Take care of yourself in order to care for your child

Generic RCEL (USAID Advancing Nutrition | 2021)
Take care of yourself in order to care for your child

Key Messages

Key Messages

  • Your child loves spending time with you. He is learning by observing, imitating, listening, and interacting with you. Parenting is rewarding and fun, but it is not always easy.
  • Feeling big emotions during caregiving is normal because it can be very stressful. Feeling these emotions is not something to feel guilty or ashamed about. All caregivers need emotional support and help from their partners, families, friends, and community.
  • Creating routines is helpful for you and your child. Think of ways to include activities you enjoy in your routine. Consider singing, sewing, exercise, dancing, drawing, or any activity that calms you and helps you to take care of yourself.
  • Talk with your spouse, friends, or family members. Share your experiences parenting with a confidant. Share both what is going well and any challenges you are having.
  • Whenever you feel exhausted and overwhelmed, it is good to reach out for help from your partner, family, or friends. If these feelings do not go away, seek care from your health facility. Depression and anxiety are common challenges, especially in the postpartum period, and require treatment.

Practical Tips

Birth up to 6 months:

  • Your baby is feeding on demand all day and all night and depending on mom and dad for everything.
  • Ask your partner, other family members, and friends for help. It will benefit your baby and you and give you time to take care of yourself, such as time to visit with a friend, get some sleep or do any healthy activity that helps you relax. This can help prevent you from feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

6 up to 12 months:

  • Your baby is starting to feed on solid foods, sleeps less, and is moving around! He might develop some fears of people he does not know and want to be with you all the time.
  • It is okay to feel frustrated because you cannot get your baby to calm down or she is not behaving how you would like. Take a moment and take several slow, deep breaths in and out. Focus on your breathing to calm yourself before going back to try to calm your baby. Do not hesitate to ask a family member or friend to help if you need a little rest.

12 up to 24 months:

  • Your child is developing her emotions, and she will soon start to do more things for herself like getting dressed and toileting. She will get frustrated when she tries but cannot do things herself. She may appear stubborn or get upset.
  • Recognize that this is normal and do not get angry. Step away if you need to, and do not be hard on yourself. Ask your partner or a confidant to look after your child while you step away. Even 10 minutes away from a stressful situation can help you feel more relaxed.

CLOSE by asking the caregiver to demonstrate or explain to you what they will do to take care of themselves. Make sure there is a clear plan for a visit to the health facility if there are concerns or issues. Brainstorm with the caregiver ways to address barriers to accessing a health facility if necessary.