By now, numerous nights with little sleep are compensated with the most gorgeous baby smiles! Your baby can recognize your face and shows real excitement when you talk to him by moving his arms and legs. The little fists open and close while he may already be able to hold a bite ring in his hands. When baby is on his tummy, he can also hold his head up for a few seconds. Though baby trains his neck, tummy and back muscles very hard, it is still necessary to hold his head when lifting him up.

Baby may already be able to imitate facial expressions, such as movements of the mouth. Try to stick out your tongue and see what happens – if nothing else, you will certainly get a big smile!

Baby’s understanding of the world starts slowly to become structured into moving versus static things and people versus things. He is now capable of concentrating and focusing on something, such as a moving rattle or a bell. He can also follow things of interest with his eyes and turn his head.

By about 2 months, baby’s so-called “oral phase” begins as baby takes everything, including his fingers and hands, into his mouth. Developmentally, this phase is plausible as baby’s senses are strongest in his mouth. So even if you worry about hygienic standards, this part of baby’s development is essential in order for him to understand what is going on around him.

If your baby starts sucking his thumb, let him do so. This is also part of his development and calms him. The choice of dummy is only the second best option as parents are constantly on the look out for the lost dummy – not to mention the times they have to get up at night in order to give baby his dummy back.
And even dentists agree that sucking the thumb does not necessarily cause the teeth to deform!

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Though we live in an informed society, many still believe that a baby can be “spoiled rotten”. However, baby’s physical and emotional needs are still so basic that they cannot possibly be spoiled too much! Infants have basic needs such as food, warmth, love, tenderness and the feeling of security which can hardly account for educational measures. You cannot give enough of these essential requirements so do not let your newborn cry for food for too long, even if you are very tired.

Putting baby in his crib in his own room, is a modern way of thinking in which babies are thought to be separate units from their parents. Yet, historically and as it is naturally intended, babies should always stay near the family: either carried in a sling or in a moses basket where mother or father is. Numerous studies have shown that those babies who are actively taken into everyday family life are much happier, cry much less and have a better chance of becoming more content and self-confident adults. If you still worry that your precious angel does not get enough sleep with all the background noise, think again: babies get used to all the noise and in fact, it calms them because they know that there is always somebody there to look after them.

Baby’s food

Breastfeeding is best for baby. Human milk is not only nutritionally optimised for baby’s needs, the close contact to the mother creates a deep bond which nurtures a very special relationship. However, breastfeeding can be accompanied by lots of difficulties so it is important to know somebody you can turn to if it gets tough going.

2 week old baby in parent\'s arms

If you cannot breastfeed or you decide not to breastfeed: do not worry! Artificial formula has nutritionally very high standards and companies are trying their best to create formula that is as close to human milk as artificially possible. Nonetheless, formula milk can be dangerous for baby if it is not prepared in a clean setting with good standards of hygiene. So please make sure that your hands are clean before you prepare a bottle and the feeding equipment is sterilized in order to minimize the risk for baby.

When baby is breastfed he wants frequent feedings – day and night – so be prepared to feed up to 10 times in 24 hours. This can be particularly demanding when baby has a growth spurt of which there is one during the first few days at home, another one at around 7 to 10 days and one at 2 to 3 weeks. Please make sure to allow yourself plenty of rest: sleep when baby sleeps!

When baby is bottle fed he is likely to feed up to 8 hours in 24 hours. Artificial milk tends to be more filling and can intervene with baby’s natural sleep pattern so make sure to keep baby close at all times so you can respond quickly if necessary. When baby has a growth spurt prepare yourself for more unsettled nights!

Keeping baby clean

In our modern age of allergies it is important to help baby build up immunity by using as little bath supplements, soaps, etc as possible. Baby’s skin is extremely delicate and does not require any perfume, preservatives, emulsifiers, stabilizers etc. In fact, a newborn only requires a weekly bath with clear water! Scientific studies reveal that babies are born without the protective acid mantle, thus giving baby a daily bath can be more damaging when baby’s skin protection is still developing.

Baby’s bottom can be cleaned effectively with warm water and soft cotton wool dipped in some vegetable or olive oil. Change your baby’s nappy frequently to prevent nappy rash. Let him kick his feet with his bare bottom for at least 15 minutes so his skin can breathe a little. If he has nappy rash, use ointments that contain zinc: they are reliable helpers as they support the healing process and keep the skin dry. If you breastfeed you can also put some breast milk on his bottom – it speeds up the healing process!

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It struck me the other day: I picked up my little ones from nursery, just after lunch, which I always do. We went home and got ready for bed when my 2 year old monkey decided to make a scene. She threw herself on the floor, crying and whining. I kept absolutely calm and actually smiled. I was slightly surprised about myself because I remember those early days when both my youngest baby and my still very young daughter cried from the top of their voices and I was running around in despair trying to calm them. What a stressful time that was! I certainly didn’t feel in control then and it took me some time to manage both. But when did I become the “role model” of a parent? When did I become the parent that I always wanted to be: calm, in control, knowing what to do, fighting off other well-meaning parents with ease and simply devoted? Certainly, those early days displayed a completely different picture of me and I wouldn’t have blamed anyone criticising me for how I dealt with stressful situations because frankly, I had no experience.
Becoming a parent does not happen overnight though. It may technically be so but certainly not in reality. It takes a lot of time to grow in confidence by getting to know your baby and more about yourself through your baby.
To start with, baby’s developmental stages are challenging: they grow from being 100% dependant on their parents to wanting freedom to explore. Though as parents we grow too: from understanding the kind of care they need around the clock to finding out how much freedom we feel we can give to them. It is a balancing act to learn what we as parents feel most comfortable with. While some are happy to let their little toddler climb onto the table others will quickly take them off it again. Every little discovery seems to become an addition to the balancing act as the parent-child world expands into the real world.
Another question is how to control the baby’s ever changing behaviour? Some are likely to resolve the issue loudly while others try to explain everything with great patience. This again is a moulding process: we understand different aspects of our characters through our children. The continuous interaction allows us to discover an appropriate way of how to deal with them: a way that we feel comfortable with because we see that it works for all of us and a way that our children feel happy with, at least in the long term.

For more information about myself and inspiring articles visit www.babysbest.co.uk

Breastfeeding is one of the most enjoyable experiences in life. Though many first time mums have no difficulty embracing this new challenge, a lot of mums encounter a painful and often frustrating struggle when breastfeeding their baby. Here are some helpful tips to get you through the most common breastfeeding problems – the natural way.

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Engorged Breasts

During pregnancy, your breasts have prepared for breastfeeding which may have resulted in your breasts gaining in significant size. What is more, a few days after birth, once the milk shoots in, the breast can feel painfully tender, hot, hard and swollen. It is probably even more difficult for the baby to latch on as the nipple may be flat, thus creating more frustration. This phenomenon can occur within a few hours and once the breastfeeding process – supply and demand – is more established to work in tune, it will diminish quickly, usually within a couple of days. In order to ease the discomfort you can take the following steps:

• The best and quickest solution to reduce the pain of engorged breasts is to breastfeed frequently and long. Through your baby’s sucking the production of milk and the supply will start to run more normal.

• If the engorgement is too painful to wait for the next feed or your baby has obvious difficulty to latch on properly, try to express a bit of milk by hand before nursing.

• Wear a well-fitted nursing bra which is not too tight around the breasts. Some women may even prefer not to wear any bra in the beginning.

• If the breasts are still painful after nursing, you can try to ease the discomfort by putting chilled cabbage leaves on your breast (cut a hole in the middle for your nipple). Take them off as soon as the discomfort vanishes.

• Try a warm shower or put a warm towel around your breasts to help the fluids flow better.

Sore Breasts

First time mothers often suffer from hyper sensitive or even cracked nipples. While breast milk is usually the answer for every ailment, including cracked nipples, it may not always give sufficient protection.

• You can use Calendula ointment to speed the healing process and to prevent infections through the nipple. Even though it is safe for baby to swallow it is generally better to wipe any excess off before putting baby on the breast.

• In order to prepare the nipples for breastfeeding you can use Olive Oil in your late pregnancy stage – apply a drop twice a day. This will make them less sensitive and thus less likely to crack once you start to nurse your baby.

• Place wet tea bags, preferably chamomile, on your sore or cracked nipples. The properties in the tea will help with the healing process.

Breastfeeding during Illness

Breastfeeding is the best way to strengthen baby’s immune system and to make her resistant to germs and other bacteria. If you catch flu or some other virus, you do not have to stop breastfeeding your baby as you won’t be able to pass it on through your breast milk. However, your baby can become infected through other contact with you so it is important to wash your hands before handling your little one.

Too much Breast Milk

If you are lucky enough to have an abundance of breast milk, there are several things you can do.

You could donate your breast milk to The United Kingdom Association for Milk Banking. Thanks to breast milk donors human milk can be given to those babies who are unable to be breastfed naturally. It has proven invaluable for a healthier start for premature babies, thus allowing them to develop their immature system more positively. For more information about breast milk donation visit their website here.

However, if you decide not to donate your breast milk, you can also decrease your supply by taking two to three sage tea infusions per day. It can be very effective and will also help with weaning your baby, as it reduces the milk production slowly.

Lump in Breast and Mastitis

If you feel a lump in your breast or your breast is very hard and painful, please see your doctor or a breastfeeding specialist immediately. They will be able to give you necessary medication and/or advice.

Nurture your baby naturally at www.babysbest.co.uk