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Healthy Living

The New Born
The First Cry
About Feeds
Stools
Height, Weight and Head circumference
Incessant Crying: causes and myths
Don't ever give your baby...

The First Cry

The cry of the newborn child is one of the most welcome events that occur at childbirth. This cry is a healthy sign. It helps to increase the blood circulation through the baby's body and improve the oxygen supply to vital organs like the brain. If the child does not cry within five minutes after birth there is a chance of the child having suffered neurological damage.

About Feeds

The First Feed

Infants can be breast-fed within two hours after birth. In most cases there is adequate milk in the mother to satisfy the child's needs.

In the first three days the mother's milk is slightly yellow in colour and is called “Colostrum”. Colostrum contains many substances that improve the child's resistance against a number of infections. The milk in the first three days should not be discarded just because it is yellowish in colour. There is no need to supplement with powdered milk or water.

Some children may start crying for another feed soon after having had a feed. There is nothing wrong in giving them a second feed and this is not abnormal. A majority of newborns will have one of the following complaints in the first 45 days of life: sneezing, hiccups, moaning, crying at night and continuous sleep during the day. These are all normal occurrences in the neonatal period. These by themselves do not constitute abnormalities.

Feeding Schedules

Some mothers think that feeding the child every time it cries for feeds is harmful and strains the child's digestive system. Many mothers tend to monitor feeds by the clock at intervals of every three hours. This is totally wrong and the child can and must be fed every time it cries for feeds. Practices like waking up a sleeping child just because it may be time for next feed are to be avoided.

Type and Quantity of Feeds

The child can be fed in any posture that is convenient to both the mother and the child. Thus the mother can feed the child either while standing or sitting down or even while leaning back on a pillow. However it is necessary to ensure that the child's head is above the rest of its body when it is feeding to avoid the risk of aspirating.

From the fourth month onwards powdered milk feeds and semi-solid feeds may be begun. Many mothers feel that these feeds have to be very dilute, as otherwise the child cannot digest the feed. This again is incorrect thinking and the feeds have to be mixed in the ratio of one ounce (about six teaspoons) of water for every scoop of milk powder. The quantity of each feed depends on the age and weight of the child with 5 ounces of milk to be given for every Kg of body weight per day. Thus a five kg child should receive approximately 25 ounces of milk per day. Both cow's milk and dairy milk can be given in a thick form. For every three ounces of the feed one spoon of sugar can be added. From the ninth month, the child must be encouraged to drink milk from a tumbler. If the child gets habituated to the feeding bottle, it will be dependent on the bottle until it goes to school.


Stools

From the fourth day onwards the colour of the mother's milk becomes white. Some children may develop mild diarrhoea around this time and this is called “Transitional Diarrhoea”. The stools of the child that were dark green or even blackish until this time will begin to turn yellow in colour.

Just how many times is it permissible for a newborn child to pass motion, mothers frequently ask. The answers is that the newborn may pass from one or two stools a day to as many as ten or twelve stools a day and neither of the extremes is abnormal.

Height, Weight and Head circumference

Weight of the child

The newborn weighs between 2.5 and three kilograms. In the first three months, the child gains weight at the rate of 200 grams per week and thereafter at the rate of 150 grams every week. Thus the child weighs roughly three times its birth weight when it is one year old and about four times its birth weight when it is two years old.

The formula for calculating the weight of a child between two and 12 years of age is:

(Age in years + 3)*5 in pounds.

The total should be the weight of the child in pounds. For example a seven-year-old child should weigh

(7+3)*5=50 pounds.

Height of the child

First let us get to know some more facts regarding the heights of children. At birth the child's height or length will be around 20 inches and at the end of one year this increases to 30 inches.

The final adult height of the child is roughly the height of the child at the age of two and a half years multiplied by two. The formula to determine the expected height of children between the ages of two and 12 there is:

(Age in Years*2)+32 inches. For example for a seven year old child the expected height will be 7*2+32=46 inches or approx. 115cms.

The Head Circumference of the child

It is important to measure the head circumference of the child especially over the first year of life. At birth a child has an average head circumference of around 35 cms. This increases at the rate of 1.4 cms per month for first four months.


Incessant Crying: causes and myths

When an infant cries incessantly for several hours at a stretch, the parents get worried. The mother thinks that the child is hungry and tries to feed the child but the baby refuses to feed. Any one of the following causes may cause incessant crying:

  • Abdominal colic
  • Earache
  • Insect bite
  • Headache
  • Wet nappy
  • Lice in the hair
  • Stubborn nature

Many parents believe that their child has developed a sprain in the neck but this is usually untrue. It is just a fear that is created to scare parents into handling their babies with care. Some children may cry a lot in the evening and this is often due to gas trapped inside the child's stomach.

Don't ever give your baby...

  • Gripe water
  • Glucose
  • Oil baths
  • Frequent kisses especially on the lips
  • Rubber nipples to silence them when they cry
  • Castor oil or any other laxative
  • Incense smoke
  • Vasambu

Also note:

  • Do not blow into the nose or ear of the new born
  • Do not blow into the mouth to remove phlegm


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