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Hair Care

During the first few months of your baby’s life, their hair can change several times. Many babies are born with hair, and many are born without—but no matter how much your baby is born with, or what color, it can and usually will change rapidly within baby’s first six months.

Some changes that could occur . . .

1. Your baby could lose all their hair! Due to changes in baby’s hormones, hair loss and patching during the first few months is totally normal. Don’t worry if your baby loses spots of hair or begins to go completely bald; it’s fine! Keep an eye out for any rashes or scaly patches—those are trouble.

2. Thickness and color will often change. Babies are often born with lighter hair than they will naturally have, and their hair will darken and thicken as they get older. The texture of your baby’s hair can change as well, from curly to straight to wavy. In the end, your baby may look nothing like they did when they were born.

When caring for your baby’s hair, be sure to educate yourself thoroughly before you do. Babies are very different from adults, and their hair and scalps are much more delicate. Keeping a soft touch when you’re washing your baby’s hair is essential. If you have long nails, be sure to clip them before you wash your baby to avoid nicking their skin.

Safety tip: Never, never use any electric clippers on your baby. If you need to trim their hair, use scissors with your hand as a buffer between the blades and baby’s head.

Babies have less oil in their hair than adults, so while you should give your baby a daily bath, you do not need to wash their hair every time. Doctors suggest shampooing two to three times per week—or, if your baby is African-American, just once per week.

Wetting it down is fine, but using too much shampoo on your baby can dry their hair out and irritate their scalp. Always be sure to use baby-safe shampoo that is guaranteed not to bother their eyes or skin. If irritation does begin to develop, consult a doctor and be sure to take note of the shampoo’s ingredients in case it’s an allergic reaction.

In general, it’s advised not to use products on babies’ hair. No gel, no hair spray, no mousse. There are baby-specific conditioners or after-wash spritzes that can be used to prevent tangles, and those are the only products that should be used.

Safety tip: if you use accessories in your baby’s hair, never leave them unattended. Bows, clips, and other accessories are chokable, and babies will put anything in their mouths if they have the motor control to grasp it.

Baby Toys

Toys for a newborn child should be bright, should make noise, and encourage the child to keep their attention focused! When babies are newborn, their eyesight isn’t very good; their attention span is often short and is usually tuned in to Mom or Dad. In order to kickstart your baby’s enthusiasm and interaction with the world, toys purchased should be specifically geared toward newborns.

Some of the most popular toys for newborns are fairly large, soft stuffed toys. Any toy given to a baby should not, under any circumstances, be able to fit in the baby’s mouth—nor should it have any detachable parts. A big, soft toy that the baby can grasp will be best. It will both encourage tactile development and keep baby company when Mom or Dad need a break (or a nap!).

A baby’s grip may feel surprisingly strong, but grasping will be beyond a newborn’s reach for some time, and any toy given should be soft enough that dropping it on the baby’s face or body won’t be harmful.

Musicmakers are popular choices for newborns. Anything that the baby will have to focus their ears on will encourage development and stimulate the baby’s brain. All those things you hear about playing classical music for babies? They’re true! Not only does classical music provide stimulation, it’s gentle on your baby’s ears.

Mobiles in cribs are another popular choice. Like musicmakers, they encourage babies to learn eye focus and control, and provide a stimulating element to an environment that would otherwise be limited to sleeping. Some toys combine a mobile element and a musicmaker—placing these low in the crib, at the baby’s eye level, is best. Keep in mind that these toys will get better use when baby is old enough to truly interact with them.

For more tactile toys, try a wrist or ankle rattle. Attaching these to your baby can provide entertainment and stimulation that your baby will quickly learn they can control. Not only does this help your baby’s motor development, it acts the same way musicmakers do by giving baby soft sounds to listen to. These are safe, but if your baby is particularly mouthy, it’s not advised to leave them on when a guardian is not present.

As newborns begin to improve their motor movement, it’s suggested that parents get a small, unbreakable mirror. Attach the mirror at baby’s eye level in their crib so the baby can begin to learn and interact with their reflection. Babies can recognize themselves in mirrors during the late second month of their lives, and will begin to interact with a mirror more and more.

When you’re purchasing toys for your baby, the paramount concern should obviously be safety. With the Internet, parents have a wealth of information at their fingertips. When you’re considering buying a toy, look it up online. Are its reviews good? Does anyone complain about it being dangerous to their child? Is there a better alternative?

Quick tip: Don’t be afraid to put some toys in storage! As a new parent, it’s likely you’re going to be showered with gifts, some of which won’t yet be appropriate for your baby. Put them away and wait until the age-appropriate time to introduce them into your baby’s environment. If you want to encourage family members and friends to buy only newborn-oriented toys, you can often attach an instructional message when you join a baby registry at a local store.

Room Ideas

Like a newborn baby’s toys, a baby’s room should encourage engagement and should promote stimulation. A bright room with colorful walls and decorations will engage a baby’s interest and provide a great environment for baby to begin growing up.

Many parents begin decorating baby’s room before their baby is born with gender-neutral colors and decorations. If you know the sex of your baby, you can specify your decorations, but it’s still suggested to go with strong primary colors rather than just pink or baby blue—primary colors are good for babies’ eyes.

Ultimately, the decoration of the baby’s room relies on the parents’ taste, but here are some tips to get started . . .

1. Furniture! Be sure to have a safe, comfortable crib, places to store baby’s necessities, and a chair for Mom or Dad to sit in when baby wakes up in the middle of the night (you’ll need a place to sit while you’re rocking baby back to sleep!). When you’re shopping, look for furniture with big handles and bright colors that are designed for children, so you can keep them throughout your baby’s childhood or recycle them to be used for children that are born later.

2. Lights. Babies’ eyes are sensitive, so buy covers for bare lightbulbs and be sure that the light bulbs have a softer glow or are a dimmer wattage. Using mobiles with lights designed for babies can be best, especially at night.

3. Personalize! In order to prepare for a new baby, many parents get excited by personalizing the room for their new baby. If you’ve chosen a name, you can base the room’s decorations off the baby’s name, or paint your baby’s name on the wall. If you’re artistically inclined or you want some extra decoration, try painting murals on the room’s walls. These will engage babies more than plain colored walls. You can also put up pictures—but be sure to firmly secure them, and it’s safest to use frames without glass!

4. Keep it clutter-free. Give yourself lots of room to move around in baby’s room—and keep anything you might trip over out of the way. Get creative with storage by storing items under the bed, in a closet, or on shelves.

5. Remember temperature and light control! Accessorize baby’s room with rugs and curtains that not only look good, but will better control your baby’s environment.

If you’re stuck on ideas for how to decorate your baby’s room, check out sites like Pinterest, or ask your friends and family for help. Pinterest has some great, low-budget decoration ideas, and family and friends have often done it before and know how to help you do it again!

As always, be sure anything you buy to decorate is firmly secured to the walls or ceiling and that nothing has small pieces that can break off and go in your baby’s mouth.

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