The delight and joy you feel in your little one’s arrival can quickly ebb under the weight of your new parenting responsibilities. Indeed, constant feeds and endless diaper-changing will overwhelm anyone, let alone someone who is dealing with sleep deprivation. Here are ways to ease past these rough spots in your parenting journey and avoid losing your mind…
0 to 6 months
* A newborn’s tummy is really small (the size of a cherry), so you can expect to feed her eight to 12 times a day. With the feeds and frequent diaper changes, don’t expect to enjoy much sleep.
* Many babies suffer from colic, which usually starts at 2 to 3 weeks of age, peaks at 2 months, and ends when she’s about 4 months old. During this trying period, she’ll cry excessively for unknown reasons (for up to three hours a day) at the same time daily for as long as three weeks.
* Your concentration, quick-thinking and even gut feelings will be put to the test as you’ll have to monitor your cherub very closely, to discern if her mood, crying and breathing patterns are a cause for concern.
* In the first 20 months of life, little ones go through some 10 “Wonder Weeks”. During these, her brain and nervous-system changes, her physical, mental and sensory skills will also advance. Poor sleep, fussiness and clinginess are signs that a Wonder Week is imminent.
6 to 12 months
* By the time your sweetie is 6 months old, her sleeping patterns should normalise with short naps in the day and longer periods of sleep at night. Expect her to sleep anywhere between six and12 hours a night.
* At around 7 months, she’ll start to teethe, which can be painful when each tooth erupts. Besides excessive drooling and irritability, she may experience red and swollen gums. Offer her a chilled wet towel or teething ring to gnaw on.
* This is around the time your munchkin can grasp tiny objects within her reach and start putting them in her mouth out of curiosity. So, put away small items that may present a potential choking hazard.
* At about 10 months, though it can start as early as 6 months, babies begin to show signs of separation anxiety. So, she’ll cry when you leave her when you need to pee. This is a normal emotional stage of development. Help her grasp the concept of “object permanence” — the idea that people exist even when they are not present — by playing games like peekaboo.
Parenting challenges for 1 year and above coming up next…
12 to 18 months
* You mini-dynamo’s mobility now makes it harder to get him to sit down for meals. He will also be finicky about his food as he is asserting his independence. Keep presenting a variety of healthy foods at every meal and don’t make a big deal if you’re offering him something new.
* He’ll need about 12 hours of sleep each night now, with two to three naps in the afternoon. But because he’s absorbing a lot more new info now, it may be harder for his brain to calm down. So, he might well resist his naps, then act up because he is overly tired.
* At around 14 months, your toddler is a study in stubbornness. He’ll state what he wants to do, eat, wear and even where to go. And though he’s not quite up to the task yet, he might want to do things on his own, like pour his own milk. Avoid saying “no”, instead, make his space safe for him to explore.
* Your tyke might start banging his head as a form of self-comfort, to relieve pain, vent his frustration or as a call for attention. Up to one in five kids bang their head and boys are three times more likely to do so than girls.
* Your mini-muncher may make mealtimes difficult as many kids fear eating new foods, also known as food neophobia. This is an instinctive mechanism against unsafe foods, since, to a kid’s taste buds, “bitter” equals poison. Try to expose junior to the “hated” food repeatedly.
* It’s normal for your tot to start hitting other people or biting them to express her frustrations or anger. Keep your cool, let her know that aggressive behaviour is unacceptable and show her other ways to express her feelings.
* Nearly all toddlers go through a phase in which they’ll throw tantrums, perhaps because you removed her favourite toy. Remain calm and hold her until she calms down, then talk it over afterwards. Better still, head off tantrum-triggering situations, by alerting her early, for instance, if she needs to leave the playground.
* She’ll assert her independence by regularly testing the limits (colouring on walls, even when you tell her not to) — so, give her a safe home environment to explore. Encourage her growing sense of self by giving her choices (such as between two snacks), as well as letting her do some things on her own, like turning the pages of her board book.
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