Tiny newborn babies need to feel safe

Before birth they were in a warm, pleasant place where they were held securely all of the time. Coming into the bright, noisy world is quite a big change. Food, burps and baths are basics, but the extra touches count too as your baby learns to cope with the world.

  • Babies are awkward. Their fine-motor skills develop over the childís first two years of life, so arms and legs may seem to jump around and scare them. Wrapping a baby snugly in a small blanket (swaddling) for the first two months and talking in soft, affectionate tones makes them feel more secure.
  • Sucking on something helps babies relax even when their tummies are full.
  • New babies cannot be spoiled; they can only be made to feel safe by meeting their needs when they express them.

Self-care for parents - Parents need to find time for rest. Babyís sleep schedule can ruin everyone elseís. Exhausted parents can lose tempers quickly. So nap when baby does, and donít worry about all of the housework.

3 to 6-month-old infants

By this time baby has gained some control of his head, arms and legs. He listens, watches and touches. He smiles when heís pleased and cries when he isnít. He starts to know familiar faces, but strangers may scare him. Teething may begin near the end of this period.

If your baby is having trouble with teething, comfort and soothe him with a cool teething toy and rub on pain medicine designed for that purpose. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for suggestions.

Babies this age do not know right from wrong and arenít ready to learn the difference. Discipline is not appropriate at this age.

Self-care for parents - Now that the baby is settling into a routine, find special time for yourself. A portion of nap time could be used to do something you like. Self-care helps you provide better baby care.

6- to 18-month-old infants

This is a period of rapid development. Most babies learn to sit, crawl, stand, walk and even talk during this stage. They begin to develop a sense of humor, and theyíll laugh when amused. One of the things they enjoy most is being with other people, but strangers may continue to frighten them.

  • Let them follow you as you go through your daily routine.
  • Let them feed themselves cooked vegetables and dry cereal from a high chair tray. It wonít be neat, but it lets them practice fine-motor skills. It also keeps them busy for long stretches of time.
  • Games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake can be learned, as can pointing to nose, eyes, mouth, and ears when asked.
  • Books with cardboard pages and bright pictures capture a babyís attention, especially if someone looks at the books with the baby.
  • Babies like to watch themselves in a mirror and putting the highchair or playpen within sight of one makes them happy.
  • ďNot for babiesĒ is a phrase they will learn to recognize, but itís important to divert their attention from the forbidden object to something thatís safe to touch. Babies at this stage are too young to understand so they have to be reminded again and again,gently.

Self-care for parents - Start finding a sitter whom you trust to give you some time away from baby. Seeing other adults is healthy.