Sugar and spice and all things nice are what babies are made of. And, handling and caring for the little bundle of joy as soon as it arrives in the world can be exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. After all, this little bundle depends on you for everything. This is the time when most new parents, especially first-timers, wonder, “How can I be a good parent to my newborn?” This universal question does not have one answer, but many aspects. Let us look at them in detail.
Human babies are among the most helpless babies in the animal kingdom. The primary reason for is that their brain is still underdeveloped when they are born. In fact, their brain is only 30% developed compared to an adult’s brain. Most of their brain development happens in the first three years of life. Physically too, human babies take time to develop their motor skills before they can become independent. As a parent, you need to know the development milestones of a baby and help your infant in the right direction early on.
Caring for a Newborn
Before we look at parenting tips for new born babies, let us first understand the kind of care a newborn needs. Having spent a long time in the warmth and comfort of the mother’s womb, soon after birth, a newborn is exposed to a world of senses and stimuli. This exposure will develop your baby’s brain to adapt to the world outside. At this point, everything you do for your baby adds to your child’s experience and helps them feel safe and comfortable. Meanwhile, their brain continues to build new neural connections or synapses that will go a long way in determining your child’s abilities and skills.
Having a focused and clear approach to parenting at this stage can help you develop a long-lasting bond with your baby and understand your baby’s needs as they grow.
Parenting Tips for Caring for and Nurturing A Newborn Baby
Birth to three months of age may look like a very short span for you as an adult, but for babies, each day is taking a step closer to their developmental milestones. During the first three months of a baby’s life, they learn to adjust and adapt to their new environment, start forming a routine and prepare for a much more active engagement with their surroundings.
Find below some tips for boosting their growth and development during this stage.
Breastfeed Your Baby
No matter whom you ask for newborn parenting tips, breastfeeding your baby will always be at the top of the list. Human milk is the best form of nutrition for babies during the first 6 months of their time out of your womb. It not only contains all the nutrients required in the right proportions but is also easy to digest. Mother’s milk contains antibodies that will protect your baby from infections. If your baby is unable to latch on properly, don’t shy away from asking nurses and lactation consultants for help. To make it easier to feed your baby, set up a feeding station at home. Equip it with washcloths for the baby and a book and a glass of water for yourself.
Hold Your Baby Close to You
Babies are born near-sighted. They can see things best when they are 8-12 inches away. So, when you talk and play with your baby, bring your face close to theirs. This is one of the important newborn father tips to know since the baby spends more time with their mother. Your face is one of the first things your baby will learn to recognise. Seeing your face frequently is also how they will develop a relationship with you. By the time they are 1-1.5 months old, your face should be familiar enough so that they smile when you come near. That said, don’t feel bad if your baby turns away sometimes. They may just be tired and need rest.
Talk to Your Baby Often
You may feel as though you are talking to yourself but your baby is listening to everything you say. Babies are interested in the world around them and want to hear you talk. Whenever your baby is awake and alert, talk to them in a gentle, soothing tone. This is one of the best parenting tips for newborns. Later, this helps them build a wider vocabulary. A study found that babies who heard baby talk regularly had an average vocabulary of 433 words by the age of two years, while those who did not usually have a limited vocabulary of about 169 words.
You can talk to your baby about anything—tell them about the family, people and things around them, or describe a toy. Just remember, as much as they like hearing your voice, babies can be easily overwhelmed by loud noises, so always keep your volume low.
Read to Your Baby
Parenting tips for newborn baby includes reading to your baby. It is never too early to start. At this age, your baby isn’t going to understand much of what is being read. For them, it’s just another way of hearing your voice. Reading to your baby while they are having a feed is a good idea. If you find it silly talking to a nonverbal baby about your day, reading a book will help you break through that barrier. As your baby grows older, you can pick books with big, bright pictures that your baby can see while you read to them.
Play Music for Your Baby
Just as music soothes your emotions and makes you feel happy, it has an impact on your baby’s mind too. Studies have been conducted to explore neonates’ responses to different types of music. Children who were exposed to happy music showed longer latencies in many forms of self-regulatory behaviours, proving that babies do have an emotional response to music. So, if your baby seems cranky, hum a tune. If they can’t fall asleep, sing or play a lullaby. Such new born care tips calm your baby and make them feel secure.
Respond to Your Baby’s Cries
When your baby is less than three months old, crying is the only way they can communicate with you. As the weeks pass, you will realise that they have a different way of crying when they are hungry, wet, tired, scared etc. When your baby cries, respond to them as soon as possible. There is no such thing as mollycoddling your baby at this age. When you respond to them, your baby feels secure and knows that you are there for them.
By the age of about 8 weeks, your baby will start making other simple sounds and cooing back to you when they’re happy.
Suspend a Crib Mobile Over Your Baby’s Cot
By the time your baby is around two months old, they will start flailing their hands and legs about. However, they don’t have much control over these movements. To help them develop stronger motor skills, suspend a crib mobile with bright objects to encourage them to reach out to them. The mobile shouldn’t be too high to be out of reach completely but shouldn’t be so low that your baby gets tangled up in the strings. Similarly, you can give your baby a big, bright rattle to help them develop their motor skills.
When it comes to newborn care tips for new moms, make sure the toys you give your baby are made from non-toxic materials and have no small parts or sharp edges.
No matter how well you prepare, the life of a newborn is always chaotic. In the first few months, babies have erratic sleep patterns, depriving you of sleep and rest. The initial excitement quickly gives way to exhaustion. So, accept help from anyone who offers it as long as you trust them. If a friend volunteers to do your shopping, give them a list. If someone wants to send food, let them. Forget about dusting and dishes for the next few months. At this time, your focus needs to be only on your baby and yourself.
Take Care of Your Baby’s Hygiene Needs
Newborns do not need a bath every day but you must ensure that they stay clean. You can use cotton wool and warm water to clean your baby’s eyes and mouth. Don’t put anything inside your baby’s ears. You can clean the outer ear with a damp cloth. Similarly, keep the baby’s umbilical cord clean and dry until it falls off.
When you bathe your baby, make sure the water is at the right temperature and you have everything you need before you bring your baby to the tub. A 5–10-minute wash is more than enough. After a bath, pat the baby’s skin with a soft towel to dry them. If the weather is conducive, you may choose to give your baby ‘nappy-free’ time for a while. This helps lower the risk of diaper rash.
Share a Room with Your Baby
For the sake of your peace of mind and the baby’s safety, let your baby sleep in your room for at least the first 6 months. This allows you to respond quickly if your baby wakes up at night and makes it easier to breastfeed. At a later stage, you can always start transitioning your baby to an independent room. You may choose to have your baby sleep in a cot or on the bed beside you. Here are a few tips for co-sleeping with a newborn if you choose the latter option.
Newborns are delicate and need to be handled with care. But, they aren’t little China dolls. A baby’s mind will develop quickly and before you know it, they’ll be walking and talking. Rather than let this time idle by, choose activities that your baby will not only enjoy but also learn from.
As mentioned earlier, this is the time of phenomenal brain development. By the time you’re your baby turns one year old, their brain would have doubled the size. So, make the most of this time and introduce them to age-appropriate activities that will not only keep them entertained but also help in their growth and development. To know more about what you can do to boost your baby’s growth, contact us.