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Baby Care – Normal Functions of a Baby


Sleeping. It is immediately noticeable that, as the baby’s age increases,
there is also an increasing divergence in the average number of hours
of sleep each individual baby requires.

Although newborn babies generally sleep for a total of about
twenty hours a day, it is usually for three or four hours at a time,
between one nursing and the next. By about six weeks of age, a baby
usually begins to sleep for longer periods during the night.

At about six weeks of age a baby begins to need less sleep and
to enjoy staying awake for a while after being nursed. At such times,
lying on a bed, the baby can be encouraged to use his or her eyes. A
colorful mobile is useful for this purpose and can also promote
movement and exercise.

It is a mistake to believe a baby can sleep anywhere in any
surroundings. Like an adult, a baby prefers quite and undisturbed
repose. A baby who is frequently carried about from one place to
another, bounced around in the car, bumped in stores, or awakened by
loud noises in unfamiliar surroundings can develop lifelong sleep
problems.


Crying. It is important to remember that a baby always has a
reason for crying and never does so just to be a nuisance. Crying is a
baby’s means of communication, generally signifying discontent. A
parent or baby sitter soon learns to recognize the sounds and to
interpret the reasons: hunger; colic pains; wet or dirty diaper; lack
of attention; teething; sudden bright lights; being picked up or looked
at by a stranger; and others.

Crying patterns vary as much as do sleeping patterns, and some
babies cry more–or less–than others. Most babies up to the age of two
or three months have a crying period each day. Parents should not allow
themselves to become angry. One method commonly successful in soothing
a baby is to walk around slowly, holding the baby upright and speaking
gently.


Teething. All babies have to go through the process of teething,
but some find it less disturbing or painful than others. The milk
teeth, or baby teeth, are already present in the jaw at the time of
birth and begin pushing their way through the gums at about age six to
eight months. There are 20 milk teeth.


The 32 permanent teeth start to develop when the baby is born. Eventually they begin coming through at age five to six years.

There are many signs by which a parent can know that a baby is
teething: the cheeks may become red and blotchy; the gums may swell;
the baby may frantically suck the fingers or anything else that close
at hand. Alternatively, the baby may have difficulty sucking; a cough
may develop because of the extra saliva produced when a tooth is
erupting; there may be earache, a referred pain from the gums; the baby
may pull or rub the ears; and dry or sore patches of skin may appear on
the face, especially if the baby sleeps on his or her stomach on a
sheet damp with saliva.

A baby who is teething may wake up crying several times each
night and may cry persistently even when soothed. At such a time, offer
the baby a drink of cool water or diluted fruit juice. Special
preparations of acetaminophen suitable for babies also are available
from most drugstores and may be helpful. During the day the baby’s gums
may be rubbed with a teething salve to give temporary relief.


To prevent soreness on the baby’s mouth and face, apply a barrier cream and do not allow the baby to lie on a damp sheet.


Care of the Teeth. Vitamins A, C, and D and calcium (all in milk) are important for healthy teeth.

To keep the baby teeth healthy, parents should not permit bad
eating habits. The baby should never be given undiluted sugary juices,
nor a pacifier dipped in honey. Sweet drinks and foods are harmful to
teeth, destroying the enamel. Once the baby can chew food, meals should
be finished off with a piece of apple or some water. When the baby is
one year old, clean the teeth after each meal with a soft, small brushPsychology Articles,
brushing the teeth up and down and making a game of it so that it
becomes a pleasurable part of the daily routine. Use toothpaste
containing fluoride. Many babies are given additional protection with
fluoride drops from the age of one month if the fluoride content of the
local water supply is insufficient.

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