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Baby Basics: A Guide for First Time Parents

After delivering your child into the world the task of taking care of your newborn begins. There is really no formal teaching in caring for a baby but there is helpful resource information both online and in print that can help you in providing the basic needed care for your baby.

After birth you will feel very exhausted and weak that is why it is best to have some help in the house, preferably a family member to help you take care of the baby. Your mom will be the best caretaker at this time as she has already took care of you when you were a baby. She could help you until you regain your strength and you can begin caring for your child hands on.

In handling a baby follow some of these helpful advices to ensure its safety and well being.

  • Make sure your hands are clean and sanitized to avoid introducing harmful pathogen to your delicate baby. The baby’s immune system is still underdeveloped and bacteria and other microorganisms can easily be transferred to the baby.
  • Support the baby’s head and neck as it cannot support itself with its weak muscles.
  • Do not shake the baby vigorously. This may cause delicate organs to bleed and may promote risk of SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
  • Make sure you have a car seat, stroller and carrier that are sturdy and safe to use for the baby.
  • Be gentle in handling the baby, it is not ready for rough play yet. You’ll have to wait for a couple more years

Now that you have the baby at your side this is a great time for you to begin bonding with the baby. Provide gentle relaxing massaging strokes to the baby’s arms and legs to facilitate muscle strengthening and development. Physical contact with a newborn promotes trust and confidence between mother and child. Touch therapy is a way of communicating with your newborn and it helps build emotional growth and physical growth as well. While feeding the baby in your arms you can sing to it and gently rock the baby as he falls asleep. The baby will be familiar with the sound of your voice and the smell and feel of your skin which can strengthen the child’s emotional attachment.

As the baby grows you will see the physical developmental changes happening. Your baby begins to babble, coo and even sing. Encourage communication skills by talking to your baby. Exposing him to different sounds can be helpful to his cognitive and speech development.

For the baby’s hygiene it is advisable to give your baby a sponge bath until the umbilical cord falls off. At around 4 weeks that baby is ready for a water bath. Make sure you use room temperature water that is not too cold and not too warm for the baby. Have a towel blanket near you to wrap up your baby immediately after bathing to prevent chills. Use a non irritating soap and shampoo that will not irritate your baby’s eyes. Change your baby’s diaper every time it gets soaked, make sure the baby’s skin is dry when changing diapers to avoid diaper rash.

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Baby Massage Pressure

The ideal pressure to use on a baby is similar to that obtained when closing your eyes and pressing the eyelids without any discomfort.

In the small areas fingertips should be used. In bigger areas, such as the babies back and chest, the palms of the hand should be used.

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What oils should be usedin Baby Massage?

The basis of massage is skin to skin contact. Therefore parents should massage their babies once all the baby’s clothes have been removed. Oil will helps the hands move over the baby’s body smoothly, and allows long, continuous strokes to be made without causing friction.
Natural oils, such as almond oil, grape-seed oil or extra virgin olive oil, are excellent to use as these are easily absorbed by the skin.

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How often should a Baby be Massaged?

If possible, baby massage should be incorporated into a baby’s daily routine. Even a 15 minute massage session will prove beneficial to both mother and baby. However, if this is not possible, even massaging a baby three times a week will still have positive results.

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How long should a Baby Massage take?

Usually a massage can take about 20 to 30 minutes. A baby is not very big and so it is possible to do a complete massage in that time.
However, in the beginning, it will probably take a bit longer as parents new to massage will need to learn and get used to the different techniques.
A good way of learning for the parents to enrol themselves and the baby into baby massage classes.
In many cases hospitals or local clinics may have classes available or be able to recommend suitable points of contact. Being part of an interactive class where the tutor can show how to perform the movements, and then to be able to perform those very movements on a baby is an excellent way for parents to learn.
Failing that, there are many excellent books on baby massage; the ones with pictures are easiest to follow through.
There are also many excellent DVDs and videos which take you through the entire massage process step by step. As with anything, parents can use these tools to learn the techniques but after a few weeks, the whole massage process should become second nature.

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What time of the day is best for Baby’s Massage?

The best time to massage a baby is when he is awake and feeling happy. Most people prefer to massage babies after a bath or before one. It is important the parent is also calm and relaxed otherwise the baby will absorb the tension and anxiety and be affected by the parent’s mood.
Also, it is advised not to carry out a massage immediately after a feed. Leave at least an hour between the baby being fed and being massaged, otherwise this may induce vomiting.
Do not leave the massage until just before the baby’s next feed as the baby may become distressed and unsettled during the massage if he is feeling hungry.

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What environment is needed for Baby Massage?

A warm room. The room must be warm enough to keep your baby comfortable (26 C) is the ideal room temperature. Babies lose heat quickly when uncovered and oil tends to reduce body heat as well.
A quiet and peaceful atmosphere. Do not have the television on or other people in the room causing interruption. Both parent and baby will enjoy the massage and tune into each other more effectively if there is nothing around to cause distraction.

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When to start Baby Massage?

Baby massage can be started as early as the day a baby is born. However, special care must be taken to avoid touching the navel area until the umbilical cord stump has fallen off. This normally happens from between four to seven days after delivery.
Research has shown that premature babies receive tremendous benefits from baby massage.
When premature babies receive routine care in hospital their pulse rates increase and their oxygen levels decrease, indicating distress. However, when they are massaged, the opposite occurs: their pulse rates come down and their oxygen levels rise. This would indicate that premature babies find massage calming and soothing.

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