So when I ordered board books for my baby-girl when she was 2 months old, everyone made fun of me!
At an age where babies can barely make eye contact and smile, the thought of me introducing a book just did not make sense to them.
But I had made up my mind about it and so I went ahead with my plan of reading out to her from it every single day. Of course, initially, it only looked like one-way communication. She barely even looked at the book.
But over a period of time, the benefits of reading out from such a young age started becoming more and more evident.
What are the benefits of reading to babies?
Learning voice modulations and emotions
The act of reading to a baby involves speaking in different tones, experimenting with different voice modulations. Over a period of time, this teaches the baby to learn about different moods and emotions through your style of speaking. It strengthens the baby’s association between words and emotions.
Within a few weeks of reading to my baby, I noticed that she used to kick and smile when I read certain ‘happy sounding’ words.
Association of words and visuals
As your baby’s gaze stabilises and the visuals in the book start registering with the baby, the baby not only picks up on new colours, shapes and art forms, but it also begins to establish a connection between words and visuals.
Over a period of time, they begin to identify these visuals by their names.
Leap in vocabulary
Reading from a young age sets up the perfect base required for developing your child’s vocabulary. You won’t notice the benefits that reading has on your baby until your baby grows a bit older.
When my baby girl turned one, she could already speak over 50 words. A lot of those words came from the books that I used to read out to her when she was a baby. I didn’t have to go through any additional trouble to get her interested in words and language.
Books become friends
We all know how important reading is for personal growth. Yet, with the advancement of technology, more and more visual video-based mediums are inching into our lives. Kids who aren’t used to being read to as babies begin to prefer these screen-based forms of entertainment over books and inculcating the habit of reading onto them later on in their lives becomes impossible.
On the contrary, if you start reading out to your baby, books form an integral part of their growing up and as they grow older, the habit of reading sticks with them. In fact, babies who are read to right from their infancy days, find reading extremely enjoyable.
As the years progress, their sense of comfort with books translates into lesser screen-time, better focus and concentration.
So what are you waiting for? Start reading to your baby already!
If you want to survive the fourth trimester of pregnancy, you must read these awesome tips to stay sane as a new mother. All the tips are tried, tested and based entirely on personal experience applicable to all new moms and especially to Indian mothers.
Nothing else compares to the feeling of holding your baby for the first time. The many months of nausea, body pain, fatigue, bowel changes and the hours of labour pain seem absolutely worth it when your baby arrives.
But soon after the initial thrill and excitement fizz out, comes the realisation that your life won’t be the same ever again.
You will feel stressed about coping up with the demands of a new baby. The changes in your body will make this time harder for you. You will breakdown every once in a while and you will also beat yourself down about not staying on top of your game.
How then should you maintain your sanity?
TIPS TO HELP YOU STAY SANE AS A NEW MOTHER!
Make the most of your time at the hospital
Let me tell you, the time you spend at the hospital is the time when you will get to enjoy the most amount of rest. You will have the support of your family and the hospital staff will always be available to assist you.
Get all your doubts answered by the doctors and the staff at the hospital. Remember, no doubt is stupid. So ask away.
Some questions that I recommend you to ask are –
How often should I feed my baby?
How should I help the baby latch on to me so that I can breastfeed the baby properly without experiencing any pain?
How long will it take for my stitches to heal?
Is it okay for me to keep the fan / AC on?
How should I bathe my baby?
Which practices are harmful to the baby?
How to swaddle the baby?
Which oil is safe for the baby?
Should I use a cloth nappy or a diaper?
How often should I change the baby’s diaper?
Which baby products should I use?
Trust me, there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking questions that seem really basic. Once you are at home, you will be all by yourself and chances are that you will feel really lost and helpless. To avoid going down that path, get your queries answered at the hospital itself.
Give yourself time to understand your baby’s cues
During the first few weeks of your baby’s life, the baby sleeps, eats, pees/poops and cries. Crying in various tones and styles is the only way in which the baby communicates with you.
Initially, you won’t notice any difference in your baby’s cries. You won’t be able to make out if your baby is crying because she is hungry, sleepy or because of a soiled diaper.
You will initially feel frustrated about not being able to understand your baby.
During this period, you may feel like Googling for solutions. I have done that myself and only ended up regretting it.
Every time I Googled a newborn query, I got results about possible illnesses, ailments and disorders leaving worse and more confused.
Finally, I had to stop that practice. It was only when I decided to trust my try out options is when I started understanding my baby’s cues more and more.
When your baby cries – check her nappy, offer her a feed, comfort her, pat her, put her to bed – keep experimenting to see what works. You won’t crack it in a day. It will take some time.
But the rewards of figuring it out yourself and creating a stronger bond with your baby will feel extremely satisfying.
Feed yourself well and trust traditional preparations
Unless you are among the lucky few mothers whose baby sleeps through the night from day 1, you are going to feel fatigued most of the time.
You will have to work round the clock as your baby wakes up every once in a while. You will have to feed your baby at hours when all you would want to do is crash on your bed.
In order to sail through these initial few weeks of round-the-clock work, you should ensure that you are eating properly.
This is not the time to lose weight. This is not the time to count calories. This is the time to heal, recover and feel energetic in order to be able to meet the needs of your baby.
Trust the age-old wisdom of your mother, mother-in-law and grandmother. Eat whatever they cook for you.
Some dishes that my mom used to make me eat during my ‘fourth trimester’ were –
Goond ka Laddu (Dinkacha Laadoo)
Ragi Malt (Nachni Sattva – The brand Ragima is excellent. It is one of the oldest brands in India and the quality is top-notch)
Wholesome regional lunch (Since I am a Maharashtrian I stuck to the basics and ate poli, bhaaji, varan bhaat)
Don’t resist help
As a new mom, you would want to take care of all the needs of your baby and be in-charge of all the activities associated with your baby.
But trust me, you should do the exact opposite of that.
Hire help for washing and drying your baby’s clothes. Do not take up the task of cooking during the first few weeks. Have some other member of your family do it.
Find someone who can come home to bathe your baby and also offer you a post-natal massage.
If someone offers to sing to the baby and put it to sleep, accept the offer.
Do not feel guilty about delegating tasks.
Your goal is to not earn the title of ‘Super Mom’ and fail miserably. Your goal is to stay healthy and recover from the many months of changes your body has gone through.
By seeking help, you are helping yourself heal faster.
Ignore professional commitments completely
You have just delivered a baby. Your hormones are all over the place. You feel weak. Your stitches are yet to heal. Your baby latches on to your breast 15 times a day and pees 20 times a day.
You have your work cut out for you already and you most certainly do not have the time to deal with professional commitments, office calls and quick e-mails.
You have the rest of your life to deal with that aspect of your life. By trying to multi-task and get work done during the first few weeks as a new mom, you will only make recovery harder for you. Your mental health will also decline with the workload and the overwhelm.
Your boss will have to make peace with your tardiness. Your clients will have to come to terms with your shift in priorities. They will have to figure it out for themselves.
Your only job is to look after yourself and your baby. Cut yourself out from the other areas of your life, at least, for the time being.
Set clear boundaries
In India, every relative wants to visit you as soon as you deliver and every person who visits you wants to hold your baby.
In fact, many communities also have the practice of organising a huge family gathering on the 12th day after the birth of the baby in order to perform the naming ceremony.
But, I am strongly against that practice.
When my baby was 12 days old, I had absolutely no energy for socialising.
The thought of careless relatives touching my baby made me jittery.
That’s when I decided to not succumb to family pressure and only have a small naming ceremony at home where literally my husband I whispered the name our baby in her ear. That’s it.
Yes, we had to put our foot down. We had to be stubborn and upset many relatives in the process.
But doing that and setting clear boundaries only ensured that I recovered quickly and didn’t put myself or the baby under any strain.
I strongly recommend you to do that too.
Determine when you want visitors to start visiting you and the baby. Lay down rules about how much time they can spend with you and the baby. Decide for yourself if you want to organise and participate in elaborate family functions and social gatherings.
Do not succumb to uncalled for pressures. This is the time to protect yourself from any physical or mental stress and not the time to go on a people-pleasing spree.
The first few weeks are tough – both emotionally and physically. On the one hand, you will be overjoyed about the arrival of your baby and on the other hand, you will be struggling to stay awake and take care of the needs of your little baby. That is exactly why it is important to reprioritise and therefore I am confident that the tips listed above will help you stay sane during these times!
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