When it comes to carying for your baby, you are bound to hear lots of well-meaning suggestions in your first months as new parents. Most of them are based on experience or suggestions that have been passed on for generations.
Even newborns often have different individual needs. At the same time there are medically relevant tips that can help just about all new parents.
Your Baby’s Skin
The skin is our largest organ. It faces particular challenges at birth because of the difference in temperature and moistness in the uterus and outside. The skin has three laywers and because the outer layer is not yet very resistant for newborn infants, redness and flakiness are common. Gentle cleansing from head to toe is key. With the skin so delicate after birth, be sparing in the use of bath additives, shampoos and creams.
Caring for the Navel
The remnants of the ulimbrical cord usually fall away in the first two weeks after birth. Make sure that the navel stays dry. Clean it once a day with boiled water and cotton swabs, and gently dab it dry afterward. Do make sure that you wash your hands before touching the navel area. Bathe your baby very sparingly as long as remnants of the ulimbrical cord are present. And make sure that the diaper is underneath the nabel after changing your baby to avoid the danger of infection through contact with urine or stool.
Most babies enjoy a bath – and if that’s not the case for your newborn don’t despair: We’re all individualists. One bath a week is sufficient in the first few weeks without the use of foam bath additives and soap. If you do want to add something, use moisturising additions available specially for babies or a table-spoon of olive or almond oil, mixed with a bit of milk. Three to 10 minutes in the tub are enough. If your baby enjoys the process.she/he can be bathed daily after the first few weeks. It’s best to reserve the same time each time for a bath, so that your infant gets used to the procedure. And in any case, its also important not to bathe your baby directly after a meal, when his/her tummy is full.
The water should be at around 37 degrees Celsius. When drying your baby use a warm towel, dab the skin dry instead of rubbing it and pay special attention to the underarms, spaces between fingers and toes and the groin area.
Drying behind the ears is also important. Dab the outer ear dry but do not try to clean the auditory canal leading to the inner ear with cotton swabs due to possible injury if your baby moves during the procedure. Because ear wax is naturally transported to the outer ear, cleaning it away from there is enough.
Even if your baby already has thick hair at birth, a warm rinsing with a soft sponge is more than enough in the first few months. In case of crusting or infantile excema, massage the scalp with baby oil about an hour before the bath and clean it with a soft baby brush. Dry with a fluffy towel. Baby shampoos are not needed during this time. Take care when combing or brushing because baby’s fontanelles are not yet closed.
Redness of the skin is common in the diaper region in the first few months, with a newborn’s sensitive skin exposed to the warm and wet conditions underneath the diaper. Frequent diaper changes are important. For baby girls, clean the region from front to back. And in the case of irritation, use a zinc oxide paste or a healing ointment.
Massaging your Baby
Body contact and touching is of particular importance for the physchological, mental and physical development of your baby and is a key component of a succesful parent-child relationship. It’s a fact that colic at the age of three months is very rare in India, home of the baby massage.
When to massage depends on your newborn’s daily rhythm. With babies normally most restless in the evening, this is the a good time to quiet them down with a massage. Ten to 20 minutes is the normal duration, and older infants will let you know when they’ve had enough simply by crawling off. It’s obviously imortant to be very gentle, and never to massage when your baby has a full stomach. A bath can follow for older infants.
Massage the scalp with circular movements of your fingertips pressing very softly. Use your thumbs for stroking movements from the forehead to the temples. In case of a cold: Stroke with the second and middle finger of both hands along the ridge of the nose over the cheek bones to the ears.
Belly and Foot Massage
First make sure that the navel is healed. If so, stroke baby’s belly clockwise around the navel. Alternate with a gentle massage with the palms of both hands downward from the navel, particularly in case of colic.
For the legs and feet, grasp the ankle with one hand and massage downward with the other from the hip to the foot, using light circular movements. Stretch baby’s feet from the heel to the toes repeatedly.
As a mother, you can start ensuring that your baby develops good teeth even during pregnancy through a balanced diet including protein from fish, meat and milk products and lots of fruit, vegetables and and whole-food grains. Babies normally start teething at 6 months. It’s a process that unfortunately can be very painful, with red, swollen and sensitive gums and pain that sometimes travels up to the ears. Treatment varies according to the level of discomfort. Teeth gels can ease gum pains, with Dentinox-Gel one effective and sugar-free posibility. Apply with a cotton swab and massage into the gums. The gel has a local anaesthetic and contains camonile to ease irritation of the mucous tissue
The first milk teeth break through no earlier than in 3rd month and the rest follow by the 13th month, with a full set of 20 milk teeth complete between age 2 and 3. Very important: tea and juices without sugar to avoid cavities
Once the first of the little teeth poke through, they should be cleaned daily, first with a cotton swab and then with a special tooth brush for babies. After age 2 teeth should be cleaned twice a day after breakfast and dinner. You should make sure your child has a child’s tooth brush and supervise and help with tooth brushings at least until he or she reaches school age.