Sometimes young mothers who’ve had no prior experience with babies find it difficult to adjust to the little requirements of a baby, such as special care at bathing and skincare, as babies skin in prone to rash if not looked after well. Here we show you how to look after your little bundle of joy and enjoy motherhood.
Relaxation and Exercise
You can begin your newborn as soon as you feel up to it. Gently massage your baby to relax him and encourage proper functioning of his body. Some guidelines for massage: Use natural oils or if rash appears, use lotion. Always apply the baby is awake and receptive. Make sure the room is warm and comfortable. Proceed gradually and make sure the baby is enjoying the massage. Maintain a relaxed attitude. Start massaging with soles of feet and work upwards towards baby’s back. Be gentle and, if possible, sing to the baby.
Until the baby is about six weeks old, or once the umbilical cord falls off, the only parts that need daily bathing are the head, hands and bottom. This can be done with cotton wool and warm water in a bowl. The baby does not need to be undressed completely as you only wipe parts of the body exposed and then move on to the other areas. Try and establish a time for the baby’s bath, preferably not immediately after meals or when he is sleepy or hungry.
Tips for Bath Time
Ensure the room where you are going to bathe the baby is warm. The water should also be lukewarm. Test it by dipping your elbow. Support the baby’s head with your forearm and keep it above the water while you wash with other hand. Wash the baby’s head afterwards, either in the basin, wrap the baby in a towel and hold firmly under one arm; keep the head over the sink and keep the tap running. Gently pour water and wash your baby’s hair gently, a shampoo dispenser makes it much safer and easier, and rinse. If the baby is squirming and you are not confident, stick to the bathtub and pour water with a mug or use a hand-shower. Keep checking the temperature of the water at all times.
It is also advisable to use a waterproof apron. Keep all items (towel, lotion, Vaseline, etc) and clothing handy so that you don’t leave the baby unattended during or after the bath. It is easier to squeeze liquid baby soap in the bath than rubbing soap. Remember to never leave the baby alone in the bathtub or on the changing table. If the doorbell or phone rings, take the baby with you or put him in the cot.
Some babies have a cradle cap, a yellowish, greasy, scaled area on the scalp, which peels. Simple shampooing and massaging the scalp with olive or baby oil can help minimise it. Use a soft brush after bathing to remove scales gently. If there is no change, see a health professional. Diaper rash appears as red spots which can be on the entire diaper area including baby’s bottom and thighs. The best prevention is to apply a thin layer of Vaseline or zinc oxide before putting on the diaper. Change the diaper frequently and immediately, if it is soiled. Wash the baby’s bottom often and expose the affected area by allowing the baby to lie on an open diaper, three or four times a day.
Babies need fresh air, sunlight and outings frequently. The baby’s first outing (at 2-3 weeks if temperature is moderate) should be brief. Dress the baby lightly for warmer temperatures if going out and keep the top of the pushchair up or hat to protect them from direct sunlight. At no time expose the baby to direct sunlight. Remember babies can burn easily in the sun. Avoid sunscreen in the first 6 months and keep exposure brief. After 6 months, you can apply special sunscreen for babies. Keep babies out of the sun between 10 am and 4 pm in summer.
Your baby’s clothes must be comfortable, loose fitting and soft. Make sure the baby’s toes are not curled up in pajamas or sleep suits that she/he has outgrown. Avoid fabrics made of synthetic fibres, which can cause allergic reactions. Wash baby’s clothes in mild soap. Babies usually have flat feet until they are 3 years old and the arch takes shape as the muscles develop from walking.
Every baby’s development differs so parents are often warned against making anxious comparisons with other children or even siblings. The age of premature babies must be adjustable to the full-term due date. Thus a baby born one month early on June 15 instead of August 15th should be considered one month of age on September 15 rather than the actual two months. The milestones below are only an estimated rate of growth for an average infant.
Up to 2 months: Baby is at reflex stage. He will try to grasp your finger, look at your face or moving toy. Babies respond to singing and talking and they coo, gurgle and smile.
2 to 3 months: The baby holds the head up more easily and is more active. While on his stomach he can prop himself up on forearms. He will also explore his feet and hands. He becomes aware of other members of the family and tires to grab objects.
4 to 5 months: The baby can raise his head when lying on the back and sometimes begin to roll over when on the stomach. Eyesight improves tremendously and baby is alert, often following objects and people with his eyes.
6 months: Some babies begin crawling as soon as 6 months and start to teethe while others begin several months later.
Around 7 months: The baby begins to sit and may topple over when reaching for toys. They experiment by throwing objects on the floor repeatedly. They like funny faces and noises and touching facial features with their fingers.
At 8 months: Babies often exhibit separation anxiety when away from parents.
9 months: Babies crawl faster and attempt to stand up by holding onto furniture. Eye and hand movements are more coordinated. Babies enjoy big building block toys and floating toys.
10 to 11 months: The baby wants to explore the entire house and become more independent. If not walking yet, the baby will be making attempts to stand and take a few steps. He can understand everything and can even say ‘ta ta’, ‘bye bye’ and plays simple games. They may be wary of strangers at this age.
12 months: The baby now weights three times as much as at birth. He will walk at his own time and begins to form words such as ‘mama’ and ‘dada’.