Ensuring the safety of your infant is imperative in these formative days and weeks after they are first born, because they need the proper nutrition and care to thrive. You’ve successfully made it through the birth of your child and have taken him or her home to begin a new life as a new family. It sounds like a rosy scenario, but it doesn’t always go as smoothly as you may envision. Sometimes it can be very overwhelming and stressful to care for a newborn, plus the considerations of where to place them for child care. Fortunately, there are resources at your disposal to ensure your infant gets the proper care they need.
The best time to ask for help is in the hospital right after you have your baby. In fact, the nurses will supply you with lots of information regarding lactation consulting; coupons for formula; support groups for new parents near you; home health agencies and infant care programs in your neighborhood. Nurses will show you the basics of caring for your newborn, regarding anything from burping and changing diapers to feeding and medical care, says KidsHealth. If you plan to go back to work after your maternity leave, day care may be a very sensitive issue with you. Who can your trust to care for your baby? How will you afford it? Which type of infant care is right for your situation: center or home-based care? What kind of one-on-one attention will your infant receive? These are all good questions to ask yourself and others. Because so much is happening cognitively and physically with your baby during these first months, it’s crucial to foster and encourage their individual development, according to The Early Education Professionals.
Busy Parents and Infant Care
Busy parents who are constantly on the go with work and other children may feel stressed about finding a nurturing day care in which their baby will thrive. You may not have time due to work responsibilities to care for your baby full time, but there are many ways in which you can stay involved with your child’s daily life. Stay active and involved in your infant care program and volunteer when you can to contribute to anything from supplies to open houses. Make it a point to check in with the day care provider at the end of the day to get a snapshot of how your infant spent his time. Find out if there is anything you should know: was he cranky that day? Do you need to supply more diapers? Does he have a runny nose you should keep an eye on? Develop a good rapport with your infant care provider so you can both feel connected as partners in the daily care of your child. Keep an eye on the adult to child ratio to make sure your child is getting the attention he or she needs, and keep an open dialogue between yourself and the staff members. Check in during the day at break time to find out how your child is doing. Participate in regular parent-caregiver meetings, ask lots of questions, and even visit the daycare when you can to read books and play with the babies. Just because you’re busy with work doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice quality care for your infant. Stay involved and you will cherish the connection you have.
Breastfeeding is a great way to bond with your infant and give them the best nutrition available. Nursing releases hormones that instill a sense of security and comfort between you and your infant, according to The American Pregnancy Association. Breast milk has nutrients in it that can’t be found in formula, so if at all possible, breastfeed as long as you are comfortable doing so. If this isn’t an option for you and formula feeding is more conducive to your lifestyle, make sure the right steps are taken regarding sanitation and safety when preparing bottles. While breastfeeding is different for everyone — some women have difficulty latching the baby while others don’t produce enough milk — it’s worth exploring the possibility should you feel inclined.
Proper Bottle Feeding
When it’s time to bottle-feed your infant, there are certain steps you need to follow for safety and proper nutrition. Make sure the water you dispense into the bottle is warm but not too hot — otherwise scalding can occur. Wash your hands before and after preparing a bottle. If you plan on using formula, make sure that you measure out the proper amount of powder or concentrate with the right measurements of clean water. Mix it up until it’s well blended, then test the temperature on the inside of your wrist just as if it were breast milk. Feed your baby slowly in a comfortable chair with him or her leaning slightly forward so they don’t choke while swallowing. If you’re using breast milk, make sure it’s been stored properly in a refrigerator or freezer before use; never microwave the milk as this can create hot spots that can burn your baby’s mouth. Make sure to check the expiration dates on bottles and formula as well. Bottle feeding is an art but with proper instruction and care, you’ll become a pro in no time.
Sleeping Habits of Infants
At night, infants need between 10-12 hours of sleep for optimal development. Depending on the age and temperament of your infant, you may have difficulty transitioning them into a soothing sleeping routine or schedule.
Diapers should be changed every two to three hours, or as necessary. Starting with a clean diaper, you can use a wet cloth or wipes to gently remove any mess while preventing the baby’s skin from becoming irritated. To prevent diaper rash, make sure to apply a cream or ointment after each change. If your baby has sensitive skin, it may be beneficial to try different brands of diapers and creams until you find one that works best for them.
Making Time for Playtime
Playtime is essential for infant development and forming bonds between parent and child. Babies are entertained by simple activities such as reading books, singing songs, playing peek-a-boo, and cuddling with their parents. It’s important to make sure you give your baby enough attention, but also know when to dial back if he or she becomes overstimulated.
These tips can help new parents navigate the transition into parenthood and provide their infant with quality care. With a proper routine and plenty of love, you can ensure that your baby grows into a happy and healthy toddler. So don’t be afraid to ask for help, take it one day at a time, and enjoy every moment!