Parenting 101 - The Basics of being a first-time parent
Doing anything for the first time is challenging. Now raising a complex individual is especially challenging in the early years when your child is as demanding as they are fragile. But don't be discouraged! Raising children has been done well a billion times over, and you have a wealth of knowledge to bolster your experience. As anyone who has had a child before will tell you, you are going to need all the help you can get!
Since infants have a digestive system that is proportionately tiny, they need feeding very often. In fact, it is recommended that newborn babies are fed on demand, that is, as often as they cue hunger. Your baby will tell you that they are hungry by crying, putting fingers in their mouth or making sucking sounds.
When breastfeeding, allow your baby to nurse for about 10 or 15 minutes at each breast. Remember that the WHO and UNICEF recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, and the introduction of nutritionally- adequate and safe solid foods at the age of 6 months, along with continued breastfeeding up to two years of age.
Burping your baby is essential since they often swallow air while feeding. To help your baby deal with this discomfort, hold them upright with their head on your shoulder while gently patting their back with your hand. To avoid regurgitation, remember to hold your baby in an upright position for at least 10 or 15 minutes after feeding.
Your baby will need a change of diapers about 10 times every day - that's roughly 70 times a week! You can use this information to decide whether you are going to opt for cloth or disposable diapers. Either way, it is advisable to have all your supplies at hand when changing diapers so that your infant is never left unattended on the changing table.
While your newborn might seem to need you at every minute of every day and night, babies actually sleep 16 hours or more every day. But unlike adults, they do not sleep through the night. Typically, newborns sleep for periods between two and four hours.
The lack of touch during the early years of life is similar to sensory deprivation; it can slow the growth of infants and has been shown to impair mental development. Along with building trust between a child and a parent, skin-to-skin contact lets children know that they are safe and protected. To relax a crying or frightened baby, a proven technique is to lightly massage or gently stroke their back or legs.
Raising children can be an incredibly fulfilling responsibility. While your child's development utmost importance, so is your own mental health. Remember to always find the right balance in your parenting journey, and don't be afraid to ask for help when you feel overwhelmed. Parenting is a lifelong commitment, so pace yourself and remember that it takes a village to raise a child.