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Caring for baby

There are many new skills for you all to learn and your baby will change more in the first two years than at any other time. Practice makes perfect and confidence grows over time. The NHS Choices website contains lots of useful information on newborn health.  
Mum and baby 2

Feeding your baby

Healthy eating  and infant feeding  are such important topics that we have dedicated pages in this website to bring you all the information you need to know. Useful information on bottle feeding can be found at NHS Choices.

Introducing family foods

The Department of Health guidelines are for children to be fully breast or bottle fed until 6 months of age. For more information on how to start introducing other foods, please contact your local health visitor.  Introducing Solid Foods and Start 4 Life contain helpful information.  

Sleep and routine develop in time - all babies are different. Difficulties getting babies to sleep is one of the most common and exhausting problems that parents face. Don't assume everybody else's child sleeps like an angel.

Should babies sleep through the night? You may find this animation by the researcher Dr Amy Brown at Swansea University helpful. Her work describes normal sleep patterns and challenges the idea that young babies should sleep through the night.

Advice on ways to promote good sleep habits and NHS Choices contain useful advice. The up to date safe sleep guidelines can be found at The Lullaby Trust

Managing minor illness

You know your baby and will recognise when something is wrong. Trust your instincts and seek advice if you are not sure. There is a lot of support to help you avoid the Accident and Emergency Department that is often very busy and not the best environment for a baby with a minor illness. Wessex Healthier together support parents in Hampshire make the best decisions when their child is ill - they also have a useful Healthier Together App with lots of useful advice on managing childhood illnesses.

  • Self-care - Many common minor illnesses and injuries can be treated at home. Your health visitor can discuss this with you. Information on Looking after a sick child.

    

  • Local pharmacy - Your pharmacist has knowledge of everyday health issues.  Some pharmacies run a minor ailment scheme, which means they can supply medicines for certain conditions on the NHS. If you're exempt from paying prescription charges, or you have a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) – you won't pay for the medicine. How to find your local pharmacist.   

        

  • NHS 111 - is available if you need medical advice but it’s not a life threatening situation or you need advice on who to call for your GP “out of hours service”. Just dial 111 from a landline or mobile, all calls are free.      

        

  • GP- Your GP is your family doctor and normally your first point of call if the options above are not enough. Your GP will normally complete your baby’s 6 week child health check and provide the childhood immunisation programme.       

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  • Health visitor - Health visitors can provide information and support to help you manage minor illness.      

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  •  Accident and Emergency - these provide emergency care for people who show the symptoms of serious illness or are badly injured and should ONLY be used in a critical life threatening situation. If you suspect that your baby has a serious illness or injury, go straight to Accident and Emergency or call 999 for an ambulance.       


Immunisations

Your baby will be offered a comprehensive free NHS immunisation programme. The NHS vaccination schedule.

Positive parenting

Positive parenting and positive discipline are techniques that work well with every child, regardless of their age, temperament, background, culture or tradition. This approach builds on every child’s desire to please their parents and leads to better-behaved, happy children and less-stressed parents.

It is important to remember that babies behave as they do in order to get their needs met. When they cry or can’t sleep, they are not doing it to “wind you up” or to be “naughty”.

Sometimes it can be very confusing to work out what your baby actually needs; they may cry because they are tired, but haven’t quite worked out the best way to be settled and go to sleep. Sometimes they are overstimulated and need help to calm down, or they may be lonely or bored and need something different. 

Older babies may behave in a way that seems negative or stubborn – spitting out food they don’t like or wriggling away from a nappy change. All they are doing is trying to communicate likes and dislikes in the only way they can. They are not doing it to annoy you. Different approaches will work at different times- have a look at Encouraging better behaviour

No matter how upset you are, it’s important never to shake, smack or squeeze a baby. It doesn’t help and can cause serious life-long damage. Research also shows that smacking doesn’t work. It leads to harder smacks, builds up resentment and teaches your baby that physical violence is okay.

Keeping your baby and toddler safe is a key priority for parents. As babies start to reach out, sit, crawl and toddle; there are hazards both at home and outside that can cause unintentional injury and even death. Children need to be able to explore to develop and learn about the world around them. The challenge for parents is to minimise the risks for them. 

Advice on protecting your children from unintentional injury at the various stages of their development can be found at NHS Choices .

It is advisable for parents to learn basic first aid, your Health Visitor will be able to signpost you to local courses.