Your baby is finally here! After wondering and waiting for nine months, that sweet-scented sweetness is in your arms. You have experienced pregnancy, endured labour and sustained birth and now you are all set to go home and start life with your baby.
Maybe you didn’t expect your newborn’s eyes to be puffy and wrinkled, but that makes sense considering it stays in your cramped and watery womb for a long time and then passes tight through the birth canal.
However, when you get home, you may feel like you have no idea what you are doing! We are here with some newborn care tips that can help the nervous first-time parents feel confident about caring for their newborn baby.
Newborn care 101: Holding a newborn
Your newborn may feel fragile and sensitive towards you, but don’t be afraid to touch, touch or hold her! In fact, studies show that babies who are kept more than 2 hours a day develop better and cry less. No babysitting guide is complete without this valuable advice!
Remember, your newborn’s neck muscles are not yet developed, so you will need to support his head every time you take it in your hand. You should also support his head on your shoulder or with your opposite hand while carrying it.
Here are a few basic points to remember while handling a newborn:
- Before touching your baby, wash your hands (or use a hand sanitizer). Newborns do not have a strong immune system, so they are at risk of infection. Make sure everyone who takes care of your baby has clean hands.
- Support your baby’s head and neck. When carrying your baby, cradle his head and support his head when carrying the baby upright or lying down.
- Never shake your newborn during play or in frustration. Shaking a baby can be very dangerous and can cause brain bleeding and even death. If you need to wake your baby, don’t shake her- instead tickle your baby’s feet or blow gently on a cheek.
Newborn care 102: Bathing a newborn
Bathing a baby is one of the biggest challenges for a new mother. Make sure that all bathing supplies are ready before bathing your baby so you don’t have to miss any moment with your new baby.
A newborn baby should be given a sponge bath until:
- the umbilical cord falls off and the navel heals completely (1-4 weeks)
- circumcision improves (1-2 weeks)
It is good to take a bath two or three times a week in the first year. Bathing more often may dry the skin.
Newborn care 103: Diaper change
Many parents are surprised by how many diapers their babies get in a day. Store plenty of diapers before bringing your baby home to make life easier for you. It’s also helpful to learn (or even practise!) how to change your baby’s diaper beforehand.
Also, be prepared for diaper rash as most children aged 0-2 years develop diaper rash. When you see the first sign of a rash, apply a safe but effective zinc oxide-based cream to the diaper area. Typically the rash is red and bumpy and disappears after a few days of warm baths, some diaper cream, and some time from the diaper. Most of the rashes occur because the baby’s skin is sensitive and irritated by a wet or diaper.
To keep your baby’s diaper area dry, apply a diaper rash powder with each diaper change. It fights off the moisture and reduces friction on the skin, and thus prevents your child from rashes.
Newborn care 104: Comforting
Babies cry for an average of 2 hours a day in the first 3 months. As shocking as it is, it’s also normal. Determining the cause of your baby’s discomfort is a crucial step to comfort your baby. Is your baby hungry? Does it have gas? Does your diaper need to change? Time for a nap? A series of simple tips on how to handle a newborn can help you manage the situation with minimal panic. Your natural maternal instincts will come into play without you noticing!
To help soothe a sleepy or overstimulated baby, hold it on your shoulder while gently shaking it. Sing or talk to your baby softly – relax with your calm voice. Rubbing your baby’s back can also help calm him down. Try different positions to find a position that is comfortable for both of you.
Also, your baby can’t move around much during the first weeks and may cry for help if he’s lying uncomfortably in his crib. You can help your baby feel comfortable by slowly changing his position. For safety, however, always put your baby on his back while sleeping.
Newborn care 105: Feeding
Ideally, nothing is better for your newborn baby than breast milk. From a nutritional perspective, it is specially produced for your baby. Unfortunately, sometimes mothers are unable to breastfeed due to medical problems or other special circumstances. Consult your pediatrician on how to best feed your newborn baby.
A newborn baby needs to be fed every 2-3 hours. If you are breastfeeding, give your baby the chance to breastfeed for about 10-15 minutes with each breast. If you are formula feeding, your baby will likely get about 2–3 ounces (60–90 millilitres) at each feed.
No matter how you decide to feed your baby, make sure you always hug your baby while feeding. The hug that comes with breastfeeding and feeding helps build a strong and loving bond between you and your baby.
Newborn care 106: Sleep
As your baby grows, her sleep patterns change. Newborns sleep most of the 24 hours, waking up frequently, both during the day and at night.
Newborns typically sleep for 2–4 hours. Don’t expect yours to sleep through the night – babies’ digestive systems are so small that they need feeding every few hours and should be woken up if they haven’t been fed for 4 hours.
It is important to always lay babies on their back to reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Other safe sleep practices include: not using blankets, duvets, sheepskin, stuffed animals and pillows in the crib or crib (these can choke a baby); and sharing a bedroom (but not a bed) with parents for the first 6 months to 1 year.
You can start developing a bedtime routine for your baby as early as 6 to 8 weeks. As your baby grows, she begins to develop a more concrete nighttime sleep routine with less daytime “sleep”. You can help by teaching her that the night is for sleeping, not playing.
Visit us at Kids Docs Speciality Clinics for the best possible comprehensive pediatric services for children in Hyderabad. With the best pediatrician in Hyderabad, we offer a wide range of specialized healthcare for newborns and children up to the age of eighteen.
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