Being a new parent can be one of the toughest things anyone can face. Everyone’s afraid of making a mistake, and mistakes can be or seem scary. But it is also highly rewarding. Mothers are equipped with the fabulous maternal instinct, but at times when you may doubt yourself on what to do, this guide will help you through. Let’s get started.
Caring for Newborns
Newborns are babies generally aged from birth to around two months. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies newborns as those from birth to 28 days. In reality, a newborn’s classification comes down to the baby’s developmental aspects. What is clear though, is that a child’s first three months is the most diverse part of a baby’s life. Here are some helpful tips to make parenting easier for you.
On Newborn Health and Hygiene
It isn’t vital to bathe your newborn every single day or night. However, this can help to establish a good routine that babies can become familiar with. Particularly as part of a nighttime routine. For example, you could feed, bath, and then read to a baby before putting them to bed for the night (or until they wake). Be sure to allow air to your baby’s umbilical and to dry it thoroughly. You can do this with a cotton tip, gently dab around the edges to absorb any additional moisture. Your baby’s umbilical cord falls off on their own, usually within 1-2 weeks of birth.
- Loose Clothing
This is for the umbilical cord as well. Clothing that’s too tight can rub vigorously against the umbilical cord and cause it to become irritated or infected. The same goes when using a nappy. You can fold the front of the nappy down and still do the tabs up the same if you feel this would make your baby more comfortable.
- Layer clothes appropriately
This is one of the most confusing parts when caring for a newborn. How do you know if they are too warm or too cold? As a rule of thumb, check how many layers of clothing you yourself are wearing and do the same, with one additional layer for your child. So if you’re wearing three layers, your baby should be wearing four. Still, make sure your child doesn’t overheat. If it’s a warm day, dress your child in light cotton or muslin to help them feel comfortable.
- Checking temperature by touch
Sometimes, your child’s hands and feet can be cold to touch. However, their extremities’ temperature is not a good indicator of their overall temperature. Touch their chest and/or the back of their neck with your hand to feel their core temperature.
Your friends and relatives are often as excited as you in welcoming your newborn. However, as your child is yet to develop their full immunity and get all their vaccines, it would be best to keep them at bay for the moment. If you really can’t prevent them from coming, make sure they don’t kiss your baby (as everyday illnesses can be dangerous for newborns). Also, they should wash their hands or use sanitizer first before holding your baby.
- Washing liquid/powder
Washing your newborn’s clothes is slightly different from washing yours, in the sense that you shouldn’t use the same detergent. Use a hypoallergenic, fragrance-free detergent to avoid irritants. Also, sometimes powders don’t fully dissolve as they should, leaving a powder-like residue on the clothes that could cause irritation.
- Cradle cap
To prevent cradle cap, wash your baby’s scalp 2-3 times a week with a gentle shampoo formulated for babies so the natural oils don’t build up. If your baby does develop a cradle cap there is a simple solution, and that is baby oil. Gently brush your baby’s hair and scalp with a soft-bristled brush to loosen any rough bits and rub baby oil on your newborn’s scalp at least 30 minutes before his bath. The flakes will be softened and can be removed easily when you wash your baby’s hair. Don’t pull on the flakes too hard; you won’t need to remove everything in one go. This will all go away after several goes so be patient.
- Nappy rash
Some of the best creams, ointments, and powders are Sudocrem, Bepanthen, PawPaw Ointment, Curash, and Mustela. If using a powder, ensure it's NOT talcum based and keep away from your baby’s face, so they don’t breath it in. These products help not only in getting rid of nappy rash but also in preventing it from happening. If you’re child’s still getting rashes even while using any of these creams, try switching to cloth nappies. Disposable nappies are believed to contain chemicals and are not environmentally friendly.
- Use a make-up brush
Nappy creams can sometimes be messy to apply. If you don’t want sticky fingers while you finish dressing your baby, use a clean make-up brush to apply nappy cream. You won’t need to touch the stuff and you can apply the cream gently on your baby’s bottom.
- Replace wet wipes with cotton balls
Sometimes you may feel like the wet wipes you are using are still too rough for your baby’s bottom. You don’t have to use multiple wet wipes brands to find the best one; oftentimes the best alternative is a simple cotton ball dipped in warm water. This also prevents your child from fussing over cold wet wipes waking them up.
- Clean bottles with white vinegar.
If you’ve been using bottles and noticed that it has a cloudy stain no matter how hard you scrub or no matter how many times you wash them, it means there’s a build-up of hard water (water that has high mineral content). Soak the bottles in equal parts of vinegar and water for at least thirty minutes. Rinse well afterwards.
On Newborn Sleeping and Relaxation Habits
- Soothing sounds and music
We’ve all experienced it, the baby’s crying for minutes or hours for no known reason and we can’t seem to find what’s making them unhappy. The nappie’s been changed, they’ve been fed and burped, they’ve been checked all over, they are not too hot and not too cold and everything seems to be fine. Most of the time, a soothing sound or good music can help to calm them down. But don’t go playing your favorite love song or any ordinary lullaby. Instead, you can try soothing sounds such as white noise, the sound of crashing ocean waves, rain or a heartbeat. Another alternative is to play some Solfeggio Tones. This can easily be found on Youtube. Look for frequencies recommended for babies. This works wonders in calming your baby down and helping her get her rest. There are many benefits of Solfeggio frequencies even for mums and dads.
- Carry or wear your baby
Some may say you’ll spoil your baby if they are always carried, they won’t learn to be independent, sleeping in the carrier may teach bad habits and so on. These are common myths. One of your baby’s needs is to be held close and to feel safe and secure, just like they were in the womb. Settling your baby in the carrier is convenient when trying to get things done. Be sure to choose a carrier that encourages the babies natural hip position
- Swaddle your baby.
Sometimes, too much freedom does not give your newborn the comfort that they want. Swaddling your baby is mimicking the “tightness” of the womb. Once their startle reflex is gone (around three months) you can leave your baby’s arm free.
- Have a warm bath with your baby.
If your baby is still fussy, try having a warm bath with them. It will be relaxing for both of you and is a good chance for skin to skin contact and bonding.
- Try an infant massage.
When all else fails, try an infant massage. Infant massages promote bonding, are soothing to baby, and can help them to sleep more peacefully. There is an endless list of benefits from improving weight gain, aiding digestion, and even easing teething pain.
- Co-sleep or not
This depends on you and the baby. Whichever works for you is the best since not all babies are the same. If co-sleeping, there are some guidelines called The Safe Sleep Seven, this is a guideline with some key points on safe co-sleeping.
- Remove all extra items in their cot
Friends and family might be giving your baby multiple cute items such as little pillows, stuffed toys, and blankets. Now is not the time to use them (yet!). Make sure the cot is free of extra items that could become a hazard. Remember, young babies can’t remove these things on her own in case they cover her face.
- Tickle your baby to wake them up
If you need to wake them up for feedings, make sure to softly tickle them awake. Shaking a newborn can be extremely dangerous and life-threatening. Newborns have very sensitive senses so lightly touching her palms or feet can stimulate them and gently wake them up.
- If a baby has a cold
Saline nose drops help to thin the mucus, do this before baby feeds to help with their breathing. If your baby can’t sleep because they can’t breathe properly, slightly incline the cot with the head portion raised a little. You can do this by rolling up a towel and placing it underneath the cot mattress. A humidifier can help clear a stuffy nose or a steamy bathroom can also do the trick.
On Nursing Your Little One
First-time mothers often feel terrified at the thought that they can’t feed their child. However, you should calm yourself down. You have milk. Before the milk, is a yellowish fluid. This is called colostrum, and it contains many nutritional benefits including proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and antibodies. Ensure you drink plenty of water and eat a healthy balanced diet to aid in the production of your milk.
- Count nappies.
Now, how do you know if your baby is getting the milk that they need? If you’ve been changing nappies seven to twelve times a day, then your baby is eating well. If you’re only changing nappies at a half rate because she doesn’t always pee or poop, it’s time to seek some professional advice.
- Learn how to latch your child properly
Based on the experience of many mothers out there, improper latch causes pain and doesn’t induce proper letdown. You can always seek help and advice from the Breastfeeding Helpline.
- Offering feeds
Sometimes you would think that a baby sleeping for five hours or more is fine, but not for a newborn. Breastmilk is easily digested so it is common for babies to feed 8-12 times in a 24 hour period. On average this works out to be every 2-3 hours day and night. You may get a longer stretch of around 5 hours in that timeframe. Cluster feeding is very normal. Some babies need to be woken for feeds while others wake on their own accord.
- Buy a nursing pillow
Make your life easier by getting a nursing pillow that would sit comfortably on your lap while nursing your baby. This pillow is contoured so that it’s a safe space to place your baby on. This also frees you from arm and shoulder pain for holding your baby for extended periods. Lying down to feed on your side is another great way to avoid back and shoulder pain and squeeze in some rest time.
- Express milk
You can express milk so that you can store it for later use. You can pump with a machine or you can catch the let down when feeding in a silicone suction-based pump.
- Provide relief for sore nipples.
Some mothers experience sore and cracked nipples as early as the first few days. Make sure your child latches properly to minimize this from happening and apply a lanolin-based ointment or cream to heal them in between feeds.
- Use a dummy for babies more than a month old, but less than six months old.
A dummy can help calm babies; that’s a fact. However, it can also increase the risk of ear infections. But one advantage of dummies is that babies who use them are less susceptible to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). You can use dummies to calm your baby down if her age is between one month and six months, which is the age when ear infections are less likely to occur.
Tips for Parents
- How to find time to rest
You might’ve read elsewhere, it would be best to rest when your child is resting or sleep when the baby sleeps, even if that means sleeping a few minutes to a couple of hours at a time. Also, when your parents or your friends come over to help, ask them to watch your baby for you so you can get some shut-eye.
- Give your partner more skin to skin time.
Your partner and your child need to bond as well. In order to do this, they must have their own skin to skin time. This can be done while you’re asleep and your partner is feeding the little one. When the child is sleeping, he can place the baby on his chest so they can hear his beating heart. Fathers, make sure you are awake when you do this.
- Use warm and cold compresses for breastfeeding pain
Breastfeeding can be the most excruciating part of raising a baby. Your breasts may feel either tender or rock hard. Use warm compress before breastfeeding, followed by cold compress after feeding. A warm compress or the hot water from a shower is also great if you have blocked milk ducts.
- Eat nuts
You and your partner need lots and lots of energy. Eat a healthy dose of nuts and grains to give you an energy boost. Or a granola bar!
- Place baby-changing stations on every floor of your home.
Even if your house is composed of just two levels, going up and down to get something for nappy changing can wear you out (and you’re already tired) so simply create nappy-changing stations on all floors. Make your life easy and simple! Or if a baby is in your room keep nappy-changing items in there also.
- A shifting schedule
Mums need rest, but so do Dads. In order to allow everyone to have some time for a breather, create a schedule that you are both comfortable with. Ask your husband to cover for you in the mornings so you’ll have time to sleep if you’re up all night.
- Don’t be too critical of your partner
When it’s your partner’s turn to take care of the newborn, don’t be too critical of what they are doing. Remember, they are doing what they know is best. Guide him in the beginning based on what you know and why you do things a certain way but then leave them to take care of your child. Trust is important and this helps to give them confidence when caring for baby alone.
- Don’t be ashamed to have cooked food delivered
In the first few weeks of having your new baby at home, you will find you’re not having enough time to do anything, let alone cook. Remove the hassle of cooking (and eating pizza over and over again) by ordering healthy cooked meals. Youfoodz and Nourished are great examples of companies that prepare healthy meals that you can have delivered to your home.
- Chaos is fine
Don’t stress yourself with worrying about the things you need to do, such as tidying up the house, dusting the shelves, or folding the clean clothes. Once you get the grip of being a parent and settle into a routine you’ll be able to do those things. Right now, focus on caring for your baby (and yourself), getting to know your baby, and simply admiring their dreamy smiles. They are only little for a little while.
- Join support groups on social media
You won’t be leaving your house as much in the beginning. You can reconnect with the world by joining support groups on social media. This is also a great way to vent if you’re getting stressed out.
Best friend or worst enemy? When you notice something off about your baby, it’s easy to search Google for answers. However, for your sanity, don’t immediately believe everything you read. Google isn’t a doctor and google doesn’t know you or your baby.
Taking Care of Infants
The age between three and twelve months is one of the most exciting times! This is when you notice your baby’s little personality blossoming. At this time, playing with her becomes more fun and you don’t need to worry so much that you may accidentally hurt them like when they are a fragile newborn.
On Health, Hygiene and Handling
- Carry your child hands-free.
Babies and to enjoy the comfort of being with you all the time. Every. Single. Second. Sometimes it feels like you can’t even put her down else she’ll be all fussy again. If you want to be able to do other stuff, like maybe walk around the house for a bit, fold some clothes and more, use a baby carrier. Choose between slings, wraps, and packs. This ensures that your baby gets enough sleep while you’re still able to do stuff as needed.
- Use tea tree oil for nappy rash.
If barrier cream works great for your baby, stay on it. But if you want to switch to natural remedies, use a few drops of tea tree oil together with an unscented carrier oil. This can be applied to babies six months and above. Do a patch test first to make sure it’s ok to use on your baby’s skin.
- Trim nails when asleep.
Trimming your baby’s nails is important as these can become sharp and scratch your precious one’s face and other body parts. Cut or file them when they are sleeping deeply so they don’t move too much.
Use a natural mosquito repellant with (DEET-free) ingredients.
- Place insect-repelling stickers at the back of your child’s shirt.
Babies will put anything in their mouths, so avoid using insect-repelling bracelets. Even if you place it on their ankles, your baby can reach it (as we’re sure you’ve seen how flexible they can be when trying to eat their little toes, yeah?)
- Before a nappy change (for boys)
Placing a cool wet wipe just below your little boy’s belly button entices him to pee. This minimizes the chance of you getting peed on when changing nappies. Another trick is to open the nappy just enough to let the cold air hit him, if that doesn’t make him pee you should be safe for the whole nappy change.
- Use Vicks BabyRub
Ever since Vicks developed a soothing rub for babies aged three months and above, parents all over the world have been ecstatic. Many Mum’s swear by this to provide relief for babies suffering from colds and stuffy noses.
- Use an open-ended dummy to give medicine
Medicine is one of the hardest to give to a baby. Some medicines can be mixed with milk while others cannot. To make things easier for you, allow your baby to use an open-ended dummy, and then insert the dropper to the back of the pacifier while they are happily sucking. You can also use a bottle of teat.
- When traveling on a plane, nurse your baby.
The main cause of baby fussiness in planes is the changing pressure. They experience popping ears, and as it can be painful for adults, more so for their little ears. During takeoff and landing, make sure you breastfeed your baby. Swallowing is one way to relieve the pressure, so feeding them can be helpful. You can also offer a bottle or even a dummy.
On Sleep Cycles and Playtimes
- Establish a sleep routine
Establishing and maintaining a sleep routine is important as it develops good sleep habits and helps your baby fall asleep and stay asleep. Following a feed, play, sleep routine is the easiest for any new parent. It doesn’t have to be a strict routine but just know that once baby wakes, you offer a feed. Then baby can play until they show tired cues to which you will pick up on and know that baby is ready for their sleep. This prevents them from becoming overtired. Newborns may sleep as much as 18 hours a day. Sufficient sleep is vital to a child’s physical, cognitive, and emotional health.
- Drive them around in your car
If your baby is having trouble napping, but always falls asleep in the car, pop them into the car seat and drive around your neighborhood.
- If you have a capsule
If you use the above tactic and effectively got a baby to sleep during the short car ride, you can immediately head back home. Now, if you’re worried that you may wake the baby up by lifting her from her car seat, then don’t. Take the capsule inside. But remember babies should not be left unattended in their capsule or car seat, whether in the car or in the home. Also, they should not be in a capsule longer than two hours and the safest place for baby to sleep is on a flat surface such as their bassinet or cot.
- Self-settling yes or no?
Self-settling basically means your baby goes from awake to asleep with no help from you. This is a personal choice, some babies can easily be placed in their bassinet swaddled and go to sleep themselves, some can’t. Whether or not you want to “teach” your baby to do this is totally up to you.
- Before bed wind down activity
These activities will become indicators for your baby that the next activity is sleeping. Dinner, bath, massage, book, white noise on, feed, and sleep is an example of how you could spend your night winding down.
- Essential oils as an alternative
Essential oils are a great help for mothers with babies of three months and older. If your baby is showing signs of having trouble sleeping, indigestion, congestion, colic, nappy rash, fungal infections, or teething you're guaranteed to find a blend of essential oils to help relieve some of the symptoms. Always perform a patch test and follow recommended diluting guides and check with your medical practitioner before use.
- Day and night
At night dim some lights or use a lamp instead of the house lights. Start to calm down yourself. During the day ensure you open the blinds and windows and let the natural light in as well as the fresh air. Provide your baby stimulation, this helps baby to reach their developmental milestones faster.
- Speak to your baby, communicate with them
Crying is the first form of communication. Responding to their needs develops and taking the time to speak to your baby will encourage them to make sounds and communicate with you. If you’re not sure what to say, simply tell them what you are doing as you go about your day - “Mummy is going to open the blinds to let the sun in and daddy is going to feed the dogs ”. Show them every little thing and tell them what it is and what it is used for. Talk baby talk – mum mum mum dad dad dad bub bub bub. Use facial expressions.
On Feeding Your Infant
- Use nursing covers.
Need to breastfeed in public? You don’t have to hide inside filthy public toilets or search for a parent room, simply whip out your nursing cover and you’re good to go. This reduces any anxiety you may be feeling and passersby can’t see anything.
- Uses for breastmilk
Breastmilk has natural healing properties. Some of the other uses for breastmilk other than feeding baby include treating nappy rash, eczema, baby acne, cracked nipples, ear infections, conjunctivitis or clogged tear ducts, sunburn, chickenpox, cradle cap and so much more.
- When your baby bites your nipple, place your pinky between her gums.
This is probably what mums dread the most when babies clamp down on their nipples even before they cut their teeth. To safely remove a baby from your nipple, simply insert your pinky into the side of your baby’s mouth and wedge it between her gums. Baby will let go and come off easily.
- Reasons as to why a baby may be biting
One of the most common reasons a baby bites while breastfeeding is because they are teething. Teething can begin at any age. Keeping eye contact whilst feeding and knowing when a baby has finished and is no longer hungry so you can remove them is a good tip as they may bite to get your attention when they get older
- Solids - spoon-feeding purees or BLW
The best age to start solid foods is around 6 months of age. By this age, most babies are able to sit supported in a highchair with good neck control. They also would have more than likely lost their tongue reflex. It is your decision as to how you want to offer solids to your baby, starting them with Spoon feeding purees or Baby Led Weaning. Spoon feeding you progress from smooth to mashed to chopped over a few months, whereas Baby Led Weaning you offer soft whole pieces or finger foods straight away allow your baby to explore the food at their own pace. As with everything there are pros and cons to both. Do your research and decide what will work for you and your baby.
- Teething...Rusks or a cob of corn!
They’ll gnaw and chew like there’s no tomorrow when they’re teething. Offering baby a cooled washer to chew on can provide relief. Rusks are perfect for teething babies (recommended from 6 months). A baby is more likely to chew longer on a rusk then a teething toy, therefore providing relief for a longer amount of time. There’s a variety of flavors babies can enjoy. Look for organic with no added sugar. Once the baby has established solids a steamed but cooled in the fridge cob of corn soothes their gums amazingly.
- Drinks and sippy cups
If you decide to offer your baby juice from 12 months (unless using it to assist with a constipated baby) you may notice there are times when you can’t remove the smell of juice from the sippy cups. Or the yellowish tinge that stays on the sides. To get rid of this, fill the cup with warm water and add a teaspoon of baking soda. Mix it well. When the water cools off, rinse it and voila! The icky smell and stain will be gone. You should always offer water first, but some other great alternatives without the added sugar and artificial flavours are naturally flavoured water – add your favourite fruits and herbs for example strawberry and mint, coconut water is a good choice or sneaking vegetables into smoothies like spinach and blueberries.
On Poop and Pee
Learn to understand what their poop colour means. It might sound funny, but you must learn the different colours of baby poop as it reflects on their health. Here it goes:
- Black Poop
This is called meconium. Black poop with a tar-like consistency is normal for the first few days from a newborn. It contains skin cells, mucous, and amniotic fluid.
- Bright yellow or mustard yellow poop
This is normal for breastfed babies. Along with green or brown coloured poop. It can be quite runny and almost resemble diarrhea. They don’t smell like a usual bowel movement either.
- Red poop
This may be caused by any red food such as tomatoes. If blood is found in a normal poop, this could be a sign of a milk protein allergy. If blood is found in diarrhea your baby could have a bacterial infection. Always check with your general practitioner.
- Green poop
Green poop in a breastfed baby can be an indication that there is an imbalance in the foremilk/hindmilk. Often this poop looks frothy. Teething can be another reason for green poop.
- Dark green
Dark green poop is generally caused by formula and/or foods rich in iron. It can also be because of the colour foods baby has eaten such as peas, broccoli, and spinach.
- Grey or white poop
Grey or white chalky like poop good be a sign your baby isn’t digesting their food. Contact your general practitioner as soon as these symptoms arise.
Tips for Parents
- Don’t compare your baby or child with others.
This tip is from birth to 18 and older. Every child’s development will surely be different from another. Just because your child is not doing what another child is already doing doesn’t mean they are behind, your child’s development in other aspects may be better, right. Don’t stress yourself out by comparing. There is a guideline for developmental milestones, but it is just that … a guideline. If you have any concerns bring it up with your doctor.
- Eat the right food to encourage milk production.
First off, drink lots of water. Second, eat nutritious meals. Treat yourself to an oatmeal cookie.
- Go out on mini-dates
When you feel comfortable and have a trustworthy babysitter, you can start going on mini-dates with your partner. If you’re breastfeeding, when the time comes to feed your body will know and your breasts may become engorged and you don’t want to have to pump at dinner. Feed baby before you go and try to get the timing right so your home to feed unless you’ve been lucky enough to have been able to express and store your breastmilk or baby is formula-fed. Then you don’t need to stick to a curfew.
- Pack spare cloth for baby and you
You already know you should bring extra clothes for your baby, but did you realize you also have to bring some for yourself? Baby is almost guaranteed to poop or spew on your when out and about when you least expect it.
- When eating out, take turns.
When eating out with a young baby, take the pram. This ensures you can put the baby down in a safe place while you enjoy your meal. If your baby becomes unsettled you and your partner can take turns eating and holding the baby. It's still nice to get off the house and not have to cook sometimes.
Whether you’re dining in your home or in a restaurant place baby in a highchair, preferably one that can pull up to the dining table. Try to eat together as a family as often as possible, a baby will watch their parents and older siblings eat and start to mimic what they are doing.
- Tie your hair
Babies are real grabbers and won’t easily let go. If you don’t want to experience your hair getting pulled, put it up in a bun. Sometimes, they want to get a response from you – whether it’s tears or laughter. So it’s best to avoid it from happening or this could create a bad habit.
- Be wary of button batteries.
Babies tend to explore by crawling, walking, and opening every single drawer and cupboard they can find. They would put anything that fits their mouth. Button batteries are a danger for your baby. Since these are very small items that would easily be ingested without you knowing and cause serious harm.
- Indoor plants
Indoor plants don’t just look great, they clean indoor air by absorbing toxins and producing oxygen, are therapeutic and can even boost your mood. However, some house plants are poisonous. Make sure you check each plant in your house. Although they are not meant for eating, you know how babies can be. One minute, they are having fun crawling around, the next minute they are eating something you had no clue they could even reach. It’s better to be on the safe side.
Handling your Toddlers
Once your baby celebrates his or her first birthday, they become a toddler. Toddlers are classified as those aged 12 months to 36 months. Your child is developing from a baby towards a pre-schooler. Physical growth and motor development won’t be as fast as the first year of life but their intellectual, social, and emotional changes will be enormous.
On Health and Hygiene
- Bath toys
Hopefully, you have an established routine from when they were a baby and they love having a bath. If your toddler becomes scared of bathing some options to try would be – bathing with them, allowing them to choose bath toys, let them sit in an empty bath first, pulling the plug when they are out of the bath or even out of the bathroom or alternatively shower them.
- Teach body parts
Bath time is the best time to help your child identify parts of their body. Use the pointing, identifying, and washing technique. When toddlers learn to identify body parts they are gaining receptive language skills. Being able to point to nose, knees, toes, etc means they have an understanding and can follow a direction.
- What age to brush teeth?
Offer a toothbrush with rubber or silicone bristles in the bath from when the baby starts teething. This encourages a good routine, brushing teeth daily. Monkey see monkey do. That’s how children learn. If you brush your teeth together of a morning and then give them their toothbrush in the bath or shower at night, with you assisting once they have cut teeth to ensure their teeth are being cleaned properly.
- Brushing teeth song
How long should you be brushing your teeth? As long as a two or three-minute song. Pick any upbeat song to use. There are some tooth brushing videos for kids on Youtube. You can subscribe to any of them and play the song when you’re brushing your toddler’s teeth. This makes it fun and not seem like a chore.
- Teach them how to use the toilet
Sound gross? Could be. By toddler age, you should be used to the fact that you aren’t allowed to go to the toilet alone. But the best way to teach is by example. Toilet training starts by showing your child where it can be done and how you do it. If you want to teach them how to pee in the toilet, do the same.
- Washing hands song
Twenty seconds is the recommended duration when washing hands. The ABCs of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star is good song choices as they last at least 20 seconds. Place a step stool in your bathroom to save your back and encourage independence.
- Brushing hair
Start brushing hair from birth with a soft-bristled brush to make it apart of your child’s routine. When they have some length to it, gently show your child to start from the bottom. This ensures you don’t brush knots into knots and make it worse. A detangling spray can be a lifesaver.
- Hydrate frequently
Now is the time to teach your kids the habit of drinking water. Water on its own is very important to keep them healthy. Give them their own water bottle or sippy cup that they can access anytime they want or need.
- Give them food choices
Toddlers are developing their sense of self and like to decide on things on their own. You can encourage this by giving them food options, such as carrot or broccoli? Pasta or potatoes? This also encourages them to finish her food because she was the one who chose it.
- If they don't like something
they don’t want to eat something you offered, don’t push it. This shouldn’t be a struggle, simply offer it again the next time around.
On Sleep and Relaxation
- Bring a toy to the bed.
Comfort type toys are the most amazing thing in the world to toddlers and small children. Comfort toys can make bedtime routines that much easier. They can make young children feel safe and secure, so let them take it to bed.
A baby is never too young for books. Just because a baby isn’t talking does not mean that they are not learning. There are so many benefits from reading to a baby such as – introducing concepts such as numbers, letters, colours and shapes, teaching communication and building listening skills, memory, and also vocabulary. Reading bedtime stories to your baby relaxes them before bed and provides bonding time. Read dreamy stories at night and save the exciting storylines for the day time.
- Don’t laugh when at bad behavior
Sometimes your child will do something that may hurt you, such as biting or hitting. Yours or other people’s reactions to a baby doing this might be to laugh or to overreact – don’t. If you laugh at this behavior your toddler will think it is a game and encourage them to do it more.
- Choose toys
Your child would put anything in their mouth. And I mean anything. Maybe they want to know what it tastes like after seeing and feeling it. Choose large toys that can not be swallowed and don’t pose a choking hazard. Most toys have a recommended age to ensure it is safe for a baby, toddler, or child.
- Use toys for toilet training
We add this under playtime because you can easily incorporate teaching within playtime. There are many toy toilets or potties available to buy. When playing with your child with their toys, take the nappy off the doll or teddy and sit them on the toy toilet.
- Packing up
If you don’t want a messy house, you better start teaching your toddler how to clean up by themselves. However, in the beginning, help them out. Let them understand that this is necessary, but it can also be fun! Play a clean-up song every time playtime ends and sing it. They’ll appreciate the activity as they’ll think it’s also a game, and they will develop the habit of always cleaning up. You can also encourage to only get out one toy at a time so every toy isn’t out on the floor.
We know… chores are not fun and exciting. However, your toddler can find anything exciting if you make it exciting. Your toddler can have fun with the pegs in the peg basket, you can teach them colours and count whilst hanging the washing. They can put away the plastics and Tupperware when emptying the dishwasher (I think every Tupperware cupboard looks like a toddler organized it anyway). Sweeping the floor, you can give them a dustpan, wiping the table gives them a baby wipe to copy you. There are endless ideas to make chores fun and engaging.
Tips for Parents
- Choosing clothes
This doesn’t mean your child can wear anything! This means you are giving them choices. You can prepare two shirts and three pairs of pants, and they’ll be the ones to choose which one they like. Let their personality shine!
- Praise your child
Be happy and say it’s perfect, even when it’s far from it. They are a toddler and gaining confidence in what they are doing and this is important for them. You can correct or adjust what they are doing as you go along.
- Remove poop stains on carpet with hydrogen peroxide
So sometimes your baby’s poop may slip onto the carpet. No matter how hard you scrub, sometimes it can’t be removed. If your carpet is not made of wool, you can place a drop or two of hydrogen peroxide, wipe the spot, and you’re back to having a stainless carpet!
- Lollipop on the plane
Similar to when you were nursing your infant on a plane, to prevent their ears popping with the change of pressure, toddlers need relief from ear-popping, too. Sucking and swallowing are the most effective ways of relieving the pressure. A lollipop is a great treat for this, of course, you must supervise your child closely.
Caring for yourself is easy but caring for another tiny fragile human being that can’t tell you what is going is super scary. Very soon you will feel more confident about being a parent, and a great one at that. You will learn to read your baby’s cues and body language and will automatically know what they need in no time.
So for our 100th tip: Follow your instincts.
Remember that these are just tips which can possibly make life easier for you. You won’t have to follow each and every one. Every baby is a unique individual and caring for them would surely be unique, too! Believe in yourself! Some days you may feel that nothing is going right, and that is ok.
Take one day at a time, it could always be worse. Look for the positive in everything. Your baby vibes of you and your energy. If you are tense and stressed baby will become that. If you are calm and relaxed, the baby will be the same.