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Coming into the world is a big and scary adventure for babies. At first, they don't know you are there to feed and care for them - they only know when they feel comfortable and safe, or otherwise. They are learning all the time, and the job of parents is to help them know that the world is a welcoming place where their needs will be met.
What are babies like?
1. Babies do some things 'automatically' without knowing they are doing them i.e. by reflex.
2. Babies' heads can sometimes be uneven in shape after the birth or because of the way they sleep.
3. Many babies have jaundice (yellow skin and eyes) during the first week or so after birth. All babies should be seen by a health care provider in the first 5 days of life to check for jaundice.
Those who spend less than 24 hours in a hospital should be seen by age 72 hours.
Infants sent home between 24 and 48 hours should be seen again by age 96 hours.
Infants sent home between 48 and 72 hours should be seen again by age 120 hours.
Jaundice is an emergency if the baby has a fever, has become listless, or is not feeding well. Jaundice may be dangerous in high-risk newborns.
Jaundice is generally NOT dangerous in term, otherwise healthy newborns. Call the infant's health care provider if:
Jaundice is severe (the skin is bright yellow)
Jaundice continues to increase after the newborn visit, lasts longer than 2 weeks, or other symptoms develop
The feet, especially the soles, are yellow.
4. Cradle capis a yellowish, patchy, greasy, scaly and crusty skin rash that occurs on the scalp of recently born babies. Massage the scales with olive oil to soften and then lift the scales very gently next day.
5. Some babies have a sticky eye due to a blocked tear duct. Ask your doctor/paediatrician how to manage this.
6. Your baby's umbilicus (belly button) may take several days to heal fully, and many babies have umbilical hernias. It does not need treatment and does not cause health problems.
7. Babies are often born with large genitals and breasts and sometimes 'milk' even comes from the breasts. This swelling is due to the mother's hormones, it is normal (even for boys) and it does not last long.
8. Most babies have spots on their faces and often on parts of the body in the first few weeks.
9. Lots of babies have hiccups after feeds. They also burp after feeds. These are normal.
- Newborns can hear, and have been hearing noises from well before they were born. Newborns have immature eye muscles and, while they can see (particularly at close range), they can't organise the visual images into meaningful shapes.
- Developmental characteristics include:
a. Sucking, grasping, startling and pulling to stand are all reflexes.
b. They start to work out how to lift their heads when lying on their tummy, and kick their legs by about eight weeks.
c. In their third month, they begin to watch their hands and feet wave in the air, and also begin to wave that fist towards your face or some other desired object.
For 3-6 months:
- Sounds as well as sights are becoming familiar and defined. Exploration is important, so give them time to look properly at objects and try to help them to be comfortable (to aid concentration).
- Your baby:
a. Rolls over from front to back at about four to six months.
b. Is able to lift their head and chest when they are on their tummy by four months.
Breast milk is the most supreme food a mother can provide to her newborn especially for the first 6 months. A newborn may breastfeed 8-12 times a day or on demand. By the time the babies turn 4 months, they feed larger amounts and only 4-6 times a day. Nature has prepared breast milk with the right balance of nutrients for babies and to learn more go to-
Formula is the best alternative if the mother is unable to or partially breast feeds or chooses not to breast feed. Newborns may start with 6-8 feedings, each of 60-100ml of formula a day, gradually increasing to 175-240ml per feeding. The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) recommends Iron fortified cow's milk-based infant formula for newborns till they turn one. Consult paediatrician for other different types of formulas.
From 6-8 months:
Along with the breast milk /formula, your baby is now ready for solids. Refer to the diet section below.
From 8-12 months:
Along with the breast milk /formula, your baby is now ready to try a variety of different baby foods. Refer to the diet section below.
Refrain from feeding infants-
- Whole milk, low fat cow milk
- Sweetened or caffeinated beverages such as sodas, juices, teas etc.
- Small sips of water in a day are OK but don't give a bottle of water till your baby turns 6 months.
- Nuts and seeds
Sample Diet Plan:-
From birth to 6 months:
Only breast milk or formula should be given.
From 6-8 months:
Talk to your paediatrician before starting solids. Typically, once the baby's birth weight doubles, head can be held and interest is shown in food, solids can be introduced. Start with replacing one milk/formula feeding with cereal (preferably ragi). Mix around 1-2 tsp of dry cereal either with breast milk or formula. Gradually increase to two cereal feedings comprising of 2-3 tsp of dry cereal.
From 8-12 months:
Baby can now be introduced to a variety of foods. Give a gap of about 3 days between introducing new foods. Here are some ideas:
- Mash up a ripe banana into the cereal.
- Mash up boiled sweet potato or carrot into the cereal or plain cooked dal. For recipe go to -
- Soft cooked vegetables like carrots, beans etc.
- Ripe pear, musk melon, mango, water melon.
- Soft dosa or idlis.
- Lightly made plain toor or moong dal mixed with soft rice.
- Apple and banana porridge with rice. For recipe go to:
Do not add any salt or sugar to the baby food. Try to go low on seasonings and spices, though some might be beneficial to the baby from an Ayurvedic perspective.