Babies and their parents have a very special bond between them. The stronger you can make this bond, the better for your baby. A secure bond forms when mom and dad respond to baby’s needs consistently in warm and sensitive ways. Holding, rocking, or talking softly to a baby all help promote a special bond. Don’t worry about spoiling your baby. Babies aren’t spoiled if someone responds to their cries. Comforting babies is the best way to love them.
Attachment helps provide a solid base from which a baby can explore the world. It makes a baby feel safe and secure, and it helps him or her learn to trust other people.
Fussing and Crying
Crying is a normal form of self-expression and communication for healthy infants. Still, parents often feel responsible when their baby cries, and it can be stressful. Here are some tips from the Canadian Paediatric Society:
- Every effort should be made to maintain a regular routine for babies who cry.
- When fussy, babies do better if they are not handled too much.
- Fussing babies should not be passed from person to person.
- Babies should be wrapped up snugly, comfortably cradled, and soothingly and gently handled.
- Never shake your baby.
- Reducing noise and light levels may help.
- Steady smooth vibrations, such as a rocking chair or ride in the car, help to quiet many infants.
Taking Care of Mom
Here are a few tips to help moms cope with all of the extra stress in those initial days after their little ones arrives home:
- Take breaks from taking care of the baby when you can, and let someone else take over. When you do so, don’t feel guilty, as rest is necessary for your mental and physical well-being.
- Eat your meals regularly.
- Include fresh fruits and green vegetables in your meals.
- Use prepared foods to reduce time and energy spent on cooking.
- If friends and family are willing to take over some of your household chores, allow them to do so.
- Your night’s sleep will be disturbed in the initial days, so learn to sleep whenever your baby sleeps.
- This is a period of great emotional upheaval. Talk to people who can help and will support you; it could be a mother, friend, doctor, or anyone who will listen.
- Join a local support group for new mothers, or at least attend one meeting.
The important thing is to find time to rest and relax. As a new mother, you must not think about anything other than the baby and yourself. Try to enjoy your new status to the fullest, despite its difficulties.
After having a baby, many women experience mood swings. One minute they feel happy and the next they are crying. The “baby blues” is a mild form of postpartum depression that usually starts one to three days after the birth and lasts for about 10 days to a few weeks. With baby blues, many women may feel anxious, confused, or have trouble eating or sleeping. As many as 80% of new moms experience some form of the baby blues.
About 13% of new mothers experience postpartum depression, which is more serious and lasts longer. It can start up to a few months after childbirth. If you have a family history of depression or have suffered from depression before, you are more at risk. Postpartum depression needs to be treated.
Some of the symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Feelings of inadequacy (like you are not able to care for your baby)
- Extreme anxiety or panic
- Having trouble making decisions
- Feeling sad
- Feeling out of control
If you think you may have postpartum depression, seek help. Talk to your doctor or call your EFAP. It’s important to remember that depression is treatable. If depression is not treated, children will be affected. Other things in a woman’s life may make the depression worse (such as financial or marital problems) or a very stressful life event (such as the death of a loved one).
Depression can cause mothers to be inconsistent in caring for their child. They may be loving one minute and withdrawn the next. They may not respond at all to their child’s behaviour or they may respond in a negative way. Depending on how old the child is, he or she will be affected by the mother’s depression in different ways.
How dads can help
Many men don’t feel prepared for the challenge and change of becoming a new dad. Because babies come into the world without instructions, here are some quick tips for new dads:
- Trust your instincts. A little experience will quickly turn you into the world’s leading expert on your own baby.
- Learn from the best. Ask the hospital nursery personnel to show you how to change, swaddle, and bathe your newborn.
- Be patient and positive with your spouse. Support and communication are crucial.
- Stand your ground. Do not allow anyone to distance you from your child.
- Learn as a family. This means the three of you. Accept necessary help from relatives, but do not allow them to interfere.
- Take your child with you when you go out. Babies are portable.
- Step back, think, and count to a high number when you become frustrated.
- Make eye contact with your newborn. Babies talk with their eyes.
- Relax and enjoy the journey. Make it a daily habit to play with your new baby and let him fall asleep on your chest.
- Treasure each moment. Remember that trying times pass.
The most important preparation takes place in a new father’s mind. When your little one arrives, you want to be ready. Absorb all the information you can by learning from other dads. Or enroll in a workshop for new dads on the basics of caring for the newborn and bonding with your child.
Your baby will naturally help bring out the best in you.
Dads understand this only when they get the first chance to hold their newborn and they begin to feel the love that has motivated men for centuries to protect and provide for their children.
- Blackwell DL. Family structure and children’s health in the United States: Findings from the National Health Interview Survey, 2001-2007. National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved October 1, 2018 from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/series/series10.htm.
- Cassidy, J. & Shaver, P.R. (2002). Handbook of Attachment: Theory, Research, and Clinical Applications. Guilford Press, NY.
- Latham, G. I.(1994). The Power of positive parenting. P&T Ink Printing.
- Lopez, F. G. (1995). Contemporary Attachment Theory. The Counselling Psychologist, 23(3), 395-415.
- Shelov. S. P., et al. (2014). Family issues. In: Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5. 6th ed. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Books.
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