New Parent Information

By Riley Berryhill

What your baby will look like

Congrats! You are expecting a new beautiful bundle of joy. To your surprise, your baby may not look so beautiful. Parents, before you begin to worry, you should be aware of what your baby will look like when he/she is born. Here are a few characteristics your baby might have:

Vernix Caseosa- Vernix Caseosa is a thick, white, waxy or cheesy looking substance that coats your baby's skin. Not to worry, this substance moisturizes your baby's skin as well as helps facilitate passage through the birth canal.

Lanugo- Often, babies are born with fine hair all over the body. This is called lanugo. The soft hair on your infant is used to help protect his/her skin inside of the womb.

Head Shape- When your baby is born, most likely his/her head will be misshaped and uneven. This is because during the birthing process, the baby's head must mold and shape to fit through the birth canal. The soft plates in your baby's head will eventually harden over time and even out.

Eye Discharge- Given at birth, antibiotic ointment is placed in the infants eyes to help prevent an infection from developing due to the bacteria from the birth canal. Your baby's eyes may experience irritation from the ointment, and a yellowish discharge may occur. Usually this will disappear within 24 hours. If it occurs again, gently wipe your baby's eyes with a warm washcloth.

Skin Irritation- Your baby may develop a rash within the first few weeks. The appearance of the rash may look similar to hives, and is only temporary.

Bonding With Your Infant

Creating a bond with your infant is very important in his/her development. There are multiple ways to bond with your baby. Here are some examples:

  • Feeding Time- Spending time with your baby by breast feeding or bottle feeding is a great way to bond with your infant. It builds a close connection as well as makes your baby feel safe, cared for, and loved. This is also a great way for moms to feel connected.
  • Using touch as language- Infant babies have yet to learn how to communicate by speech. By using touch as a way of communication, your nurturing touch will make the baby feel safe and loved.
  • Read or sing to your baby- This is a great way to connect with your baby. Here's a fun fact: your baby begins to recognize your voice before he/she is even born. The sound of a mother's voice is often comforting to their infant. Always make sure to read, sing, or even talk to your baby, no matter what you're doing.
  • Bedtime- At bedtime, rock your baby and hold him/her close. This will make your baby feel protected and loved, creating an emotional bond for both the baby and yourself.

Safe Toys For Infants

Providing your infant with safe, fun, and beneficial toys is very important. There are multiple safety hazards you should follow:

  1. NEVER give your baby small items that he/she can choke on
  2. Make sure that the toys are soft, with no pointed edges
  3. Choose toys that are well made, not fragile
  4. Don't pick heavy toys
  5. Make sure to choose toys that are non-toxic

Also, choose toys that are colorful, soft, and safe for your baby to put in his/her mouth.

These guidelines should be followed when choosing the right toys for your infant.

Here are some examples of appropriate toys for your infant:

  • High-contrast, colorful toys with geometric patterns (blocks)
  • Rattles or mobiles that make noise
  • Rhythmic and motion oriented toys that make noise
  • Soft stuffed animals
  • Play mats to lay on with toys (under parents supervision)

Breast Feeding vs. Bottle Feeding

Breast Feeding vs. Bottle feeding can be very touchy topic for mothers. Although there is controversy over which is better for the baby and the mother, there are several pros and cons to each.

Pros of Breastfeeding

  • Sanitary
  • Healthy for the mom and the baby and creates a close bond
  • Natural
  • Breastfeeding is not costly
  • Helps infant build natural immunities

These are all beneficial to the baby as well as the mother.

Cons of Breastfeeding

  • Mom doesn't get much sleep
  • Mothers may feel uncomfortable breast feeding in public

Pros of Bottle Feeding

  • More accesible in public
  • Easier
  • Not as messy
  • Baby learns to reach
  • Anyone can feed baby

Cons of Bottle Feeding

  • Mom and baby won't have same connection as breast feeding
  • Formula is expensive and contains chemicals
  • Washing bottles are time consuming (each bottle has to be washed specially after each use)
  • Babies won't get natural immunities

There are many mothers who choose breast feeding over bottle feeding, and vice versa, but it all depends on your personal preference. Either or, both are safe and healthy for your baby.

First Foods For Your Baby

When choosing food for your baby, it is important to feed your baby appropriate foods for his/her age. You would not want to give a 3 month old a hamburger, for example. Here are some food guidelines for your infant based upon their age:

At Birth:

You will want to feed your infant milk through breast feeding or formula.

2-4 Weeks of Age:

You can begin giving your infant vitamin c supplements, but you should still continue breast feeding or bottle feeding.

4 Weeks of Age:

You can start giving your infant fluoridated water; continue breast feeding or bottle feeding.

3 months:

Start giving your baby cereal that provide iron and B vitamins and continue breast feeding and bottle feeding.

3-4 months:

Give your baby mashed, hard-boiled egg yolks. This is a good source of protein for your baby. Continue feeding breast or formula milk.

4 months:

Begin feeding your baby pureed fruits and veggies. This is a good source of vitamins that are healthy to your baby. Continue feeding breast or bottle milk

6 months: Begin feeding your baby pureed meats. You can find it in the baby food isle or you can make it yourself. This is a good source of protein for your baby. Continue feeding breast or bottle milk

7 months:

You can now give your baby breads and pasta. This is a good source of carbohydrates. Make sure to give your baby small pieces so there won't be a chance of a choking hazard. Continue feeding breast or bottle milk.

When you feel like your baby is ready, you can begin feeding him/her strained and chopped adult food. This gives your baby all the nutrients that you are receiving. Also, you can begin weaning your baby off of breast milk onto regular milk, or breast feed your baby as long as you like.

Characteristics of a Healthy Baby

As a parent, it is extremely important to you to have your baby safe and healthy. Here are some characteristics of a physically healthy baby:

  • Good appetite
  • Bright eyes
  • Clear skin
  • Plenty of energy
  • Active
  • Often noisy
  • Sleeps soundly
  • Gains steady height and weight over a period of months

SIDS prevention and crib safety

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or more commonly known as SIDS, is the sudden, unexplained death of an infant younger than a year old.

SIDS is very common in the United States, and many parents look their child from the tiniest of problems. The most common case is from infants in their cribs. To prevent SIDS, follow these crib safety guidelines to make sure your infant is safe and healthy.

  • Have a firm, fitted mattress
  • Fitted sheet
  • Make sure nothing covers the baby's head
  • Firm crib bumpers
  • No pillows or blankets
  • Place baby on back
  • Dress baby in sleep clothing
  • No stuffed animals
  • Do not smoke
  • Make sure the baby's sleep area is in parents room
  • Your baby should NOT sleep with an adult, on couch or chair, or alone.

Following these guidelines are extremely important in the health and safety of your child.