Newborn Care: Tips for Stressed-Out Parents
What are some important things to do for a newborn's first bath? Bathing is an important part of newborn care because it removes the vernix caseosa (a white, cheese-like substance), called the birth caul, that covers most babies at birth. Some parents use just water for their baby's first bath. Others prefer to use a mild soap like Cetaphil, Johnson & Johnson's Head-to-Toe Baby Wash or Dove body wash. The water should be lukewarm - never too hot.
The first six months of a baby's life is a time for family and friends to offer care and love. Do your best to relax and take care of yourself. Ask other family members or friends for help with cooking, cleaning, or childcare.
Breastfeed your baby as often as possible; Research has shown that infants who are breastfed will be better at managing stress than those who are formula-fed because breast milk helps regulate an infant's cortisol levels, which can reduce stress response in times of high intensity stimulation. Stress hormones like cortisol make the brain release more adrenaline and keep it from releasing serotonin (a feel-good chemical) naturally.
Hold the baby as often as possible. Babies spend so much time in their cribs and so not get enough attention or cuddles from their parents. When they finally come home, they should be held as much as possible. Holding them helps them feel loved and cared for and provides a healthy flow of oxytocin which helps calm their nerves and fight off infection.
Expect a Roller Coaster of Emotions
When can you expect your baby to sleep through the night? A lot of parents worry about how to care for their new infant. The key to caring for your baby is knowing when they will be able to sleep through the night. You may think that once you introduce a feeding or two of solid food, that they should start sleeping all the way through the night, but this is not true. What happens is once solids are introduced, your baby might get diarrhea and cause you to change their diaper more often than usual, which in turn means they are also likely to wake up more often in the middle of the night needing a change. The truth is, when they are ready your baby will start sleeping through the night without an issue. It could take anywhere from 6-12 months or even longer.
What are 4 signs of stress or distress in babies? Babies often show distress in different ways. Stress or other emotions in the child may be manifest in various bodily expressions such as excessive crying, back arching, sleep disturbances, or irritability. Below are four signs of a stressed baby:
The Crying Child: Crying is the most common form of a child expressing distress, but can also signal hunger or thirst.
Back-arching: A natural reflex when babies are uncomfortable that may turn into a headache when it persists for too long.
Sleep Disturbances: The risk of developing long-term developmental issues is high with babies who aren't getting enough sleep at night and/or nap time during the day.
Irritability: Very young infants will commonly display irritability when they're tired, hungry or cold. This can often lead to a lack of compliance with feeding, sleeping and/or play routines.
There are many small changes, big changes, and routine changes that are all very important to get used to. If you are about to become a mother or new mother, I recommend taking some time for you before your baby arrives. Planning for the arrival of your baby is important because it will allow you to feel more confident in your abilities when the big day arrives. It will also be helpful if you have someone close by who can help take care of you and the baby while things are getting settled into a routine.