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Newborn Care: Common-Sense Strategies For Stressed-Out Parents

A newborn brings a whirlwind of activity to your life. A newborn care may seem limited to round-the-clock feeding, bathing, diapering and soothing – but there’s more to taking care of a baby than these basics. Other newborn health highlights include caring for your newborn’s skin, decoding your newborn’s cries and promoting your newborn’s development.

Feeding your newborn: What you need to know

In most cases, breast milk is the ideal food for babies. Breast-feeding provides physical and emotional benefits for both mothers and newborns, and we recommend exclusive breast-feeding for at least the first six months of life

Feed your baby on demand: about eight to 12 times a day. Within two to three months, your baby may be satisfied with six to eight feedings a day. Crying for feeds is a late sign of hunger.

Follow your baby’s feeding signs: such as stirring and stretching, sucking motions and lip movements.

Know when your baby is full: when babies stop sucking, close their mouths or turn away from the nipple, they may be full – or simply taking a break. Try burping your baby or waiting a minute before trying to feed again. If your baby is full, he or she will resist more vigorously.

Sufficient Feeding: parents often worry that their newborn isn’t drinking enough. These tips may be of help. Look for contentment between feedings, alertness, good skin tone and steady weight gain. If the baby doesn’t have regular bowel movement, or wetting fewer than six to eight diapers per day, or seems sleepy all the time, there is high possibility of underfeeding. Your baby will need to see a doctor.

Newborns may cry, when they are: hungry, need a nappy change, need to burp, tired, need to be cuddled, need a change in position, or simply uncomfortable.

Incessant crying due to any of the variety of causes, can be frustrating. However at all times, try to remain calm and never shake her/him as this may result in serious injuries.

When baby arrives too early:

Sometimes, due to many factors, baby may arrive earlier than expected.

Premature baby have special needs:

  • If your baby is born too early, chances are your baby will need to be taken care in the Special Care Nursery for newborn babies.

Some of the complications that your doctor may discuss are:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Maintaining body heat
  • Feeding tolerance
  • Risk of infection,
  • Episodes of stopped breathing (apnea), and
  • Bleeding into the brain, more likely if the baby was born before week 30.

Long term complications are impaired hearing or vision, and developmental delay or learning disabilities.

Caring for baby’s skin, involves keeping a watchful eye over the following problems:

  • Infantile seborrheic dermatitis, commonly called cradle cap, causes scaly patches on a baby’s scalp. Though isn’t serious, it can cause thick crusting and white or yellow scales. Cradle cap usually resolves on its own within a few months but washing your baby’s scalp daily with a mild shampoo, can help loosen and remove the scales. If cradle cap persists or seems severe, consult your doctor.
  • Diaper rash, is a common rash typically caused by prolonged contact with urine or feces. It is treated by airing out the baby’s bottom. To prevent diaper rash, keep your baby’s bottom as clean and dry as possible. If the rash persists, consult your doctor.
  • Miliaria crystallina, or simply milia, are tiny white bumps on a baby’s nose, chin or cheeks. Many babies are born with milia, which occur when tiny skin flakes become trapped in small pockets near the surface of the baby’s skin. Most cases of milia disappear on their own within several weeks.
  • Yeast infection is a persistent, bright red rash on a baby’s bottom, or other areas where skin touches skin. Yeast Infections are caused by a microorganism (Candida albicans) that flourishes in a warm, moist environment. It is usually treated with a prescription antifungal cream.
  • Oral Thrush is another common problem that is often seen in a baby’s mouth. This velvety, white coat seen typically over the tongue & palate, is a fungal infection, due to candida albicans. Baby would need antifungal treatment and it is best to consult your doctor.

Baby Massage

Over the past decade, there has been a lot of research done in the field of infant massage.

Infant massage incorporates nurturing touch, massage and reflexology to promote the baby’s health. Infant massage enhances child development, including brain, physical, emotional, mental and social development

It is well established that a loving touch help infants grow and develop. Infants whose parents give them massage on a regular basis, tend to cry less than infants who are not massaged. This may be related to the fact that they experience longer, sounder periods of sleep and produce fewer stress hormones than babies who are not massaged. In addition, with regular massage, there is improved function of the digestive system.

The benefits of massage are so profound that parents of premature infants are now being encouraged to massage their babies to help them grow and thrive.

Gentle, loving touch improves your bond with your baby through positive communication and nurturing contact. Talking or singing to your baby while massaging her will help her to learn about language. Maintaining eye contact during massage is important for communication and reading your baby’s cues.

The Benefits of Massage:

  • Support of the bonding process,
  • Release of muscular tension created by motor skills acquisition,
  • May calm anxious babies and relieve symptoms of colic,
  • Contributes to brain and motor development and self-esteem, and
  • Supports parents’ learning appropriate posture and movement patterns of their baby.
Last reviewed : 26 April 2012
Content Writer : Dr. Vidiya Natthondan
Reviewer : Dr. Irene Cheah Guat Sim