There is no word to describe my joy when I saw the nurse coming out of the delivery room, carrying my newborn baby girl. After more than 9 months, our long-awaited Athena finally announced her arrival to this world, healthy and energetic. She is also a beautiful baby girl. She is also gorgeous, with my eyes and her mother’s mouth and nose.
The arrival of our baby also means this column has to shift its focus from pregnancy to infancy, but the goal is still the same: to give our baby, as well as our readers’, the best care. To begin with, let’s look at how the new baby should be taken care of.
I might have annoyed our doctors with a bunch of questions, but at the end of the day, I have come up with a guideline on caring for the newborn, which I want to share with other expecting parents.
Newborns have a weak immune system, which puts them at risk for infections. That’s why you have to wash your hands with soap or hand sanitiser and wear face mask before handling the baby while also making sure that everyone else who will touch the baby do the same. It is more important than ever amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Limit any activity that could be too rough or bouncy. Never shake your baby to wake it up or for any other purpose because shaking could cause bleeding in the brain and even death. Also, make sure your baby is securely fastened into the carrier, stroller, or car seat.
Feeding a baby
According to experts, for the first month, a newborn should be breastfeed between 8 to 12 times per day.
Breast milk is easily digested so a breastfed baby has fewer bouts of diarrhea or constipation. It also protects the baby from infections and diseases, and according to some studies, makes it smarter and builds a strong bond between the mother and child, not to mention that it is free. Therefore, it is not strange that many health organisations promote breastfeeding as the best choice for babies and even suggest that a baby should not be fed anything but the mother’s milk for the first six months. However, not all women can breastfeed their child, and that’s when infant formula comes in as the next alternative.
It is true that infant formula does not have the same benefits as breast milk or provide bonding skin-to-skin contact, but it’s convenient and save a lot of time for a busy mother.
Yet, not until your baby arrives that you can make a right decision. Many women decide on one method, but change their mind after a while because of their schedule or lifestyle.
When to feed the baby
There is nothing such as “one rule fits all” regarding feeding your newborn, no matter you breastfeed or bottle-feed it. The baby should be fed “on demand”, for example when it tries to cue you by crying, putting fingers in his or her mouth, or making sucking noises. But you must also be cautious since crying does not always mean your baby is hungry. Feeding your newborn too much can cause them discomfort, especially in the belly.
Some newborns may need to be awakened every few hours to make sure they get enough to drink. Call your baby’s doctor if you need to wake your newborn often or if your baby doesn’t seem interested in drinking milk.
The sleep routine
Newborns spend most of their days sleeping, and they can sleep up to 16 hours a day or even more!
Have you ever heard other new parents complain about their lack of sleep at night? That’s because the digestive system of babies is so small that they need nourishment every few hours and should be awakened if they haven’t been fed for 4 hours (or even more). It’s important to always place babies on their backs to sleep to reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Change the position of your baby’s head from
night to night to prevent the development of a flat spot on one side of the head.
Don’t be afraid of asking for help
Seeking help is an important aspect in raising a healthy child, but not from amateurs with no experiences in parenting. Pediatrics examine your baby when it shows signs of health conditions. Midwifes at clinics or the hospital where the mother gives birth can teach you how to handle or give a bath to the baby properly. Most hospitals have feeding specialists or lactation consultants who can help you get started on nursing or bottle-feeding. Nurses also are a great assistance to show you how to hold, burp, change, and care for your baby.
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