Keeping your baby healthy

By the time you bring baby home from the hospital, both you and your baby have been through a traumatic time. Babies grow at an alarming rate and need food, food, food and sleep, sleep, sleep to do their growing. Although you’re not growing, your body is repairing itself after 9 months of pregnancy and many hours of giving birth. Like your baby, you need healthy food and adequate rest.

If you are breastfeeding you need to eat healthily. Your breast milk is all your baby gets. Make sure that it is all your baby needs. If you are not breastfeeding, get a formula that is fortified with iron and carefully follow the manufacturer’s directions. Babies need to be fed every three or four hours. Burp the baby halfway through the feeding and at the end of each feeding.

If you are HIV positive, follow the directions of your health carer for both you and your baby’s ARV medication.

When your baby needs to sleep, put him down on his back on his own firm mattress. Keep the baby in the room with you.

Keep your baby clean. Wash your hands frequently to prevent infections. It is a good idea to ‘air dry’ the baby’s bum before closing up the nappy. Use baby lotion as your baby’s skin is very sensitive.

Follow the instructions you got from the hospital about caring for the umbilical cord. Baby doesn’t need to be bathed every day, but will appreciate being wiped down with a face cloth soaked in warm water. In hot weather the baby will feel better after a lukewarm bath. Washing the baby’s hair may prevent cradle cap.

Make sure your baby is safe. Younger sibling and house pets need to be monitored when you bring your new baby home. Never put your baby in a car without settling it into a car seat. Keep the air in your room fresh and smoke-free for your baby.

Take your baby to clinic to get weighed and checked on a regular basis. Ask the health carer about problems you might be experiencing.

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