Raising a child is a strange experience. You spend nine months getting bigger and bigger, and then, one day, they finally arrive into the world, kicking and screaming.
However, that’s never the end of the story. Even if the delivery was exhausting, you still have to go home and raise your child. There’s always more work to be done.
In this post, we take a look at some of the things you learn about your child and yourself when you have to look after a baby 24/7.
You Need To Wash Your Hands Before Handling Them
As adults, we get used to the idea that we’re generally safe from microbial life. Yes – we might get the occasional cold, but aside from that, it can’t really hurt us.
But we forget that to get to this stage, we first had to build our immune systems. And that took many years – sometimes decades.
When babies come into the world, their immune systems are quite naive. That means that they don’t have specific immunity against various pathogens. Sometimes, just coming into contact with the germs on your hands can make them get sick – not what you want.
As a parent, therefore, you learn to keep hand sanitiser nearby at all times.
Babies Have No Problems, But They Still Need Soothing
Here’s another interesting thing you find out about babies. Even though they have none of the pressures of adult life weighing down on their shoulders, they still need soothing from time to time. Just being hugged and held is often enough to make a big difference to their state of mind and remind them that everything is going to be okay.
If you’re struggling to keep your baby calm, you can try using an infant massage. These help with bonding and get the child used to pleasant sensations.
You can also try using vocal sounds. Most babies love babbling, singing and cooing, so make noise to your heart’s content.
The Navel Takes About A Month To Heal
After birth, it takes about a month for the wound left by the umbilical cord to heal. During this time, the opportunity for infection exists. So it’s essential to keep your baby clean and fresh during this time.
When you bathe your baby, use a sponge. Try not to bathe too often as this can lead to a drying of the skin.
You Always Have To Support Their Head
While most mammals are born with the ability to hold their heads upright, babies are not. That’s why it’s essential to support their heads at all times. If you don’t, it can put pressure on the neck and cause injury.
You Have To Constantly Feed Your Child
We tend to assume that babies will eat three square meals a day because that’s what we’ve always done – or, at least, that’s what we think. But it turns out that babies’ bodies have very different metabolic requirements. And they require feeding throughout the day – and sometimes the night – to keep their bodies growing and developing.
Constantly feeding your child, therefore, can be a gargantuan effort, especially if you’re breastfeeding. But it is also a great opportunity for you and your kid to bond.
Many parents like to institute what’s affectionately called “baby-led” feeding. This is where you let your baby decide when they want to feed and when they’ve had enough. This way, they can develop a healthy response to food intake.
Getting Your Baby To Sleep Is A Challenge
Today’s cots for babies are more comfortable than ever before. But it can still be a challenge to get them to sleep. That’s because babies don’t have a circadian rhythm. Their bodies don’t churn out sleep-inducing hormones in the evening, telling them to go to sleep, or wake-up hormones in the evening, telling them that it’s time for them to get going. Instead, their hormones are all over the place.
Most babies will sleep for around 16 to 20 hours per day for the first few months of their lives, so, as a parent, getting the sleep you need isn’t that difficult. However, once you go beyond about six months, their sleep requirements start to decline. And that’s when they can start keeping you up all night.
To help your baby sleep, remember to feed them little and often. Once fed, they should sleep about 2 to 3 hours until their stomachs empty, making them hungry again.
You’ll Think Your Baby Is Ill All The Time
Because babies can’t talk, it’s often hard to tell what they’re going through. As a parent, therefore, you can get into the habit of believing that your baby is ill all the time, even if they are not.
Over time, you should become accustomed to how your baby behaves, their crying routines and how much they eat. Parents often know their children better than anyone else and can usually tell that there’s something wrong at the slightest sign of trouble.
However, there are clear signs that your child is seriously ill you’ll want to keep an eye out for. Things like high temperature, low temperature, rapid breathing, a throaty noise while breathing or grey skin require medical attention. So too do things like green vomit or a child that refuses to feed.
Nappy Changes Are Better When You Do Them Sooner Rather Than Later
Changing a baby’s nappy is perhaps the worst chore of all. When they are young, they don’t have the ability to control their bathroom habits, leaving you to clear up the mess.
Ideally, you want to change your baby’s nappy as frequently as possible. Don’t allow them to sit in a wet or dirty nappy as bacteria in their waste can make their skin sore, leading to nappy rash.
In summary, becoming a new parent involves a considerable learning curve. But you learn most of your new knowledge on the job, meaning that it happens relatively easily. It’s a bit like anything else: once you immerse yourself fully in your role, it’s incredible how much insight you can gain in a short space of time.