I think, at some point in all our lives, every writer comes across a character who has a baby. Often our characters are suddenly faced with the problem of what the heck do I do with this child?! So this is a little insight on what you should know about babies.
01. The most important thing to remember: babies cannot understand commands.
You cannot tell them off - well, you can, but it’s not like it’ll do anything, they can’t understand you. It’s all very well trying to “shh” them gently, but the vast majority of the time, it’s not going to do any good at all. They don’t have any concept of time, mood, or relative levels of exhaustion either. If they wake up at 3am and find themselves hungry, they are going to scream until you get up and feed them, regardless of how much or how little sleep you’ve had up until that point. If you’re in the middle of a dinner party and baby suddenly realizes his diaper is full and therefore uncomfortable, he will scream until you go and change him.
And, of course, there are the times when he just starts screaming out of nowhere and you cannot work out why. Generally, babies will cry for one of three reasons: a) hunger, b) tiredness, or c) full diaper. Usually you can tell which one of the reasons it is. However, sometimes he cries just because he can. usually, at this point, what he wants is a bit of company or to be in someone’s arms, so all you can really do is pick him up, give him a cuddle, and often walk up and down with him since the motion tends to be soothing.
02. Up until the age of about two/three months, babies are not really strong enough to hold their heads up by themselves.
You have to constantly support their heads, however you’re holding them. Since babies can be a bit wriggly from time to time, this isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. They can do themselves a bit of damage if left to loll around all alone, so it’s incredibly important to always have a hand on the back of baby’s head, or his head against your arm or something. At about two and a half to three months, he will start to lift his head up more of his own accord, and before long it is safe to let him do it all himself.
On a similar vein - you have to make sure you always support baby’s back. It’s no good just having his bottom resting on your arm or something, since his stomach muscles are often not strong enough to hold him upright. He’ll be alright for a bit, but if you leave him without support for too long it’s practically inevitable that he’ll suddenly wobble and topple backwards and if you have a full cup of coffee in your other hand when he does that, you are screwed.
03.Babies have several meals a day.
The older the get the fewer they have, but what is “average” is about seven to nine a day, I believe. I’ve checked on the internet but I could be wrong.
When babies move from breastfeeding to bottles depends mostly on the mother and also the country where you live, since doctors recommend different things. I can only give you my experience, but I believe in general babies breastfeed up until about three months, and then are gradually weaned onto a bottle. This is done by giving them one bottle a day for a couple of weeks, and keeping the other meals as breastfeeding. Then, gradually, the number of bottles creeps upwards and the breastfeeding creeps down over a couple months until eventually all he drinks is from the bottle.
Also, the most common mistake I see in rps: babies do not drink milk from a cow. It is not good for their stomachs and is likely to make them sick. What they usually drink is water (best bottled rather than from the tap) with a milk formula mixed in.There are different thicknesses you can buy, and you gradually increase the thickness the older they get, usually by mixing in a thinner one with a thicker one. Also, babies seriously cannot consume anything other than milk. their stomachs simply cannot handle it.
04. They sleep a lot.
In terms of the various ages at which young babies start sleeping through the night, that really does depend on the baby. There are some children out there that don’t sleep through the night until about three - years, that is, not months - so you have to be prepared for every eventuality. When I was younger I had to always sleep with my parents because I was freaked out by the dark-probably till about age 5 when my cousin moved in. Of course, I slept through the whole entire night-but with a king sized bed with two adults and a very wiggly 3 year old, there wasn’t much room. Sleepless nights are a given of parenting, everybody knows that. It’s just up to luck whether your child obliges and starts sleeping through the night relatively quickly.
Babies also sleep a lot during the day. The older they get the fewer naps they need to take, but they usually get tired about every two/three hours and can sleep from anywhere between forty minutes to two hours. Many parenting books suggest that the sensible thing to do for new parents is sleep when your baby does, which I can promise you is an absolutely fantastic idea.
05. Who does baby love best?
The answer is pretty simple: whoever spends the most time with him. Usually, that’s the mother and the father, but with the baby I look after he’s much more fond of me than his father because I see him practically all of the time, whereas his dad is often away on work. And yes, you can tell - babies can communicate affection, despite not being able to talk. They crack out big smiles more often for those they love best.
06. When do they start talking? When do they start smiling? When do they start teething? When do they start walking?
Like sleeping, that depends on the baby. Some babies don’t smile for several months, this one was smiling by a month and a half. They don’t usually start talking until around a year old, and then very simple words (“mama” and “dada” being the obvious) only. They can, however, make noises other than crying before this age. For example, my friend started singing before she talked. Not literally singing, but you know what I mean? They begin to teeth around five/six months, and you can usually tell when it is going to happen because they have red cheeks and are much more fractious than usual, and develop a habit of putting absolutely everything in their mouths.
They don’t start walking until they are over a year old, but with a lot of help they can start to get the motions under control a bit earlier. Usually it is several months after their first birthday before they are confident enough to walk anywhere by themselves. they can start crawling around nine months, I believe, although naturally this too varies from baby to baby.
They don’t actually start sitting up until quite a late stage, about six and a half months onwards, I believe. However, you can see them starting to try from about four months onwards. They will begin to catch their feet with their hands and often lift their heads up and strain to lift their upper body up too, although they don’t succeed because they’re not strong enough.
Four months is also the age you need to really start watching out for where their hands are going. This is the point at which they really start to have control of their hands and arms and can move with purpose to catch things, although this usually takes a lot of concentration. And they will pick up anything they can get their hands on. If you’re sitting at the dinner table, for example, with a baby in your lap, you have to make sure your plate and cutlery is pushed out of arms reach or he’ll be bringing knives and forks and food down all over himself.
Finally, looking after babies is not always the fun it might seem. They are insensitive, difficult, often fractious and regularly smelly. In the long run, though, it is worth it. The way they smile when they see you making faces at them, the way they make the most adorable noises when they’re in a good mood, the way they fall asleep when you’re giving them their bottle - you can’t help loving them so much. And even if you only spend a couple of months with a baby, you are likely to get irrevocably attached. You’ll find yourself thinking you hear him crying when you’re not even in the house, and sometimes you’ll want nothing more than to just pick him up and give him a cuddle even if you’re a whole country away. Babies aren’t always easy, but they are certainly rewarding.