The prospect of bringing up a first child is a daunting one, but for most women, proves much easier than might be expected. We possess powerful instincts which are seldom wrong when it comes to very young babies. Mothers don’t need to be told when to pick up and comfort achild. Cuddling has a definite purpose in the young baby. It encourages his attachment to his mother, and comforts him by making him feel secure. It also has very definite psychological benefits for the mother.
Parents know their own child better than any other person can. Sometimes a doctor or nurse will be unable to detect the subtle changes of mood or behaviour which worry the parents of a baby, who have become very familiar with his normal state.
Breast feeding is undoubtedly better for the baby and can be very satisfying for the mother. There are difficulties sometimes in getting started, but persistence is frequently rewarded so do not worry if feeding is a problem to begin with. Even when you have been one of the unfortunate ones for whom breast feeding did not work out with your first baby, you will be pleasantly surprised how much easier it is the second time.
The baby’s bowel movements can tell you quite a lot about how the feeding is going. At first you get a sticky greenish-brown stool. After a few days this gradually changes to stools which are soft and orangey-red with whitish curds. They have a faint inoffensive smell. Bowel motions may become infrequent as breast milk is almost completely digested and absorbed. The baby is never constipated but can go for as long as a week and then pass a rather large soft motion. A baby’s bowels often open during or just after feeds, so changing afterwards is most practical. If he is temporarily getting insufficient milk, he may pass a few green stools with slime or mucus in them, but as you feed him more often and the milk supply improves the green colour disappears.
The milk, the bottle and the teat must all be germ free to prevent the risk of gastro-enteritis. After 9 months, the baby will have built up his own resistance and thereafter sterilization of his food containers will be unnecessary.
Set aside a special work surface for preparing feeds, close to running water and facilities for boiling. Plastic laminate surfaces are ideal, being easily cleaned and free of germ-harbouring cracks. Bottles and teats can be sterilized either by boiling or by soaking in a special chemical solution for 3-4 hours.
Boiling, which takes only 15 minutes, is far quicker. Clean the bottle and teat carefully first. To clean the bottle, use washing-up liquid and a special wire-handled brush. Rinse the bottle inside and out with tap water before boiling. Clean the teat as shown, under a running tap. It is easier to do this preliminary cleaning immediately after the bottle has been used. Then immerse both bottle and teat in a saucepan of water.
For ideal sterility only one bottle should be sterilized at a time. It is not desirable to boil several bottles in a large saucepan because after an hour or so the water in which the bottles are immersed will no longer be sterile.
The chemical method allows a large number of bottles to be sterilized at one time. The most commonly used solution is sodium hypochlorite (trade name Milton). It is sold in a concentrated form and requires dilution. A special container for the solution and bottles can be purchased. However, a plastic bucket is just as good, providing it is used only for bottle sterilization and is cleaned out regularly. It is helpful to number the bottles with a marking pen to ensure each one remains in the solution for at least 3 hours. The bottles do not require rinsing after removal from the container, though some parents like to rinse out the insides with boiling water.
For successfulyou need to be more careful and pay attention to detail.
Bottle milks are being manufactured to closely simulate mother’s milk and are safe and wholesome. But you must be careful to follow instructions about measuring milk powder. The chief danger is in making the milk too strong. It means that the baby will take in too much salt which makes all the body solutions too concentrated. It is a good idea to offer drinks of water after or occasionally between feeds if the baby is thirsty. The extra water enables him to make the urine necessary to get rid of the extra salts in the milk. If he vomits, has diarrhoea or is in a warm centrally heated atmosphere, he can easily get short of water without you realizing it.
Do not change milks without asking the advice of your doctor or health visitor. If your baby seems unhappy,a lot or brings up feeds, changing to a different brand of milk will not be helpful.
Whether breast- or bottle-fed, all babies swallow air when feeding and will need encouragement to expel it — ‘winding’. There are two basic methods. One is to sit the young infant on the knee with one hand supporting the chest and the other gently tapping the back. The other is to hold the infant over your shoulder and gently tap his back. The essential principle is to hold the child upright, in order to allow the air bubble in the stomach to rise to the right position for expulsion.
Wind is blamed, usually mistakenly, for a variety of discomforts. Unnecessary air swallowing should be avoided by attention to the teat hole. Months the food can become coarser. By one year most children should be eating a finely chopped-up version of an adult diet.