The first hour after baby’s birth is ideally reserved for the baby and parents to get to know each other. We ask that visitors do not participate in this special time of bonding.
During the first hour of life, a healthy baby shows a high level of alertness and an ability to interact with parents. The baby recognizes the parent’s voices and smell. This time is ideal for the baby to be introduced to the parents with skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding. This time, also known as “familiarization,” calms the baby after birth and enhances bonding with parents. The medical and nursing staff will help you in this special time together.
The Magic of the First Hour
During this period, your nurse will dry your infant and place the baby skin-to-skin on your chest, allowing for the most intimate and tender contact with your child. Research shows us that early contact between mothers and infants promotes more positive relationships between the two.
After delivery, babies are very alert. These awe-filled moments provide the best opportunity for you and your baby to begin building a relationship together. Babies have the ability to look directly into their parents’ eyes and respond to their voices. During this quiet alert phase, your infant will make the first attempts to interact with you and the new world.
Even as newborns, babies have an extraordinary ability to respond to you. A newly born baby placed skin-to-skin on your chest feels the familiar and comforting rhythm of your heartbeat. This intimate contact also allows your baby to see the shape of your face and begin to recognize your familiar taste and smell. Your baby will also recognize and respond to the familiar and soothing sound of your voice.
Because babies see clearly for about eight to 12 inches, placing your baby on your chest is perfect for both of you to look into loving and precious eyes. Parents naturally touch, hold and cradle their newborn babies.
This gentle touch triggers a variety of physiological and emotional responses. Babies are calmed by the gentle touch of loving parents. Touching your baby also promotes a healthy immune system for the newborn. The intensity of your feelings grows deeper as you continue to interact with your baby. This very personal and private time will nurture these loving and unique feelings.
Research tells us that putting a baby skin-to-skin provides the best possible temperature regulation for a newborn. Babies who get cold can have problems with breathing, feeding and maintaining proper blood sugar levels. Research also shows us that babies who spend the first 90 minutes with their mothers skin-to-skin cry less than those who are dried, wrapped and placed in a bassinet! This intimate contact also helps babies breastfeed.
From the moment your baby is born, brain development begins.
- At birth, the brain is on the verge of explosive growth. An infant’s brain has 100 billion nerve cells called “neurons.” These neurons will grow and connect with other neurons in systems that control important functions such as sight, speech, hearing, movement and emotions. The nurturing care infants receive now will enhance their physical and emotional growth.
- Most of a child’s brain growth and development will occur during the first three years of life. How we nurture and care for our children during this time will impact their readiness for school, emotional development and future potential as adults.
- Early loving attachments for infants actually affect the way their brain grows. Talking, rocking, singing and direct eye contact with a baby are several important ways to stimulate the brain to develop and grow. Touching, stroking and holding a baby are especially important. Research shows that touching and holding a baby release important hormones in their bodies necessary for brain growth.
- You can never spoil an infant. In the womb, a baby’s world is completely regulated by the mother’s body. At birth and beyond, infants are dependent on us. When they are hungry, cold, tired, upset or uncomfortable, a newborn will cry in distress. As we respond with food, warmth and comfort, the baby usually will calm down.
- At birth, babies can see, hear and feel what’s happening around them. They also can process information. For instance, they know the difference between their mother’s voice and someone else’s. From the beginning, infants should be talked to, read to, sung to and held lovingly to stimulate healthy development.
- Although they can’t talk, infants use many ways to communicate. Infants talk to us through cooing, eye contact, crying and other facial expressions. When we respond to their cues, children develop trust, a sense of security and the feeling that they are loved.
- Understanding language is a critical development activity for infants. At 7 months of age, babies can recognize and understand many words, even though they can’t say the words yet. Therefore, talking, singing and playing are important ways to interact and stimulate language development.
- Nurturing care positively impacts the way toddlers respond to stress. By age 2, children who have received consistent, loving care may adapt to stress better. Research shows that, at a young age, these children will produce less of the stress hormone called “cortisol.” When they become upset, they can turn off their reaction to stress faster. This research suggests that they may be better prepared to respond to life’s challenges.
- Young children need a healthy start. Physical health is a key factor in young children’s proper growth and readiness for school. By age 2, all children should receive their immunizations. They should receive an annual checkup by a physician. If they are sick with colds, ear infections or the flu, they need quick and proper medical attention. In addition, at approximately age 1, children should start receiving regular dental check-ups.