You can have lots of fun helping your baby discover the world.
Your baby can’t see very far at birth – their perfect distance is looking at your face when you’re holding them in your arms. At first your baby's eyes will only lock onto things for a short time, but soon they will look for longer. When you talk to them, they may look at you and then look away for a little bit – it doesn’t mean they're bored, they just needs time to store it all in their brain.
Skin to Skin
Skin to skin means having your baby on you, their skin next to your skin. You can do this straight after the baby has been born regardless of the type of delivery you have had; even if you have had a caesarean section this should be made possible. Skin to skin has plenty of benefits; not only does it help for you (and your partner) to bond with your baby but it also helps to keep them warm which is really important just after they have been born. It can also help to regulate the baby’s heart rate, breathing rate and blood sugars. Additionally, it helps to promote successful breastfeeding.
If your baby is in the neonatal unit, ask the nurse about trying some skin to skin contact, they will be able to support you to do this.
Skin to skin is important longer term also; evidence shows that babies who have lots of skin to skin contact in the first year of life have improved physical growth and development particularly if they were born at a low birth weight.
Talk to me
One of the most important things you can do with your baby is to talk to them every day, as often as you can. You can chat to your baby about anything you like – what you’re doing, what’s around you, what they might be thinking. If you say something and then leave a gap for them, you’ll find that as they get bigger they’ll start to gurgle back at you! Hearing you talk to them as much as possible builds up the connections in your baby's brain – that’s how they’ll learn to talk. They’ll recognise the voices of the people around you: your parents or your partner, for example.
Did you know?
Your baby recognises your voice from the day they are born, because they've heard it for the last few months of your pregnancy. When they cry, try talking to them gently or singing to calm them down.
Hold your baby as much as possible (in your arms or in a sling). When you cuddle your baby, they feel safe and loved. You can’t ‘spoil’ a baby with lots of cuddling – it’s what babies need!
Tommy's midwife Sophie shows you some baby massage tips. All you need to get started is:
- some baby-safe oil, like sunflower oil
- peace and quiet
- a towel
- time with your baby.
'Tummy time' means giving your baby some time every day lying on their tummy. Your baby’s neck isn’t strong enough to support their head at first – so you always need to have a hand under their head when you’re holding them. When your baby is on their front, they’ll work at trying to lift their head up and this will make their neck stronger. Remember it’s safest for your baby to always sleep on their back (this cuts the risk of cot death), so don’t let them fall asleep on their front.
Learn how to make the most of tummy time on the BabyCentre website.
Play with me
Here are some great ways to play with your baby:
- Stroke their hands, feet or face.
- Cuddle them and dance around the room to your favourite music.
- Bend their legs gently in and out.
- Touch the palm of their hand – they’ll grab hold of your finger!
- Blow gently on their tummy.
- Show them the things around your home or outside and tell your baby about them – remember everything is new and exciting, even a lamp or a tree!
- Talk to them as much as possible.
If you ever have any concerns about your baby's health, don't hesitate to speak to your midwife or health visitor. You can also read up on common baby conditions on the BabyCentre website.
Expressing milk is a way of extracting milk from the breast, and this can be done by hand or by using a pump.
It’s really hard to stay cheerful if you’re being woken up every couple of hours every night. Try to remember that it won’t last too long.
Your questions about formula feeding answered.
Sometimes, for various reasons, mothers use formula rather than breastfeeding.