You and Your Baby
Life with your new baby can sometimes be a roller coaster of mixed emotions. It is a wonderful, special and exciting feeling to be a new parent, but at the same time it can be frustrating and exhausting. There are many resources, both on-line and printed that offer answers to questions you may have, as well as community health centers in your health region that offer support.
The handbook Baby’s Best Chance: A Parents’ Handbook of Pregnancy and Baby Care is available by clicking the link or from your local health center and provides important information in baby care for the first six months.
The First Few Weeks as a New Parent
In the first few weeks after bringing your baby home, it is important that you try and rest as much as possible as you will be up at night to feed your baby. Remember that your body needs time to heal, so good nutrition and rest is important. If you are a single parent, or if you do not have family and friends to support and help you, there are programs in your area to help you. Contact your health center or your public health nurse to help you access these programs. Click HERE to be directed to our locations page.
Skin to Skin Contact
Holding your baby skin to skin helps to keep your baby warm, as well as stabilizing your baby’s heart rate and breathing – this is important for all babies! It promotes bonding and helps your baby to feel calmer – it also tells your body that it’s time to make milk! If possible, hold your baby skin to skin as soon after birth as possible for at least one hour. Your baby will benefit from skin to skin contact even after you go home. Please invite your partner and/or support person to hold your baby skin to skin as this will greatly benefit your baby. Watch the video to learn more about the importance of Skin to Skin Contact.
It is important to consider where your baby will be sleeping during the night as well as at naptime and to ensure that your baby is safe. The Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) advises that the safest place for baby to sleep is on his or her back in a crib or bassinette beside your bed. The following video and brochures illustrate important safe sleeping information for you:
‘Tummy time’ is the awake time that your baby spends on her stomach while you supervise. Since it is recommended that babies sleep on their backs to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), it is important for her to spend time on her stomach several times a day. You can put her on the floor, on a safe firm surface, on your lap, or on your chest for tummy time. You can begin tummy time once your baby’s cord has fallen off. Begin with a few minutes several times a day and gradually increase the time as your baby gets use to this new position. Tummy time is important because it helps to strengthen her neck and upper back muscles so she can hold her head up and turn from side to side. It also helps her to learn to roll and crawl. Tummy time will support her overall development and help prevent her from getting flat spots on her head. This link has more information about tummy time.
Some parents have noticed flat spots on their baby’s heads in the first few months; this is a time when babies are spending the majority of their time lying on their backs to sleep. There are prevention strategies and suggestions explained in this article.
Almost all babies will experience some type of painful experience in the first few days or weeks after he/she is born – this may be a blood test, injection or perhaps an intravenous infusion. Many studies show that holding your baby at the breast or skin-to-skin greatly reduces the pain and stress for your baby, and helps to keep your baby calm.
Many hospitals and health centers are now encouraging parents to do this; if your baby has to undergo a painful experience, ask if you can breastfeed during the procedure or if you or your partner can hold your baby. Here is a helpful video with more information, The Power of a Parent’s Touch.
Tips to Ease Your Baby’s Discomfort During Immunization – You can also help your baby to ease the discomfort/pain during immunization by reading these tips.
Immunize Canada has excellent information to help prepare before the scheduled immunization.
The free booklet Baby’s Best Chance is one of many resources that offer safety information for new parents.
Keeping good hygiene (washing your hands frequently and especially after changing a diaper), washing surfaces that your baby comes into contact with, ensuring that your smoke detectors are installed and working are just a few general safety tips. Child-proof your home by putting up out of reach anything that would cause injury such as window blind cords or poisonous cleaners, and ensure that all electrical outlets are covered and stairways and stairwells have doors or baby gates.
Prevent scalds and burns by always checking the temperature of your baby’s bath water with your elbow and never leave a baby unattended in the bath. Keep your baby away from hot liquids such as coffee or tea. Here are more resources to help you gain knowledge about child safety:
Health Canada provides the Recalls and Safety Alerts Database which provides easy access to a comprehensive list of recalls, advisories, and safety alerts in a timely fashion.
Formula Recall Notices – Health Canada provides the Recalls and Safety Alerts Database which provides easy access to a comprehensive list of recalls, advisories, and safety alerts in a timely fashion. For food recalls, including infant formula, you can check this link.
Nutrition and Food Safety
Your baby does not need any food except breastmilk until 6 months of age. At this time, if your baby is able to sit in his or her high chair and is taking an interest in food, then this is the time to introduce solid food to your baby. At around 6 months of age your baby’s iron level is becoming low so it is important to start with iron-rich foods, such as meats, eggs, legumes and iron-fortified cereal, as well as continuing to breastfeed until 2 years of age or beyond. For more information about breastfeeding, click this link.
An important part of learning to eat is allowing your baby to play or experiment with food; let your baby decide how much to eat. Start off slowly with just one meal a day and then gradually increase to three meals a day and snacks. It is best if you do not add salt or sweetener to your baby’s food. Here are some resources to help you learn how to feed your baby:
- Healthy Eating – Feeding Your Breastfed Baby – 6 months to 1 year
- Healthy Eating – Feeding Your Baby – 6 months to 1 year
- Healthy Eating – Feeding Your Child – from age 1 to 5
- Healthy Child – Healthy Baby – Rural and Northern Community Support Programs
If you make an informed decision to Formula Feed, the following information will help you choose the type of formula to use and how to safely prepare it. This link provides you with that information. You can also contact the nearest Health Centre or Nursing Station for more information and to safely prepare it; please click HERE to be directed to our locations page. Please click HERE for information on Northern Health Region Paced Bottle Feeding.
Even if you choose to formula feed your baby, you may want to consider giving your baby your colostrum in those first few feeds as this will provide your baby with important nutrients and antibodies against infection. Baby’s First Breastmilk.
Second Hand Smoke
Did you know?
- There are more than 4000 chemicals in every cigarette. Many poisonous substances can stay in a room or car for months after the cigarette has been stubbed out.
- Children and babies who live in homes or travel in cars where people smoke have a greater chance of becoming ill with coughs and ear infections, suffering from asthma and bronchitis and dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- All secondhand smoke is a danger – we actually can’t see 85% of secondhand smoke.
Find out more about second hand smoke HERE.
If you smoke, think about what you can do to reduce the risk of exposing your family to secondhand smoke. Speak to a health care provider or contact the Tobacco Reduction Coordinator at 204-681-3143.
Your Baby’s Development
In the space of a very short time, you will notice your baby growing and changing – starting to take an interest in his/her surroundings and recognizing your voice or face. There are many links and articles that talk about the “milestones” that your baby will achieve in the first year. Here is a good link with information about your baby’s development: