Get­ting to know your new­born

Get­ting to know your new­born can be an ex­cit­ing, yet daunt­ing time. Know­ing what to ex­pect can make the the tran­si­tion into mother­hood smoother. We share some tips that will be­come sec­ond na­ture in time

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -


Each mom’s ex­pe­ri­ence of bond­ing (another word for con­nect­ing with your baby) is dif­fer­ent. Some moms fall in love with their ba­bies in utero, long be­fore birth. Other moms ex­pe­ri­ence anx­i­ety as the birth date ap­proaches, not know­ing for sure if they will love their baby and then ex­pe­ri­ence love at first sight on the day their baby is born, says Meg Faure, oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist and co-au­thor of the Baby Sense se­ries of books.

Another very nor­mal ap­proach is to feel some­what in­tim­i­dated by your baby and not very con­nected to this new life for a while af­ter birth. This can cre­ate anx­i­ety as you start to worry if that “nat­u­ral” ma­ter­nal in­stinct will ever kick in. Don’t worry, you will fall in love; some­times it just takes time.

It is a re­searched fact that skin-toskin con­tact in the first few days af­ter your baby is born re­leases won­der­ful feel-good and love hor­mones, as well as as­sist­ing in the es­tab­lish­ment of breast­feed­ing. Touch is a lan­guage that ba­bies un­der­stand, says Meg.

Stroking, nuz­zling, mas­sag­ing, cud­dling, and nap­ping to­gether – th­ese are the ways you and your part­ner can com­mu­ni­cate your love for your child and de­velop that spe­cial bond.


New­borns are ac­tu­ally very clean and hy­gienic. While they do not get dirty eas­ily (with the ex­cep­tion of their nappy area), they do need to be pro­tected from in­fec­tion. So with that in mind here are a few prin­ci­ples for new­born care.


1. You don’t have to bath him ev­ery day, but your baby’s face and bot­tom need to be prop­erly cleaned twice a day. Pre­pare a small bowl with cool boiled wa­ter and a few swabs of cot­ton wool. 2. Start with your baby’s face. ✓ Wet a swab for each eye. ✓ Squeeze the ex­cess wa­ter out. ✓ Al­ways wipe your baby’s eyes from the nose out­wards. 3. Once you have washed his eyes, use a clean swab to wipe the rest of his face. ✓ Wipe with a damp swab un­der his chin and be­hind his ears to clean out milk curds that may ac­cu­mu­late in the folds of his neck. 4. Once you are fin­ished clean­ing your baby’s face, move onto his bot­tom. ✓ Re­move the nappy. ✓ Wipe your baby’s gen­i­tal area, wip­ing well in all the groin folds. ✓ If you have a baby girl, wipe gen­tly from front to back – there’s no need to open the labia to clean in the folds. ✓ If you have a boy, wipe un­der the scro­tum and around the pe­nis area (do not pull your baby’s fore­skin back, this is not nec­es­sary and can hurt him). ✓ Then wipe your baby’s anus well from front to back.


Wash your baby ev­ery sec­ond day and on al­ter­nate days just top-and-tail him.

If your baby has a col­icky patch in the evening, where he cries a lot, rather bath him in the evening if he finds this sooth­ing, or move the bath to the morn­ing if bathing seems to un­set­tle him more. ✓ Pre­pare the chang­ing space with a clean baby­gro and vest, a clean nappy and a warm towel. ✓ Run a warm bath – not luke­warm but not hot, just a nice warm tem­per­a­ture. ✓ Lather your baby with aque­ous cream be­fore putting him the bath. This will make him slip­pery, but it’s eas­ier than lath­er­ing him in the bath. Wrap him in a tow­elling nappy and lower him into the bath wrapped in that for safety. ✓ Hold your baby with your arm be­hind his neck area – his neck and head should be rest­ing on your fore­arm – and hold­ing his arm that is fur­thest from you in your hand. This leaves you with one hand free to wash him.


Your new­born will need a nappy change at ev­ery feed and maybe even more fre­quently. Dis­pos­able nap­pies are ex­cel­lent at ab­sorb­ing the urine away from the sen­si­tive skin of the bum area, but you do still need to take care and clean the area well at each nappy change. ✓ Pre­pare the nappy change area by hav­ing two nap­pies on hand (there is a chance you will need to use two nap­pies if your baby hap­pens to wee in the

mid­dle of a nappy change). ✓ Use wa­ter that has been boiled and al­lowed to cool down and cot­ton wool swabs for the first few weeks and then change to a gen­tle wet wipe if your baby does not de­velop nappy rash in the first few months. ✓ Wipe the nappy area well, as per the top-and-tail­ing in­struc­tions. ✓ Use a sim­ple bum cream as a pro­tec­tive layer, un­less your baby de­vel­ops a nappy rash, in which case you will need a spe­cially for­mu­lated nappy rash cream.


Your new­born’s im­mune sys­tem is not yet fully de­vel­oped and so it needs to be pro­tected for a while. You can do this with th­ese tips: ✓ Clean the um­bil­i­cal cord stump area very well un­til the cord falls off com­pletely by it­self (do not pull on it, as this height­ens the risk of in­fec­tion). Use sur­gi­cal spir­its on a cot­ton bud and thor­oughly clean the area af­ter each bath and ev­ery day­time nappy change. Don’t be scared to lift and move the stump around so that you get it clean right at the base. ✓ Al­ways wash your hands af­ter each nappy change and top-and-tail­ing. ✓ Al­ways wash your hands be­fore pre­par­ing any feeds. ✓ Ster­ilise your baby’s dummy and any­thing that goes near his mouth un­til he is six months old. You can do this us­ing a mi­crowave ster­iliser, or ster­il­is­ing so­lu­tion or tablets in wa­ter.


You will never have been quite this tired in your life and sleep de­pri­va­tion may make you feel even more out of your depth in your new role.

This is quite nor­mal, says Meg, but it helps to un­der­stand how your new­born will sleep in th­ese early days of his or her life.

Your new­born may sleep fairly well for the first two weeks – sleep­ing long stretches be­tween each feed.

But all this will prob­a­bly change at 10 to 14 days, when your lit­tle one be­comes more alert.

At this point your new­born may be more dif­fi­cult to set­tle and may even re­sist sleep dur­ing the day or worse still, have his day and night mud­dled up and be wake­ful all night.


The main rea­sons for sleep dis­rup­tions change dra­mat­i­cally from birth to tod­dler­hood.

The main causes of sleep dis­rup­tions in the new­born stage are:


Once your new­born baby be­comes more awake and alert, it may seem that he is awake most of the day and you just can­not get him to sleep at nap­time. This be­comes a vi­cious cy­cle – the less he sleeps, the more he will re­sist fall­ing asleep. Make sure he is put back to sleep 45 min­utes af­ter wak­ing dur­ing the day. Time this from the mo­ment he wakes up un­til you put him down for the next sleep, says Meg.

All clean­ing, play­time and feeds should hap­pen dur­ing this awake time.


A new baby will wake at the end of a sleep cy­cle and fre­quently at night – he will not sleep through. Since new­borns need to feed fre­quently and also go through growth spurts, try to feed your baby on de­mand dur­ing the day and wake him if he is not feed­ing at least three-hourly dur­ing the day.


If your baby is re­ally not set­tled day and night and is wak­ing very fre­quently dur­ing the night, rule out reflux. This is a com­mon cause of dis­com­fort in new ba­bies, which can im­pact on sleep. Ob­serve him closely, make a list of all his symp­toms of dis­com­fort and be sure to tell the pae­di­a­tri­cian. Reflux can be a lit­tle com­pli­cated to di­ag­nose.


Some new­borns take a while to dif­fer­en­ti­ate day and night. For th­ese ba­bies, keep day in­ter­ac­tions more an­i­mated and alert, and keep night feeds very calm with as lit­tle in­ter­ac­tion, such as chang­ing nap­pies, as pos­si­ble.


Keep in mind that de­vel­op­men­tal mile­stones are worked out at the av­er­age age at which chil­dren ac­quire new skills, which means that many ba­bies ac­quire the skills later, and many ac­quire them ear­lier. They are in­tended to serve as a guide­line only, and not as a rule. Ba­bies de­velop at their own pace, and a slightly slower devel­op­ment than av­er­age is not a re­flec­tion on her fu­ture abil­i­ties.

It’s help­ful to un­der­stand that devel­op­ment starts at the head and works its way down through the body in a spe­cific or­der. Your baby won’t ac­quire one skill be­fore she’s de­vel­oped the spe­cific mus­cle con­trol and think­ing pat­terns that this skill needs.

In real terms, this means that while you can of course stim­u­late your baby, you can’t push her to ac­quire skills she’s not ready to de­velop. What you can do, how­ever, is take time to play with your baby, and spend lots of time in com­mu­ni­ca­tions – both talk­ing and lis­ten­ing.

Some emo­tional and so­cial mile­stones to be on the look­out for: ✓ He stops cry­ing in re­sponse to softly spo­ken words, es­pe­cially when hear­ing your voice ✓ He looks in­tently at your face when feed­ing ✓ He’s up­set by loud noises and harsh voices ✓ He en­joys close con­tact and eye con­tact ✓ He loves to see you, smell you, hear you and feel your lov­ing touch.

Above all – en­joy your lit­tle one in th­ese early, all-im­por­tant months. The time will go by so quickly and when his first birth­day ar­rives, you’ll look back in amaze­ment at how far he’s come and how time has flown. YB


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