All You Need to Know About Your Newborn

Reviewed on : 04 March 2016

Childbirth is probably the most amazing and beautiful moment in the life of a woman. Her life changes completely after having a baby. Cradling a newborn in the arms makes all the sadness, problems, tortures and restrictions of pregnancy and delivery completely worth it. With this immense joy, comes huge responsibility. New mothers have to become dedicated to raising a healthy child. They have to take care of hundreds of things that would affect the life of the baby. To make this transition a little easier for the new mothers, experts have developed guidelines that can help them safely manoeuvre through the various stages of post pregnancy child care. After all most people will agree that it is easier to give birth to than raise a child.

Breastfeeding

First and foremost, breast milk is the best source of nutrition for a newborn. It provides unique benefits to the baby in all aspects and has no alternative. New mothers should ideally start breastfeeding in the delivery room itself. Colostrum, the first yellowish milk from the mother’s breast, should never be discarded. It contains antibodies which if consumed by the baby, help protect it from common illnesses. For the first 6 months, the baby needs only the mother’s breast milk to meet all nutritional needs. All women can breastfeed their babies, regardless of the size of their breasts. The belief that breastfeeding affects a woman’s figure has no substance and is a myth.

After 6 months of breastfeeding, the mothers can add some fruits and homemade soft foods in the diet of the child. This should be in addition to breast milk, which should continue till around 2 years of age. Breastfeeding not only provides the baby with much needed nutrition but also develops a close, loving bond between the mother and the child. Experts have also stated that breastfeeding soon after delivery can help in stopping bleeding from the uterus. A breastfeeding woman also gets significant protection from getting pregnant again in the first six months after a delivery. According to experts, the risk of cancer of the breast and the ovaries also decreases if the mother breastfeeds.

Advantages of Breastfeeding for the Baby

Breastfeeding provides protection against many infections. According to research, a non-breastfed infant has a 14 times higher risk of dying from diarrhoea, a 4 times higher risk of death from respiratory diseases and a 2.5 times higher risk of mortality from other infections. In case of an infection, breastfeeding helps the baby to recover faster.

Babies who are breastfed are also less likely to suffer from asthma and eczema. These babies will also have a better dental configuration and alignment of the face. Risk of diabetes is also lowered in such babies. Recent studies have also pointed out that the breastfed babies develop earlier than non breastfed children.

Growth of the Newborn

Experts have stated that the growth and development of a baby is generally predictable. A mother can know what to generally expect at a certain age.

Weight – The predominant factor to judge growth is weight. The regular measurement of the weight of the baby can signify a healthy or unhealthy growth. When the baby is born, he/she has 5 percent of the final adult body weight. It is known that initially the newborn lose water from their bodies which leads to a 10 percent reduction in their body weight. However, after about 10 days, they regain their birth weight. This happens faster for babies who are breastfed whenever they demand to be fed and not just according to a fixed schedule. The experts suggest that a healthy growth means gaining between half to 1 kg per month.

The normal birth babies will become double the birth weight in five months and exceed three times the birth weight in 12 months. This rapid weight gain slows down from the second year. The new mothers should be aware that this is completely natural.

Height – The average height of a full-term baby is about 50 cm. The gain in height may not be as rapid as the weight. A 3-month-old baby would be 60 cm and a 9-month-old baby would be 90 cm, if they were 50 cm at birth. After four years, the height of the child increases by about 5 cm each year till 10 years for girls and 12 years for boys.

Motor and Mental Skills

According to experts, about 50 percent of children learn to walk alone by 12 months. 3 percent learn to walk without support a little earlier, by the ninth month. Almost all of the children learn how to walk by a maximum of 15 months. If the time taken by the child to walk is more than 15 months then a paediatrician should be consulted.

The motor development in a baby who is 1-month-old is determined by the baby kicking his/her legs in joy. Lifting the head, even momentarily is considered as a sign of motor development. Being able to bring the hands in the range of eyes is also a sign.

The mental development is determined by the baby’s ability to focus on an object about 20 cm from the face. Using a rattling object at a distance of 8 cm away from the baby’s ear should make the baby respond to the sound in any way.

At about 5 months of age, the baby might become able to get into the sitting position with the help of little support. The baby will also be able to focus on an object for a longer duration. Mothers should keep in mind that each baby is different and that not every child might progress at the same speed.

A 12-month-old infant would be able to stand without support. Some might be able to take a couple of steps without support as well. The mental growth can be judged by the child’s ability to finger feed themselves. Copying simple actions is also an important mark of cognitive growth. The baby might also be able to put together one or two words.

Immunisation

It is recommended that the parents should get their children always immunised, though some parents might argue against immunization. The necessary vaccines include BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guerin), polio vaccine, DPT, TT, Measles etc. Apart from immunisation, parents must take good care of their children by following general principles of hygiene since it is well known that vaccines do not provide 100 percent protection.

These guidelines should help parents to stop worrying and enjoy as they see their child grow.

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