OUT AND ABOUT
If you can avoid taking the baby out (especially in the city) for the first weeks and even months, you save them a lot of overwhelming sense impressions. Of course, modern lifestyles usually make it a near impossibility to keep the child protected like this, but it may be good to have in mind if you do have a choice to bring the baby out or not. When you are away from home in the first months, babies usually feel much more secure when they are as close to you and as protected as possible. It’s important to protect the baby’s head from shocks and rocking about, especially the first year when their skulls are still hardening and the brain in is such an intense stage of development.
A sling is a wonderful way of keeping the baby safe and warm, it allows you be more aware of the baby's needs and reactions, and it calms and reassures the baby to be with you. Especially useful in the first months, are the shawl kind: those that create a kind of cocoon where the baby lies sideways or facing in, limbs all tucked in together. The advantages of this design are that the baby's limbs are warm, they can see your face, their head is supported without putting pressure on the spine, and they can fall asleep without their head flopping. It's also possible to slip out of this sling and lay the sleeping baby down to sleep more soundly. As the baby grows, the child comes to a seated position so it can even be used for a toddler. The disadvantage is that the weight is on one shoulder, so you have to remember to switch sides, and it is important in the first weeks especially to make sure the baby isn’t being smothered.
A carriage (pram) with shocks where the baby can lie flat and face you is a good thing to have, especially when there is a lot to carry or if you have a sore or fragile back. Laying the child on a sheepskin or a folded wool blanket helps to keep her warm and absorbs some of the shock. In summer one can cover the wool with a flannel sheet or a cotton blanket. The first year, the baby is most at peace when she can see her mother or a known face. When the child faces you, you can also see whether she is asleep, if the sun is in her eyes or if the blanket is slipping. It's possible to find models of strollers that adapt to the stages of a growing child: from laying flat and facing the mother to a seated position and facing out. Even when the child sits on his own, it can be very useful to still have them facing in for the first year to give them security and lessen the onslaught of stimulation.
Using car seats as carriages, though certainly practical, is not an advantage for the baby's development. Car seats are necessary for the car, of course, but its good to limit the time a baby has to spend in a seated position as much as possible. In cold weather it is a good idea to keep it indoors so it's warm for the baby.
Mother and child by
Kenneth M. Ogungbemi
THE FIRST MONTHS
CLOTHING AND CARE
FOR THE BABY