We may not remember what it’s like to be an infant, but we’ve seen these gentle little ones, who sleep all day in reality but are wide awake and mobile on TV (insert laughter). And some of us may have even interacted with one or two prior to having our own.
I admit I was that kid who played with the babies at family gatherings. I LOVE babies! (But don’t worry, I don’t go up to strangers and ask to hold their babies. I just admire them from afar.)
However, some of us may have never handled a baby before. We may have been the only baby. (Ie. My husband) And we may have never had the opportunity to learn how to, again, interact with one growing up.
And suddenly we’re expecting parenthood. So much may be happening in our heads and bodies as we anticipate the arrival of our firstborn child–worry, excitement, anxiety, you name it.
And our biggest worry may be: “What are my child’s basic needs? Let me at least get through this one day at a time.”
A baby has 4 Basic Needs. They need food, shelter, clothing, and love. (Some of you may argue that there’s more, and I agree with you, but those needs could fall into these four categories.)
The Basic Needs of a Baby:
Every baby needs nutritional food. In the beginning, their stomachs are so small they can only handle a tiny amount of milk (ie. breastmilk, formula). (My firstborn son would vomit up his milk very often because we would overfeed him without realizing it.) As a baby continues to grow, we can increase the amount of milk the it intakes, along with soft food.
Whattoexpect.com has a wonderful article on how and what to feed your baby in its first year of life.
Having a rooftop over a child’s head is extremely important. Shelter not only keeps a little one out of the weather, but it ensures safety. There is a direct correlation between quality housing and stability versus a child’s socioemotional and physical health. A child feels safer and internally better when their housing situation is consistent.
If you, or a loved one, is struggling to find stable housing, please seek support. Sites like Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) are available to help.
It is essential to dress a baby warmly; dress your baby in one more extra layer than yourself. Then gauge how your baby looks throughout the day. If your baby’s lips or body are purple, it’s too cold; if it starts to break out into a rash, it’s too hot. (My husband continues to make this mistake, and it’s me who has to make sure our children are dressed appropriately, as well as adjusting the thermostat.)
If you need a visual guide, hellopostpartum.com has a wonderful chart.
We may think we’re loving a child by providing it food, clothing, and shelter, but we may be missing the mark by a ton. To help you understand, put yourself in the baby’s shoes–what would you need from your caregiver to feel loved? Their time, their energy, their ability to understand you especially as you can only cry in communication (there’s a language barrier, obviously), to name a few.
Another way to think about this is to consider Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages–acts of service, quality time, receiving gifts, words of affirmation, and physical touch. A baby needs all five to feel loved. And then as it ages, the person it grows into will internally learn which one out of the five makes it feel most loved. But for now, with your baby, give it your energy, your time, kind words, hugs and kisses and more for it to feel loved.
A baby’s basic needs are simple: It needs food, shelter, clothing, and love. If you’re a new or expecting parent, and are unsure of how to get these needs met, don’t fret. There are tons of resources out there to help you along your journey. You are not alone, and enjoy every moment with your child because there will come a day when they will want to spread their wings and fly the nest. Until then, give them what they need so they can do the same for themselves when they are older.
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