We understand that as a mom, there are many aspects to mothering. Here are some tips to make the most of each cherished step along the way:
Baby’s first few weeks
This is a wonderful time for bonding and getting to know your baby. Bonding is the unspoken connection which develops between you and your little one. This is mainly based on your loving responses to your baby’s gestures, sounds and needs, something which later plays an important role in raising a child who feels good about themselves and who is kind and caring towards others.
From the start, your baby is aware of your emotional cues resulting from the tone of your voice, your movements and even your emotions. These are all reciprocated by your baby’s cries, coos and even the copying of your facial expressions. Responding to the cues of your baby, giving him food, warmth and affection reinforces the bond and brings it full circle.
There are many ways and cues in which bonding takes place. Here are a few of them:
- Skin-to-skin: physical contact plays an important role in your baby’s development, making him feel safe and loved. Touch becomes an early means of communication as babies respond to skin-to-skin contact. It’s soothing for both you and your baby while promoting your baby’s healthy growth and development. Your baby will be able to differentiate between your touch and that of your partner, if both of you hold and touch your little one on a frequent basis. Each of you should also take the opportunity to have “skin- to- skin” with your newborn, holding him against your own skin when feeding or cradling.
- Cuddle your baby – cuddling is an extended part of skin-to-skin, making your baby know that he is loved. This reinforces your bond and creates a sense of trust between you and your baby.
- Look into your baby’s eyes: making eye contact reinforces your bond with your baby and encourages them to recognise your face, enabling meaningful communication at close range.
- Talk to your baby: engaging in talk with your baby makes them respond to your voice. Language is learnt by imitating your sounds, resulting in speech patterns, so that the more you speak to your baby, the faster his speech will develop.
How to hold your newborn
Always support your baby’s head and neck as newborn babies do not have strong control over their neck muscles. Additionally, at this stage, your baby’s head is very vulnerable, especially around the fontanelles, the soft spots on the top of his head which closes between nine to 18 months.
When lifting your baby, support the head by sliding one hand under their head and place the other hand under their bottom, providing adequate support for your little one’s body.
Once your baby is firmly in your arms, bring them close against your chest. This makes your baby feel secure.
Keeping this area clean is very important. Place some surgical spirits on some cotton wool or a cotton bud and lift up the cord and clean around its base. The base of the cord can become sticky, make sure you clean the area where the cord attaches to the skin. The cord should be exposed to air using a nappy with an umbilical cord cut out. The cord dries out and falls off within around 15 days when it starts becoming blackish/brown in colour.
Breastfed babies have bowel movements that are loose and bright yellow with an inoffensive smell. The frequency of bowel movements will vary drastically, from between eight to ten in a day, to one every two or three days. If a baby is -bottle-fed, their bowel movements will appear lighter in colour, semi-formed and will have a stronger smell. These babies can have between four to six bowel movements in a day. Choose a nappy such as Huggies® New Baby that offers a new soft liner which absorbs runny poo and wetness in seconds. This helps to keep baby’s skin dry while gently cushioning baby on soft little pillows which creates a gentle barrier between baby’s skin and mess.
What to pack for your first outing with your newborn
Make your first outing quick and easy, somewhere close by and where you have been before.
If your first trip out is in the car, don’t forget your car seat. Taking your pram with you may help if you would like to walk with your newborn. Take a blanket that’s right for the weather on the day.
One of the wonderful benefits of breastfeeding is that your milk is always readily available. If bottle-feeding, make sure you have a sterilised bottle to make-up a feed while you are out. In your bag you will need nappies, wipes, breast pads if you are breast feeding, a changing mat, hand sanitiser and disposable bags for dirty nappies. (If your baby still has its umbilical cord, then don’t forget your cleaning regime.) It is also a good idea to have an extra set of clothes for your baby and a pacifier or some other comfort item, which can make a difference to both of your outing experiences.
One of the important points to consider before you leave is to decide how much interaction you want to allow between strangers and your baby. Also be realistic in terms of what you expect to accomplish on your first outing and be prepared to take it easy on yourself if things don’t go exactly according to plan.
Taking care of yourself
As much as you’ve longed for your baby’s arrival you could end up tired and feeling worn-out after sleepless nights. Remember to make time for yourself. Here are some quick and easy tips:
- Liquids: drink plenty of water, especially if you are breastfeeding so that you stay hydrated. Drink herbal teas or unsweetened ice teas and avoid drinks with caffeine as these can irritate your baby or prevent him from falling asleep
- Energy-boosting foods: healthy snacks, fruit, and veggies can help invigorate you with the additional energy needed to care for your baby
- Try to get enough sleep: This can be a challenging time in terms of finding an opportunity to sleep, making you feel a little edgy as a result. Try and sleep whenever your little one takes a nap. Another option is alternating night duty with your partner, so that each of you is “on duty” for 2 consecutive nights, while the other person gets to sleep through the night. You will definitely feel much better after a good night’s sleep.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for support: Asking your partner, family or friends to help around the house can make all the difference, easing your load and making you feel supported during this time.
- Schedule some time away: Although you may feel guilty taking “time out” from your little one, keep in mind that caring for your baby can be very demanding. Take time out for an hour – meeting a friend, going for a walk or putting in time at the gym or at yoga can refresh and re-energise you.
This article is brought to you by Huggies; a 2015 Johnson’s Baby Sense Seminar sponso