Caring For Your Baby

Every child is unique. Every parent is unique. It only makes sense that every parenting style is unique as well. However, there are a few things that every parent can do to raise a happier, healthier child. Parenting isn’t an easy job, but it’s one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. Enjoy it!

The early years are the most important years in your child’s life. That’s why it’s so important to hug, talk to and read to your child – even when your child is still a baby.

Your baby needs attention and contact to help him feel safe, secure and loved.

• Hold, cuddle, rock and hug your baby. Let her look at your face.

• Change your baby’s position every once in awhile.

• Talk, sing and read to your baby. Listen to gentle music.

• Let your baby feel different objects by rubbing them against his hands.

• Let your baby spend time playing on her tummy each day. Tummy time will help head, neck and stomach muscles develop. Stay with your baby during tummy time

Smile and talk to your baby a lot. Read books and be expressive as you read.

Carry and hold your baby while you move around the house. Talk about what you are doing.

• Read your baby short stories with rhyming words.

Play peek-a-boo with your hands or a blanket.

• Give your baby time to play on his tummy. Always stay with your baby during tummy time.

When something new happens, your baby might cry. Try to:

• Your baby can pick up on your feelings. If you’re calm, your baby will be calm.

Show her new things, new people and new situations for short amounts of time.

Comfort your baby. You can rock him, sing to him, wrap him loosely in a blanket or offer a pacifier.

• Show your baby toys. She will want to hold, smell, chew, squeeze and pat them.

Put a favorite toy just out of your baby’s reach. Help him move to get to it.

Give your baby blocks or other objects he can grasp with his hands.

• Point to and name body parts.

Read to your baby. Look at magazines and picture books. Talk about what you see.

Build towers with blocks or toys.

Show your baby how to drop objects into bowls or small containers.

You may also notice that your baby:

• Gets upset if you leave, even if for a short time.

Knows which toys are his and gets upset when they are taken away. This is normal.

Might be fearful or shy of strangers.

• Read and look at picture books with your child. Let your child turn the pages.

Hide a small object in one of your hands. Let your toddler try to find the object.

Let your toddler put blocks into a box and dump them out.

Turn off the TV and dance and sing with your toddler. Children under two should not watch TV, movies or DVDs.

• Look at books with your child. You can share “reading” time by just talking about the pictures.

Play hide-and-seek games.

Pretend with your child. Make believe you are cooking a meal, taking a trip, etc.

Build a tower with blocks.

You might notice that your child also:

• Has a change in appetite. She may eat less because she’s not growing as fast.

• Puts all of his energy in learning to walk - he might be slower to learn some other things.

• Support your child’s language development by reading, singing and talking about what you are doing.

Identify things your child points at.

Let your toddler help with small chores like taking a spoon to the table or putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket.

Let your child play during bath time. She may like to use plastic bowls and containers in the tub. NEVER leave your child alone in the bathtub.

• Play “dress up”, “telephone” and other pretend games with your child.

Help your child put puzzles together, paint, build with blocks and let your child explore his interests.

Take her on walks and let her look, listen and touch.

To help with decision-making skills, allow your child to make choices. Limit the choices to 2 or 3 options, for example – offer a banana or an apple for a snack.

Let her play with a pan of water or sand so she can pour, scoop and dig.

Babies cry to tell us they need something. Sometimes they cry every day—this is normal. It can be hard to tell what your baby might need when he is so upset. It can be frustrating, but stay calm. Being a parent is hard, and you’re doing a great job.

Here are some reasons that babies cry, and some ideas about what you can do.

• Baby is hungry: Feed the baby. (Crying is a late sign of hunger. When you can, try to feed baby before she starts crying.)

Baby is uncomfortable from gas pains: Pat or rub the baby’s back. Hold baby in the football hold.

Baby is uncomfortable from a dirty diaper: Change the baby’s diaper every three hours when baby is awake.

Baby is uncomfortable from clothing (hot, cold, itchy): Remove or add clothes..

Baby is sick or hurt: Take the baby’s temperature. Call the doctor, if necessary.

Baby is bored: Show your baby a new toy. Go for a walk outside. Change your baby’s position.

Baby is sleepy: Bring your baby into a quiet, dark room. Try swaddling, swaying or rocking, gentle massage, “shushing,” or singing. Some babies like to be breastfed or given a pacifier or finger to suck on.

Baby is overstimulated (too bright, too noisy, too many adults holding the baby). Babies will fuss or turn their heads when they have had enough. Dim the lights, quiet the room, and go to another room.

Baby is teething: Offer your baby a teething ring that has been cooled in the fridge.

If You Need a Break…

Parents get upset and frustrated, too. It’s good to have a plan for what to do during these times.

Put your baby in a safe place and leave the room for five minutes. Sometimes babies need a chance to calm down.

Take those five minutes to calm yourself. Stand outside, take deep breaths, or call a friend or your partner for support.

If your baby is still crying and/or you can’t calm yourself down, check on your baby and then call a friend or family member for help while you take a break.

NEVER EVER SHAKE YOUR CHILD. Shaking a child can cause brain damage, blindness, hearing loss, and even death.

Breastmilk is the best food for your baby. It is made by your body to meet baby’s specific needs for growth, health and development. Your baby will be the healthiest if she receives only breast milk, with no other solids or fluids for the first six months, and continues to breast feed throughout the first year.

Babies who are not breastfed should be given iron-fortified formula through their first year of life. If you are bottle-feeding, hold your baby close to feed and do not prop the bottle. Propping a baby’s bottle can cause choking, ear infections or cavities.

It may take some time to get used to your baby’s feeding schedule. Your baby will need to eat at least 8-12 times in a 24-hour period.

Your baby may be hungry if:

• He moves, licks and smacks lips

• Sucks on lips, tongue, fingers or fist

• Opens mouth wide when touched on the chin, cheek or lips

• Shows excited arm or leg movements

• Cries (this is a late sign of hunger)

Feed your baby until she seems full or shows signs of being full:

• Turns head away from the nipple

• Stops sucking and closes mouth

• Relaxes arms and hands

Begin introducing your child to the bathroom around age two. Read books about using the potty and let your child follow a bathroom routine with a parent or sibling. Make a trip to pick out underwear, purchase a toilet ring or training toilet.

Make sure you are very patient about potty training. Watch for signs that your child is ready to start using the toilet.

Your child may be ready if he or she can:

• Stay dry for a few hours.

Tell you if he/she is wet or needs to use the restroom.

Pull pants down and up.

Understand when you say “go into the bathroom”, “wipe” or “pull up your pants”.

• Help encourage your child’s decision to use the potty.

You can help your child be successful by:

• Dressing her in clothes that are easy to remove.

Making a routine – place him on the potty every hour or so.

Making it fun – read, sing a song and help her relax.

Around the age of one, your toddler will begin to express negative feelings, such as anger or frustration, by throwing tantrums. Tantrums can occur until around age four. Tantrums are a normal part of development and even though they can be frustrating, there are ways to decrease and even prevent them.

Plan ahead. If you are going to be away from home, bring along snacks or toys to keep your toddler busy.

Encourage your child to use words. If you notice your child is getting mad, ask her how she feels, “Are you mad?” and identify what’s making her mad when you can. Help her talk about her feelings, “I can tell you are mad that we are going home.”

Offer choices. Toddlers are learning to be independent. Allow simple, safe choices. Limit the number of choice options to two or three.

Stay calm. It is okay for your child to cry and scream when he is angry. This is how he expresses himself.

Offer a distraction. Try to get your child to focus on something else like a favorite toy or book. Sing, dance or make silly faces. Go outside. This works best when you first notice your child is upset, before a full tantrum sets in.

Give your child some alone time. Tantrums are attention-grabbers. They don’t work as well
if no one is watching. Take your child to a quiet place where she can calm down.

Don’t give in to demands. Giving your child what he wants will only stop the crying temporarily. It will not stop the tantrums. Your child will learn that if he screams, he will get what he wants, and he will do it more often.

Stop dangerous behavior. If your child’s tantrums include kicking, hitting, biting, throwing things or hurting others, correct the behavior right away. Move your child somewhere safe and quiet. Tell your child firmly, “No hitting” or “No biting.” If you are worried that your child’s behavior is out of control, call your doctor. After a tantrum, help your child calm down. Tantrums are upsetting for children, too.

Don’t punish your toddler for throwing a tantrum. Tantrums are normal and your toddler will grow out of them.

Once your child is calm, offer a hug and understanding. Say something like “I’m sorry
you didn’t get the cookie you wanted.” If your child is old enough, it can help to explain why, “You just had a snack and it is almost dinner time”.

Stick with the rules you have set. Toddlers get confused and angry when the rules change. Be consistent and don’t be afraid to say “no”. Share your rules with friends and family to help prevent future tantrums.