Guide to Caring for your Baby in the First Year

As a new mum one the first things you often worry about is caring for your baby. Here are out tips to help you through the first year of taking care of your baby.


Month 1

He will still have the stump of his umbilical cord, but that will shrivel and fall off during his first few weeks. Make sure you keep it clean and dry. Once it’s dropped off, you can give your baby his first bath.


Month 2

You’ll be giving your baby proper baths now, so make sure his delicate skin is protected.


Month 3

As your baby’s hip, knee and elbow joints become stronger and more flexible they may start to roll over on their own. It’s likely to surprise you the first time they do it, so you should never leave babies unattended on a raised surface. To help strengthen your baby’s neck muscles, try giving him regular ‘tummy time’ every day. Start with a few minutes at a time and build up to between 15 and 30 minutes. As your baby’s senses develop, he’ll love the feel of your touch so try stroking, massaging or rocking him to help him relax.


Month 4

As your baby is now putting objects his mouth make sure you don't leave small items within reach that he could choke on. Remember to include some tummy time regularly to help strengthen his muscles.


Month 5

He’ll put objects in his mouth, so keep an eye on how clean his toys are. You don't have to go to extremes though, as a little dirt helps to prime his immune system. Put your baby down on his back to sleep, even if he's got the habit of rolling over in his sleep.


Month 6

With your baby starting to roll over, make sure you don't leave him unattended on a bed or a changing table. He’ll put everything in his mouth so keep any potential choking hazards out of reach – for example older children's toys that have small parts. Reassure your baby when he meets new people, so he knows he’s safe. Your baby is learning that yelling will get you to notice him. Remember to reward good behaviour with attention too so he doesn't get into mischief to get a reaction from you.


Month 7

Your baby may start to have separation anxiety when you’re not there.  If you’re leaving him, keep goodbyes short and ask his caregiver to distract him as you leave. He’ll probably stop crying a few minutes after you leave – so don’t worry.


Month 8

With your baby's increased movement, the likelihood of falls increases. These are an inevitable part of growing up and help your baby learn. You’ll need to make sure your home is baby proof, blocking off areas you don’t want him to go in and moving things you don’t want him to touch out of reach. If he’s shy or anxious around strangers reassure him. Remember, every time you leave him and come back you’re helping him develop trust and form attachments to other people.


Month 9

Don't worry if your baby isn’t doing everything others of a similar age are. Children develop at different rates. To help your baby begin to understand boundaries, it’s good to agree some standards of acceptable behaviour with your partner. But don’t tell your partner off for dealing with the baby in a different way from you – your baby has to get used to people behaving in different ways and you can also undermine your partner’s confidence.


Month 10

Your baby is beginning to understand some of what you say – so talk to him as much as possible to help his language development. If he's trying to say something and hasn't quite got it yet, repeat it subtly, for example by saying: “that's right, that's the cat”. So give praise and help rather than telling him he's made a mistake. Some babies start biting at this age – make sure you discourage this behavior early on.


Month 11

Your tiny explorer may have worked out how to climb, so make sure there are no opportunities for him to get up too high or reach things he shouldn’t. Shut away medicines, household cleaning products and cosmetics out of his reach. Your baby’s immune system is still developing, so he may catch coughs and colds, especially if he’s meeting lots of new people.


Month 12

Your home needs to be thoroughly baby-proof now. If you have stairs, use stair gates at the top and bottom, and make sure the bars of his cot are high enough that he can’t climb up and risk a fall. Tidy away any tempting objects and dangling cords and strings. If he’s teething, keep an eye out for any redness or irritation, and offer him a cool teething ring to help soothe his gums.


To learn more about your baby's development, try All You Need to Know About Your Baby's Growth in Year One.

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