The best place for a small baby is on someone’s arms. In order to grow into a balanced, confident person, who can take others into account, the baby needs touch, skin contact, movement and eye contact. These can all be given to the baby by holding them. The closer the baby is to his or her parent or carer, the faster the baby’s needs are met. This reinforces the baby’s awareness of himself or herself and the environment.
The easiest and simplest way to provide food for the baby is by nursing. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for six months, due to its comprehensive beneficial health effects, and mixed feeding, nursing while also giving other food, at least during the baby’s first year. However, the lives of families are very different and sometimes exclusive breastfeeding, or breastfeeding in general, are not possible. In these cases, nutrition is ensured with the help of baby formula.
Depending on the condition of the child’s skin, the baby can be bathed daily or at least once a week. Even a baby with dry skin can be washed with a shower daily. A suitable bathwater temperature is 37 °C. At first, there should be very little water, just enough to cover the baby’s bottom. Later on, when the child is better used to water, there can be more of it so that the baby does not get cold. Bathing should be started by washing the face and only after this the baby is lowered into the water, holding him or her safely and securely. Remember to talk to the baby in a tender, calm manner. Some babies may cry at first, but after getting used to water they usually enjoy bathing.
No soap is used for the baby’s bathwater and the hair does not need to be washed with shampoo. You can add a few drops of oil to the bathwater, if the baby has a dry skin. After the bath, do not rinse the oil away, leave it on to moisturise the skin. The oil from the bathwater leaves the baby’s hair a bit oily, but often it is beneficial and helps with the crust in the child’s scalp. Brushing the scalp and hair with a soft brush also prevents the crust from growing.
The baby’s skin is only moisturised, when necessary. You can use unmedicated, fragrance-free lotions or skin oils intended for babies to moisturise a baby’s skin. If the baby has dry skin, it should be moisturised at least twice a day. If the baby has normal skin, moisturiser is not necessary. For instructions on how to care for a baby’s skin, visit Perheaikaa website (in Finnish).
The baby’s diapers are changed, when necessary. A soiled diaper should not be left on for long, so that the baby’s skin does not become irritated and inflamed. These days, there is a wide range of disposable diapers. It is impossible to know in advance, which brand suits which baby. It is easy to find out by testing. There are also various options for reusable diapers. The simplest reusable diaper is a folded cloth, but sewn and woven models are also available. The diaper is chosen based on what suits the baby’s skin best. Babies usually pee right away, when their clothes are taken off. By watching the baby’s signs, you can eventually let the baby pee without a diaper on, which helps to significantly reduce the amount of diapers needed.
Watch a video on how to swaddle your baby at Perheaikaa website (in Finnish).