By Dara Williamson
Healthy Start – The Baby Fold
It’s not easy being a parent. It takes hard work, commitment, and a whole lot of love. But dedicated care for your baby at a young age goes a long way toward a healthy life for that child. Here are five easy ways to care for your new child.
1. Hold your baby a lot: Holding your baby will let it know that it is loved and safe. Make a lot of eye contact with your baby. Talk, read, sing, smile, laugh and make silly faces with your baby. All these things will contribute to a healthy parent-child relationship and strong attachment. Giving your baby all this attention will NOT spoil it. It will help your baby bloom into a happy, healthy child.
2. Massage your baby: It’s an age-old tradition around the world and it has numerous benefits for both baby and parent. Regular infant massage promotes strong brain development, enhanced parent-infant bond, increases muscle tone, stimulates circulation, promotes deeper/longer sleep, relieves gassy symptoms, and releases tension – along with other benefits.
3. Understand that your baby will cry and have fussy moments: Your baby is adjusting to his new world and all these new things can be stressful for it. Try using “Happiest Baby on the Block” techniques to help soothe your newborn. Utilize community resources (library, Internet, support groups, new parent programs, friends or family) if you have any questions.
4. Ask for help, seek support and educate yourself: Talking to other parents, attending a support group, reading about newborns and parenting are all important to help yourself feel comfortable in your new role as a parent. Talk to your pediatrician and ask lots of questions about your baby’s health and development. Remember that all babies are unique and develop at a different pace. Be careful not to compare your baby’s development to other babies (including your other children). If you have concerns or are curious about your baby’s development, check with your pediatrician or local early intervention program (Child and Family Connections) for a developmental screening.
5. Let go of any preconceived notions of parenting and be ready for things not to go as planned: Allow for more time to get somewhere and get things done. Tell yourself that you don’t have to do it all, and be okay with not getting everything done that you would have prior to your baby. You may have to step out of your comfort zone a little. Be ready to do things like sing to your baby in public, find the nearest exit quickly, get spit up on and hear outdated advice from strangers. Parenting is an adventure that is challenging, fun, frustrating, rewarding, and exhausting all at the same time. Take a deep breath and enjoy the ride!
As we celebrate April as National Child Abuse Prevention month, it’s important to remember that the things we do for our children in the womb and at birth have long-lasting effects. Over 30,000 children are the victim of child abuse each year in Illinois because simple steps in creating a healthy family are never taken. I hope these tips will help you cherish and protect your child.
Healthy Start is one of the many programs and services The Baby Fold offers to the Bloomington-Normal community (and surrounding areas). Healthy Start is a voluntary home visiting program for expecting or new parents. It’s funded by a grant, and there are no charges for the services that mom and baby receive.
For more information about this program or services related to Healthy Start, call 309.454.1770 or visit www.thebabyfold.org.
If healthy families matter to you, please consider joining our Healthy Start Facebook Cause: Stop Child Abuse from the Start