Bringing a baby into the world can be an exciting and rewarding adventure unlike any other. Every child is unique, carrying with them varying difficulties and joys, but all parents share the same responsibility of ensuring that their child is healthy, safe and loved. Often, the first year can be very tiring, filled with questions, worries, fears, and sleepless nights, but doing the best you can and knowing that your baby is happy and cared for will help relieve those initial doubts and anxieties.
Whether becoming a parent for the first time or adding to a growing family, caring for an infant is a fulltime job, one that requires constant attention and finesse. Closely, personally and warmly connecting with your baby will forge bonds that will make your child feel loved, nurtured and secure. Some early bonding activities include: talking and reading to your baby, holding and cuddling your baby and bathing with your baby. In addition to focusing on your baby’s health and wellbeing, it is just as important for parents to focus on themselves. Babies are influenced by your attitudes, so enjoying a healthy, happy life will not only create a good example, but will allow you to be a better parent.
The first year of life is a critical period of development and a base for all future growth. Physical and mental maturity occurs rapidly in the first year as babies learn to understand the world around them. It is at this initial stage that infants see, hear, smell, taste, and feel for the first time. First-year milestones include: the first smile, grabbing, hugging, crawling, rolling over, sitting up, and standing. You owe it to yourself and your baby to actively participate in these extraordinary changes that will help shape your child and the personas, relationships and behaviors that will mark their lives now and in the future.
Parents.com lists the following tips to help keep you fit during pregnancy (10 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy from Parents.com):
1. Eat five or six well-balanced meals each day.
2. Take a prenatal vitamin each day as directed by your obstetrician or midwife.
3. Drink plenty of fluids -- at least eight to 10 glasses a day -- avoiding caffeine and artificial coloring.
4. Don't drink alcohol.
5. Don't smoke or allow yourself to be exposed to secondhand smoke.
6. Exercise -- it's important for your general health and also can help reduce stress. Take a pregnancy exercise class or walk at least fifteen to twenty minutes every day at a moderate pace. Walk in cool, shaded areas or indoors in order to prevent overheating.
7. Get adequate sleep -- at least eight hours a night. If you're suffering from sleep disturbances, take naps during the day and see your physician for advice.
8. Wear comfortable, nonrestricting shoes and put your feet up several times a day to prevent fatigue and swelling of the feet, legs, and ankles.
9. Continue to wear a safety belt while riding in motor vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the shoulder portion of the restraint should be positioned over the collar bone. The lap portion should be placed under the abdomen as low as possible on the hips and across the upper thighs, never above the abdomen. Also, pregnant women should sit as far from the air bag as possible.
10. Don't take over-the-counter medications or herbal remedies without first consulting your obstetrician or midwife.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list the following positive parenting tips for infants (See Positive Parenting Tips from the CDC):
Infants (0-1 year of age)
Skills such as taking a first step, smiling for the first time, and waving "bye-bye" are called developmental milestones. Developmental milestones are things most children can do by a certain age. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, behave, and move (like crawling, walking, or jumping).
Cognitive (brain) development means the learning process of memory, language, thinking, and reasoning. In the first year, babies learn to focus their vision. Learning language is more than making sounds ("babble"), or saying "ma-ma" and "da-da". Listening, understanding, and knowing the names of people and things are all a part of language development. During this stage, babies also are developing bonds of love and trust with their parents and others as part of social and emotional development. The way parents cuddle, hold, and play with their baby will set the basis for how they will interact with them and others.
The following are some things you, as a parent, can do to help your baby during this time:
- Talk to your baby. She will find your voice calming.
- Answer when your baby makes sounds by repeating the sounds and adding words. This will help him learn to use language.
- Read to your baby. This will help her develop and understand language and sounds.
- Sing to your baby and play music. This will help your baby develop a love for music and will help his brain development.
- Praise your baby and give her lots of loving attention.
- Spend time cuddling and holding your baby. This will help him feel cared for and secure.
- Play with your baby when she’s alert and relaxed. Watch your baby closely for signs of being tired or fussy so that she can take a break from playing.
- Distract your baby with toys and move him to safe areas when he starts moving and touching things that he shouldn’t touch.
- Take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Parenting can be hard work! It is easier to enjoy your new baby and be a positive, loving parent when you are feeling good yourself.
Keywords: pregnancy, parenting, infants, postpartum depression, psychologist, help
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What is life like after birth?
Everyday ways to support your baby’s and toddler’s early learning
National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families