We as humans have an inbuilt desire to learn and absorb information from our environment. Our brains are wired for learning and during the first few years of a baby’s development there is exponential growth in the brain. A newborns head circumference at birth is on average 36cm, this grows to around 50cm by the age of 2 years old. Babies are curious and if you watch them you will see their little eyes constantly drinking in all the colors and activities around them. And together with this they have a very short attention span. “I’m done looking at that” happens way quicker than it takes a parent to finish a hot cup of tea! Changing up the environment and giving lots of sensory input during the day can help to keep a baby engaged and happy. As the babies starts to learn to move around and eventually to crawl and walk, they will be able to move themselves to different activities and therefore seek their own change of environment. More on this in a later blog too.
Newborn babies have a mechanism by which they generate heat to help them maintain their body temperature at the appropriate level of between 36.5 and 37.50C. There is brown fat distributed around the kidneys and shoulder blades and heat can be produced by metabolizing this fat. However, a baby still needs an appropriate amount of clothing on because burning this fat will use up energy that is best kept for growing. Babies also don’t shiver effectively and the ability to sweat is less sophisticated than that of adults, so being dressed appropriately for the ambient temperature is very important. But what is the appropriate amount of clothing for a newborn?
The rule of thumb is to place 1 extra layer on your baby than you are currently comfortable with. For example, if you are comfortable with a long-sleeved shirt on then put a singlet and a long onsie on your baby. Place a hand inside the clothing around the chest to feel if bub feels warm enough. You can check your baby’s temperature to see if it is at the appropriate level if you are not sure. If you pick your baby up and he/she has been sweating around the neck the baby was likely dressed too warmly.
NEVER cover a baby’s head while they are sleeping as they do need somewhere to lose the heat if dressed too warmly. As babies grow into toddlers, they burn off so much energy that they often don’t feel the cold as much as adults do. I’m sure you have all experienced the “Mummy is cold, go put on a jumper” thing as a child while protesting wildly that you’re not cold! There comes a time when we as parents have to allow our children to indicate to us when they need less or more clothing on.
We all get grumpy when we are not feeling well and so when a baby is coming down with a cold or ear infection for example you can expect a to be faced with a miserable baby. Illness happens from time to time and you will pretty quickly figure out that something is not right. Sometimes the baby being miserable is all that is initially apparent but as the day wears on there will be other symptoms such as a fever, runny nose, vomiting or diarrhea. If you are concerned, then please take your baby to the doctor for an assessment. Calling Nurse on Call or your local child heath nurse can help you to determine if you need to take your baby to the doctor.
I farted and gave myself a fright! YOU farted and gave me a fright! The dog barked and woke me up just as I was about to give in and fall asleep! You’re holding me at an 89 degree angel instead of 92 degrees when measured perpendicular to the floor! You sat down when I stopped crying instead of continuing to pace up and down! (This one really happens!) And a toddler falling into fits of tears because you used a blue plate instead of the green one for dinner! You get the idea – babies have a mind of their own and will develop their own preferences
When you first bring your baby home it is not easy to establish what each cry means so you find yourself pretty much guessing what to do next. Spend time watching and observing your baby for little subtle cues and signals that your baby is giving out that will help you to determine what the immediate need is. You will very soon learn what the specific need is and how to address each circumstance.
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