Baby Care & Child Health Problems

Part I
BABY CARE

II
Bowel Movements and Baby's Bath

New mothers will learn that the two activities that take up most of their time is feeding the baby and cleaning him/her. You will have to change diapers through the day and night, at regular intervals for the first few months. There are times when you don't even have time to complete your daily household chores, since the baby is so demanding. The only way to handle this pressure is to be organised and have a system of arranging nappies, clothes, changing sheets, washing clothes. Everything required by the baby should be arranged in a systematic way, so that you can find it easily. Keeping the baby clean and dry is also important since the baby's skin is very sensitive; he/she is quite prone to develop rashes, if cleanliness and hygiene is not taken due care of. This can also make the baby irritable and cranky, which will only serve to compound your problems. To keep the baby in a cheerful and happy mood, you will have to make sure that he/she is clean and comfortable. However, the other exhausting tasks with the baby, apart from cleaning him/her, can severely test your physical stamina and mental calmness.

1. Baby Stools

The newborn baby's first nappy content is meconium, which is a greenish black substance that was in the baby's system before he/she was born. It can upset you, if you are not prepared for it. However, its presence shows that the baby's excretory system is functioning normally. The frequency or infrequency of bowel movements is an indicator of the health of the digestive system of the baby. You will have to understand the bowel movement of your baby to determine whether it is normal or a cause of concern.

Infant Bowel Movements

The frequency of stools may vary from one baby to the other. Some babies pass stools after each feed. This happens due to the gastro colic reflex, which activates the digestive system whenever the stomach is filled with more food.

Bowel Movements in Breastfed Babies

Some breastfed infants, 3-6 weeks of age, may have only one bowel movement in a few days or a complete week, which is normal. This happens as there is a very little amount of solid waste in the baby's body, which is eliminated from the child's digestive system, once in a few days. As long as the stools are soft and there are no signs indicative of constipation, the infrequency of stools is not an issue. A laxative can be given to the infant, if he/she is bothered by the long intervals between the bowel movement. The stools passed by breastfed infants are typically yellow in colour.

Bowel Movements in Formula-Fed Infants

The formula-fed infants should have, at least, one bowel movement in a day. In case, there are fewer bowel movements, the child may feel strained and uneasy because of hard stools. This may also lead to constipation. A pediatrician has to be consulted immediately in such a situation.

Bowel Movements after Four Months

As the baby begins to take solid or transition foods, the frequency of bowel movements shows an increase. The appearance and consistency of the stools will depend on the food eaten by the baby. However, the stools should appear like ordinary stools in consistency and odour. After four months, the infant may have bowel movements several times a day. Bowel movements may also be infrequent, with one stool passage in every two or three days. Some babies may also have constipation problems at this stage. Constipation caused by dehydration may result, if the baby's food contains more solids and water consumption is not adequate.

Caution

You will see that your baby's stools change a little from day to day. If there is a big change, like the stool has become very loose, very smelly, very hard or, especially, if there is mucous or blood in the stools, then you should consult your doctor immediately.

2. Baby Toilet Training

Among the innumerable things that a baby is learning, he/ she must learn how to do potty in the right place meant for it. Though your baby may be too young, it has to be made a habit from an early age. Of course, toilet training for an infant differs from the toddler toilet training. The best time for early toilet training is when your child is 4-5 months old. Early toilet training depends on the understanding of the mother and child. The mother needs to understand the baby's general timing of ‘pee’ and also their body language. Also there are a large variety of funny toilet training seats and even toys that can be used to make the child feel curious about using them.

Tips for Baby Toilet Training

 When you have an intuition that your infant wants to do take him/her to the desired place, hold her gently and make a sound of ‘pee’ or ‘ssss’ from the mouth. After some days, your baby will be adjusted to the sound and your touch. You can choose any comfortable place.

 Pull his/her trousers up and down as children may need help with difficult clothes for some time. You can also make them wear diaper or toilet pants, while taking them to the toilet or keep them naked, if preferred.

 If after the beginning of your toilet training, your child still continues to make the diapers dirty, don't be worried. It is quite normal for the child to take around two years of time, before he/she gets adjusted to it.

 Don't pressurise the baby or don't be worried yourself in case you missed some particular timing.

Common Symptoms before Toilet

You need to understand the symptoms of your infant, after which you can confidently find out the right time to take him/her to the toilet or any other preferred place.

 The baby becomes very calm and quiet.

 He/she passes out the smelly gas.

 The body stiffens and he/she screams or become tensed up.

 The baby makes a move toward the toilet or stares at it or any such similar place.

 The baby suddenly has a look of concentration and keeps staring at some distance in vague.

 The baby makes peculiar leg movements.

 Also, there can be some changes in the behaviour of the baby. He/she can suddenly become serious.

 The baby stops playing and gives a different look.

3. Baby Toilet Seats

Toilet training can be one of the most difficult phases of parenting a newborn child. Once your kid has crossed a specific age and size, you may be interested in toilet chairs for kids, to begin the toilet training process. When it comes to buying one, you need to realise that there are a wide variety of designs available in the market, in terms of shapes, size, colour and style.

Toilet Seats for Babies

There are various types of toilet seats available in the market. Before buying a toilet seat for babies, you need to decide that whether you want the toilet seat type that sits on the floor or the one that can be attached to the toilet. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Baby toilet seat that is attached to the floor, is easy for the child to climb and sit. However, in this case, you need to do the cleaning and also will have to train him/her separately for sitting on the bigger one later. The second option is the seat that can be attached to the general toilet. Though initially, it may pose to be a little difficult for the baby, you do not have to clean and again train the baby. Also, once the child gets a little big, you can gradually remove this extra toilet seat.

Types of Baby Toilet Seats

 Moisture-Activated Seats
These toilet chairs have an in-built sensor to detect moisture. Once a child has finished urinating, it will begin playing a song. While some kids can be motivated to use this toilet, there may be others who get scared.

 Decorative Toilet Seats
There are a number of decorative toilet chairs available to match upto the fancies of your child. You can also choose a toilet chair according to your decor or add to the fun of your child. Right from toilet chairs available in cool blue and flowery prints to ones that resemble a royal throne, the list is endless.

 Convertible Toilet Chair
In such a toilet chair, the seats convert to form a stool. This can be very useful for those who have small washrooms. Convertible toilet would also encourage the child to wash his/her hands, after using the toilet. However, caution needs to be taken while converting it. Make sure the toilet chair is sturdy and stable.

 Portable Toilet Chair
This is highly beneficial in case of travelling. These portable folding toilet seats for travel are compact enough to be folded easily and kept in the pouch, which is provided with the toilet seat.

 Realistic Versions
It is a replica of the actual toilet chair, with the only difference being its miniature size, such type of toilet chairs are helpful for those children, who really want to use the big toilet.

4. Baby Massage

Baby massage is an ancient childcare practice that is still prevalent all over the world. Recent medical research has proven the benefits of the same. Studies have shown that premature babies when regularly massaged require minimum hospitalization. All newborns show healthy growth, more weight gain and thrive better if they are massaged well and regularly. A good oil massage soothes and calms a baby, helps him/her to relax and sleep better and makes him/her more alert during the waking hours. It is a good exercise and promotes motor activity and emotional security in a child, besides a healthy body and muscular development. It stimulates digestion and helps the baby pass gas. Here are some massage tips for infants.

Tips to Give Baby a Massage

 It is a good practice to keep all things you need ready, before you start rubbing the oil on the baby's body. This includes the baby massage oil, tissues, clean diapers and clothes. Aromatherapy oils for adults may not be suitable for the baby.

 Baby's skin is very soft and bracelet, rings and long nails might hurt your child accidentally. So, keep your fingernails short and keep aside the jewellery you wear on hands when you are massaging the baby.

 Spread a changing mat or a soft towel on a flat surface and undress the baby. Put the baby down with his or her face up.

 Rub only about half-a-teaspoon of oil at a time on your palms, so that they glide easily on the baby's body. You can apply more oil later as needed.

 Make sure that your palms are warm.

 Use smooth, gentle but firm strokes with your palm or fingers. Light circular movements on chest and stomach, stroking across the shoulders, downward movement on the arms and legs and upward movements on the back are the best.

 Do not put too much pressure on the baby's fragile body and avoid the spine area.

 Keep the baby engaged while massaging him or her by talking or singing to the infant.

 Eye contact with the baby ensures him or her of your undivided attention.

 Sudden break in contact of your hands may cause alarm to the baby. Therefore, take care to be gentle while stopping the massage.

 Do not oil baby's palms or fingers as these little ones tend to put them in their mouths or eyes often, which may cause irritation.

 Wrap the baby in a clean and warm towel after the massage and cuddle him/her.

 Do not massage the baby just before or after feeding, or when the baby is ill.

 Do not wake the baby up for a massage.

 Avoid rashes, wounds or areas where the baby has got his injections or vaccines as it may hurt.

You can continue to massage your baby till he/she is three or four years old, as the benefits of a good massage are numerous.

The correct way of massaging

5. Bathing Your Baby

Bathing your soft and delicate baby can be a beautiful experience for both you and the baby. It will help you a great deal to have a bath routine in place by the time your baby is a few weeks old. A calm and warm bathing environment will make the baby comfortable with the idea of bathing and he/she will be able to readily accept the new activity. Remember, some babies do not like having a bath till they are a few months old. In that case, sponge-bathing the baby may be your only option.

General Tips for Bathing

 Wrap your baby in a towel to stop him/her from waving their arms. Undress them only if you want to.

 Wipe his/her eyes with a little cotton wool that has been dipped in cooled boiled water. Begin with the inside of his eye and work outward. Wipe the other eye with another piece of cotton wool in the same way.

 Use wet cotton wool to wipe over and behind his ear. Use fresh piece of cotton wool for each ear.

 Wipe the baby's face, neck and chin with damp flannel or cotton wool.

 Pat dry with a soft towel making sure that the baby is not damp in the creases.

 Wipe dry their hands.

 Change the baby's nappy after cleaning nappy area and change into clean clothes.

Special Tips

Here are some special tips for different parts of the baby which need to be cleaned on a regular basis.

 Hair
You need not wash your baby's hair every day. Just wiping it with a damp flannel cloth will remove any dirt that is there.

 Nails
The easiest way to cut your baby's nails is to nibble them off. You can use a pair of scissors to cut them off, while they are asleep. The best time would be after a bath, when the nails are soft.

 Ears and Nose
These organs clean themselves, so just wipe them gently with wet cotton wool.

 Cradle Cap
This is a yellowish crust on the baby's scalp, which looks a little like dandruff. This occurs when the baby is between a month and six months old and almost all babies have it. This does not harm the baby in any way and normally disappears as the baby grows up. If it is noticeable, you can do the following:

 Use a baby shampoo.

 Massage one tablespoon of olive oil or almond oil into his scalp. Leave it on for an hour then wash it clean by shampooing.

Baby in a bathtub

 Apply oil carefully to ensure that it does not enter the baby's eyes. The baby should not touch the oily scalp afterwards as it may get into his/her eyes.

 Dissolve a teaspoon of soda in 500 ml of warm water and apply on scalp with the help of cotton wool. Shampoo thoroughly. Use this regime once or twice a week.

 The flakes will become loose, if you gently comb the baby's hair.

 Never pick or scratch to loosen the flakes.

 If there are red patches on the baby's neck and behind the ears, consult a doctor immediately.

6. Baby Bath Accessories

All new parents take up the task of looking after their baby's need very seriously. They do not want to deprive their baby of even a single comfort. While giving the baby a bath, parents need to ensure that their bathroom is sufficiently equipped with the necessary baby accessories. Such accessories should not only be friendly and hygienic, but also comfortable and safe for the baby.

Bathtubs

A bathtub is one of the first things that come into mind, while furnishing a baby's bathroom. The bathtub for a baby should be comfortable, safe and fun to be in. Portable and cute bathtubs are also available in the market in different varieties. You can place them anywhere, in the bathroom or the garden, wherever you wish to bathe your baby. These portable bathtubs are convenient to use and do not cost much.

Bathing Robes

It is better to have baby-bathing robes at home. Such robes come in various designs, styles and sizes. The robe that you have chosen for your baby should be soft and fluffy, as a baby's skin is very tender and sensitive. As far as possible, you should stick to baby bathrobes made of cotton or terrycloth material. Along with being soft and comfortable, such robes easily absorb water from the baby's body and keep him/her safe and hygienic.

Bath Toys

Some babies do not like the idea of bathing and they make quite a protest during bath time. As a parent, it is your responsibility to make bathing experience an enjoyable one. Doing this is possible by using such bath accessories that interest a baby. Colourful bath toys serve as one of the options that can make a child happy and help him/ her enjoy the bath without creating any fuss. While buying bath toys, make sure that they are cute-looking and colourful. Most importantly, they should be non-toxic, sterilised and safe for the child.

Other Accessories

Apart from the above mentioned things, there are some other accessories that will come handy while bathing a child. These include bath soap, baby shampoo, rugs, shower, curtains and hooks, soap dish, storage bin, colourful towels, tissue box cover, wall hook and wastebasket. By buying such basic bathroom accessories, you will be able to ensure that your baby has a happy, comfortable and a safe bathing experience.

FAQs

Q-1. How often should I bathe my baby?

Ans. If your baby is comfortable with it, then you should give daily bath to him/her. But if you find the baby crying during the bath or catching cold then bathing your baby on alternate days would be better. However, some sponging with warm towel and a change of clothes is important for hygiene of the baby.

Q-2. Should I clean the baby's scalp with shampoo or with soap? Ans. Bathing the scalp once or twice a week is sufficient. To clean the scalp, use mild baby shampoo as this will not irritate the baby's eyes.

Q-3. I do not have a bath tub to bathe my baby. Can I bathe my baby without it?

Ans. In India, bathing the baby by placing him/her on the mother's outstretched feet is prevalent since old times. This is quite convenient. Just remember to take care to keep the head at a higher level than the body.

Q-4. Is it necessary to give bath to my baby with warm water even in summer season?

Ans. It is better to bathe your baby with warm water because if the water is alarmingly cold or hot then the baby does not feel comfortable in it and gets irritated.

Q-5. When my baby was born he passed a dark green and sticky stool. Was it abnormal?

Ans. The baby's first stool is called meconium. It is a thick, sticky, black-green tar-like substance which has been collecting in the intestines during the pregnancy. It is difficult to clean. But once the baby's bowels are clear of meconium, he/she begins to pass normal yellowish stools.

Q-6. Is it necessary to massage my baby?

Ans. Massaging the baby with oil is a good practice. Use coconut or olive oil for this purpose. Do the massage gently so the baby enjoys it. Make sure the oil does not go into the baby's eyes, ears, nose or mouth.

Q-7. How beneficial is the massage done with gram flour or flour dough in removing baby hair?

Ans. There is no need to apply the traditional mixture of gram flour/dough, turmeric and oil for massage. It is a myth that such a massage would remove hair from the baby's body. The hair on newborn's body would fall off anyway irrespective of whether you apply this mixture or not. It will not even prevent the baby from growing new hair on the body.