baby care parenting

The First Month

There she is so beautiful and perfect, so fragile and tiny. All parents,first-time mothers especially, often feel worried about how they should take care of their newborns. It’s normal to feel this way. Even the best mothers had that strange feeling of cluelessness, sometimes even helplessness. Fortunately, your newborn’s first month will mostly be spent in just three ways: cleaning up, eating, and sleeping. So hang in there, mom! You’ll do just fine.

Physical and Mental Developments

It is important to know just what your baby’s body will go through during her first four weeks of life. By understanding what changes she is experiencing, you will be better equipped to anticipate her needs, and provide her the safety, comfort, and nutrition required for her to grow strong. Here is a list of the physical and metal developments that you may witness in your newborn.

1. The Umbilical Stump

The umbilical cord is your first physical connection with your baby. This is what you fed and nurtured her through while she grew within your womb. After her birth, the doctors will have surgically removed the cord. What’s left will look like a stump of skin with a small portion of the original cord still attached. Don’t be alarmed. That small, last portion of the umbilical cord will eventually dry up and drop on its own.

You will need to keep that area clean and dry. You can place a swathe of gauze on the area every time you clean your baby or give her a quick, warm bath. This will protect the umbilical stump from getting wet, and becoming prone to infection.

Should you notice the area becoming too wet, or if you see the first signs of infection (swollen, red skin, pus-filled sacs), clean it up with soft cloth dipped in warm water, and then immediately seek medical care. Your doctor should be able to recommend an effective, baby-safe antiseptic cream.

2. Soft Head Spots

A newborn’s head is often described as soft and squishy. This is because part of your baby’s skull has not yet finished fusing together. Expect to feel two soft areas on your newborn’s head. These areas will harden with time, provided you take extra care in handling and positioning her head every time you pick her up, or put her down for a nap.

3. Eyes, Ears, Nose and Mouth

Baby eyes are small and very sensitive. They will normally respond to light by squinting or kicking, as if to tell you to move the light away. Make it a point to observe your newborn’s eyes every day. You may see regular light-colored crusty discharge in your baby’s eyes, especially after she wakes up from a particularly long sleep. Wipe these away gently with a soft cloth.

If you notice that your baby’s eyes have a yellowish tinge, or if the discharge seems to come in excess amounts of dark yellow or red color, do not hesitate to seek medical attention.

Babies are sensitive to loud sounds. They are easily startled by noise. Their ears, though small and still developing, are able to pick up on your voice, music, and other household sounds. Make sure that your baby’s nursery is situated far from the sounds of loud vehicles, and other disturbances.

Your newborn’s nose, though small, is still an important part of his body. It filters the air around her, and ensures that she gets enough oxygen through proper breathing. Keep your baby’s nose clean and dry, too. Be sure that her room is neither too warm nor too cold to avoid respiratory problems like the common cold. If you notice any excess discharge coming from your baby’s nostrils, ask your doctor for advice immediately.

A baby’s mouth is sensitive. Your baby will react to anything placed near her cheeks or lips. Her mouth will begin feeling for a nipple or milk source, and then she will begin sucking. Clean your infant’s mouth after every feeding time, and keep an eye on her tongue. A healthy newborn’s tongue is mostly pink and clear of thickened, dried milk.

Good night, Baby.

The first month of your baby’s life is bound to deprive you of sleep. Be patient with her. She will keep crying every four or five hours because she is hungry, or she has filled her diaper. This is the time to practice taking shifts with your partner. A mother who forces herself to look after the baby day in and day out will eventually become stressed and unhealthy. It is important that both you and the baby get enough sleep regularly.

Here are a few tips to help you make the most of the first month sleep cycles.

1.  Swaddle her comfortably.

Wrapping your baby in swaddling clothes will give her a better sense of safety and security. She will be more likely to sleep for a longer period of time if she is snug and warm.

2. Take her with you in a Moses blanket.

Since your newborn is still developing a body clock and a sense of routine, she will be bound to wake up at odd hours. Some mothers prefer having their baby with them all the time, so they know exactly when she wakes, when she feels hungry or when she needsa diaper change, and when she goes back to napping. You can use a Moses blanket to take note of your baby’s developing sleeping patterns, while keeping a close eye on her even if you are working on a project or are in part of the house other than her nursery.

Studies also show that babies who spend a lot of time near their mothers are more likely to sleep soundly, and grow up secured and confident individuals.

3. Sing her lullabies or play soft music before she sleeps.

Hearing soothing music can help lull a baby into a comfortable nap. There are plenty of newborn music tracks available in stores and on the Internet. Many child-development studies show that playing classical music for your infant increases brain growth and function.

If you want a more personal touch, don’t hesitate to sing your child to sleep. She will be immediately comforted by your voice, and will most likely listen to you until she drifts off into dreamland.

4. Experiment with white noise.

Most babies love white noise. This is the sound produced by your television when the cable has been cut off abruptly, and all you can see on the screen are moving black and white dots. If your infant seems to be kept awake by soft music or singing, you can try allowing her to listen to white noise. Its monotonous sound may help her find the sleep she needs.

5. Massage your baby with lotion and cream every after bath.

A nice, warm bath is already half of the formula for a good night’s sleep. The other half is in the massage that comes after the bath, and just before you wrap your baby in blankets. Spread some baby lotion on your hands, and gently massage her arms, body and legs. This will help her relax, and eventually fall asleep. Also, massaging your newborn helps strengthen her muscles and bones, as well as get used to your touch.

Leave a Comment