Part of parenting is learning on the job. Rahoo Baby answers 5 common questions that parents often forget to ask before they leave the hospital.
1.) After my baby is born, is there anything I need to “do” right away to begin working on their development?
When your baby is born, the best thing you can do is simply be present and mindful. Establishing this new type of bond with your baby is an amazing experience. As a new mom there’s no class, book or blog that can fully prepare you for what it’s really like to hold your baby those first few weeks. Just know this – being mindful doesn't come easily. Even during a moment as precious as holding your newborn baby. It’s OK if your thoughts tend to race during the first month of your baby’s life! It’s natural. But here’s a few reminders on how you can practice mindfulness in order to strengthen the loving bond between you and your baby:
Simply hold baby in your arms
Talk and sing to them in a calm, soothing voice
explore each-other’s faces (8-12 inches apart for the first few weeks)
offer skin-to-skin contact (chest-to-chest it great for this)
Be mindful of the environment (which can often be overstimulating)
To learn more about being mindful and why it’s so important, check out our quick read on this post.
2.) What’s the deal with tummy-time? When should I start doing it?
Tummy-time should be, and often is (without even knowing it), started as soon as your baby is born. As mentioned above, burrowing your baby into your chest & neck, as mothers often do in the delivery room, counts as tummy-time! It may not be the reason you’re doing it, but it’s proof that your baby isn’t as fragile as they seem. When you get home from the hospital, start doing tummy-time by laying baby on your chest. Don’t worry that they aren’t lifting their head. The real benefits at this stage are the skin-to-skin contact, and fact that it’s relieving pressure on the back of their head (which helps prevent flat-head syndrome). As your baby turns about one month old, start doing tummy-time on the floor, or use our newborn lounger/tummy time trainer to help them master tummy-time like a pro.
To learn more about tummy-time and flat-head syndrome check out a blog we wrote a few months back.
3.) Are there any tips for helping my little one breast or bottle feed?
Feeding is not only a baseline requirement for thriving during infancy; it’s also a developmentally rich routine that helps strengthen the mother-baby bond. If there’s one thing every new parent should hear before they leave the hospital to take their baby home, it’s this – feeding needs to be recognized as one of the most complex, challenging processes your baby is forced to master…right away. Why do I say this? Because too often parents are under-educated on what their baby is going through when they’re expected to conquer oral intake. It comes easy to some babies, but mastering oral feeds is a major milestone! During a feed parents need to empathize with their little one, recognizing them as the miniature human they are, and offer their full and undivided attention. As discussed above, this starts with being mindful - especially of the environment. Make sure to give your baby every possible advantage to get comfortable with feeding:
Turn off the TV
Dim the lights
Give your baby time to get comfy
Tell your family or guests to pipe down
Talk or sing to them softly
Find the motion (or stillness) they respond to (gentle rocking, patting, swaying, etc.)
Potential signs that your baby is overstimulated when you’re trying to feed them includes excessive sneezing, lack of eye contact, outstretching their limbs, splaying their fingers and/or a high-pitched cry (which could also just mean they're hungry in the first place).
With the strategies above your baby will be ready for a successful feed.
4.) How concerned should I be about developmental milestones? Is there a master-list I should be aware of?
Developmental milestones are a general guide. Infant development is a complex process. Overly simplifying milestones so they fit perfectly, step-by-step on an index card helps parents make sense of what skills they should look for. But don’t be fooled – no two newborns develop exactly the same way. Development is messy. The role of a parent is to make sure baby isn’t falling behind drastically in any one category. A month or two too early or too late is OK!
In terms of how you can help facilitate these milestones: Get on the floor with your baby! Surround them with age appropriate toys. Challenge them by placing them in various developmental positions. And as a reminder, our pediatric development experts offer free, month-by-month emails on how to facilitate your baby’s development from birth to one. Sign up at the bottom of our homepage!
5.) I’d like to become more involved in the mom-community but don’t know where to start. Are there any websites or organizations that would offer some guidance on this?
Absolutely, here’s a few to get your started:
Mommy Poppins – a national and local organization that promotes fun and healthy activities you can do with children.
MyGym – semi-structured play centers. Great for sensory-motor play experienes.
Your public libraries – music, motor, and educational classes often take place at local libraries…for free!
No parent is perfect. But if you took the time to read this article you’re already investing the time, energy and love it takes to be a stellar mom or dad - cheers to you!
Matt is a co-founder at Rahoo Baby and a pediatric occupational therapist who has spent his entire career in pediatrics. Following a clinical placement at New Orleans Children’s Hospital he went on to work at Boston Children’s Hospital and Thom Boston Metro Early Intervention. Sparked by his passion for infant development, he went on to co-found Rahoo Baby, and develop their flag ship product, The Learn & Lounge. The Learn & Lounge is the most versatile newborn lounger on the market and helps babies meet development milestones. It can be used as a newborn lounger, feeding support pillow and tummy-time trainer.