Being responsible for a newborn can be overwhelming, especially as a new parent. Your mind is filled with “what if’s” and wondering how you can possibly learn everything that you need to know about this little person. Advice from well meaning friends and family can sometimes cause even more anxiety. The best thing you can do is to learn as much as you can and then listen to your own instincts. We have included some helpful tips that might make you and your baby’s life a little easier and healthier.
- Breastfeed your baby! This is the most important thing that you can do to ensure that you baby gets the best start in life. We are still learning everyday about the components of breast milk. Yes, babies can survive on formula, however, any physician will tell you that the best food for your infant is breast milk. Did you know that the composition of breast milk changes even throughout the day? Your baby will get everything he/she needs, including immune development and protection. Any viral illness that mom has come into contact with in her lifetime, and has made antibodies to, will be passed on to baby through her breast milk, protecting the infant from those same viruses. Unfortunately, this protection appears to last only as long as the infant is breastfeeding, which makes it important to continue breastfeeding for as long as possible. The reasons for breastfeeding are numerous! Please visit La Leche League at: www.llli.org/nb.html for more information.
- Wear your baby. Use a sling or carrier that works the best for you. This provides you with more freedom, while calming baby. Baby can hear you heartbeat, and feel safe snuggled up next to you. This has also been shown to help with digestion, which can decrease symptoms of colic.
- “Swaddle” your baby. During the first few weeks of life, babies can be uncomfortable with all of their new freedom. They are used to the small confined area of the womb, and swaddling your baby can help them feel safe and secure. Swaddling should not be continued after the baby is 6 weeks old, because it can inhibit their motor development, however, in the first weeks, this can be a valuable tool.
- Try a white noise, or similar noise, in your baby’s room to help him/her sleep. Again, the goal here is to imitate the mother’s womb. White noise is similar to the sound of the blood rushing through the placenta.
- Rock or swing your baby when they are upset. This can be very soothing for an infant. For reasons unknown, many babies find it very soothing to be rocked quickly, or to be in a swing with the setting on high. The quicker swinging/rocking appears to be more effective than gentle motions.
- Do not introduce solid foods until they are at least 6 months old. Many people think that by adding rice cereal into the diet at an early age, that this will help the baby to sleep for longer periods at night. This is not true, and can set your child up to develop food allergies later on. Their systems are not prepared to handle anything other than breast milk until they are 5 to 6 months old. It is important to talk with your physician about an appropriate food introduction schedule.
If you have any other tips that have worked for you and your child, please share them with everyone by commenting below. And if you have any questions, please feel free to Ask Dr. Tara!