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Child care

Once a baby is born, a lot of work should be done to ensure that he/she grows up strong and healthy. There must be provision of food, comfort, play, etc., he/she should be cleaned and changed frequently into clean clothes and put where he/she can sleep, away from insects.

1. Baby’s layette:
Layette is the complete set of clothes for a new born baby. This should be provided before the arrival of the baby, especially those which are useful for protection, warmth and regulation of the body temperature.
2. Care of the baby:
The human baby is completely dependent upon his/her mother for food, sleep, warmth, hygiene and care. The baby should be taken regularly to the child welfare clinic and the parents also should be observant enough to take notice of any unusual thing or behaviour about the baby.

A. Bathing
The baby should be washed twice a day, if water is not scarce. On the other hand, if water is scarce, his/her nappies should be changed frequently and his/her buttocks washed with the little water. He or she should be given his/her bath at the same time each day, both in the morning and in the evening, dried carefully and powdered lightly. For a mother to bathe her baby, she needs to get a few things ready. She needs to first of all wash her hands, and do the following:

i. Get a large basin on a stool,
ii. Flannel or washing cloth or napkin,
iii. Warm and cold water,
iv. A towel,
v. Clean clothes and nappies,
vi. Bucket for stained linen,
vii. Clean dressing for the cord,
viii. Baby powder,
ix. Baby’s comb and brush, etc.

Procedure for bathing the baby

1. The temperature of the water should be tested by the mother using her elbow, or wrist, to make sure it feels warm.
2. The baby should be undressed and wrapped in his/her soft towel.
3. The mother should place the baby on her lap and clean his/her face with a soft flannel without soap. To clean the eyes, nose and behind the ears, a soft wash cloth wrapped round the finger should be used.
4. While washing the head or scalp, the soap should not get into the eyes of the baby. After thoroughly washing the head, it should be rinsed with the wash cloth after it has been dipped into water; and finally the clean water.
5. Dry his/her face and head gently with a soft face towel.
6. Next, the mother should use little soap to wash the baby’s body gently. She should not forget to wash the creases and folds in the baby’s neck, arms, between fingers and toes.
7. Dry the baby’s body gently with the towel by patting and not rubbing.
8. After this, the mother should apply a little powder to the umbilical cord and a little of the oil on his/her buttocks and on the body, if necessary. The baby should be dressed according to the weather; if it is very hot, the baby will need only a nappy.

B. Feeding:
There are two ways of feeding a baby. There is the natural feeding which is breast feeding and there is the artificial feeding.

i. Natural feeding:
Breast milk is the best form of feeding a baby because:
a. It is the natural food and therefore contains all the necessary nutrients the baby needs,
b. it is free from germs and is neither hot nor cold,
c. it costs nothing.

When the baby begins to suckle, he/she opens his/her mouth and the mother’s nipple goes right inside his/her mouth for him/her to begin to suck the milk from the mother’ s breast.

The milk that comes out from the breasts is usually watery after the first few days of the baby’s birth and it is very good for new born babies. In some cases, if the baby is hot and thirsty, he/she could be given cooled boiled water after he/she has fed.

A baby sucking is the best way to make more milk come to the mother’s breast. If the baby sucks well and takes all the milk in the breasts, it will make more, if not, it will make less. Sometimes, when the mother really has no milk, one of her friends or relation who
is breast-feeding at that time may be able to give the baby some of her milk.

Worry and shock may stop the flow of milk. On the other hand, if the breasts are too full and tender, then a little milk should be pressed out at the beginning of the feed, to prevent the baby from swallowing air which can cause pain and sickness.

Babies take different times to feed. Some take five (5) minutes, some thirty (30), while some feed at three or four hours interval.

ii. Artificial feeding:
A woman who is very ill or has her breast infected may not be able to breast feed her baby. This can be dangerous, because the instrument for the feeding may have germs living in them. There are two types of artificial feeding, they are cup and spoon, and bottle feeding. These types of feeding may be very expensive, because they may need a lot of water and powdered milk. It is advisable for the mother to boil the feeding bottle and teat every time they are used to prevent germs.

C. Weaning
This is the process of changing the baby food from breast milk to something more solid. Many food items can be given to the child provided they are mashed. If the child does not like the taste of the food, something else should be tried. No food should be forced on a baby. The most important part of a diet, which is protein, should be given to the child first; for example, meat, fish, liver, heart, kidneys and snails. This should be done at about the age of six months, that is, before he/she cuts his/her first tooth.