If you are a new parent, no doubt you are receiving parenting advice from almost everybody you know. This often creates a bit of information overload and uncertainty, which can be challenging to deal with when the stakes are so high. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of guidance that you are being given, take a step back, a deep breath and go back to basics. Here is a checklist of things you need to think about for your child.
Things to Think About Long-Term
Although your baby’s development might seem too distant to worry about, you need to keep some milestones in mind as a parent. All babies are different, it’s essential not to be worried if milestones are missed, but keep them in mind as a serious deviation could imply some learning difficulties that you should be aware of:
- At around 2 months, your baby should be smiling
- At around 4 months, your baby should have laughed
- At around 7-9 months, your baby should be able to sit up by themselves
- At around 9 months, your baby should start crawling
- At around 12 months, your baby should be able to say simple words like ‘dada’ and stand on their own
You should have registered your child to a medical facility when they were born, but keep in mind other aspects of healthcare too. When they start teething, you should try to find a dentist to make sure the process is smooth and normal. If any problems arise, do not be put off by the cost. There are low-cost dental financing options available with many good dentists who understand that health comes first, especially with development. Next, you should explore a bit online and try to find a shortlist of kindergartens to keep in mind; they will need to go before you know it.
Immediate Things to Consider
Cleaning your baby is something that can be stressful due to how sensitive they are. To make the bathing process easy you should buy an infant bathtub, make sure your thermostat is high so coming out of the bath isn’t a cold shock, fill the tub with a couple inches of warm water that is cooler than 90 degrees. When bathing your baby, use no-tears shampoo and gentle soaps but save shampooing for last otherwise their crown might get cold. The aim here is to keep the bathing duration as short as possible to keep crying to a minimum.
Growth spurts are a notorious enemy of parents’ clothing efforts, so keep clothes purchases to a reasonable degree and do not buy en-masse. It can be easier to dress your baby if you buy clothes that fasten at the front instead of the back, and you should always avoid clothes with ribbons and even buttons to prevent against tangling or choking. When dressing your baby do so on a flat surface while talking and smiling at them, so they feel relaxed during the process. If the temperature is under 75 degrees, dress them in layers. In temperatures that are above 75 degrees, use the rule of thumb that you should dress them in one layer more than you are wearing.
Building a relationship
Babies need to form relationships, and according to famed developmental psychologist Bowlby, they need to do so within a critical period in their first 2 years. Bonding properly with your baby helps to form a working model of bonding that ensures they have healthy intrapersonal relationships in the future. Try to cuddle them often and increase skin-to-skin contact when you can. When feeding with a bottle, make reassuring eye contact as much as you can. When your baby is still young, be sure to come to their aid when they cry as it is needed to build trust – as they get older and more independent this becomes less important, but in the first 3 months make it your priority. Singing songs is a great way to bond with your baby, as is giving them massages when you can.
If you are breastfeeding, you should hold your baby in your lap with their legs at your side. If you are bottle-feeding, you should hold them while they feed and use the opportunity to bond – talk to them and try to make eye contact. You should always keep your baby sitting up, do not lie them down to feed as they may risk choking. Burp your baby after feeding them by lightly tapping their back as you hold them with their face resting against your shoulder, or have them sat in a leaning forward position.
This checklist of tips should simplify things a bit and remind you that if you cover the basics of parenting, try not to worry too much (though being a parent that might be inevitable).