12 Tips for Parents of Babies
- Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Babies are wonderful!
There is nothing like the cherubic face of an infant that moves complete strangers to smile and coo. These adorable and captivating children will go through many changes in the first 18 months of life, from being totally dependent on you to talking and walking on their own. Just when you think they have established a pattern, they change! Some babies sleep a great deal. Others do not. Some sleep through the night on their own, while others need a little help. Some have an easygoing disposition, while others are fussy. Although unpredictable at times, rearing children under one year old is manageable. In fact, parents of teens sometimes reminisce about these earlier, simpler times.
Here are my favorite tips for helping new parents understand their child:
Make your baby feel loved. It is the single most important responsibility of a parent.
Your child's needs are simple at this stage of development so be sensitive to her cries for hunger, pain, and discomfort.
All babies cry. Some cry for long periods of time.
Don't worry about the “claim” that you can spoil a baby by picking it up too much. Respond to their need to be soothed and feel safe. My rule is that you cannot spoil a child less than 12 months of age.
For help calming a newborn baby, I highly recommend "The Happiest Baby on the Block" by Dr. Harvey Karp, M.D. It is written for parents with babies under three months of age.
There is a fine line between joy and anger at this stage, so be cautious about over stimulating your baby. For fun, limit the stimulation to about five minutes.
At around six months, your baby may begin to develop fears. Loud sounds, new people, animals, or anything unknown may become problematic.
Be sensitive to new fears and try to help your baby cope by slowly letting her approach these fears until she is comfortable with them. Keep an upbeat attitude and tone of voice.
Talk to your baby often even if you think he cannot understand you. Babies who are spoken to throughout the day develop language skills faster than those who are not.
Engage in pretend conversations with your baby and pause to let your baby have his say. Your child will keep up this back and forth conversation as if you are both having a real discussion. You will likely be delighted to also notice how your baby's talk has the exact cadence and intonation of your language (whatever it is) even when the sounds do not make sense to anyone. As a mother of four, these mock conversations are still amongst my sweetest memories of infanthood.
Offer your crawling baby as many textures as possible for sensory stimulation and brain development. Exploring carpeting, wood flooring and ceramic tiles is great.
Keep your house warm enough so that your almost walking baby can scrunch bare little toes on warm floors. Bare feet can grip better than stocking feet or feet in shoes. This results in your baby developing strong foot and leg muscles.
Enjoy these precious moments with your new baby. At this stage, they do not talk back, bring home friends you dislike or come home with smashed car bumpers.