You can have lots of fun helping your baby discover the world.
Your baby can’t see very far at birth – his perfect distance is looking at your face when you’re holding him in your arms. At first his eyes will only lock onto things for a short time, but soon he’ll look for longer. When you talk to him, he may look at you and then look away for a little bit – it doesn’t mean he’s bored, he just needs time to store it all in his 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 him every day, as often as you can. You can chat to him about anything you like – what you’re doing, what’s around you, what he might be thinking. If you say something and then leave a gap for him, you’ll find that as he gets bigger he’ll start to gurgle back at you! Hearing you talk to him as much as possible builds up the connections in his brain – that’s how he’ll learn to talk. He’ll recognise the voices of the people around you: your parents or your partner, for example.
Hold your baby as much as possible (in your arms or in a sling). When you cuddle him, he feels safe and loved. You can’t ‘spoil’ a baby with lots of cuddling – it’s what babies need!
'Tummy time’ means giving your baby some time every day lying on his tummy. Your baby’s neck isn’t strong enough to support his head at first – so you always need to have a hand under his head when you’re holding him. When he’s on his front, he’ll work at trying to lift his head up and this will make his neck stronger. Remember it’s safest for your baby to always sleep on his back (this cuts the risk of cot death – see page 89), so don’t let him fall asleep on his front.
Play with me
Here are some great ways to play with your baby:
Stroke his hands, feet or face.
- Cuddle him and dance around the room to your favourite music.
- Bend his legs gently in and out.
- Touch the palm of his hand – he’ll grab hold of your finger!
- Blow gently on his tummy.
- Show him the things around your home or outside and tell him about them – remember everything is new and exciting, even a lamp or a tree!
- Talk to him as much as possible.
Did you know?
Your baby recognises your voice from the day he’s born, because he’s heard it for the last few months of your pregnancy. When he’s crying, he may calm down if you talk to him gently or sing to him.
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.