By Melanie Arden
So much goes into taking care of a baby! We zero in on some of the top things you’ll want to know about baby as you get started in your parenting life.
1) Babies will be wakeful during the first year.
Sixty percent of infants have a parent with them when they fall asleep, and those babies wake up more often during the night than those who fall asleep alone, says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). It’s wonderful to rock your baby to sleep, but doing so can have negative consequences in the long run. Just like adults, babies can wake in the night and fuss because they don’t know how to go back to sleep. Many doctors suggest a sleep routine as a good solution. Once a baby is 8 weeks old, try putting him down at the same time each night. Develop a consistent bedtime routine of three or four pre-bed activities and lay him down when he’s drowsy but not asleep.
2) Your baby needs to have his ear’s checked regularly.
Newborn ears should be checked before leaving the hospital — request that they be. Hearing loss is not rare, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
3) Quiet time talking with you is beneficial to your baby.
The drone of the TV and lots of background noise can slow language development, research says. Vocal play with your baby is one way he can learn the groundwork for talking. When he says something like, “Goo goo,” you can say, “Oh, you’re happy,” or, “That’s a nice sound.” You can also point things out to him, i.e., “That’s a car,” and describe what you’re doing as you’re doing it, “Making breakfast!” Baby will be watching you, so take advantage of that.
4) Babies do best with a dental visit by age 1.
Taking your 1-year-old to the dentist is a milestone that lays the foundation for good dental hygiene, says the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Before age 1, don’t give your baby more than four ounces of juice a day. Swab his gums with a soft cloth before the first tooth erupts, and when it does, brush it with a soft toothbrush.
5) Fresh air is great for Baby.
Evaluate your environment; children younger than 2 raised in homes with a moldy smell are more likely to develop asthma by age 7, a study out of Finland says. The three most common indoor allergens are dust mites, pets and mold. Keep your baby’s air as allergen-free as possible.
6) Secondhand smoke is harmful to Baby.
Secondhand smoke is linked to health problems like colic, asthma and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
7) Babies need iron.
A significant lack of iron can cause health problems in babies. Doctors typically test for iron deficiency with a simple blood test. Your baby should be tested between 9 and 12 months old for a deficiency. A newer test called the CHR can identify iron deficiency better than the traditional test. Ask for it.
8) Babies benefit from a vaccination schedule.
Children younger than age 2 are more likely to be hospitalized if they get the flu. At 6 months babies can get their first flu vaccination. Talk to your pediatrician about his recommendations for your baby; many like to see babies on a spring/fall schedule.
9) Babies need to be dosed properly with medicine.
The Centers for Disease Control says upward of 41 percent of parents under-dose feverish kids with acetaminophen. Base the dose you give your baby on his weight, not his age. If other symptoms accompany the fever (such as rash, consistent vomiting, lethargy for several hours, constant crying or a bad smell to the urine), consult your pediatrician as soon as possible.
10) Babies do best with grains after 7 months.
Research says that children who are given cereal grains at 3 months are at a higher risk for celiac disease, the autoimmune disorder triggered by a food allergy to wheat gluten.
11) Babies love to be swaddled.
Numerous studies show swaddling can reduce excessive crying and may prevent SIDS. How tightly should you swaddle? Just tight enough so Baby can’t wiggle his arms and legs.
12) Babies are communicators.
Even if your baby has perfect hearing, simple sign language symbols may be beneficial to you both, and one study shows that babies who learn to sign can actually up their IQ. Experts now recommend using sign language with infants as young as 6 months old, although Baby may not respond to it until 16 months.
13) Babies are harmed by lead.
If you’re living in an older home, there may be a significant amount of paint, dust, soil and plumbing containing lead. The AAP recommends parents with children between the ages of 6 months and 3 years work to identify possible lead sources in their homes and at da ycare since high levels of lead in the blood can cause serious health problems.
14) Babies thrive through interaction with you.
The number of hours Mom or Dad spends with the baby makes little difference to his intellectual or social development — what DOES matter is your interaction with Baby. Engage with him often.
15) Breastfeeding may be best for Baby, but not if Mom’s stressed out.
New moms have enough stress on themselves when a baby comes into the world. Don’t stress out about breastfeeding your baby because it will reduce your milk supply, and Baby will be stressed if you’re stressed. Aim to breastfeed for six months to one year, and if you feel stressful, try to identify things you can do in order to relax. Baby needs you to be happy!