New­born tips – care with con­fi­dence

Keep your new baby in tip-top con­di­tion with our list of 15 bits of es­sen­tial new-mom know-how

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -

SLEEP New­borns N wb sleep l for f 16 hours h a day, d but b t not in one long stretch. Usu­ally they sleep for stretches of three to four hours at a time, wak­ing up for a feed in be­tween. Many new­borns also swop day and night around, be­com­ing more ac­tive at night and barely wak­ing dur­ing the day. Tired­ness will soon get the bet­ter of you, so try this to get over this phase: • Work in shifts with your baby’s daddy. You can feed, he can wind or you take the night shift dur­ing the week while he lets you sleep a bit longer over the week­ends. • Sleep when your baby sleeps, or at least make sure you go to bed early. • If you need to change your baby’s nappy at night, keep the room dark and be quick, gen­tle and quiet. He mustn’t feel like it is play­time. • Don’t rush to the side of the cot with ev­ery lit­tle peep. Al­low your baby some time to soothe him­self back to sleep. CAN­DIDA/THRUSH Can­dida or thrush is quite a com­mon in­fec­tion in new­borns. It can be trans­mit­ted from mom to baby dur­ing breast­feed­ing. Look out for a gray-white layer on the tongue and in­side the cheeks. You won’t be able to wipe this away eas­ily and some­times it might even bleed. Can­dida on the bum area usu­ally starts with lit­tle red dots with a clear bor­der. Your usual bar­rier cream won’t make it bet­ter. You’ll have to get a script from the doc­tor for this. Be sure to wash your hands thor­oughly after ev­ery nappy change. NAP­PIES Avoid nappy rash by be­ing pre­ven­ta­tive. In­vest in a good bum cream and qual­ity nap­pies. Change your baby’s nappy reg­u­larly and clean his nappy area thor­oughly to get rid of all traces of urine or stools. Deal with nappy rash at the very first sign – if left un­treated it can quickly get out of con­trol and make your baby mis­er­able. Al­low your baby some nappy-free time ev­ery day to air out the area. Don’t hes­i­tate to go to the doc­tor if nappy rash doesn’t im­prove – it could be a fun­gal in­fec­tion. COM­FORT­ING Re­mem­ber, it is im­pos­si­ble to spoil your baby by com­fort­ing him. Trust your in­stinct, and pick him up and com­fort him. It could help to give him a dummy, or to take him for a walk, or to rock him in your arms. Play some calm­ing mu­sic. If his cry­ing is push­ing you too far, ask some­one else to take over for a while so you can give your­self a break. Your baby loves your touch and mas­sage can help your bond grow stronger. It also gives your baby phys­i­cal ben­e­fits by en­hanc­ing sen­sory devel­op­ment. Es­pe­cially preterm ba­bies can ben­e­fit from mas­sage, as soon as you have the all clear to do so.

TAK­ING BABY TO THE DOC Many new moth­ers feel un­cer­tain about when to take their new baby to the doc­tor. You don’t want to be branded neu­rotic, but you nat­u­rally worry when your baby is out of sorts. If your baby has any of the fol­low­ing symp­toms, you should see the doc­tor: • Your baby is unusu­ally floppy and rest­less. • She cries more than usual and you can’t seem to com­fort her. Her cry­ing is shrill or weak. • She won’t nurse or gets tired very quickly while nurs­ing. • She has di­ar­rhoea or is vom­it­ing. • Her fontanelles are sunken in. • She is unusu­ally sleepy. • It looks as if she has dif­fi­culty breath­ing. • There is blood or slime in her stools, or her stools look jel­ly­ish. • She has a tem­per­a­ture of more than 37.7 de­grees Cel­sius. • Take your baby to the doc­tor if your in­stinct tells you that some­thing is wrong, even if she doesn’t have the symp­toms listed above.

Sids (sud­den in­fant death syn­drome) Cot death is very rare, but all par­ents worry about it. The most im­por­tant things to do to min­imise the risk are to let your baby sleep on his back and don’t let any­one smoke near him or in your house. Breast­feed­ing re­duces the risk. En­sure there is noth­ing in his cot that can suf­fo­cate him.

BATHING BABY Bath­time can be a lit­tle stress­ful ini­tially. Get on top of it with the fol­low­ing point­ers: • Make sure ev­ery­thing you need is ready and within arm’s length. • Bath your baby at a time of day when he is calm and happy and not hun­gry. • Make sure the baby bath is at a com­fort­able height for you so that you don’t strain your back. • Test the tem­per­a­ture of the bath wa­ter. We rec­om­mend us­ing a bath ther­mome­ter. • Drape a wash­cloth over his tummy to make him feel safe. • Talk to him in a sooth­ing voice while you wash him. • If your baby doesn’t en­joy bath­time, don’t feel obliged to bath him ev­ery day. On cold days you can also opt for a top and tail bath. You also don’t have to wash his hair ev­ery day. • De­vote spe­cial at­ten­tion to all the lit­tle skin folds in his neck, be­hind his ears and un­der his arms where milk can pool. Also dry them off prop­erly with a soft towel. BIRTHMARKS Birthmarks are re­ally very com­mon and can range from tem­po­rary colour splotches to per­ma­nent marks. The red marks that ba­bies typ­i­cally have on their eye­lids or on the back of the neck are known as stork bites (cute, hey?) and they are harm­less. They usu­ally dis­ap­pear in a few months. Straw­berry birthmarks, on the other hand, are flat at birth but then in­crease in size and are raised on the skin’s sur­face. Most dis­ap­pear within the first 15 years of life. Large pur­ple port wine stains on the face are usu­ally per­ma­nent. Most of the time birthmarks are harm­less, but if your child has an un­usual num­ber of these marks it could in­di­cate an un­der­ly­ing con­di­tion. Be sure to point them out to your doc­tor. FONTANELLES Fontanelles are the soft spots on your baby’s head where the skull bones have not joined yet. The front fontanelle is small and tri­an­gu­lar and closes within six weeks. The back fontanelle is larger and di­a­mond shaped and closes by 18 months. If your baby’s fontanelles are sunken, it could be a sign of de­hy­dra­tion. If they bulge out, it could be a sign of menin­gi­tis. VAC­CI­NA­TIONS Don’t hes­i­tate – vac­ci­nate! Your baby will get his first in­oc­u­la­tion against tu­ber­cu­lo­sis and po­lio be­fore you leave hos­pi­tal. You will also be given a card with in­for­ma­tion on when the next vac­ci­na­tions are due. If you get one thing right as a new mom, make sure your baby gets vac­ci­nated on sched­ule. It could save his life and pro­tect oth­ers by stop­ping the spread of dan­ger­ous dis­eases. A CRY­ING BABY Cry­ing is your baby’s first method of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and boy, will he use it! It helps to know what the cause could be. Here are some typ­i­cal rea­sons for your baby to cry: • He has a wet or dirty nappy. • He is hun­gry. • He could be too cold or too warm. Check by feel­ing the tem­per­a­ture of his neck. Ba­bies are usu­ally com­fort­able in one layer more than adults. • Are his clothes com­fort­able? Is his nappy pinch­ing? • Your baby could be cry­ing be­cause he is overly tired or has been over­stim­u­lated and cries to re­lease stress. • He has wind or other pain. UM­BIL­I­CAL CORD CARE It is im­por­tant that you take proper care of your baby’s um­bil­i­cal cord stump. Keep it as clean and dry as pos­si­ble un­til it falls off, which should be within two weeks of birth. Wipe it at ev­ery nappy change us­ing sur­gi­cal al­co­hol. Wipe right around the base. Fold baby’s nappy down so it doesn’t scrape against the stump. Call the doc­tor im­me­di­ately if the stump gets in­fected or smells bad. BABY’S WEIGHT If you worry about your baby be­ing over­weight or un­der­weight, have a look at his growth chart. Ba­bies need more body fat as an en­ergy source and to keep them warm, but doc­tors warn against force-feed­ing your baby, as a baby who is too fat can strug­gle with chest in­fec­tions and other ail­ments. An un­der­weight baby is also more vul­ner­a­ble to disease and fail­ure to gain weight can in­di­cate an un­der­ly­ing med­i­cal con­di­tion. It is a good idea to mon­i­tor your baby’s weight with a monthly weigh-in and then chart­ing this on his growth chart. The 50th per­centile in­di­cates av­er­age weight for his age, be­ing above the 97th per­centile in­di­cates that your baby is over­weight and un­der the third per­centile in­di­cates un­der­weight. COLIC If your healthy baby cries at the same time ev­ery af­ter­noon for three hours, will not be con­soled and pulls his legs up to his tummy, it could be colic. It usu­ally kicks in at about two to three weeks and can con­tinue for 12 weeks, at which age baby sud­denly out­grows it. Doc­tors re­ally aren’t sure what causes this dis­tress­ing con­di­tion… it could be winds, tummy ache, over­feed­ing or hunger, stress, over­stim­u­la­tion or even a neck in­jury from birth. Things that could help: anti-colic bot­tles, a visit to the chi­ro­prac­tor, keep­ing baby’s tummy warm, swad­dling, or walk­ing with him or tak­ing him for a drive. Mas­sage and a warm bath with mom can also help. STIM­U­LA­TION We know you’re keen to start stim­u­lat­ing your baby’s lit­tle brain, as you’ve most likely read that that is the way to im­prove learn­ing abil­i­ties. But just hang on a bit… New­borns need their sleep more than any­thing else. Just be­ing born and be­ing new in the world is al­ready plenty stim­u­la­tion. You are your baby’s most im­por­tant toy in the early weeks. Your touch and voice are his most im­por­tant sources of stim­u­la­tion. Those flash cards can wait. YB

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.