Caring for the baby
The arrival of a child brings changes. This stage requires a lot of adaptation for you, your couple and your family. You may feel a little lost about your baby's needs and your own emotions. This is completely normal, so be patient and give yourself time to adjust to your new role as a parent. Don't hesitate to call on available resources, if needed.
Here you will find some tips to guide you, but be aware that several reference books or websites can give you useful information during this transition period.
Soothing my baby's crying
Crying is your baby's only means of communication. They may indicate:
- That he is hungry;
- That he needs to burp;
- That his diaper is soiled;
- That he needs affection;
- That he is tired;
- That he has a stomach ache;
- That it is too hot or too cold.
Whatever the reason for crying, your baby needs you to take care of him and show him that you're there to meet his needs.
Even if you don't always understand why your baby is crying, stay calm and explore the following techniques:
- Hold him close to you and rock him;
- Take them for a stroller ride;
- Sing him a song softly;
- Give them a bath;
- Practice skin-to-skin contact.
Colic can also explain your baby's crying. Unfortunately, little is known about the cause of colic. No matter how your baby feeds, they can get colic. They usually appear around the second or third week and decrease from the third or fourth month.
They are recognized by intense crying, which occurs for more than three hours a day, especially at the end of the day or in the evening and usually at the same time in a healthy baby. His face may also turn red, his fists clench, and his thighs curl over his tense stomach.
You can see a doctor to make the diagnosis of colic, but medication is not recommended.
To soothe your baby, you can place him on your forearm as follows:
- Their belly should be against your arm;
- Their back should be against your belly;
- His head should be in the crook of your elbow;
- Your hand should be between his legs.
Above all, remember that your baby is fragile: don't shake him!
Massaging my baby
Massaging your baby helps strengthen your interactions with your baby and contribute to their development. If you want to massage your little one, it is recommended that you learn massage techniques from a certified infant massage instructor. The Naître et grandir website offers information on the principles to be followed and a video of a massage session.
Practice skin-to-skin contact
Skin-to-skin contact is a practice of placing the newborn naked against the bare chest of the father or mother. The benefits of skin-to-skin contact are multiple for both the baby and the parents.
The first skin-to-skin contact is generally encouraged from birth, especially with the mother, and continued according to the parents' wishes. However, this practice is not limited to the hour after birth, it can be repeated as often as desired.
Benefits for the mother and newborn
- Eases the transition after birth;
- Promotes relaxation after childbirth;
- Maintains baby's temperature due to the heat that comes from your skin;
- Stabilizes the baby's blood sugar levels, heartbeat and breathing;
- Increases a sense of security: your baby recognizes your heartbeat and smell;
- Provides a calming effect: the baby cries less;
- Strengthens baby's instinct to latch on;
- Makes it easier to latch on and breastfeed;
- Prevents bleeding (hemorrhage) from the uterus;
- Promotes breast milk production;
- Allows the baby to get used to human touch and promotes a sense of attachment;
- Promotes a sense of maternal confidence.
Benefits for the dad
- Promotes a sense of attachment;
- Promotes the father's sense of trust;
- Helps increase sensitivity to the baby's needs;
- Fosters a special relationship;
- Makes it easier to discover each other.
Taking care of my baby's navel
At birth, the umbilical cord is cut, and then a small plastic clamp is placed two or three centimeters from the infant's abdomen. After two or three days, when the cord is dry enough, the clamp can be removed.
Usually, the health professionals who accompanied you during your delivery have taught you how to care for the umbilical cord. It is important to continue care at home.
- Always wash your hands thoroughly beforehand.
- Clean the base of the cord three times a day with cotton swabs soaked in water, making sure to remove any debris. Don't worry, it won't hurt your baby.
- Note: Do not use alcohol, as this delays the fall of the cord.
- Dry all surfaces thoroughly using dry cotton swabs. Do this after bathing, too.
- Make sure the diaper is tucked snug below the belly button so it doesn't rub against it.
- Do not cover the navel with a compress.
- The belly button should be kept clean and dry to avoid infection.
The umbilical cord gets darker and darker as it dries. It falls on its own between the 7the and on the 20the day of life. It can sometimes take a month to fall off. Sometimes the cord remains half-detached for two to three days and some traces of blood can be seen. Don't worry, it will eventually fall off on its own.
When to see a doctor
It may be necessary to consult a doctor in the following cases:
- Discharge of blood or pus from the base of the cord;
- Unusual smell;
- Persistent redness around the base of the cord;
- Swelling around the base of the cord;
- Persistence of the cord beyond the first month of life;
- Persistent bleeding after the cord has fallen out;
- Poor healing of the navel after the cord has fallen off;
- Fever (armpit temperature above 37.3°C | rectal temperature above 38°C).
Giving a bath
Baby's bath is a special moment of relaxation and many newborns like to be bathed.
When to bathe?
- You can bathe at any time of the day when your baby is awake.
- You can give your baby a bath, even if his umbilical cord hasn't fallen out yet. The important thing is to dry it well when you get out of the bath.
- It is not necessary to bathe every day. Every two or three days is enough. However, be sure to wash his face and neck with a washcloth every day. The buttocks and genitals should be cleaned at every diaper change.
- Wash your baby's hair once or twice a week maximum, with mild soap or a little baby shampoo.
Where to bathe?
- The room where you bathe your baby should have a temperature between 22 and 24 °C (between 72 and 75 ºF).
- Use a clean plastic baby bath, sink or sink.
- Add 8 to 12 cm (3 to 5 inches) of water at 37°C before gently placing your baby.
- Avoid filling the tub while your baby is in it so you don't burn it. Always check the temperature before soaking your baby in it.
How to give a bath?
- Remember that supervision should be constant while bathing. Never leave your baby unattended, not even for a second.
- Prepare what you will need: washcloth, towel, mild unscented white soap with neutral pH, baby shampoo (if needed), moisturizing lotion, petroleum jelly or zinc cream (if needed), nail file, diaper, clean clothes, cotton swab.
- If your baby has soiled his diaper, wash his bottom before putting him in the bath.
- To prevent your baby from slipping, you can place a small towel at the bottom of the tub.
- Do not add bubble bath or other similar products, as they can cause irritation.
- While bathing, support his head with one hand and wash him with the other.
- After bathing, dry it quickly without rubbing, especially in the folds of the neck and thighs.
- If their skin is dry, you can put moisturizing lotion on it. Powder is not recommended, as it can cause respiratory problems.
Wash the genitals
- Your baby's genitals should be washed during bathing and at every diaper change.
- For girls: gently clean the vulva by spreading the labia majora. Wash from front to back. Do not clean the inside of the labia minora
- For boys: the foreskin is not detached from the glans at birth. It should not be forced to take off for good hygiene.
Vaccinate my baby
Vaccination allows your baby to produce defenses (antibodies) that protect them against diseases. The first vaccines are normally given at two months of age. You can create your child's immunization record on the Public Health Agency of Canada's website.
The following are the main diseases against which the child receives vaccines:
- Whooping cough;
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib);
- Hepatitis B.
In Quebec, there is a vaccination schedule against these diseases. Vaccines are recommended for all (not mandatory) and are offered free of charge. Your child can be vaccinated at the CLSC or at the doctor's office.
For more information on childhood vaccinations, visit the website of the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux du Québec or the website of the Canadian Paediatric Society.
How do I keep my baby safe while sleeping?
To keep your baby safe while sleeping and reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, make sure to:
- Always lay on their back when sleeping;
- Sleeping in a crib next to your bed (or another adult bed);
- Do not put the baby to sleep with you in your bed or in any other place where you are likely to fall asleep, such as on a sofa, upholstered chair, rocking chair.
- Have a safe crib, sheets that fit snugly on the mattress and no toys in the bed.
- Have a smoke-free environment, before and after birth.
How do I know which car seat to choose?
For information on infant and child car seats, or to find out where to get them checked, visit the section on the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) website.
What is shaken baby syndrome?
Shaken baby syndrome is a type of head injury that occurs when a baby is shaken violently. The baby's head then moves in all directions, causing brain injury. The baby's head doesn't need to hit anything for him to get hurt and the shaking to cause damage to his brain. Shaking a baby can have several serious consequences:
- Difficulty breathing;
- Dislocation of joints;
- Loss of consciousness;
Short- or medium-term: vegetative state, loss of vision, paralysis, death. Long-term: developmental delay, learning difficulties, behavioural problems, epilepsy.
You may think it doesn't concern you, and that it will never happen to you?
In fact, everyone is likely to get upset and lose control, because they are tired, the baby won't stop crying, or for any other reason. If you feel like you're running out of patience:
- Place the baby in a safe place, such as in the crib.
- Leave the room;
- Call someone and ask for support;
- Return to the baby every 10 or 15 minutes;
- Wait until you are calmed down before picking up the baby.
If I ventilate regularly, can I smoke in the house?
Do you think that smoking in another room, turning on a fan, opening a window, or smoking in the house when you're alone is protecting your baby and your family? Be aware that:
- Second-hand smoke spreads from one room to another, even if the room door is closed.
- The toxic products in smoke remain trapped in carpets, curtains, clothing, food, furniture and other materials. These products remain in a room for a long time, up to several months, after a person has smoked in the room.
- Studies have shown that no level of ventilation can eliminate the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.
- Air fresheners hide the smell of smoke, but they do not destroy toxic products.
- Air filters or air purifiers are designed to reduce the number of fine smoke particles in the air, but they do not remove the many carcinogens found in gases.
What are the risks?
Babies exposed to second-hand smoke:
- Have a greater risk of sudden infant death syndrome;
- Are more likely to have lower respiratory tract problems, such as coughing, pneumonia, bronchitis;
- Are more likely to develop asthma, and will suffer from it more than children of non-smokers who have asthma;
- Have more ear infections.
For more information : Make your home and car smoke-free!, published by Health Canada.