared and worried – in equal measure. Will you drop the baby in the bath water? This sounds funny but isn’t! The number of new mothers who stress about dropping their baby is legion. But, there are other things, that will come very naturally to you. And some things you’ll find incomprehensible and scary. So, here’s a check list that covers the needs of your bundle of joy – and what you need to do to satisfy them.
How to hold your baby
You might feel that your baby is fragile and delicate but don’t be scared to touch, caress, handle or hold your baby. Research has proven that babies who are held more than two hours a day thrive more and cry much less. Since the baby’s neck muscle take a little time to develop, you will need to support your baby’s head whenever you pick her up.
Bathing your baby
This is one of the biggest challenges for a new mother. Before you start, make sure all the bathing supplies are at hand. Use gentle cleansers, shampoo and soap. Give your baby a gentle massage before the bath with baby oil. Studies have shown that a massage can relax your baby, improve the baby’s sleep patterns and calm her down when she gets irritable. Giving your baby a massage is also a great way to bond with your baby. And use baby lotion after you have dried your baby out with soft baby towels or linen. Don’t be afraid to gently wash the soft spot, called fontanels, on your baby's head.
Don’t be surprised by the number of diaper changes your baby will require. To reduce stress and make life easier, keep plenty of diapers in stock. For the delicate skin of your new born baby, and especially given the heat and humidity of the Indian climate, it is advisable that cotton or linen diapers are used. Disposable diapers should be used while travelling or for visits away from home. Be prepared for nappy rash. Most babies develop diaper rash between 0-2 years of age. If you see any signs of redness, apply a safe zinc oxide based cream on the diaper area. Keep the area clean and as dry as far as possible.
Babies do cry – some of them quite frequently, too. Most babies cry for an average of two hours a day, in the first three months. This is quite normal. It’s not that the baby is sick or anything! Of course, you’ll want to comfort your baby but you also need to know why she is crying. Is your baby hungry? Does the diaper need to be changed? Is the baby sleepy? Is the baby too excited by external stimuli such as lights or noise? To soothe and comfort your baby, hold her to your shoulder while gently rocking her. Sing or speak softly while you rub her back, gently. Try different positions to calm and soothe your baby.
Your baby’s sleep patterns will change as she grows. Newborns sleep a lot right through the 24-hour day, waking up often – both day and night. However, you can still begin to develop a bedtime routine for your baby, as early as six to eight weeks. As your baby grows she will start to combine her sporadic naps into a full night’s sleep with fewer daytime “naps.” You can help her slowly develop a sleeping pattern; you can encourage her to recognize that night time is for sleep, not for play.