Self-soothing allows a baby to become calm on his or her own. It is an important skill for a baby to develop and it happens over time during the first several months. Babies who can self soothe are able to manage stressful situations such as loud noises or too much activity nearby. Self-soothing also leads to better attention skills later in life.
You can help a baby self-soothe by speaking with a soft voice and creating a quiet environment. Newborn babies, up to age three months, may need to be swaddled with a blanket wrapped comfortably around their body.
Notice your baby’s attempts at self-soothing and calming himself or herself. When crying, your baby will bring her or his hands to the mouth, face, or head as a way of comfort. You may also notice your baby eases to sleep on his or her own when placed in the crib. These are good signs and good skills. You can find helpful information about self-soothing at the local library.
- Make sure everyone who cares for your baby knows that shaking a baby causes serious brain damage.
- Keep your baby in a smoke-free environment – at home, in the car, and with caregivers. Smoking around babies causes them serious short-term and long-term health problems.
- Prevent potential suffocation while your baby sleeps. Place your baby on his or her back to go to sleep and make sure there are no pillows, blankets or toys in with the baby. Avoid sleeping with your baby in the same bed.
- Use a car seat in the back seat of your car. It must face the back until your child is 20 pounds or more.
- Be sure to take your child to a health care provider at 2-4 days, 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months for well-child exams. See the Parent Resources section about Well-Child Exams.
- Clean your baby’s gums a couple of times a day with a soft washcloth. As soon as the first tooth appears (usually around 6 months) clean it with a soft toothbrush and a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste.
- Babies who have started getting teeth should see a dentist. Discuss the need for fluoride supplements.
- Some babies experience teething discomfort. Try chilling a pacifier or teething ring for the baby to chew on.
- Proper nutrition is essential for good brain development.
- There is no better food for your baby than breast milk. Breast feeding provides many health, nutritional, economical, and emotional benefits to both mother and baby. Breast milk contains antibodies which prevent illness in babies. Iron-fortified formula is an acceptable alternative, but avoid giving your baby a bottle to fall asleep, as this may increase the risk of tooth decay and ear infections.
- Most infant/baby vitamins and minerals are a safe and easy way to ensure that every child gets the best possible start in life. Check with your health care provider about using them.
- If well water is used, have it tested yearly for contaminants (which you do not want) and for fluoride content (which you do want).
- As you begin introducing semi-solid foods, at around 4 to 6 months, explore many resources which explain how to do this safely. The web sites listed in the Parent Resources section may help. Finger foods can be introduced at 6 to 8 months.
- Begin using a high chair when your child is sitting well (around 6 months of age).
It is impossible to spoil a baby. Infants need a lot of holding and affection. They need quiet and slow environments. They benefit more from frequent, short social interactions, as opposed to long ones. They may become anxious about being separated from their parent or caregiver because they prefer familiar people.During this period, infants learn who the important adults are in their lives. Babies begin to develop important routines for eating and sleeping. Routines vary depending on you and your child. It is a much smoother process when you pay attention to babies’ signals and work with them to develop a routine that works for both of you.
Responding quickly to a baby’s signals, showing facial expressions, having eye contact, and imitating each other’s sounds all build an important attachment in a relationship. Infants encounter the world through their senses. It is important to use nurturing touch, soft talking and sounds, and slow movement to increase their sensory capabilities. Babies begin developing movement to eventually be able to walk. Their sounds prepare them to eventually begin forming words.