Written by Cynthia Sim
Child development experts who study the subject say that happiness isn't something you give babies – it's something you teach them. Honestly, nobody has the perfect handbook on how to raise your child but here are some tips that were scientifically proven to help give them a better life.
1. Breastfeed as Much as You Can
It's not only good for your baby, but you get to eat more too (up to 500 more calories)! If you use formula, buy powdered formulas in large containers to cut back on the packaging. Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat -- everything your baby needs to grow. And it's all provided in a form more easily digested than infant formula. Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Breastfeeding lowers your baby's risk of having asthma or allergies. Plus, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea.
What's more, the physical closeness, skin-to-skin touching, and eye contact all help your baby bond with you and feel secure. Breastfed infants are more likely to gain the right amount of weight as they grow rather than become overweight children. The AAP says breastfeeding also plays a role in the prevention of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
Remember, babies under a year old should not be given condensed milk, evaporated milk, dried milk or any other drinks referred to as milk, such as rice, oat or almond drinks. Infant formula is the only suitable alternative to breast milk for the first 12 months of a baby's life.
2. Plan for Healthy Meals
Encouraging your child to eat healthy food from an early age helps them to make healthy choices as they get older. This reduces their risk of developing lifestyle-related diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. If fast food is a staple at your house, you probably know that healthy meals do not magically appear on your table. If you follow healthy eating habits, your child may eventually follow your lead. Once your child is eating solid foods, you’re likely to find that some of the meals you so lovingly created are rejected. Don’t worry, this is perfectly normal, but it is wise to try to get into a good routine as soon as possible. Ensure your child’s nutrient requirements are met by aiming for three balanced meals a day, each containing something a food from each food group with up to two healthy snacks.
Keep offering fruits and vegetables in a variety of ways, as children are more likely to eat what is familiar to them. Never assume your child dislikes a particular fruit or vegetable. The next time you offer it may be the day they decide to try it. The variety of fruit and vegetables eaten is more important than the amount.
Children need a source of carbohydrate in each meal. However, young children under 13 months may struggle to digest wholegrain varieties, and too much fiber can fill them up too quickly and compromise their appetite and their absorption of important minerals such as calcium and iron. Children gain a lot of nourishment from dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. These foods can provide the body with easily absorbed calcium as well as vitamins A and B12, protein and other vitamins and minerals.
3. Use Natural Air Fresheners.
Artificial and synthetic scents and fragrances should be avoided. They release harmful particles into the air, called volatile organic compounds, which according to the EPA can cause respiratory irritation, headaches, liver and kidney damage, and even cancer. They contain phthalates, which are known to “cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects, and reproductive problems.”. If the product uses an aerosol spray, it also contains propellants like butane and propane, which come with their own list of dangers. Since children have a weaker immune system, they are very well susceptible to getting harmed with indoor chemical rich air. Most air fresheners, use natural essential oils to make their scents. The freshener contains no volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) or aerosol products. And although most fragrances are strong and overpowering, Air fresheners leave a light, fresh fragrance behind. You don’t have to worry about getting burned out on one scent; Most Air fresheners come equipped with a number of fragrance/scent options for you to enjoy a variety of aromas that you like.
Some microorganisms and airborne pathogens are present in the environment that sometimes creates an unhealthy atmosphere. If you can use the air fresheners with natural essential oil extracts, the airborne pathogens which are harmful to your body will be eradicated with the natural air fresheners. Even in your vehicles and bathrooms, you can use these air fresheners in order to stay fresh and healthy.
Air fresheners aren’t the only products with synthetic fragrances; they’re also in your cleaning products, laundry products, and bath and body care products. So while switching out your air fresheners is a great first step, you also want to start thinking about switching to the unscented version of your other products.
4. Use Fluoride Toothpaste.
Experts used to say "no" to fluoride because they were afraid that babies and toddlers, who couldn't spit well, would swallow too much and get fluorosis, which makes teeth spotted and blotchy. However, lots of toddlers and preschoolers have been getting cavities. Did you know dental cavities are the most common disease in children and adults worldwide? Fluoride is one of the best and safest ways we can prevent cavities for children and adults alike. Something else to keep in mind is that fluoride is natural. It is an element found at some level in all natural water sources. If you’re drinking tap water in communities that add fluoride to the public water supply, you’re getting just the right amount of fluoride to help your teeth thanks to strict standards set by the EPA. Not all bottled water has fluoride, so check the label or contact the bottler to be sure you’re getting the fluoride your teeth need.
The American Dental Association now advises brushing your baby's teeth twice a day with a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste: We're talking about the size of a grain of rice. "Go with rice-size as long as your child can't spit on demand, and move up to pea-size once she can," says Parents advisor Lezli Levene Harvel, D.M.D., a pediatric dentist in Newark, New Jersey.
5. Bond with Your Baby.
Experts note that, upon birth, a baby's brain is concerned with safety. Without a feeling of safety, your baby will be unable to learn as well as they could. Babies who are held and comforted when they need it during the first six months of life tend to be more secure and confident as toddlers and older children.
Immediately after birth, there are a number of steps you can take to make your baby feel secure, all of which are related to bonding with your child. A normal, full-term baby is also programmed to initiate and enter into a bonding relationship. Crying and making other noises, smiling, searching for the breast, and seeking eye contact give cues for a caring adult to respond.
When a caregiver consistently responds to an infant’s needs, a trusting relationship and lifelong attachment develop. This sets the stage for the growing child to enter healthy relationships with other people throughout life and to appropriately experience and express a full range of emotions.
6. Socialize Early and Often.
Children who are socialized with other children from a young age learn important life skills. It helps children become familiar with different ideas, people and cultures. Early socialization will also help your child when they go to school. They will be better prepared for a social environment, and recent studies suggest your child may read better as a result of socialization as well.
The "social" part of the brain only starts to develop at around six months. Where a baby does not receive any attention, this part of the brain does not grow and may never grow. Human babies are unique in the animal kingdom in the extent of their underdevelopment at birth. But the physical underdevelopment is only a tiny part of it. The human brain is only partially formed when you are born. The earliest experiences of the human baby have a lifelong impact on their mental and emotional health.
Shocking research suggests that in Britain 40% of children are not securely attached at the age of five. Of course, this doesn't mean they will all go on to have behavioral or relationship problems, but they will be less robust in their emotional makeup to meet the challenges and disappointments of life. If we want to change our society for the better, we must focus on the crucial period between conception and the age of two.
Lots of sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet are important to everyone's well-being, especially children's. Giving your baby plenty of space to release her energy, whether that means kicking her legs in the air, crawling toward a beloved ball, or going back and forth – over and over – in the infant swing at the park, will help put her in a good mood. And pay attention to your baby's need for structure: While some babies are very easygoing, most thrive and feel more settled with a set schedule. Comment below and share with us some of your experience and advice on caretaking! We would love to hear about your precious one.
Check out our current promotions above for some inspiration to keep your baby healthy and happy.