|Newborn Tips#1: Don't Hush-A-Bye-Baby|
|You don't have to be quiet while the baby is sleeping. The womb is loud, and newborns are used to the noise. When ours first came home, we watched television and I would vacuum, wash dishes and talk on the phone around her while she slept. She got used to sleeping with noise, and I could get stuff done. I am still able to vacuum in her room while she sleeps (she is 14 months), and she is peaceful and well rested when she wakes up.|
|Newborn Tips#2: Soothe Your Wailing Newborn|
|When my baby cries, I comfort her by patting her back in a heartbeat-like rhythm. That helps her burp more quickly, and it also helps her relax if she's crying from insecurity. If this doesn’t work, I also try one or all of Dr. Harvey Karp's five calming moves: swaddling, shushing, holding her on her side, swinging her or letting her suck. Sometimes it takes all six!|
Incredibly your tiny baby is born with a lifetime supply of brain cells in place and while a few brain structures will add new nerve cells during early childhood (and a single region adds new cells throughout our lives) basically the raw material of our brains is already there at birth.
It really isn't surprising then that numerous studies have proven that the more experience a baby has of being read or spoken early on in life, the easier it is for her to learn to speak and read later on.
Literacy really does begin at birth, so every effort you make with reading to your baby or toddler, talking to her, singing or reciting nursery rhymes, builds all the skills she needs to grasp language, reading and writing.
We can stimulate a child's senses (their sight, hearing, smell and touch) by the way we interact with them and as most of a baby's brain growth will have occurred by the time they are three years old, it really never is too soon to start!
Experts recommend reading to a newborn from birth. They are too tiny to understand a story of course, but they will benefit from the intonation and inflection in the adult's voice. They find it soothing, comforting, and although they don't realise it, they are laying the building bricks for a good vocabulary and stimulating their motor and auditory skills.
As mentioned a baby is born with a lifetime supply of brain cells and from day one these cells begin to die. By the time we are fully grown adults we have half of the brain cells we did at birth!
In a baby's brain pathways (synapses) are formed to allow information to travel around in the brain. It's a kind of brain wiring.
|Newborn Tips#3: Help Get Your Baby to Latch|
|If you are having latch-on issues while breastfeeding your baby, you can use breast shields to help the process. This was a wonderful tip that I learned from my lactation consultant. I had to use the shields for an entire month before my baby would latch onto my own nipple without them. Had it not been for the breast shields, I would not have been able to continue nursing my baby.|
|Newborn Tips#4: Get Prepped|
|At 3 weeks, babies’ days and nights become more predictable, and you can focus on yourself in addition to your newborn. One way to do that is by reducing your stress level - and having everything ready for your hungry baby and yourself is one way to do that. Start by prepping for the next feeding as soon as the previous one is over. For example, after an 11 p.m. feeding, get ready for the 2 a.m. one by prepping whatever you need for feeding and putting out fresh drinking water for yourself so you don’t have anything to think about in the middle of the night. During the day, take advantage of the baby’s naps to work out, shower or catch up on e-mail, or take a nap too.|
These synapses are encouraged by experiences and reading, especially the repetition found in most early baby books and in nursery rhymes, add more layers, and develop more complex construction of these pathways. A staggering 90% of this brain wiring is complete by the age of three.
While we may not see a very young baby's reaction to a story, toddlers clearly demonstrate how much they get out of a story time session.
As well as helping their brain development they enjoy the feeling of love and security of having an adult speaking and looking at them face to face. They enjoy the fun stories, the relaxed familiar stories and the ones which give them the chance to join in, chant, sing, or perform actions.
Some tips for reading to your little ones:
- Keep it short. Children have short attention spans, so a 10 minute story twice a day is adequate.
- Read something you enjoy. Especially during the very early days. Then when baby is more alert use baby-friendly board or fabric books so baby can grab and “read” with you.
- Choose picture books for babies from four months old so they can familiarise themselves with the images.
- Get used to repetition. Babies and toddlers love hearing the same story over and over again so they learn when to laugh and when to anticipate something is going to happen.
- Introduce pop-up books. By six to nine months, your baby will enjoy these and they will help develop your child's fine motor skills.
- Introduce paper books, from about one-year your child your little one should be able to look through a picture book without chewing, ripping or spoiling it.
As well as buying or borrowing library books featuring a toddler's favourite characters, try to have a selection of books which have drawings of other children doing familiar things (sleeping, eating and playing) books about saying hello and good-bye, please and thank you, books with not too many words, books with easy to remember rhymes or phrases, books about numbers, the alphabet, shapes or animals.
|Newborn Tips#5: Keeping Your Baby Awake During Feedings|
|When our baby was eating slowly and sleepily, my husband and I would massage her cheek to stimulate her to eat faster. A gentle stroke with a fingertip on her cheek was all it took, and on those long sleepless nights, this simple trick was a godsend! Our friends have found it works great with their infants too. When babies eat efficiently until they're full before going to sleep, they sleep for longer between feedings. And that means you’re both likely to be calmer!|
|Newborn Tips#6: Help Your Baby Bond with Dad|
|Make sure your baby has ample time alone with Daddy. His touch and voice are different than yours, and this will begin a bonding process and give you a break. Plus, it gets the baby used to being with someone other than you. The first few times can be hard. Make sure your baby is fed and well rested, as this will give you at least one or two hours before you're needed again. Then leave Dad and the baby alone. If you stay nearby, make sure the baby can’t see or hear you, and resist the urge to go into the room and "fix" things if she starts crying. Your baby cries with you and you experiment to find out what's wrong. Dads need time to do this too - in their own way. By allowing this time, your child will learn there is more than one way to receive comfort, which will help immensely when you leave your baby with a sitter or another family member for the first time. You could have your partner bathe her, put her to bed or just read or talk to her.|