Having babies, especially for the first time, is exciting, but those first days can overwhelm any parent, especially if you are not well equipped to handle it. Some things may come naturally, others may not. Getting a firm grip on taking care of the baby, and yourself, may take more than you anticipated, it may leave you with sleepless nights, exhaustion, frustration to mention a few. New-born babies have one way of communicating, which is crying, it is quite challenging to tell what the matter is exactly, or what the baby is trying to communicate, especially for new parents. According to Dr Aristarque Cyuzuzo, a general practitioner at the Ministry of Health, babies are angels and they will not give you a hard time if properly cared for. “Your infant will cry when he/she is hungry, sleepy, lonely, and uncomfortable, has a dirty diaper, is in pain, sick or overfeeding, and it will require proper monitoring to tell what they are trying to communicate at the moment,” he says. Numerous studies according to Parents, a site that empowers today’s families with trustworthy information and advice from experts, have found that positive touch, especially slow caresses and gentle stroking, makes an infant feel safe and comfortable by reducing their level of cortisol, a stress hormone, and stimulating the production of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that’s calming and promotes bonding. Here are a few tips to help you sail through the first days: Holding Your new-born may feel fragile and delicate to you, but don’t be afraid to touch, handle or hold her, suggests Johnson’s article, First 10 Days Baby Care Basics’. In fact, studies show that babies who are held for more than 2 hours per day thrive better and cry less. No baby care guide can be complete without this valuable advice. Know about the various baby massage benefits. Remember: Your new-born’s neck muscles are not yet developed, so you will need to support her head whenever you pick her up. You should also support her head against your shoulder or with your opposite hand while carrying her. Bathing Baby care after birth invariably involves bathing your baby, which is one of the biggest challenges for a new mom. Learn how to bathe a baby and make sure you have all of the bathing supplies ready before she arrives so you don’t have to miss out on a moment with your new little one, the aforementioned article recommends. Feeding Johnson’s article also notes that ‘many healthcare professionals agree that nothing is better for your new-born baby than breast milk. Nutritionally speaking, it’s tailor-made for your infant. Unfortunately, sometimes mothers cannot breastfeed, due to medical problems or other special circumstances. Consult your paediatrician on how to feed your new-born baby most effectively.’ No matter how you decide to feed your baby, always be sure to hold your baby while feeding. The cuddling that comes with nursing and feeding helps in building a strong, loving bond between you and your baby, the article states. Routine Giselle Akamanzi, a mother of two, says creating a routine for your baby will help you overcome a number of challenges. “Infants easily cope when they are given a routine. Create a timetable to track their routine, how long they sleep, quantity of what they eat after they are awake, and when to change their diaper,” she says. She adds that new-born babies sleep more than they are awake, especially during daytime and, every time they are awake, they must be fed and changed, and a more consistent sleep schedule will emerge as your baby matures. Sleeping Babies like affection and they want to be carried but it is better to have your baby put to bed drowsy but awake in the bedroom, to get familiar and associate bed with the process of falling asleep, Kamanzi says, adding that when they are done being fed, carry them for a short time as they lean on you to feel comfort and affection. Eric Kagaba, a father of three, says to read books or sing for your infant as they try to get sleep because sometimes babies need our reassuring presence to fall asleep. “Babies might cry before finding a comfortable position to fall asleep, and offering comforting words and leaving the room can offer them a good sleep,” he says. According to Kids Health, new-borns should get 14 to 17 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period, as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. Some new-borns may sleep 18 to 19 hours a day. They are awake every couple of hours to eat. Breastfed babies feed often, about every two to three hours. Bottle-fed babies tend to feed less often, about every three to four hours. Preferences Whether your baby is a night owl or an early bird, you might want to adjust routines and schedules based on natural patterns. Help The range of what is normal and what is not to your baby is quite wide. If you have questions about your baby, talk with your doctor. A clinical professor of paediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine says in articles published by Parents, says that a new-born cries and fusses to have -basic needs met and to adjust to life outside the uterus. “Your baby has spent most of his time being held tightly inside a cosy womb. Suddenly, he’s exploded into this noisy, bright, busy world, and it’s so different from what he knows. When he becomes overwhelmed, you can soothe him by putting gentle pressure on his tummy, holding and rocking him, making shushing noises, and offering a pacifier or all things that remind him of the womb,” the clinical professor is quoted. “The key to soothing fussy infants is to mimic the womb. Swaddling, shushing, and swinging, as well as allowing babies to suck and holding them on their sides, may trigger a calming reflex,” says Harvey Karp, MD, creator of The Happiest Baby on the Block books, videos, and DVDs, in Parents’ article our New-born: 30 Tips for the First 30 Days. Getting partners involved If you are bringing up your baby in a two-parent household, it’s important to share the mental load and give both partners a chance to learn what needs to be done to help your baby thrive, the aforementioned article suggests. Staying sane No matter how excited you are to be a parent, the constant care an infant demands can drain you. Find ways to take care of yourself by lowering your expectations and stealing short breaks. Ignore unwanted or confusing advice. “In the end, you’re the parents, so you decide what’s best,” the article quotes Julie Balis, a mom in Frankfort, Illinois.