Holding Your Newborn
An infant feels secure in close physical contact.
Remember, when picking up your baby or placing him down during the first few months, always support the baby’s neck in line with the rest of his body. Avoid tilting his head further back than the rest of his body, or press too hard on his neck as this may restrict his breathing.
Once baby is of three to four months, he will gain sufficient control over his neck. Thereafter, you can try holding him in different positions, like on your hip with his front facing forward so that he is able to get a better view of the surroundings.
Swaddling Your Baby
Swaddling is a good way to soothe your baby when he is in distress. You can wrap up your baby in a soft shawl or light blanket to comfort him. This also helps baby feel safe and secure as he will take his time to adjust to the outside world.
- Spread a blanket or shawl and fold it into a triangle. Place your baby in the center with his neck aligned at the top.
- Take one side of the blanket, pull it over his shoulder and diagonally across his body. Pull the corner under his arm and tuck it under his bottom.
- Take the other corner and pull it over baby’s shoulder. You can tuck his arm up against his neck if he feels more comfortable that way. Tuck the fabric neatly under his body while ensuring that the blanket is not too tight around his neck.
- Finally, gather the bottom and tuck the blanket underneath to cover his feet.
Carrying your Baby in a Sling
It is important to keep your baby in close proximity at all times. Whether you decide to go on an outing or tend to your daily tasks, a soft cloth sling carrier for babies is an ideal solution. For slightly older or heavier babies, backpacks with sturdy frames made from aluminum material work well.
Always go through the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before putting on the sling and check that it is securely fastened. Make sure that your baby is comfortable when you put him inside. Similarly, put baby on a safe place before taking the sling off. Even with the sling on, you must provide proper support for baby’s head and neck, more so when bending forward or to the side.
Tips for buying a sling:
- Carry your baby along while choosing a sling, to check for size and comfort.
- Make sure your baby’s body fits in well, and the sling provides proper support to the head and neck.
- Always check the quality of the material and all the fastenings, like straps, buttons and zippers. Also, ensure that it is machine washable.
Soothing A Crying Baby
Crying is the only means of communication for a baby, to express his needs during the first few months. A baby normally cries when hungry, but discomfort or boredom could be some of the other reasons for your little one’s agony. It will take some time before you start recognizing these signs and different causes of crying.
There will be times when your baby may cry unnecessarily without any reason, and you will need lots of patience to just comfort and reassure him. Always ensure that you attend to your baby when he cries, or he can get even more distressed, making it difficult for you to recognize the actual cause of his anxiety. Ignoring his cries could lead him to become non-responsive and stubborn as he grows up.
Six Reasons Why Your Baby Could be Crying
- Hunger: The most common cause for crying is hunger. It won’t take long for you to start recognizing the signals that say he is hungry. It is better if you make it a point to feed him at regular intervals during the day to prevent a possible crying episode.
- Too warm or too cold: It takes months for a baby’s body temperature to stabilize. Thus, you will need to keep a regular check on the layers of clothes you put on your baby so that he doesn’t get too hot or too cold. Keep a check on the layers of clothes that you put on baby as they tend to get too warm quickly.
- Stressed: Too much activity around the baby can make him insecure. There are times when baby gets a lot of attention when surrounded by family members or friends. The constant hustle-bustle of activity like lights, sounds, being carried and passed from one person to another can overwhelm him. Take him to a calm and quiet place and let him vent for a while, or try to get him to sleep.
- Soiled diaper: Soiled diapers can be a major reason for your baby’s tears.
- Lonely or bored: Some babies demand a lot of attention while they are awake as it makes them feel secure. So, if you are busy with your chores, try to keep baby close by, so that you are able to attend to him whenever he needs you. One option is to carry him in a sling or a carrier. The other is to put some brightly colored toys around him to keep him occupied and amused. A pacifier is also a good idea as babies feel comforted having something in their mouth even if they are not hungry in particular. However, do ensure that the pacifier is absolutely clean and properly sterilized.
- Sickness: The cry of a baby when unwell is pretty distinct from his other cries. He can cry because of reasons like painful gas or colic after a feed. To relieve him of this discomfort, you can lay him on his stomach across your knees and gently rub his back. If he is running a temperature or if you feel something else is troubling him that you are unable to figure out, take him to the doctor immediately.
Colic is a common problem in most babies that can develop in the initial few weeks after their birth. A baby tends to cry inconsolably for a long period of time, probably due to excessive accumulation of gas followed by pain in his stomach. This happens because the baby’s digestive system takes a couple of months to become fully functional. As the digestive system strengthens, the condition improves, and within five to six months, your baby's colic should have improved.
Though theories abound, some of these symptoms can be a good indicator of your baby being colicky:
- Your baby cries consistently, often during the same time of the day, for example, late afternoons or evenings.
- Baby’s stomach looks a little distended or enlarged. He would probably stretch or pull his legs and pass gas as he cries.
However, some simple measures may help your baby to a large extent to overcome this stressful condition:
- Try to feed baby every two hours as a routine for the first few months. Do not wait for baby to cry to express his hunger pangs. If baby gets too hungry, there are chances that he may gulp air along with large amounts of milk, causing abdominal gas pain.
- While feeding baby, try to keep baby propped up straight on your lap, so that the milk flows smoothly into his stomach, or else he’s likely to trap some air along with his food.
- Ensure to burp him at regular intervals while feeding, which will help ease out air bubbles from his belly.
- If breast-feeding your baby, try to avoid consuming heavy milk protein (like cow’s milk) or other dairy products, as these foods can put pressure on your baby’s delicate digestive system and cause discomfort.
- Once you start to bottle-feed, ensure that the nipple of the cap is not too small or too big, allowing the liquid to flow evenly and smoothly.
- Lay baby on his stomach across your knees and gently rub his back to dispel the gas.
- Babies love the feel of gentle movements. So, pick him up and gently rock him while singing softly or take him out for a short walk. These steps can help calm baby down and even put him to sleep.
Putting Your Baby To Sleep:
A sound and comfortable sleep is very important for the growth and development of babies. In fact, unless baby is in some discomfort or is hungry, he tends to sleep most of the time. The more a baby sleeps during his early stages, the better his physical and mental development will be. Just be careful to protect him from being exposed to mosquitoes, direct drafts and sunlight.
Note: The best position to put your baby to sleep is either on his back or side as these positions have proven to dramatically reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is a term generally used to reference the symptoms of sudden and unexplained death in infants (between one month to one year of age) that occur most often during sleep.
Precautions to Take when Putting Your Baby to Sleep:
As your baby grows, he’ll tend to roll over in his crib. Use triangle-shaped cushions or rolled up blankets for support which will help keep your baby on his back or side.
- Use only light blankets if required, instead of a heavy one (during winters) and ensure that baby’s mouth and nose do not get covered. Using light blankets will help you keep a check on baby’s temperature and prevent him from becoming overheated.
- Do not use insulators like crib bumpers, sheepskin or leather products.
- You can put a baby monitor in the crib to alert you whenever your baby cries.
However, putting the baby on his belly for a couple of minutes a day when he’s awake is equally important. Try introducing your baby to this position in the early stages, as this will help him exercise his neck and trunk muscles and prevent his head from flattening. To give him extra support, you can tuck in a light rolled blanket under his chest with his arms placed over the roll.