For the Parents

8 Things Parents Should Know About Babies First Year

Babies first year

The birth of a child is one of the most joyous moments for parents. There’s so much to do and so much to look forward to. As a parent, it’s also natural to have some worries related to your baby and your new responsibilities. The baby’s first year can be challenging, especially for first-time parents, since they would know little about how to provide the best care and support for their baby. However, things can always be simplified with the right information. To help with parenting, here are eight important things that parents should know about their baby’s first year.

Postpartum depression & anxiety:

Before you start to focus on the baby’s needs, you first need to take care of your own health. Postpartum depression and anxiety are experienced by many nursing mothers and it comes with symptoms such as insomnia, loss of appetite, irritability, etc. Due to postpartum symptoms, you may even find it difficult to properly bond with your newborn child. If you are not well, it’s difficult to imagine how you will be able to take effective care of your baby. In certain cases, nursing mothers are also diagnosed with nutritional deficiencies, which can also affect their health and general wellbeing. In the first few weeks of your baby’s birth, ensure that you take adequate rest, eat well, and seek medical help if needed.

Depression for babies

Baby’s sleep:

This may vary from child to child and you may come across varied recommendations from other parents. The key thing is to ensure that your baby is getting adequate sleep. It is very important for the baby’s growth and development. Based on research data, here are the number of hours babies generally sleep (including naps) during various stages of their 1-year journey.

  • 1-2 weeks – 16-22 hours
  • 3 weeks – 16-18 hours
  • 6 weeks – 15-16 hours
  • 4-6 months – 14-16 hours
  • 9 months – 13-16 hours
  • 1 year – 12-15 hours

baby's sleep

Immunization:

Vaccines protect your baby from a wide variety of diseases. Some vaccine shots will be given to your baby right after birth whereas others will be given at a later stage, continuing up to their early childhood. When it’s time for any vaccination, your hospital will inform you about the same. Some of the commonly administered vaccines include tetanus, diphtheria, measles, influenza, hepatitis B, Varicella (chickenpox), etc. Some vaccinations can affect the baby’s health in the short-term, so don’t get too alarmed or worried. However, in recent times, there have been concerns about the presence of mercury derivative Thimerosal in certain vaccines. Thimerosal has shown to cause serious side-effects, so it would be better to discuss it with the doctor.

Immunization

Baby’s diet:

First-time parents are often confused about questions such as when to start giving solid food, when to introduce formula, the quantity of food, etc. As per the current norms, babies need to be fed purely on breast milk till they reach 6 months of age. In certain cases, a combination of breast milk and formula can also be used during the first 6 months. Before 6 months of age, the baby’s digestive symptoms may still not be mature to digest solid food, and there’s also the risk of food poisoning. After 6 months, you can introduce some baby cereals mixed with either breast milk or formula. Fruits and vegetables can be introduced from 6-7 months and protein rich foods from 7-8 months. More food items can be added to your baby’s diet from 8-12 months.Do consult your paediatrician for questions regarding your baby’s diet.

Baby's diet

Baby’s growth:

To evaluate your baby’s growth, the doctor will utilize growth charts, which depicts the national average for infants. The doctor will take various measurements such as your baby’s height, weight, head circumference, etc. These measurements will then be compared to the growth chart. If there is something unusual, the doctor will inform you. The doctor may also make some recommendations or share the next steps with you. It is important to note that every child’s growth is different, so no need to blow things out of proportion if your baby’s growth doesn’t match the growth charts.

Growth of babies

Language development:

There are several language milestones to consider during your baby’s first year, as they journey from crying to talking. In the first month, your baby will mostly communicate through crying, be it hunger, cold, pain or anything else that may be troubling them. The language milestones will come after one month and they will include cooing, making certain gestures, smiling, making certain expressions, recognizing certain words, etc. At 7-8 months, they might say ‘mama’ or ‘dada’, something that you may be eagerly waiting for. By 12 months, the baby may have learnt some more words and this learning will continue, as you keep talking to them.

language of babies

Motor Skills:

These broadly define your baby’s ability to crawl, stand upright and walk during their first year. Most babies learn to walk when they are 13-14 months of age. You may get recommendations like using a walker, but these have shown to restrict the growth of upper leg muscles, which may delay your baby’s ability to walk. Walkers are already banned in Canada and similar proposals are being evaluated in other countries. Allowing your baby to move freely is the right thing to do. Motor skills also include the development of hand-eye coordination, which would be assessed by the doctor.

These broadly define your baby’s ability to crawl, stand upright and walk during their first year. Most babies learn to walk when they are 13-14 months of age. You may get recommendations like using a walker, but these have shown to restrict the growth of upper leg muscles, which may delay your baby’s ability to walk. Walkers are already banned in Canada and similar proposals are being evaluated in other countries. Allowing your baby to move freely is the right thing to do. Motor skills also include the development of hand-eye coordination, which would be assessed by the doctor.

Motor Skills

Teething:

Majority of babies will grow their first teeth when they are 4-7 months old. Some babies have shown to develop their first teeth a lot earlier whereas others have delayed growth. You need to consult your doctor if your baby does not grow their first teeth by 12 months. Some babies may feel uncomfortable during their teething phase, so you need to watch out for symptoms such as crying, inflamed gums, loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, increased fussiness, etc. If symptoms persist or worsen, it would be better to consult your doctor.

Teething of 1 yr old

Majority of babies will grow their first teeth when they are 4-7 months old. Some babies have shown to develop their first teeth a lot earlier whereas others have delayed growth. You need to consult your doctor if your baby does not grow their first teeth by 12 months. Some babies may feel uncomfortable during their teething phase, so you need to watch out for symptoms such as crying, inflamed gums, loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, increased fussiness, etc. If symptoms persist or worsen, it would be better to consult your doctor.

While it’s perfectly fine to rely on tips, advice and recommendations about parenting, always remember that every baby is different. Their growth, activities and responses are likely to be different from that of other babies. So, avoid having unnecessary expectations or worries. Parenting is all about learning from experience; to choose things that work for the baby and you as well. Give it a little time, love and patience, and everything shall work out just fine.

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