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How to care for new-born baby

HEALTH DIALOGUE
SO you had a baby! Whether through vaginal delivery or caesarean section, a new baby has come into the world – ready to be cared for and educated by their guardians.
Usually, the primary caregivers of new born babies are their mothers, who are expected to just know how to breastfeed, change, bathe, talk to and play with the new baby, while getting along with the rest of their lives as usual.
Mothering is not that automatic and in a lot of cases mothers do not know how to breastfeed and need to be guided in the correct ways to breastfeed the new baby. The children that are bottle fed also have challenges as most of the instructions on the tins act as guides only and are not set in stone. One of the other challenges with bottle feeding is cleanliness of the bottles; they have to be cleaned properly, sterilised and stored properly.
There are many schools of thought of how to care for a new born baby, grandmothers, mothers, aunties, sisters, best friends, former classmates, neighbours and even the woman in the queue at antenatal clinic all have their own suggestions on the best way to “handle” a new born baby.
The most important aspect of raising a new born is feeding baby correctly. Those mothers who choose to exclusively breastfeed, their babies are usually told to breastfeed “on demand”, this essentially means when the baby is awake give them the breast until they remove themselves. If you are unsure on how to breastfeed, it is advisable to speak to your doctor or midwife who will be able to demonstrate in person the correct way to breastfeed.
Should I use cloth nappies or disposable diapers? A question many mothers have asked themselves. At the end of the day, the diaper used should keep the baby’s bum dry and not irritate baby’s delicate skin. There is even no harm in using a combination of the two: Cloth nappies while at home and on those trips out of the house where changing may be a challenge carry disposable diapers.
Is baby powder (talcum powder) needed? Some children are actually allergic to having baby powder placed in their diapers early in life. If you notice irritated skin, try spending a day without applying powder and see if the irritation continues.
Bathing a new born baby can seem like a scary venture. For first-time mothers, practicing with a doll may be helpful. If you are lucky enough to have a mother-figure who has had a baby before, let her to teach you how to bath the baby in the comfort of your home.
Choice of soap is something else that may present doubt, the best form of soap for a baby is one that is not heavily perfumed and if possible, contains some form of moisturising oil. By the way, you don’t have to bath your new born baby every day for the first two months!
How do you play with a new born baby? I was once asked. Babies are human beings and like all human beings we crave interaction, even though a new born cannot say words, facial expressions and body movements usually act as communication.
As human beings we start learning language from birth, that is why it is important to speak to your child from birth, ask questions, explain what you are doing and where you are going, introduce your baby to people. If you can read to your child every day, using colourful books that have bright pictures and point out the different objects in the pictures, believe me, your child is soaking it all in.
Talking to your child helps the child to look at your lips and by the time the child is four months old, they are usually trying to mimic some of your mouth expressions and sounds. The earlier you speak to your child in proper language, the quicker your child will understand and respond to you.
It may seem complicated and scary, but the most important thing to do while caring for a new born baby is to enjoy your time with the baby and take as many pictures as possible, they grow fast.
For more information on baby care please email 990health@champ.org.zm

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