The needs of the newborn

Together with the first unsolicited advice on every possible topic, from breastfeeding, to the delicate transition from a couple to parents, to the subject of bedtime, to everything in between, to the often unrealistic expectations on the maternal role with which society fills our heads, there arises spontaneous one of the first questions: “What are the needs of the newborn?”.

When the first child laughed for the first time , his laughter crumbled into thousands of fragments that scattered here and there.
Thus was born the fairies 
Peter Pan

Even after so many years, every mother remembers the moment when she held her baby close to her for the first time: the thrill of embracing and caressing that wonderful creature, so much imagined and desired in the nine months of pregnancy is something that no words will ever succeed. to describe in every nuance. The state of mind of a new mother is a carousel of emotions ranging from happiness to fear.

Fear of discovering that you are not up to a privilege and together with such a great responsibility, of making a mistake, of not being able to correctly interpret the needs of the newborn.

And so, together with the first unsolicited advice on every possible topic, from breastfeeding, to the delicate transition from a couple to parents , to the subject of bedtime , to everything else, to the often unrealistic expectations on the maternal role with which society fills our head , one of the first questions arises spontaneously: ” What are the needs of the newborn ?”.

Often new mothers, right from their pregnancy, come across improvised experts who dispense advice and judgments believing they know perfectly the world of children. All in all, according to them, it doesn’t take much to take care of that tender and defenseless little life perhaps capable of some rudimentary emotion and little more. Just feed him if he’s hungry, lull him if he’s sleepy, change him when he needs it. Instead, those who really know and look after children know that these simplistic descriptions are nothing but utopia and that reality is quite another matter. The more we observe the little ones , the more we try to grasp the infinite messages they send us, the more we realize that the newborn is complex , sensitive and thatto decipher it you need enormous observation skills and just as much humility .

According to the famous pediatrician Marcello Bernardi, author of over sixty scientific publications and passionate about the freedom of the little ones, the sensitivity of the child is something complex that parents must slowly learn to decipher, as well as his needs.

 Serene environment

“ The child feels with surprising acuity the psychological situation of those close to him, that is, the mood of the parents, their tensions, their states of mind . The first thing a newborn needs, apart from what ensures its survival, is a relaxed and serene family environment.

I know very well that this discourse is easy to make and much less easy to translate into practice . We, all of us, live in a tormented and contradictory world, full of insecurity and injustice, of social, economic, political and moral problems. The incessant threat of conflicts, the uncertainty of the future, alienation, headaches, work, taxes, daily needs, the health of our loved ones, these and innumerable other anxieties afflict us from morning to night, not rarely disturbing our sleep: today it is easy to be nervous. But if we love our child we really have to try not to be.

A father who returns home in the evening overwhelmed by his burden of worries, who grunts a few words grimly, who is unable to smile, immediately creates an atmosphere from which the child, however small he may be, is greatly affected.

Just as it is affected by an electric climate caused by an agitated, restless, sad or discontented mother.

We really need to avoid all of this: make an effort to leave your worries outside the door of your house.

Bernardi concludes: “In raising a child, no one is right and no one is wrong: the only one who is always right is the child itself, and the parents’ task is to help each other and understand the needs of the their little one. And nothing but that ”. 

Dress sensibly and change often

Opinions and schools of thought are the most disparate on the clothing of the little ones and on the change. Up until the moment the child was in the hospital, nurses and child nurses took care of it, but when mum and dad cross the threshold of the house, it is the moment when it becomes clear to everyone that we need to start managing on our own.

There are always many doubts. When to change the baby? Also on this point the words of the pediatrician come in handy:

“ All sorts of things have been said on this subject: that the newborn must not be changed after feeding otherwise he will catch cold and his digestion will stop, that he must not be changed when he sleeps otherwise his sleep will be interrupted, that the wet it doesn’t hurt him because the baby is well covered and warm. In reality, the answer to the question is very simple: the child should be changed, if possible, every time he gets dirty or wet. Did he just eat? It doesn’t matter, change it anyway, he won’t catch cold in his tummy and his digestion won’t stop.

He is sleeping? Well, change it gently in this case too and without tossing it here and there. In this regard, it should be clear that it is not at all true that dirt and wet are harmless , as long as the child is warm.

The waste products of the body, faeces, urine, sweat, possibly regurgitated milk are all irritating to the skin and their contact is always harmful.

Therefore, change your newborn even fifty times a day, without fear and at any time .

So, without fear, let’s change it and keep it clean: bath time is a moment of the day of great importance , a relaxing ritual that precedes bedtime ( which over time can also become an additional moment of fun and relaxation for the little one ) and a further opportunity for contact with mum and dad.

Air and light

At what age can the child be taken out for a walk? The answer is: immediately, from eight to ten days of life . That they have to wait forty days is a legend, on the contrary, fresh air is really necessary for children’s health . The duration of the walk will increase over time and will obviously depend on the season of the year and on the weather conditions. The little one should always be at ease, neither suffocated by the heat nor subjected to a polar cold.

However , the weather conditions shouldn’t be an impediment : even with an intense cold, a well-covered newborn can safely go on his daily walk. The only condition to pay serious attention to is the strong wind, which by raising the dust that is breathed in by the child irritates his mucous membranes and can be a vehicle for infections. Either way, it’s still essential that your child gets his or her dose of the outdoors each day. And this also applies to the newborn .

Regulated life

Inflexibility and rigidity with children do not pay, on the contrary, they lead to the opposite effect : “ We have seen that one must never use rigidity, inflexibility, stubbornness, in raising a child. You shouldn’t force him to eat reluctantly just because it’s time, or decide that he has to sleep at that moment because we decided so, you shouldn’t treat him like a clockwork device. But nor should one encourage recklessness and confusion. The child needs a certain order. Flexible as long as you want, adapted to the needs of his personality, reasonably variable, but a rhythm is needed ” .

If we want our children to be serene, regularity is necessary, a rhythm to build and adapt to the needs of the whole family must be developed, certainly not a rigid and inflexible scheme, but a starting point will give them the routine and predictability necessary for their age.

Be heard

On the cry of the child, as on everything else, the chorus of those who think they know more than the others always make their voices heard.

Interpreting the baby’s cry is not always immediate : the baby has only this means at his disposal to make himself heard and make it clear that something is wrong, and whoever takes care of him must learn to decode it correctly.

However, if there is a uniquely incorrect interpretation, it is that of believing that by crying the little one is able to manipulate the parents, that in some way he can be “smart”: let’s clarify right away, he wouldn’t even be able to.

There are no vices, there are needs . Sometimes a newborn that has been fed, changed, given all the care, cries and it’s not easy to understand why.

Maybe he just needs our company, our voice, our hug. He has no other way to make us understand, but being by his side, even when we are exhausted from tiredness and sleepless nights is the most important thing we can do for him. Knowing that those who love him come to his tears, and a pair of firm arms are always ready to comfort him, is an awareness that he will carry with him for the rest of his existence .

Kathryn Barlow is an OB/GYN doctor, which is the medical specialty that deals with the care of women's reproductive health, including pregnancy and childbirth.

Obstetricians provide care to women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, while gynecologists focus on the health of the female reproductive system, including the ovaries, uterus, vagina, and breasts. OB/GYN doctors are trained to provide medical and surgical care for a wide range of conditions related to women's reproductive health.

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