You survived labor and delivery! Now you’re back at home with this new life and it’s time to hit the ground running. You arrive home and suddenly everything you have read about newborn care and all the advice received simply flies out of your head and there you are dumbfounded. This sweet little baby is relying on you now what to do?
“I’m new, I’m new and I don’t know what to do!” may run reels in your brain or you may say to yourself,
“Baby number two and I forgot what to do!”
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Newborns are so tiny and appear so fragile. It can be intimidating to go about the day to day raising a newborn. Now that we are faced with the big question, “What’s next?” lets break it down into simple steps. This is newborn 101, you survived the pregnancy and the hospital now it’s time to ease into living with a newborn and newborn care. This is a compilation of advice and methods that worked for our family and in sharing I hope can do the same for you.
Let us think about what is going on in your newborns big beautiful brain. They were just bundled up inside your womb where it’s warm, loud (heartbeats, your breathing) and snug. Suddenly they are pushed out of their cozy little cocoon and into this bright, busy world. All they know is mommy and daddy provides food and comfort and they like their rest.
Now, what to do once you’re home.
Home Sweet Home
First of all, welcome home momma. It’s been busy in the hospital, paperwork, nurses and doctors, car seat tests (if your baby was early), birth certificates, breast or bottle feeding, the list goes on. It’s time to settle in where you’ve laid your roots. If you have other children take some time to snuggle up with them and baby. Sit on the couch and rest, hold the baby and talk with your kids. No need to jump into the thick of things if you don’t have to.
Newborn’s sleeps a lot, most of the day, actually. They need to feed every two to three hours and they need to be changed frequently. With that established, I want to focus on the newborn care tpoics that may present a challenge.
Baby Bath Time
I’m sure the nurses gave you some pointers on newborn care and how to bathe your baby. Most of them help walk you through the process. It is entirely up to you how often or when you bathe your newborn. We chose every evening as a nighttime routine, to indicate it will be bedtime. In the early days, when your newborn still has an umbilical stump and if you had a boy you may have had him circumcised, it’s recommended not to submerge these healing areas into water. Therefore, a sponge bath it is until these areas fully healed.
Water can make your baby cold when left exposed and naked . I found the best way to keep baby warm and keep their wounds dry was to fill the baby bath just so that their bottom and back hit the warm water but it does not rise up over their belly or a boy’s family jewels. To help visualize this I would recommend filling the bath with approximately 1 inch of water. If you have a baby bath with a sling for newborns these tend to work best.
Keep Baby Warm
Use two wash cloths, one to clean the baby the other to wet in the warm water and drape over their legs to keep baby warm. Wash their body first and keep the hair dry until you finish cleaning their entire body. Save the head for last. A wet head (and hair if your baby has any) makes a cold baby.
Take Your Time
The key to cleaning a baby is slow and steady. Some infants will scream and holler the entire time, others love it. Be sure to proceed slowly and speak calming words throughout the process. Gently clean all the rolls and crevices. A clean baby is a happy baby.
Our pediatrician advised to incorporate a hair dryer into our routine to prevent diaper rash from festering. The warm air was very soothing to his bottom and ensured that his underside was dry before we applied rash cream and a diaper. Set the dryer to a low warm setting and carefully dry the baby. Our baby loves it and it persuaded him to become more accepting of bath time.
Let us think about what baby knows. They grow and mature in a warm, tight space until its time to enter the world. This nine month home is snug, warm and load. Your heartbeat is constantly pumping and your lungs are pushing air in and out. Baby has been growing next to all these noises since the moment they were conceived.
Naturally, most parents will think to be quiet around a new baby. However, the opposite is true. Babies like noise. This is why the use of a sound machine at night is common in newborn care. The sounds of white-noise or ocean waves resemble that of the womb. These are sounds of comfort. The trick to a soothing sound machine is to place it near the door of the bedroom to filter out any outside noise. Look into choosing a Lullaby Sound Machine. This one is also equip with a projector, displaying images on the ceiling.
Snug as a Bug in a Rug
When its time to rest their head, its best to keep them snug. Babies love to be kept warm and secure. Your womb was as snug and warm as ever. To best replicate the feel of this nine month crib, swaddle your newborn. Swaddling is not as difficult as it may seem. Babies grow quickly. Invest in a few extra large swaddle blankets. You will be shocked how fast they outgrow traditional swaddle blankets.
For those who just cant get it down or prefer an easier route. Consider a Woombie Swaddle sack. Simply place baby in the swaddle sack and zip them up. The Woombie secure baby safely and there is no worry of a blanket coming loose in the night. These items are especially popular among fathers.
Umbilical Stumps and Circumcisions
Oh how I dread these. Your sweet little angel is only a few days old and has healing wounds. They say the umbilical stump is not painful to baby, but it sure appears distressing. What a relief when that thing finally falls off. For these areas to heal properly they must stay dry and clean.
Avoid any irritation of the umbilical stump by folding the front of baby’s diaper down if it lies over the area. Most newborn diapers have a small dip in the front to help umbilical cord healing. However, the diaper may still graze the area. I like to fold it down just a bit to keep it clear from friction.
It’s not unusual for the umbilical cord to stink a little. If this happens, clean the area using a Q-tip, warm water and gentle baby wash. It will help the healing process as well. It should fall off between 3 to 10 days.
If you had a boy and opted for circumcision, this is another area to care for. I found this area to torment me so. I was constantly calling the nurse to ask if something was normal. With both my children, everything was fine and healed normal. The best advice I can give to you for this is when you place a new diaper on your son, ever so gently point his penis down.
This keeps the urine from saturating the top of the diaper and leaking as well as from sitting right on the healing area. Applying a small amount of petroleum jelly to the inside of the diaper helps prevent the healing area from sticking to the inside of the diaper between changes. Even after the area is healed, point it down. This prevents leaking and is more comfortable for baby boys.
Breastfeeding and Bottles
Breastfeeding is super beneficial during newborn care and the mother. If you can breastfeed, I would recommend giving it a try. It is challenging in the beginning. However, it becomes easier after a time. Not only is breast milk packed with the best nutrients for your baby, it is cherished bonding moment. Learn more breastfeeding tips and tricks as well as what can be expected in “Quick Tips for Breastfeeding”.
If you choose to breastfeed, don’t toss out the bottles. It’s important to introduce a bottle early on and feed your baby from one frequently. This will help you in the future when you decide to stop breastfeeding or if you need to be away for a day. My first child did not take to breastfeeding well so he bottle fed more often than not. My second child latched immediately and being as thrilled as I was, I didn’t even think to introduce a bottle until it was too late. He would not take one at all. He threw massive fits and we tried every bottle on the market. So, heed my warning and feed that baby a bottle here and there.
Skin to Skin Time
Newborns are still developing even after birth. Their little digestive systems are maturing as they get accustomed to the new food supply. Pediatricians and many medical professionals will insist on skin to skin time as there are multiple benefits to newborn care. It promotes healthy weight gain, reduces stress, increases breast milk production and accelerates development.
Also known as kangaroo care, skin to skin time is also beneficial to newborns with jaundice. Contact with the mother’s skin helps their system to mature and recover from jaundice naturally along with a dose of sunlight for at least 15 minutes a day. If the case is more severe your pediatrician will send you home with a photo-therapy light. We had to have this for our second child because the weather was not in our favor when he was born. Not a stitch of sunlight for days. To easily keep baby close, wear a Kangaroo Care Top. This allows you to easily keep baby close, yet you can be hands free. They also make one for dad!
Night Time Feeding
Sleep is something that may become an ancient legend with a new baby. Feeding is still needed at night, every 2 to 3 hours. My advice here consists of two options. One, have daddy provide a bottle feeding. This will help you get some more Z’s and get baby to recognize the bottle. Option two is something most may not agree with, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I co-slept with both my children. It allowed me to get a full night’s sleep and baby slept well too. This can be a scary subject for some moms and others just don’t trust themselves with baby in the bed. However, there are great products out there to make co-sleeping more comfortable. From an attachable side bassinet to a DocATot that lays in the bed with you. This co-sleeping gear is especially useful if you fear baby will be crushed beneath you.
Cuddles and Snuggles
Co-sleeping is simple, it’s efficient and you don’t have to sacrifice your rest. Simply lay baby next to you and pop a boob in their mouth. They stay lying down and so do you. When they finish, slip them back in their bedside bassinet. You don’t need to get up or feel your way through a dark house. Co-sleeping took the stress of night feeding out of the equation and we all sleep great!
When six months rolls around, its a good time to introduce the crib. However, you can co-sleep much longer and still transition successfully. Six months is when I establish sleep training. I feel this is an appropriate time when baby can comprehend the concept of bedtime as well as independent slumber. Sleep training can present a challenge, but once established, so liberating. Read more about this transition and the best time to make the switch in “How to Transition from Co-sleeping to Crib”.
Those little baby nails can be a strenuous obstacle. When those little fingers and toes grow enough nail to trim, most parents are hesitant to try. Those phalanges are incredibly tiny. One slip and you may snip the finger. What to do now. You can opt for baby mittens. They come in handy and serve their purpose.
However, there may be a time that you will want to snip those nails. The best way to achieve this is waiting until baby is asleep. Chances are they will be still and allow you to gently and carefully clip their nails in an efficient manner.
Newborn care can be a bit intimidating. However, having a slow and steady approach is best. I hope you find these tips regarding newborn care useful when you bring baby home. Smother that little bundle of joy with love, they will only be this little once. I know you will rock during this new journey in life and newborn care is just a small piece of the puzzle. Soak up all you can with the new addition and enjoy this parenting adventure!
Want to know a few not-so-common items that will turn out to be everyday treasures in your diaper bag? Here is a list of Must Have Items for Your Diaper Bag!
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