You have managed to make it through nine months of pregnancy, labor, and delivery and now have a bundle of joy. The only problem is that you realize you aren’t sure how to care for your newborn baby. Although it’s exciting to go home with your new baby, it is also scary. Newborns need diaper changes and frequent feedings and it is normal to be uneasy in the beginning. Newborns are small and fragile, but knowing newborn care can help ease your worries. This article can help first-time parents about newborn care as well as seasoned pros, ensuring newborn is safe, happy, and well cared for.
How to Take Care of You Newborn
1. Newborn Feeding
- ?Breast Milk or Formula Milk: Experts tend to recommend that you breastfeed your newborn and the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests this is the exclusive method for six months. After that you can start to introduce solid food but keep breastfeeding. If you can’t breastfeed, find quality infant formula, but your baby won’t need other fluids like juice or water as long as he is healthy.
- ?Signs When Newborn Is Hungry: Experts suggest that you feed your newborn whenever he seems to be hungry. Some signs of this can be showing off the rooting reflex (which is moving the mouth towards an object touching his cheek), nuzzling their mother’s breasts, puckering lips to suck, placing fists and hands to the mouth, sticking out the tongue, opening the mouth, or moving the head back and forth.
- ?How to Tell Whether Newborn Has Had Enough: It can be challenging to tell the amount of milk your baby gets. If your baby feeds well, your breasts will soften during feeds, he will swallow softly, leaves your breast by himself, settles down after feeding, wets his diapers every several hours, and his bowel movements change from sticky and dark to yellowish and soft.
- ?What to Take Care When Formula Feeding: Remember that babies digest breast milk quicker than formula so your newborn may not need to be fed as often with formula. Using formula can make it easier for others to feed your baby, but be sure to follow the preparation and storage directions for the formula.
You can watch the feeding schedule from the video:
2. Newborn Sleeping
As much as it seems as if your newborn constantly needs you, he will actually sleep around 16 hours a day, usually broken up into groups of two to four hours. Because of their small digestive system, babies need to eat every several hours including at night. To reduce the chances of SIDS, have your baby sleep on his back. You can avoid suffocation or similar problems by taking pillows, stuffed animals, sheepskins, quilts, and fluffy bedding out of the crib. You should also try to change your baby’s head position each night so he doesn’t develop a flat spot on either side. Simply have him face right one night, left the next, then repeat.
3. Newborn Bathing
When your newborn is a week old or less, opt for sponge baths by using a damp, warm washcloth. Use the cloth to wash his hands and face frequently and be sure to thoroughly clean the genital area every time you change his diaper.
You can switch to tub baths after the umbilical cord stump has fallen off and healed. Use a small plastic tub or the kitchen sink while your baby is still small. You don’t have to bathe your baby more often than three times a week in his first year until he starts crawling. If you bathe him too much, his skin may start drying out. You can let your baby linger in the water if he feels soothed; otherwise, five minutes should be enough.
4. Newborn Diapering
Before you start diapering, be sure you have the supplies all with you to prevent leaving the baby unattended. These supplies include a new diaper, fasteners in the case of cloth diapers, diaper ointment in the case of rashes, warm water, and diaper wipes (or cotton balls or a clean washcloth).
Anytime the diaper is wet or soiled, put your baby down on his back and remove it. Use the water and washcloth or wipes to clean the genital area. Always be careful when changing a boy’s diaper as they sometimes urinate when exposed to air. Always wipe girls from the front to back as this prevents urinary tract infections. Apply the ointment if there is a rash and thoroughly wash your hands afterwards.
5. Newborn Soothing
Although it can be worrying the first time you hear your newborn cry, here are some tips to help soothe him.
- ?Swaddling: Swaddling the baby in blankets makes him feel warm, safe, and loved and this can work to fight fussiness.
- ?Swaying: Rocking and swaying always soothes babies whether you are walking or in a rocking chair. The motion is simple and comforting as the baby ever felt a similar motion while in the womb.
- ?Soft Music: Play soft, light, soothing music to help your baby fall asleep when crying.
- ?Bouncing Walk: Just hold the baby while walking with a slight bounce in your step. If you don’t feel like walking, you can even sit on an exercise ball and gently bounce up and down on it.
- ?Dark Room: Although it seems obvious, turning off or dimming the lights is a good way to soothe your baby. Bright rooms stimulate their senses but dim ones take away distractions so he can feel peaceful and sleep quickly.
6. Newborn Handling
Remember to wash your hands before you handle the baby as newborns don’t have strong immune systems, which will put them at risk of infection. Always support the baby’s neck and head and this means cradling the head while carrying your baby and supporting it when laying him down. Never shake your newborn, even in play, as this can lead to brain bleeding or death. Tickle his feet or gently blow on a cheek to wake your infant. Always securely fasten your baby, whether it is in the car seat, stroller, or carrier and avoid bouncy or rough activity.
7. Newborn Bonding
Bonding is crucial for a baby. Scientists have proven that newborn monkeys have better socialization when they were able to interact with live mothers instead of lifelike mannequins.
Learn newborn care and how to bond with your newborn from this video: