Congratulations to the new mom!
Well, you have handled the discomforts of nine months of pregnancy and successfully made it through the excitement of labor and delivery, and now a new life is in front of you. The joy and happiness of bringing a life into this world cannot be described in words.
With a newborn comes a lot of responsibilities and it can cause some nervousness for most new moms, especially those who have not spent a lot of time around newborns. In fact, many new parents feel unprepared when it’s time to bring their new baby home from the hospital.
It is important to get help during this time. While in the hospital, talk to the experts around you and listen to suggestions from family members and friends.
Taking a newborn care class during your pregnancy can prepare you, but the real thing can be quite different and present situations that weren’t covered in the class.
There are many important things to keep in mind while taking care of your newborn baby. These tips and suggestions will make new parenthood a little easier.
Here are the top 10 tips for taking care of a newborn baby.
1. Hold Your Baby with Care
Newborn babies have very floppy necks, as the muscles have not developed properly. The muscles start developing within the first few months, but until then parents should always be sure to fully support the baby’s neck.
Proper support will prevent the head from moving in an uncontrolled way, which could damage the baby’s brain. Supporting the head and neck will also make it easier for you to hold your baby, and your baby would be less prone to “jumping” out of one’s arms.
Always support your baby’s head and neck with your hands when you hold him. Try to cradle the head when carrying your baby. Also, support your baby’s head when carrying him upright and when you lay him down.
2. Help Your Baby Latch on during Breastfeeding
The decision to breastfeed your baby is one of the best gifts you can give to your newborn. Breast milk has many health benefits, including strengthening your baby’s immunity.
When it comes to breastfeeding, a good latch is very important, since improper latching can cause breast discomfort. A good latch means the baby’s mouth covers both your nipple and the areola. This way the baby’s mouth, tongue and lips will massage the milk out of your milk glands.
To get a good latch, hold your baby facing your breasts and tickle the baby’s lip with your nipple to make the mouth open very wide. Once the mouth is open wide, bring your baby forward toward your breast. Keep a hold of your breast until your baby has a firm grasp and is suckling well.
Allow your baby to nurse from both breasts – at least 10 minutes on each side.
If you are having latch-on issues while breastfeeding, you can use breast shields to help the process.
3. Do Not Forget to Burp Your Baby
The air that your baby takes in during breastfeeding can interfere with your little one’s digestion. This can make your baby feel uneasy and even lead to colic pain.
Hence, it is important to make your baby burp to free the system of excess air. This simple trick will keep your baby’s stomach troubles at bay.
When it comes to burping, upright positions generally work most effectively.
- Place your newborn in a sitting position, facing forward on your lap.
- Support your baby with one hand on the baby’s front and lean him or her forward slightly.
- Gently pat your baby’s back to release air from the tummy.
- Listen for the slight burping sound.
You can also place your baby upright on your shoulder and gently pat her back.
4. Give Only Sponge Baths in the Beginning
It is very important to give your newborn baby sponge baths until the remaining umbilical cord falls off.
Always remember, when the umbilical cord is kept dry, it falls off faster. This may take 2 to 3 weeks. Even if the umbilical cord gets wet, pat it dry.
When giving your baby a sponge bath, always use lukewarm water and avoid scrubbing your baby’s gentle skin too hard. Bear in mind that newborns don’t get very dirty.
After the umbilical cord stump falls off, you’ll be able to give your baby a real bath. Bathing your baby a couple of times a week is fine during the first year.
5. Make the Baby Sleep on the Back
Even if it is for a short nap during the day, place your baby on his or her back. This is the safest sleep position for a healthy baby.
This sleep position, recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also called crib death.
Make sure your baby’s face and head stay uncovered while sleeping. Keep blankets and other coverings away from your baby’s mouth and nose. It is better if you make it a habit of dressing your baby in appropriate sleep clothing so that there is no need to use blankets or other coverings.
If you do put a blanket on your sleeping baby, make sure that the baby’s feet are at the bottom of the crib and the blanket is no higher than the baby’s chest. Keep the blanket tucked in around the bottom of the crib mattress so it doesn’t slide up to your baby’s face.
6. Tend to Diaper Duty Timely
Though diaper changing can be messy and smelly at times, it is one duty that you need to take seriously.
A wet or spoiled diaper can make your baby prone to infection as well as itchy and painful diaper rashes. Hence, you need to keep checking your baby’s diaper from time to time.
Change your baby’s diaper frequently, and as soon as possible after bowel movements. Before putting on a new diaper, wipe the skin thoroughly and apply a barrier cream. This will work as a barrier against moisture.
If possible, allow your baby to go without a diaper from time to time. This gives the skin a chance to breathe and air out.
Note: Before diapering your baby, make sure you have all the supplies within reach so you won’t have to leave your baby unattended on the changing table.
7. Keep Hand Sanitizer Handy
Newborn babies have weak immune systems and are very susceptible to infections. Being a parent, you need to protect your newborn from infections by maintaining good hygiene.
As you are almost constantly touching your baby, you need to keep your hands thoroughly clean. Always wash your hands before handling your baby, and especially after changing a dirty diaper.
In fact, if your baby starts crying and you do not have time to wash your hands before soothing the baby, you can use a hand sanitizer. Hence, it is highly recommended to keep a hand sanitizer handy. Make sure it is alcohol-free, though.
Also, make sure that everyone who handles your baby has clean hands. At the same time, do not allow anyone to kiss your baby’s cheek.
Teach older siblings to touch the baby’s feet instead of her hands and face, which will help prevent the spread of infection.
8. Give Full Body Massages
Massage is important for your newborn baby. It will improve your baby’s sleep quality as well as promote relaxation and strengthen the immune system.
Gentle massage even encourages the development of flexibility and coordination, and improves the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the cells.
On top of that, it will strengthen the bond between you and your baby, which plays a key role in forming the basis of loving, open communication.
Give your baby a full-body massage 2 or 3 times a day. Baby massage is soothing and can comfortably last 10 to 30 minutes. However, you should wait to start massaging until after the umbilical cord falls out.
If possible, expose your baby to early morning sunlight after a massage, as the sun’s rays carry vitamin D, which is highly beneficial for the development of bones.
9. Apply Moisturizer Often
Initially after birth, your baby’s skin will be soft, smooth and silky. But most babies’ skin becomes dry and flaky in no time.
The skin becomes dry from being exposed to air after remaining soaked in liquid in the womb for nine months.
You don’t have to do anything about your baby’s dry skin, as it heals with time. However, to reduce the discomfort, you can apply a hypoallergenic baby lotion that is fragrance-free. You can ask your pediatrician to recommend a lotion for your baby.
Apply the lotion a few times a day.
10. Never Shake a Newborn
Be extremely careful not to shake your newborn, while playing or even waking your baby from sleep. Shaking that is rough can cause bleeding in the brain and even death.
If you need to wake your baby, do not shake him or her. Remember that your newborn is not ready for rough play or handling. Try to tickle your baby’s feet or blow gently on a cheek.
To prevent excessive shaking, always make sure your baby is securely fastened into the carrier, stroller or car seat.
Even when holding your baby, make sure you are not doing so too tightly, which can inhibit your baby’s ability to breathe properly.
- It is normal for the umbilical cord stump to change color from yellow to blackish, so do not panic if you notice this.
- Consult a doctor if you smell a foul odor or see any discharge from the umbilical cord.
- Have a support person stay with you for the first few days after giving birth. This can give you the confidence you need at this crucial time.
- Put reminders on your calendar of the vaccines your baby needs and when.
- Always put your baby down to sleep on a firm mattress, such as in a safety-approved crib.
- Remove soft, fluffy and loose bedding as well as stuffed toys from your baby’s sleep area.
- Do not allow smoking around your baby.
- It is best to feed your baby every couple of hours.
- Initially your baby will sleep at least 16 hours every day. But don’t expect your baby to sleep all through the night. Your baby will wake up frequently for feedings.
- Do a lot of hugging, kissing, cradling and gently stroking to help your baby bond with you.