When I first got the news of my pregnancy test being positive, I was thrilled. Being a first time parent, my excitement was even more. As most of you would be able to relate to, we started buying baby clothes, strollers, toys and what not. During that time, due to my husband work allocation, we were in the US. So, having no one from the family around meant we had to learn and do everything ourselves.
As the months passed by, our excitement and nervousness grew. If you’re from an Indian family, you’d know how everyone in your extended family is worried at the time of delivery. I used to get frantic calls from my parents saying: “beta, tumse na ho payega”. For sometime, we pondered over the possibility of asking someone from our family in India to visit us to help during delivery and postpartum care. However, later better sense prevailed, and we decided to be responsible parents, and take care of our newborn baby by ourselves.
It was an uphill task. During these nine months of pregnancy, I suffered from mood swings, cravings, health issues and what not. Every time a new problem appeared related to my baby’s care, I had to call my family back home and discuss. Over time, I started to read more and more articles online on labor, delivery, newborn baby and infant care to make myself more aware of the common issues faced by new parents.
Only thing which made our journey successful as new parents was our trust and support for each other. Though we too had sleepless nights, restless and exhausting long days after baby’s arrival; still it was one of the most wonderful experiences of our life. We thoroughly enjoyed this new phase and welcomed our bundle of joy with open and caring heart. Today, we feel proud with our decision to manage everything alone during his birth.
As the most help I got was from articles on the Internet, so I thought to pay back and contribute my learning and experiences for to-be parents.
Here Are Some Newborn Baby Care Tips That I Learned From My Experience
#1. Feed Your Baby On Time
Although it looks obvious, but the first and foremost responsibility as new parents towards newborn is to feed your little one on time. A newborn needs to be fed every 2-3 hours, as he/she needs enough supply of milk to grow and gain weight. The breast milk is the best choice for that. Beside that, if you need to seek lactation advice then talk with your friends/ family or your child’s doctor.
If you are breastfeeding, then nurse your baby 10 to 15 minutes at each breast. Simple trick to know that your baby is getting sufficient milk is; your breasts will feel full before baby feeding and less full after the feeding is done. Initially, you should nurse 8 to 12 times within 24 hours.
If you are formula-feeding, then give your baby 60 to 90 ml per feeding. It’s relatively easy to monitor if your baby is getting enough milk, via formula feeding. However, do remember to sterilise the bottle and nipple after every use.
Lastly, how to know if the baby is getting enough milk?
He/she will produce 6-8 wet diapers a day along with steady bowel movement, would have a great sleep, and will steadily gain weight.
Feeding process is incomplete without burping. So, it’s advisable to get your baby to burp after every feeding and in-between the feeding. The reason for this is, infants often swallow air during feeding which makes them fussy and gassy. Burping helps release the air trapped in the baby’s stomach, thus, making her comfortable. In addition, burping is really beneficial for babies who spit up often.
How to get your baby to burp ?
Burping happens by gently patting on your baby’s back. Before trying any of the burping method, put a cloth over your lap or shoulder to protect your clothes from spit-up.
- Hold the baby against your chest: The baby’s chin should rest on your shoulder as you are holding her with one hand. With your second hand, gently pat on her back.
- Baby in sitting position in the lap: Hold your baby in your lap facing away from you. Allow your one hand to support her chest and head while making her chin to rest on the palm of your hand. Lean her forward and gently pat her back with your second hand.
- Baby in face down position in your lap: Lay your baby on your lap on her belly; and face down. Support her chin and jaw with one hand. Make sure, her head is higher than rest of her body. Gently pat on her back.
#3. Support You Baby’s Head And Neck While Holding
Make sure to support your baby’s head and neck while holding her. Your Newborn has a weak and fragile backbone which has not fully grown yet. While carrying the baby, her head should rest inside your inner elbow and her outer hip and legs should rest with your other hand. Always support your baby’s head when carrying her upright or laying her on the mattress.
#4. Handling The Newborn While Playing
1. Never Shake The Baby
Shaking a newborn can cause internal bleeding in the head and even death. So, never shake your baby whether in play or in anger. If you want to wake your baby, then tickle her feet or blow gently on her cheeks.
2. Wash Your Hands
Always wash your hands before holding your baby. Newborns have weak immune system, so they are susceptible to infections. Make sure that everyone who holds your baby has clean hands. You can keep hand sanitiser around for your visitors as well.
3. Fasten Safely
Make sure your baby is fastened securely in carrier, car seat or stroller. It’s essential to protect babies from bumpy ride, as it can cause injuries.
In the first two months after birth, babies generally sleep about 16 hours per day. Generally, the nap duration is 2-4 hours, but don’t panic in cases when she doesn’t sleep. She might be hungry, needs to change diaper, or have upset stomach.
Also, for the first three months, the baby needs to be fed every 3 hours or so. So, even if she is sleeping, you’ll have to wake her up and feed.
Also, while the baby is sleeping, keep in mind to alternate the position of her head whether it’s leaning left or right. This helps prevent flat spots on baby’s head.
One of the best advice I ever got was: Sleep when your baby sleeps
Make a habit of taking a nap with your baby. Be mindful of taking good care of yourself to rebuild strength and energy. To get proper rest, it’s also a good idea that you and your partner take care of baby in alternating shifts.
#6. Changing The Diaper Frequently
There are generally two kinds of diapers – reusable cloth diapers and disposable diapers. You can choose any of these for your baby, but make sure to have sufficient supply of diapers/nappies. Also, make sure to change the diapers around 10 times a day or even more.
Before diapering your baby, keep all things ready and within your reach. You would need a clean diaper/nappy, rash cream (if baby has diaper rashes), clean washcloth, wet diaper wipes or cotton balls and a container of warm water.
Dirty and wet diaper makes the baby uncomfortable. If she is crying, it may be the sign of wet diaper. In such a case, lay her on the back and remove the wet diaper. Use water, cotton balls or wet diaper wipes and wash cloth to clean her genital area. Always wipe her bottom from front to back to avoid urinary infections. Also, don’t forget to wash your clothes properly after nappy change.
While changing a boy’s diaper, do it carefully because exposure to air may make her urinate. It’s also a good idea to place a waterproof sheet around while changing the diaper.
Wet diaper, and the baby’s sensitive skin makes diaper rashes a common phenomenon. Use the diaper rash cream or ointment and cotton nappies in case of rashes. Also, an effective home remedy – mustard oil is frequently used in Indian households (instead of rash creams). Also, to avoid diaper rashes, change baby’s diaper immediately after bowel movement.
Lastly, it’s important to let baby go undiapered for few hours each day to let her bottom air out. It helps to heal the skin from rashes.
#7. Sponge Bath In Initial Days
During first two or three weeks, you’d need to carefully give your baby a sponge bath only. Once her umbilical cord falls off, you can start making her bath two or three times a week. You have to clean her neck, face after feeding and burping. Bath goes a long way in helping a fussy and crying baby to calm down.
Before giving her bath, be sure to have the following
- Bucket of lukewarm water (too hot or too cold water is not recommended for infants)
- Infant’s bathtub
- A soft and clean washcloth
- Mild baby soap, shampoo, baby oil, baby cream (Ask your paediatric about recommended baby’s product brand)
- Soft towel or blanket to wrap baby after bath
- Clean diaper or nappy
- Clean and soft clothes, socks, mitten, cap
When you start giving your baby a proper bath, it might be a little scary in the beginning to handle wet and slippery baby. You can get your partner to help you out. One person needs to hold baby, while the other is giving a bath. Soon you and your baby will get used to bath time and start to enjoy.
You can start using small infant bath tub to give her bath. Fill the baby tub with about three inches of warm water before you begin the bath. Always test the warmness of water by putting few drops of water on back of your hand. It should be lukewarm – not very hot or cold. Most babies find warm water soothing and this makes them sleep.
Once your baby is couple of months old, and started sitting by her own. You or your partner could share a bath with her. It’s a great way for dads to have skin-to-skin time with their little ones. However, the most important bath tip I would give is – Never ever leave your baby unattended in the bath tub, not even for a second.
#8. Trimming Nails
Newborn babies have soft and fast growing nails. Your baby can scratch her own face during her hand movements, so it’s best to keep her nails short and clean.
In first month, you could put mitten or socks on your baby’s hand but later she can start removing mitten or socks by her movements.
The easiest way to keep your baby’s nail short in the early days is to just peel the ends off with your fingers. Her fingernails are soft and the surplus nails will come away easily. You could also try to clip her nails by using baby nail clipper which has rounded ends. And the best time to do so is when the baby is feeding or sleeping.
Importantly, never cut down the sides of her toe nails, this may cause ingrown nails.
#9. Umbilical Cord Care
Umbilical cord care in newborns is very important. Be careful not to pull off umbilical cord as this could force it to come off before healing. The baby’s navel area should not be submerged in water until the cord stump falls off and navel area is healed completely, which is generally 2-3 weeks after the birth. It’s normal for the cord stump to change its colour from yellowish to dark brown or black. However, if the naval area becomes reddened or starts to bleed, you should immediately seek medical help.
Preventing infection –
- Make sure you keep the umbilical cord clean, so wash your hands before handling it. Give your baby sponge bath only after the umbilical cord stump falls off.
- Ensure that it’s dry, so don’t cover it with diaper or nappy. Expose it to air so that base dries out quickly.
- Let the cord stump falls off naturally. Don’t pull it.
- Visit a doctor immediately if the stump produces yellowish pus, or starts to bleed.
#10. Bonding & Soothing Techniques
Bonding is the feeling that makes you shower your baby with love. The most important thing that you can do is to bond with your newborn. Begin bonding by cradling your baby, and gently stroking her. You and your partner can give your baby skin to skin contact or infant massage. Certain types of massage may enhance bonding and help the infant growth and development.
Your baby bonds through touch and smell, her senses are tuned in to respond to your smell and touch of your bare skin. Your doctor also encourages you to breastfeed your baby immediately after birth to help you bond with your newborn.
Respond to your baby when she is crying, talk to her, smile at her, try to find out why your baby is crying, hold her close and cuddle her. This love and attention will help build a strong bond of trust.
Play some soothing music for your baby, as most babies love pleasant sounds. Start talking, singing, and babbling with your baby; however ensure that the sound of music is low as babies have sensitive ears. Baby rattles are also a good way to stimulate baby’s hearing.
Swaddling works well in first few weeks after birth. It’s very effective soothing technique which new parents should learn. Swaddling keeps your baby warm; while also giving your newborn a sense of security and comfort like she felt in your womb.
#11. Skin to skin contact
In India, skin to skin contact is not very popular and promoted. Skin to skin contact is putting your naked newborn on your chest immediately after birth, without cleaning or wiping your baby. It’s the first touch of your baby and you. Skin to skin contact does a lot more than bonding. It’s not only beneficial for newborn but also for new mom. Do it as long as you and your baby enjoys it. When your baby starts fussing, it’s time to let her do her own things.
I had never heard about “skin to skin contact” before my baby’s arrival and experienced it for the first time after my baby’s birth in U.S.A. We were truly amazed to see its impact on our newborn and on us as new parents. He is more calm, happy and healthy.
Benefits of skin to skin contact for babies:
- Makes her happy
- Stabilises body temperature
- Stabilises heart and breathing rate
- Makes breastfeeding easier (for both baby and mom)
- Increases quality of sleep
- Promotes bonding between baby and parents
- Prevents postpartum depression (in moms)
#12. Baby Massage
Massage is a great way to bond with your newborn. It can soothe your baby and help her to sleep. Besides this, it has many benefits for your baby such as improving digestion, weight, blood circulation, and sleep.
Learn 5 ways to massage your newborn in this video –
Baby’s massage is a gentle and rhythmic stroking of your her body with your hands. You can use baby oil or moisturiser. As you massage your baby, talk to her naturally and have plenty of eye contact with her. Don’t massage your baby when she is sleeping or feeding. Pick any time when she is awake and settled. The best time to give body massage to the newborn is before bath or before bedtime. There are lot of options available which leaves young mothers confused. Pick up the best baby massage oil according to the seasons and let your baby experience the best out of it.
#13. Tummy time
It is important to give your baby tummy time every day . Tummy time refers to when your baby lays on her stomach. When the baby is on her belly, she has to look up, and sideways to see people/objects. This head movement helps growth of her skull, and strengthens her neck, shoulders, eye muscles and trunk.
This is also a great time to play and interact with your baby. Initially, the tummy time would be just 3-5 mins, but eventually it’d increase to 40-60 mins per day. To keep your baby engaged during this time, place toys around her.
#14. Accepting Help
If your friends/relatives offer help, don’t hesitate and accept it graciously. Also, feel free to make it clear to them on how they can help – meal preparation, babysitting or anything else that’s required. As postpartum period is very crucial for new moms also, you must take good care of yourself during that period.
I hope that what I learnt during my pregnancy and postpartum days would help other to-be moms. Initially, you’ll feel anxious and worried about the whole experience, but as the days pass on, you’ll be more comfortable handling the newborn. During this period, your partner’s support would remain a crucial pillar for your strength.
Lastly, whenever you have concerns regarding your baby’s growth and care, it’s always advisable to consult your paediatric, as the doctor would be best source of information related to your newborn’s care.
Would love to hear the thoughts of lovely mothers.