Having a baby is a joyous occasion. From choosing a name to designing the nursery, your to-do list probably seems endless. But before your baby arrives, it’s important to plan ahead and prepare the necessities. However, with the way that research in the medical field has been progressing infant care, it can be difficult to know everything that your baby needs. Some can be intuitive, while others are surprising to learn. It is important, therefore, to do plenty of research to know exactly what your baby needs to develop properly with the best health. Here are just four surprising things your baby needs for optimum health and development.

Proper Air Conditioning

It is a popular belief that keeping a baby bundled up and constantly keeping the room warm is beneficial the baby’s health. However, research have proven that 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit is what’s best for your baby. In fact, keeping the temperature on the lowest end of this spectrum is optimal for your baby’s overall well-being. Babies generate a lot of heat, but in order to fall into a suitably deep sleep, their body temperature has to drop a small amount. Without proper air conditioning, babies struggle to regulate their body temperatures, especially on muggy days. They’ll also have a hard time breathing while they sleep, effectively creating sleep apnea for babies. Always make sure the room is cool enough for your baby to sleep soundly.

Grooming Tools

This may sound a little funny, but babies actually need a grooming kit of their own. Babies have very delicate fingernails that need to be trimmed, or else they can scratch themselves. This is actually why some people buy little mittens for their babies; to keep them safe from their nails if they become prone to scratching at their face. Babies can also have trouble keeping their nose clear, as they can’t use a tissue the way adults can. A special tool is required to regularly clear out the mucus in their nostrils so they can breathe properly. That’s why it’s important to keep a small kit that has a set of baby nail clippers, a bulb syringe, a thermometer and believe it or not, a toothbrush. While their teeth haven’t grown in yet, having a baby toothbrush to chew on can stimulate their gums and help their teeth grow in and reduce the time spent teething. This also keeps their gums and tongue exfoliated, which is important because they don’t have any rough foods in their diet to do that for them.

Something to Hold

If you’ve spent time with a baby before, then you’ve already likely encountered their incredibly strong grip. Babies are still developing their fine motor skills, such as their ability to grab and hold things intentionally. While most parents will buy toys for their baby, it is important that you get something they easily grab and shake. Rattles are especially effective at encouraging a baby to try shaking, giving them practice with controlling their arms and, to a certain extent, their fingers. Doctors working with early-born children will also often give them a soft, stringy octopus toy that they can grab onto and cuddle with. Babies in the womb often can grab their umbilical cord, and being able to curl up with something in their hands like that goes a long way in helping them feel safe and comforted. Overall, getting proper toys for your baby is more than a gift; it’s a necessity for their development.

A Big Smile

While your baby may often gaze off into space, seemingly unaware of anything around it, they can actually see more than you think. Babies learn to smile within the first 1-2 months, and they do so by watching the people around them. They won’t be able to see very far at first, so smiling from across the room may not be as effective as leaning over their bed and smiling down at them. However, it is important that you do smile around them frequently so that they can pick up and learn this form of expression. Otherwise, your baby may be more somber and reserved in their toddler and even later years. It is also important that they be held and handled frequently, as babies that aren’t held can actually die from lack of human exposure.

It can be overwhelming to try and learn everything that your baby needs. However, there are many resources available, both from your doctors and from reliable sources online, that will get you the basics. Take the time to sit down and do as much research as you can about the health needs of your baby and how to meet them, and keep a general awareness of what developmental milestones they should be hitting and when. If you notice that your baby isn’t reaching those milestones, reach out to a doctor and they’ll be able to help you get your child back on track and identify any factors that you may not have been aware of inhibiting their growth.

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