Caring for your baby should be a happy, satisfying experience, although the demands on your time will be greater than ever before. But if at times you are tempted to think there are not enough hours in the day, baby may be receiving more of your attention than is good for him.
Very often it is not more time that is needed but a wiser utilisation of time. Be sure to put first things first. A relaxed and rested mother is a better mother and wife. An afternoon or evening off, at least once a month, is a good investment for the whole family, as it will help you to keep a better perspective.
During his early weeks baby’s needs are simple. If he is lovingly cared for and properly fed, he will sleep most of the time. Change his position after each feeding. As soon as he can lift his head to turn it from side to side he may sleep on his tummy. This is often the favorite position.
A good schedule is the goal to work toward. This may not be achieved immediately. Mother and baby will be happier if there is a willingness to be flexible while the schedule evolves.
There is no reason to be disturbed if during the first few weeks wakeful periods seem more like crying than play periods. This may be baby’s form of exercise. Mothers often tell me that the crying ceases when they cease to be disturbed about it.
If baby is frequently awake and cries excessively between feedings, a change in schedule or feeding may be necessary. Find the cause and remove it instead of temporizing with the situation by giving baby incessant attention.
After the first few weeks, baby will become more aware of his surroundings and will begin to entertain himself during his wakeful periods.
He will enjoy play periods on the bathinette or big bed. A colorful mobile will provide fascinating entertainment long before he discovers the wonder of his hands, or can hold a toy.
At around three months of age when baby begins to stay awake a good part of the afternoon, he will enjoy the play pen. He will learn to turn more readily on the firm surface of the pen and will manage toys better there.
Rompers or crawlers will give him more freedom in the pen. There are many excellent pen toys on the market. Rotate the toys and do not give too many at once. Do not expect baby to stay in the pen indefinitely.
Try to anticipate his need for a change of activity and toys so he does not associate pleasant changes only with his demand for them.
It is important for baby early to develop ingenuity and resourcefulness in entertaining himself in preparation for the time when he should play alone in his room or out-of-doors.
When baby begins to creep and stand, he should have the freedom of the house several times a day. If he continues to spend a reasonable amount of time in the pen and out of doors, he can be taught the meaning of “no” without his life becoming a series of no-nos.
Remember that he learns through his curiosity, and too many nos add up to “don’t learn.”
When possible, allow him to examine the object of his interest while you hold it. Replace and explain that it is mummy’s and substitute something he may have.
It is helpful to give the creeper and toddler a low drawer in living room and kitchen for harmless household gadgets so he may learn the difference between his things and yours.
If there are a few objects which fascinate him, it is better to place them beyond reach while he is learning to differentiate between his things and yours so they do not become a point of conflict between you.
This training takes time and patience. You will feel well rewarded for your efforts when you can take him to friends’ homes without fear of danger to their choice possessions.
When you and baby go visiting it is a good idea to take a bag of interesting toys and gadgets which are saved for visiting and rainy days, and so are a special treat.
Baby will be interested in books long before he is ready for stories. He is building a vocabulary of recognition before one of expression, and object books play an important part in this.
When he sits well and begins to enjoy quiet periods on your lap, it is time to introduce object books. Save books for lap time so you may teach him to turn pages carefully.
The bedtime routine takes on new pleasure when baby is ready for books. Perhaps daddy can take over hook time and finish by singing a children’s song.
Singing is a joy to children, as well as an aid to diction. Parent-child relationships are greatly enriched by sharing the book hour.
Do take time!
Even though you are busy with final dinner preparations while daddy is reading and singing to baby, take time off to join them when baby is tucked in for the night.
Sing a hymn and say his prayers. Baby will soon look forward to this routine, and it will remain one of the happiest memories of early childhood.
The greatest heritage a child can have is to grow up in a happy, well-adjusted family.