How to Take Care of a Newborn
Congratulations! You have successfully gone through labor and delivery, and now you are about to begin one of the most exciting phases of your life – life with your baby. So, first of all, welcome to parenthood! You are now officially a part of a relationship where you will experience years of endless laughter, joy, and satisfaction. The moments you spend with your child, seeing him/her transform into a wonderful little human are something you will treasure.
But, understand that not every day in your life as a parent will be gratifying. There will be days when you feel tired, exhausted, frustrated, stressed, and more such emotions, and most of these are more likely to happen during the initial months of your baby’s life, after you bring him/her home.
As soon as you bring your newborn son or daughter home, the daily routine you have been following all these years will see a drastic change. You will have very less to no time to spend for yourself, to get together with friends, to spend a romantic evening with your partner, or even to complete the basic household chores. And if you have no experience caring for a newborn before, then it is natural for you to feel a bit lost and nervous.
So, to help you get started, here are a few tips on how to take care of your newborn, from holding to bathing to feeding and more:
Before Leaving the Hospital
During the time you are at the hospital after your delivery, ask and get help as much as possible from the experts around you. Many hospitals have in-house lactation consultants who can help you in different ways when it comes to nursing your newborn. For other aspects of taking care of your newborn, like holding, burping, etc., you can also talk to the nurses in the hospital and ask for help.
If you need in-home help and there are no close friends or relatives to help you out during the initial weeks, you can ask your doctor for some referrals to obtain professional in-home help.
Holding Your Newborn
Newborn are delicate and fragile, and some of you may feel intimidated or afraid to touch or handle him/her. But, don’t be! Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
- Always use a hand sanitizer or wash your hands before handling your newborn. This is important because, your baby’s immune system is still developing and therefore they can easily catch an infection. So, make this a mandatory rule not just for yourself, but also for everyone who handles your baby, including guests.
- Your newborn baby’s neck muscles are not fully developed; therefore, whenever you pick him/her up, you need to support their neck and head. You should support their head even when you hold them upright.
- DO NOT shake or let others shake your newborn, no matter what the reason, even if it is to wake them up for feeding. This can cause the brain to bleed, which can sometimes end up being fatal.
Choosing Baby Products
Choosing the right products for your newborn is a crucial step towards taking care of your baby. Ideally, a baby product should not contain harsh chemicals that can affect your baby in any way. It shouldn’t be harsh on your little one’s eyes or skin, or make their skin dry.
Make sure that you do your research before choosing any baby product. The ones you choose should be safe for your baby, for their delicate skin, in all ways possible. They should be mild and gentle. Moreover, the products should be tested for allergies and clinically proven to be mild and safe for babies.
Feeding and Burping
Whether you breastfeed or bottle feed your newborn, one of the first questions that comes to your mind would be, “how often should I feed the baby?” Well, though you’ve probably heard that you should feed your little one every two hours, in general, it is suffice to feed them on demand. Your baby is likely to show signs of hunger by making sucking noises, putting fingers inside the mouth, crying, etc.
In the case of breastfed babies, make sure you give at least 15 minutes for your baby to nurse at each breast. Bottle fed babies are likely to drink around 3 ounces during each feed.
If you are breastfeeding, there are some ways to know if your baby is getting enough milk: see if your baby sleeps well, produces around 6 dirty diapers in a day, passes several stools a day, and is gaining weight normally.
Once you feed your baby, via breast or bottle, he/she needs to be burped. This is because babies tend to swallow air while drinking milk, which can lead to colic and gas. To prevent this, it is vital that your burp your baby – every time you switch to the other breast while breastfeeding and every 2 to 3 ounces in the case of bottle feeding.
Bathing a newborn is one of the biggest challenges for new parents. Wait for the cord stump to fall off and start your little one’s bathing routine with two to three baths a week. Make sure you have everything ready before taking your baby for bathing; this list should include an infant bathtub filled with lukewarm water, baby wash or baby soap, soft washcloth, baby cream, baby lotion, soft towel, new diaper, and fresh set of clothes.
When bathing a newborn, always have an extra set of hands around for help. Whether it is your partner or a family member, have them support and hold the baby’s head and neck above water the entire time while you bathe the baby. Use the washcloth and some soap to gently clean all of the baby’s parts. After bathing is complete, use the towel to gently dry the baby’s body, apply baby cream, and finally put on the diaper and clothes.
Umbilical Cord Care
Another important step in taking care of a newborn is to care for their umbilical cord stump. You will be advised by your doctor to not bathe your newborn for the first few weeks to prevent the naval area from getting submerged in water. You are allowed to give them sponge bath instead. Make sure the diaper doesn’t touch the cord stump. Your doctor might prescribe an ointment to apply on the naval area until the cord stump dries and falls off. However, most doctors recommend to just leave it alone. Regardless, if you see any signs of infection in the area, such as swelling, redness, pus, bleeding, foul odor, etc., consult a pediatrician immediately.
Yes, babies cry a lot. Though your first step here should be to determine its cause, it can be quite challenging to find what your baby wants during the initial few weeks, after which you will start to learn the cues. Mimicking the womb is one of the best and easiest ways to soothe your newborn; this can include techniques like swaddling, swinging, and holding the baby on their side. Gently sing or talk to your baby while rocking him/her gently. You can also try different holding positions to see which position makes them comfortable.
The first year with your baby can be a roller coaster ride, and the first few weeks can be one of the most challenging times. All you need to do is make sure that you do as much as you can to keep your precious little one calm and comfortable.