Becoming a parent isn’t easy especially if its your first time in becoming one. Sure, it’s a lot of fun and excitement, but it is also a big responsibility and a commitment. There was plenty of work done during the preparation phase during pregnancy, and there is plenty of work still ahead.
As a first time parent, you cannot be more careful with your newborn more than ever. There are enough things to worry about, and we can’t keep track of it all. How to care for newborn baby will explain what needs to be kept in mind and will show you how to care for your baby in the upcoming days and weeks.
These tips will help first time parents feel confident in caring for their newborn, and it takes practice in becoming good at something you never have done before.
Getting Help After Birth
Once you are through with the delivery of your baby, it is understandable that mom needs to rest, but it is also time to become prepared for the next phase of life.
Many moms lack asking for assistance while at the hospital. Keep in mind that you’re nursing team are there in that specific unit taking care of newborns and yourself for a reason. Many of these nurses have the training and the education in caring for babies. Also inquire about a lactation specialist who can help you and your newborn how to breastfeed and pump throughout the day.
You can also get some form of assistance when your home in trying to juggle everything. If you can, you can hire a pediatric nurse, a doula, or even a responsible baby-sitter that has adequate training to help you out til you become settled and acquainted with your newborn. This can be a short or a long-term type of assistance.
Other forms of help might even be a relative, a friend, or even a co-worker which in this case may not even cost you much. Start a discussion and come to an agreement as lots of this can be difficult at first, but as many say it will only become better as your baby starts to age.
Handling A Newborn
Taking care of a newborn can be overwhelming, and if you do not have experience with newborns or even little kids, then it might become stressful. Here are a few things to remember and to keep in mind as you care for your baby.
- Wash your hands before handling your baby: Newborns have a weak immune system, and therefore will be at a higher risk of infection. Also, make sure whomever else handles or cares for your baby for them to wash their hands as well.
- Support your baby’s head and neck: Newborns til the age of about 6 months cannot support the weight of their head, and therefore you need to always have a hand at the head and neck area whenever you pickup or put down your baby.
- Never shake your newborn: Aggressive shaking whether its in a form of play or not can cause bleeding in the brain or even death; a.k.a shaken baby syndrome.
- Fasten and secure your baby at all times: Make sure your baby is properly fastened and secured when their in a carrier, a changing table, stroller, high chair, and in a car seat.
Bonding and Soothing
Bonding is one of the most important aspects of infant care as it comes with many advantages to both you and your newborn. Your newborn is giving to you immediately after delivery, and will stay with you for about an hour, and this is referred to The Golden Hour. Research shows the many benefits of this occurrence.
For infants, the physical connection is what contributes to their overall development and growth. This attachment will grow over the upcoming weeks. There are several ways you can develop this bonding experience with your newborn.
- Infant massage: Some babies may respond to gentle massage especially for those that are premature or have medical conditions. Infant massage can calm down and soothe your baby. In addition, it can also affect growth and development. You can search for more information about infant massage either through the internet or just by asking your baby’s pediatrician for advice.
- Sound: Most babies love the sound of voice especially the sound of mom’s voice. You can also talk, sing, coo, and even babble as they can hear you early on. You can also search for lullabies over the internet as this can also soothe and calm your baby down when they become irritated. Remember to keep sound to a minimum as some babies are sensitive to sound.
- Swaddling: Swaddling your newborn can make a difference in many ways, and it’s not easy to perform this task. Many new parents become discouraged and discontinue swaddling when their baby becomes free from it due to incorrect technique. Swaddling gives newborns the sense of security, keeps them warm and comfy, and also prevents them from waking up. So here are the steps in swaddling your baby the correct way:
- Spread the swaddle blanket out in an even fashion with one corner folded over slightly.
- Lay the baby face-up with the head just slightly above the folded corner.
- With both arms to the side, wrap the left corner over the body and tuck it beneath the back of the baby going under the right arm.
- Bring the bottom corner up your baby’s feet and pull it toward the head, folding the sheet down inside.
- Wrap the right corner around the baby and tuck it under the baby’s back on the left side. Make sure you leave the neck and head area exposed.
Be sure not to swaddle them too tight which can affect their breathing rhythm. When they begin to age and start turning and rolling over, swaddling needs to be discontinued as this can lead to sudden death (sudden infant death syndrome). They can roll over onto their stomach, and not be able to roll back which can lead to suffocation. If you can insert two fingers between your baby’s chest and the swaddle blanket, then you know you haven’t done it too tight.
Changing a baby’s diaper may be the last thing on your mind, but you better start getting used to it. You can pick from traditional or re-usable diapers. Newborns will have on an average of 8-10 wet diapers a day. Before you change your baby’s diaper, you want to make sure you have the following available: a clean diaper, wipes, diaper ointment, and clips or fasteners if you’re using cloth diapers.
When your baby has a wet diaper or a bowel movement, you want to:
- Lay your baby down.
- Remove the dirty diaper and toss out.
- Wipe the area clean with either a wash cloth or disposable wipes. When wiping a girl, make sure you wipe from front to back to avoid an infection in her system.
- Applying a cream or ointment on your baby’s bottom is an option to prevent a diaper rash breakout. If the area doesn’t look red, then you can probably hold off on the ointment/cream.
- Replace diaper.
- Always wash your hands after each time you change a diaper.
To prevent a diaper rash from occurring, you can take the following precautions to your baby:
- Change your baby’s diaper often or as needed.
- Gently wipe your baby’s bottom as aggressive wiping can cause skin irritation.
- You can apply a thin layer of the ointment/cream during the night or if you plan on taking long car trips as a precaution.
- When baby is calm, have them lay on their stomach, and open part of the diaper so their bottom can air out.
Feeding and Burping
Feeding a baby can be a lot of work, and first time parents do not become aware of this not til a newborn baby comes home. The recommended guideline is to feed on demand; in other words, feed your baby when they want to eat.
A newborn baby will need to be fed 2-3 oz every 2-3 hours, which makes it easy to remember for now. This will take a heavy toll on parents throughout the night as your baby will need to feed. If you plan on either breastfeeding or formula feeding, the process remains the same. With breastfeeding, feed your baby for 15 minutes on each side of your breasts. A newborn baby will produce on an average 8-10 wet diapers a day, and that is how you will know if your baby is feeding adequately. Another good way to tell if your baby is feeding good is by how your breasts feel before and after each feed. They will feel heavier before, and lighter after each feed.
Babies will need to be burped after each feed since they will tend to swallow air during feedings. Some bottles will tend to make your baby more gassy depending on the overall design of the bottle. To burp your baby, you can either lay them on your lap face down, have them propped up, or have them held upright against your chest and lightly tap their back.
As first time parents, we don’t tend to think about a baby’s sleeping pattern at all. We don’t think about how newborns will still need to feed throughout the night every 2-3 hours. The only reason they wake up so often to feed is because their stomach is so small, they can only handle so much food at once. This will get better over time, and yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Always place babies on their backs when they sleep at all times, because this lowers the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Another thing to remember is to not place any items either in their bassinet or crib. This has a tendency to lead to suffocation and/or SIDS. Be sure to alternate their head positions (left, right, and so on) in preventing a flat head from developing over time when they sleep. They will give your baby a helmet to wear as an option to help fix this.
Some experts will say to keep it quiet when babies sleep, and some will say to stick with your regular schedule. One of the most important aspects of a baby’s sleep pattern and cycle is to develop an overall schedule for your baby and also stick with it.
A baby’s first bath comes with a great amount of excitement, but there are plenty of crucial points that you as a parent need to be aware of. There are specific times to when you can give your newborn their first bath: when the umbilical cord falls off and heals which usually occurs within a couple weeks, and if this applies the circumcision site heals within 1-2 weeks.
For the first year or so, your baby should get a bath every 2-3 days a week, and not more as this can dry off your baby’s skin. As to any task mentioned above, have all supplies ready before giving your baby a bath:
- a soft washcloth
- mild, unscented baby shampoo and body wash
- a soft brush for your baby’s head
- an appropriate size towel to dry off in
- a clean diaper
- clean clothes and a hat
- a baby tub (for sponge bathes)
You can give your baby a bath one of two ways: a sponge bath or a tub bath. Let’s further explore these options.
–Sponge bath: Pick a flat safe surface such as a dresser or even a floor, but just make sure the room you’re giving your baby a sponge bath in is appropriately warm enough. Find a bowl or a medium size bucket to fill with warm water (always test the water to the inner side of your wrist; if its too hot for you, its too hot for your baby). Use a washcloth and with soap to start washing off your baby’s face, head, neck, body, and then the genital area. Make sure you dry off each area before moving on to the next as they can quickly lose heat.
Next, place a diaper and clean clothes on. Always have your baby wear a hat just because babies lose more heat from their head after becoming wet. You can purchase a hooded towel that allows for their head to be covered as you continue to dry off their body.
-Tub bath: Start off by filling the baby tub close to 2-3 inches of warm tested water; make sure the bathroom is warm enough for baby to take a bath in. Undress your baby and then place your baby in the baby tub. Apply the same steps as if you were to give them a sponge bath. Do not leave the water running and do not allow for any water to splash or run down your baby’s face.
When done, cover your baby with an appropriate size baby towel not forgetting to keep their head covered. Then, you would want to put a diaper, clothes, and a hat on after you have dried off all crevices. The goal is to never leave your baby unattended in the tub even if its just for a quick run. Cover your baby and take them with you if you need to grab something and then come back.
Circumcision and Umbilical Cord Care
If you choose to have your baby circumcised, you need to follow some key reminders. Each time you do a diaper change, clean off the tip with warm water and apply a small amount of petroleum jelly to the tip. The jelly is applied so the tip so it heals and also it doesn’t stick to the diaper. Do not be alarmed if you see some redness on the tip of the penis as this should become better within several days. Notify your baby’s pediatrician if you notice a foul-odor smell or if the redness gets worse as this could be a sign of an infection.
Umbilical cord care is just as crucial. The leftover stump tends to fall off anywhere from 10 days to three weeks, should not be covered when applying a diaper, and should not be submerged in water at all. The color of the stump will change colors through the upcoming weeks as it will eventually turn black and fall off. Notify your baby’s pediatrician if you notice a foul-odor smell or if redness develops around the stump area as this could be a sign of an infection.
Practice will only make it better
Caring for a newborn baby can become overwhelming. Just remember to handle and care for your baby with ease as they are fragile at all times. Try not to become overworked or stressed. Find support if you can to help around the house. As you continue to care for your baby, you will only become better over time; just takes a few first tries.
At any time if you think something doesn’t sound or look right, let your baby’s pediatrician know about it; their there to set things straight.
Your baby will only share smiles with you as you continue to show your love and care for them.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this post, and please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.