There are many different ways to parent a child. Your ideas about parenting come from your culture, background and how your parents raised you, along with your temperament and attitudes. You and your partner may have different approaches to parenting, which is completely normal. It is a good idea to begin talking about your different styles early on, however, to ensure that you both feel comfortable caring for your baby.
Babies will begin to spend more time awake during the day as the first week progresses. This is the time to talk and sing to your baby. Your baby will enjoy looking at your face and seeing bright colors.
Some babies easily become overwhelmed by all the new things they are seeing and hearing. After a very busy day, some babies will be irritable or fussy, so make sure to plan some quiet time for you and your baby.
Many babies grunt and groan before they have a bowel movement or pass gas. They also may draw their legs up tightly, turn bright red in the face or cry. Some babies act as if they are in pain. Although we do not know why babies behave this way, we do know that for most babies this is normal. Some parents believe their baby has gas. If you would like to try giving your baby Mylicon drops, it is safe to do so, but please check with your baby's doctor before using any herbal teas.
Parents often have different ideas about where babies should sleep. Some feel strongly that babies should always be close to their parents. Others believe that babies should sleep in a separate crib. Wherever your baby sleeps, please make sure that your baby is safe.
Always place your infant on his or her back to sleep.
Never sleep with your baby on a couch or chair with soft pillows — not even just for a quick nap.
If your baby is sleeping in a crib or bassinet:
- The mattress should fit very tightly next to the sides.
- Do not put pillows or heavy blankets in your baby's crib or bassinet.
- The crib should not have decorations or toys that could strangle or trap your baby.
If your baby sleeps with you:
- Do not sleep on a water mattress.
- Do not use heavy blankets.
- Take all side rails and headboards off the bed so your baby will not become trapped.
- Move your bed away from the wall so your baby can't get trapped between the bed and the wall.
- Never sleep with your baby if you use drugs or alcohol or if you smoke.
Infant Sleep Basics
Newborn babies sleep a lot. They may breathe very irregularly when asleep and can sound congested. This is normal, because babies must breathe through their noses until they are 4 months old. Babies also make a lot of noises and move around when they sleep.
Infants often have their days and nights mixed up. You can help your baby sleep a little longer at night by making nighttime a boring time to be awake. Don't talk or sing to your baby during night wakings. Try to keep your baby's room dark at night — use a nightlight instead of turning on the lights.
Changing diapers and burping can wake babies up, and it may be difficult for them to fall back asleep. You may want to skip one diaper change in the middle of the night to avoid waking your baby. You can use extra diaper ointment to protect your baby's skin.
Parents often think that if they keep their newborns awake during the day, their babies will sleep better at night. In fact, babies who sleep better in the day learn how to go longer between feedings, and therefore sleep better at night. The phrase "sleep begets sleep" is a reminder that babies need to sleep both day and night.
You may have noticed your newborn sleeps better when held. Don't be afraid to let someone hold your baby so both of you can get a good sleep — you will not be teaching your baby bad sleep habits. Rather, your baby will learn to sleep for longer intervals without needing to wake up for a feeding. Holding a sleeping baby is a great "job" for grandparents and other relatives, and allows parents to sleep as well.
Babies normally spit up a few teaspoons of milk after every feeding. Sometimes, they may throw up what appears to be an entire feeding. If your baby throws up once a day, do not be concerned. If he or she throws up more than once a day, call your baby's doctor.
Babies often swallow air while feeding, so burping them is helpful. If your baby doesn't burp after several minutes, you do not need to keep trying. Breastfed babies often need less burping.
Babies hiccup frequently. You might have noticed that your baby hiccupped before birth. Sometimes feeding your baby will help stop the hiccups, but if not, don't worry. Fortunately, babies do not seem to be bothered by hiccups and they often can eat and sleep even while hiccuping.
Babies have frequent bowel movements, usually after every feeding. Breastfed infants have watery yellow stools that look like mustard paste or scrambled eggs. This is normal and is not diarrhea.
Babies' hands and feet can look blue or feel cold. This is because their circulation is still immature and does not necessarily mean that they are cold. If you are concerned that your baby may be cold, feel your baby's neck or take his or her temperature.
When you are not holding your baby, keep a hat on his or her head to prevent too much heat loss. In general, your baby needs as many layers of clothing as you have on, plus a blanket. When you are holding your baby, he or she will not need the blanket or hat because of the added warmth of your body. Be careful not to bundle your baby too much. Making babies too warm is just as dangerous as letting them become cold.
If you use disposable diapers, you may notice tiny beads of gel on your baby's skin. This is just the absorbent material from the diaper and is not dangerous.
Used by permission of Jane E. Anderson, M.D.