Especially if you’re a first-time parent, having a baby in your life is simultaneously a source of infinite happiness and constant worry, so it naturally takes a while before you get used to your child’s signals and understand their needs. But there are several basic ground rules every parent should keep in mind that are particularly important for the first twelve months of your baby’s life.
They are eager to explore the world around them, and while it’s perfectly natural for you to worry, becoming overly anxious can only take away most of the pleasure of your infant’s growing up. Read on to learn a few tips and tricks from a third-time parent and make the most of your baby’s first year in your life!
Every baby has their own rhythm, but a baby with a healthy appetite will eat at least eight times per day, which includes the night feeding cycles as well. Not all babies will fuss or cry, so you can look for specific body language, such as rooting their head from side to side or suckling on their fingers. While I’m not a fan of breast pumps, they can come in handy for moms who have more kids and their partner would like to help with feeding.
Any initial discomfort you might feel can be a matter of making simple tweaks in your or your baby’s position. And while some babies will learn instinctively, there’s no need to worry if they take a few weeks to figure out how to latch properly. My first daughter had her feeding routine down by the time she was five weeks old, while my third one took at least two extra weeks to decide!
Once you’ve hit the four month mark (sometimes even a month or two later), it’s likely that your baby will need more nutrients in addition to milk. Introducing creamy purees and mashed veggies is going to be very exciting for your child, because of all those new tastes and textures, so don’t be scared to experiment and mix flavors until you see what your baby likes best.
You can start with fruit purees, such as banana or a cooked apple, and vegetables like potatoes and carrots, only a few mouthfuls every day. As the months pass by, you can move on to thicker mixtures of pasta, dairy, meat and eggs, making their meals more regular and versatile. And as their digestive tract develops, they will switch to solids more quickly. By the time they reach eight or nine months, they will switch to soft lumpy food like rice cakes, boiled egg pieces or small pasta chunks.
From nappy rash and dry patches, all the way to child eczema, I’ve been through them all! With my first baby girl, I panicked over every little spot I discovered, and there were many. By the time I had my third baby, I realized that babies’ skin types can be so different, yet healthy despite all the imperfections. Blemishes, rashes, spots and bumps are all perfectly normal. For very sensitive, red areas, typically behind the ears and on the neck, washing with lukewarm to cool water and pat-drying will help ease the irritation.
When they are born, baby skin is around 30% more sensitive than ours, and it needs about a month of plain water washing to develop a healthy protective layer before you can introduce lotions and other bathing products. Around the second month, mild lotions and baths can be very useful. I’ve used baby-friendly Sebamed products for washing, which were exceptionally reliable even for the period when they had eczema, and the facial cream helped soothe the occasional irritated skin around their mouth and cheeks.
Despite all the sleepless nights, the first year of parenthood and getting to know your infant is truly a precious time. Don’t forget to take care of yourself, and use this time to nourish that bond you have with your bundle of joy. After all, since every baby is unique, no book or expert will be as good a teacher as your little one, so let the learning begin!