Ever since parents get the good news that they are expecting a baby. They begin to plan and do everything for the arrival of their little bundle of joy. Every new parent wants to do as much as the right, they can for their baby. Newborns need time to adjust to the new environment and the first week of a newborn baby is overwhelming. Your hormones are having a ride of their own, and your emotions are all over the place.
Newborn Care Basics
Taking care of a tiny human that looks so fragile is a big responsibility. Immediate care of the baby just after delivery is a must. There are a lot of tasks that go into new baby care.
Here are a few essentials to make sure the little one is given the care he needs:
Handling the Newborn
Now that you have gone through a lot. From carrying your baby in womb to labor pains to delivery it was a hectic journey. Now is the time for reward. You have a tiny bundle of joy in your arms. Newborns are fragile. Their immune system is not yet strong. So, Handle new baby with care. Make sure who handle the baby practice hygiene.
- Wash or sanitize your hands before holding the baby
- Support baby’s neck and back when you hold the baby
- Don’t shake or juggle the newborn
- Keep baby warm
- Make sure where you put baby is securely fastened and tidy, like crib, stroller, rocker, etc
- Do not pull baby by their hands. Pick then upholding their back gently while supporting their head
- Swaddle baby to give them more in-womb feeling
Holding the Infant
Holding your baby is something that’s very different for each individual, you really need to hold them in a way that is most comfortable for you and the baby.
To hold a baby, take care of the baby’s head and neck. Slide a hand under the baby’s head and the other hand under the baby’s bottom then lift. There are a few different holds that people prefer when holding a baby. You can hold a baby chest to chest, you can hold a baby stomach to stomach on an angel, you can cradle the baby in your arms, you can hold the baby in what is called the football hold, you put your hand underneath their chin and flip over the baby and pull them in an outstretched way.
Try holding the baby as much as possible. It’s necessary for bonding during the first couple of months that the baby feels secure, safe, and attached to its parents.
Feeding the Newborn
You can begin breastfeeding your baby soon after birth. Baby is born with an instinct to ‘latch-on’. The nurse will possibly leave the baby on your bare chest, undisturbed. she will suckle naturally.
The first milk, colostrum is dense, yellowish, and is nutrient-loaded. Babies should be fed 6-8 times during a day and 2-4 times at night. Breastfed or formula-fed babies need to be fed every 2-hours. Also, feed the baby before she becomes fussy.
Remember to burp your baby after each feed. As babies drink all of their calories, they can swallow a lot of air. Burping is required to get rid of extra air. To burp a baby, gently pat or rub their back. They should be held in a slightly upright position so you can put pressure on their tummy.
Burping can also help your baby if she:
- Often brings up a little milk after feeds.
- Is colicky
- Has reflux
Baby’s First Bath
The World Health organization, AAP ( American Academy of pediatrician) suggests delaying the first bath until at least 24-48 hours after birth.
Studies have confirmed delaying the first bath gives more skin-to-skin time between the mother and baby. Not bathing preserves smell which is great. This similarity in smell between the amniotic fluid and breast encourages babies to latch. The other reason is the white substance on the baby’s skin called vernix caseosa. It works as a moisturizer and protects the their skin from infections.
The first bath should be a sponge bath until the umbilical cord stump heals and fall. The stump may take 15-30 days to dry and fall. You can bathe the baby after that twice or thrice a week.
Baby Hygiene and Grooming
Do not bathe the newborn frequently. Clean them well with a cotton, sponge or washcloths.
- Eyes: Take a small cotton ball and moisten it with warm water. Gently wipe each eye starting from the inner corner to outer lids. Don’t use the same cotton in both eyes. Do not use your hands as it may be not as clean and may hurt the baby’s eyes.
- Ears: Wipe around and outside the baby’s ear using a soft cotton ball. Do not put anything in the ear hole. Do not use earbuds as it can cause serious harm.
- Nose: Make a small cotton roll lengthwise or earbud moisten it with saline solution or water, and then gently insert it in one nostril. Do not use the same cotton ball for both nostrils.
- Face: Washing the baby’s face is a good practice to follow. You may use a soft cotton cloth with mild soap or baby wipes as well for washing face. Apply any baby moisturizer or coconut oil for keeping the skin soft as it is prone to dryness.
- Nails: The best time to cut your baby’s nails is when she is sleeping. This will ensure the baby does not jerk or shake her hand and accidentally get. You can use a baby nail cutter that is small and has blunt edges, or a nail trimmer is also available in the market these days.
- Diaper area– clean nappy area every time you change the diaper. You can use nappy rash creams or virgin coconut oil to get rid of rashes there.
Few babies are born bald and few with dense hair. Baby’s hair needs cleaning but washing every day is not recommended. You can massage your baby’s scalp with a soft brush and wash with mild baby shampoo once a week. Use a wide-toothed comb to brush the hair or go for a hairbrush with soft bristles.
If your baby suffers from seborrheic dermatitis which is also called cradle cap, try brushing off the scales after oiling and shampooing. You need not panic, this baby dandruff goes on its one in a few months. Practice hygiene.
Newborns have delicate skin. Proper skin care regime will keep away skin issues like rashes, dryness, chaffing, infections etc.
- Don’t try to get rid of vernix. It acts as a moisturizer to keep baby skin supple and protect skin from infections.
- Don’t use chemicals, harsh soap, detergents on the baby. Also, their clothes should be fragrance-free, no dyes, no chemicals.
- Frequent bathing should be avoided. This leads to dry skin and loss of natural oils. Keep bathtime short.
- You can also avoid baby powders. Using lotions is okay.
- What they wear should be comfortable and easy on the skin. Wash clothes before they are won even the new ones.
- Keep the diaper area clean and dry.
- Massage baby gently.
Swaddling is an old-moms practice of wrapping babies in sheets or blankets so that movement of the body parts is limited. Swaddling makes baby feel like in the womb and sleep longer and more soundly. They feel snug and protected in a comfortable blanket.
Swaddling limits startling reflex and midnight wake-ups. Swaddling the infant also helps in regulating body temperature.
You will be relieved to know that newborns sleep for 16-18 hours a day during the initial weeks of birth. Although they do not sleep for more than 3-4 hours at a stretch, whether it is day or night.
Waking up in the nights to feed, comfort, or change diapers during naps may be a hassle. Ask husband or relative for help. Try pacifiers, rockers, cuddling, breastfeeding, stoking, massaging, singing, swaddling, and a relaxed environment to put the baby to sleep.
Colic is inconsolable and intense crying or fussiness of the baby in a repeated manner for a few days at the same time and with the same intensity. Colic may peak in 1-2 months of birth and usually go away on its own in 3-4 months.
- Keep a check on feedings. Overfeeding and underfeeding lead to colic.
- Burp the baby after every feed.
- Swaddling the colicky baby helps.
- Calm baby by giving pacifiers and hugs. cuddling and holding her close to you. Sing for her or play soothing music. You can also rock baby gently to calm down.
- White noises can be comforting to babies. You can try vacuum cleaners, washers, etc to create the humming sound. This makes baby feel as in the womb.
- Colic exercise can prove savior. Calm down the baby then try some on her.
Babies cry to let you know what is hurting them, what they need and what they like/dislike.
- Feed if the baby is hungry. Look out for signs and cues.
- Make her get to sleep.
- Pat the baby’s back. Make her burp.
- Change diapers if wet.
- Check for the room temperature if it is hot or cold.
- Rock, swing, cuddle, snuggle, sing, hum, pacify.
- Take the baby for a ride. This will change her mood.
- Give a warm bath.
- Ask others to help
It is said caring for a newborn is feeding and diapering. Change the dirty diapers often. If your baby is well-fed (breastmilk or formula), she will wet 10-12 nappies every day with regular bowel movements. Change the diaper as soon as it feels full.
Take care while changing diapers. Do not let the baby left unattended while changing the diapers. buckle or hold with one all time while diapering. You can go for taped diapers for easy changing and disposals.
Ask your doctor to recommend nappy rash cream. use changing station and wipes. Give your baby some diaper-free time each day to avoid rashes. Never leave the baby wet.
Umbilical Cord Care
During pregnancy, the umbilical cord was the lifeline to your baby. But, after birth, it isn’t needed anymore. After cutting the umbilical cord, the end-piece called stump of the cord stays in the child’s navel. Don’t try to remove the stump as it will dry and eventually fall off by itself.
Try to keep naval and stump dry. Sponge-clean baby till it falls off. You can apply antibiotic ointment in case you see infection or it doesn’t heal.
This will come to you if you are a mother to a baby boy. Circumcision is a procedure of the removal of the foreskin from the head of the penis. American Academy of Paediatricians mentions immense health benefits of circumcision.
- If your baby is circumcised, keep the wound clean and dry. You can use vaseline on the diapers or wound. This will soothe the baby and will prevent the diaper from rubbing against the wound.
- Don’t let the baby move his legs for 2-3 days. Movement of limbs may hurt the wound and it can bleed.
- Sponge clean the baby unless the circumcised area heals completely.
Jaundice is very common in newborns. If your baby suffers from jaundice, expose him to sunlight. In most cases, it should disappear within 2 to 3 weeks of baby’s birth. If you see complications call the doctor immediately.
You can also try feeding more. Extra feeds make baby poop more often, thus clearing bilirubin from the body.
Pediatricians and Medicines
Start looking for pediatricians for your baby as soon as possible after birth. Ask Family and friends for recommendations. Look online for options and reviews. Once you have shortlisted a few, check if they are under your insurance plan.
For medicines, only give what the doctors prescribe (strictly). Ask the pediatricians for medicines to keep in your cabinet for emergency use. You should have these medicines in stock:
- Acetaminophen for fever and mild pain
- Ibuprofen for fever, pain, teething
- Decongestants for congestion and runny nose
- Cough syrup
- Simethicone drops for gas and intestinal pain
- Electrolyte solution for dehydration
- Teething tablets
- Vitamin D3
- Saline nasal drops
Shaken Baby Syndrome
The shaken baby syndrome occurs when a parent or a caregiver rigorously shakes the baby in frustration often because the baby won’t stop crying. This can cause serious brain injury, permanent brain damage, or death.
Refrain from shaking the baby violently. Always treat the baby gently. Pacify him down by cuddling, massaging, swaddling, and singing.
Umbilical hernia in Infants
An umbilical hernia is a bulge near the belly button or navel. Most of the time hernia that starts before 6 months of age will go away by one year of age. Umbilical hernias almost always close on their own as the child grows. Visit the doctor if it doesn’t.
The Moro reflex is a reflex reaction of newborns when frightened, disturbed, surprised, and alarmed. Moro reflex develops disappears between 4-6 months of age. When an infant feels the loss of support, the startle, move their limbs in air and cry.
You can’t do much to prevent Infantile reflexes. But, if baby wakes up suddenly due to Moro reflex,
- Swaddle your baby. Wrapping up helps the baby sleep longer. A swaddled baby feel cozy and protected as in the mother’s womb.
- Keep baby close to you while sleeping.
- Support baby with pillows and sheets while sleeping.
- Contact the pediatrician if you see abnormalities.
Caring for baby comes to you naturally. No mothers are perfect. Even if you miss something, it doesn’t make you a less mother. Hope the tips helped.