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Malishwali bai's

"Early care of the newbornze"


Indian culture attaches great importance to the birth of a child into a family. A child lights up the life of his parents and relatives. The desired end result of a 40 weeks pregnancy is a fully and normally developed baby. This fact needs to be understood well by prospective parents and all those involved with the care of the pregnant woman. All good care that a pregnant woman receives is directed towards a favourable end result. Good care during pregnancy includes regular checks with the obstetrician, necessary immunisation, a balanced diet, adequate rest, and consultations with a paediatrician. Involvement of a paediatrician even before the baby is born helps the parents in planning their child's future medical care, in addition to offsetting any unexpected emergency that may arise during labour. It would be a good idea to deliver your baby in a 'baby-friendly' hospital, which essentially means that the hospital supports and promotes breastfeeding.
A baby is very alert and responsive in the first hour or half after birth, which is the best period to put him to his mother's breast. This ensures warmth for the baby and closeness to his mother that causes a life long bonding. This also ensures an early 'letdown' of mother's milk.
'Colostrum' which is the earliest secretion from a breast provides the newborn with calories, disease fighting immunoglobulins and cells, and vitamins A and E. The newborn must not be given anything except mother's milk, to prevent infections of the gut. The practice of giving water, honey, glucose and animal or powder milk is dangerous and avoidable. Once breastfeeding is established it should be given as often as, and for as long as desired by the baby. The mother - infant pair may be discharged from the maternity facility in case of an uncomplicated delivery on the third day if all is well. The parents, the obstetrician and the paediatrician can take this decision jointly.

After a baby goes home, his essential needs are adequate nutrition, good hygiene, timely healthcare, tender and loving care, and emotional stimulation. For the first six months a baby's nutritional needs are entirely met with by breast milk. Supplements are needed only after the baby is six months old. Working mothers may however have to start supplements early. Supplements should be of semi-liquid consistency, nutritious, easy to prepare, easily available and non-allergenic.
Home-based foods should be preferred over commercial formulae. Mashed raw fruit, boiled and mashed vegetables, thin rice/wheat/nachni/rawa/oats porridge, moong/tur dal and rice khichdi, egg, meat, and fish should be introduced at appropriate ages. Introduction of eggs and non-vegetarian food could be delayed to nine months of age to offset the risk of allergies. Soups and juices are low in calories and fiber, and their preparation consumes valuable time. A year old infant should be eating half of what his parent eats during the day.
By good hygiene is meant that a baby should be kept 'clean' at all times. He should be immediately changed after he soils his clothes to prevent nappy rash. Talcum powder is unnecessary and may actually be harmful. When dusting, the powder particles enter the baby's nostrils and mouth and cause allergies and respiratory infections. Powder that remains in folds of the skin gets moist, cakes, and irritates the tender skin leading to bacterial and fungal infections. A baby should be bathed at least once every day with a low alkali soap and warm water. Massage offers benefits due to the physical stimulation (touch) and possibly by absorption of fats through the skin. It benefits underweight babies to a greater extent. However massage with gram dal powder, wheat flour and cream may cause skin allergies and boils.

Oil must not be instilled into the ears and nostrils. Ear infection and oil pneumonia could result from these practices. A newborn's breast must not be squeezed to extract the so called 'witch's milk'. This can cause pus collection (abscess) in the breast that may need surgery. It can also permanently damage breast tissue, which will make a girl child incapable of producing milk in adulthood. Kohl (kajal/soorma) particles can block the duct (tube) that carries tears from the eyes into the nostrils, causing watering from eyes. Thus kohl is best avoided.
Tender, loving care and emotional stimulation are essential to normal physical, mental and emotional growth of the baby. Both parents must participate in bringing up the baby. A baby should be 'talked to' and 'listened to'. He should be prevented from getting into accidents especially when he begins to explore his surroundings.
Sharp toys and small sized objects like marbles; tablets, buttons, dice, peanuts and gram should be kept out of his reach. Soft toys, light wooden blocks, rounded plastic and rubber toys, household utensils like a glass or wati are stimulating objects. An older sibling may innocently and inadvertently cause injury to an infant and therefore should be allowed to handle an infant only under an adult's supervision.
A paediatrician should attend to an infant regularly for assessment of weight and milestones, immunisation as per schedule, and any health problems. It would be a good idea for parents to learn about home-treatment for minor problems from their doctor, while at the same time not allowing matters to get out of hand, by being vigilant. Vitamin drops are unnecessary for a healthy infant.
However calcium and iron supplements should be started after four months of age to prevent rickets and anaemia. Various digestive preparations (ayurvedic and allopathic) available in the market are unnecessary and avoidable. Homoeopathicpills for 'teething troubles' are of doubtful value. The great many tonics, appetite stimulants and growth stimulants available in drug stores are again of little value. Vitamins and protein preparations are useful during convalescence from illness. The best way to rear an infant is to use a mix of intuition (gut feeling), logic and acquired knowledge. Newborns and infants require huge amounts of unconditional love, a little time, and adequate attention, which all parents should provide.


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Disclaimer: All material provided at is provided for educational and informational purposes only. Consult with your doctor regarding the advisability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your individual situation.