Your first bundle of joy is about to come into this world and you’re overwhelmed by a range of emotions.
There’s jubilance and happiness in one corner of the heart; overthinking and worry in the other. Why worry and overthinking? Because you both are going to be first-time parents.
How to make him sleep? When will he eat? What are the risks? How to bathe her – all these questions are freaking you out. It’s normal. RELAX. We have you covered.
This guide for first-time parents will answer all (well, almost all) your newborn-related questions. We’ve compiled this guide after extensive research and have categorized it for your convenience.
Let’s begin with newborn baby care.
Taking care of the newborn baby at the hospital
You wouldn’t be discharged immediately after the birth of your angel. Generally, it takes around 3-7 days before moms are discharged. Till that time, you need to spend all of your time with your baby.
At this point, don’t be hesitant to ask for help. Call your parents or your husband’s parents for help. They’ll impart their newborn baby care knowledge to you – how to soothe them, burp them, change them or properly hold them (always have your hand under their neck for the first few days when picking.)
Nurses, lactation consultants and feeding specialists at the hospital can also help. They’ll guide you on the feeding part (whether you’ve decided to bottle-feed or breastfeed them) and other general care.
Another important consideration is skin-to-skin contact. It is a practice where the baby is laid directly on the bare chest of the mother for an hour after the first feed. Stanford Health confirms that this is beneficial for both the baby and the mother.
For the baby:
- Maintains the body temperature.
- Improved blood sugar level & respiratory rate.
- Better breastfeeding success.
- Improved brain development.
For the mom:
- Enhanced breast milk production (nature is so kind!).
- Better emotional connection with the newborn.
- Low chances of postpartum bleeding.
Care of the newborn baby at home
Once you bring your baby back home, it’s time to spend maximum time alone with him/her. The guests will be eager to meet the new angel but you’ve got to refuse them sweetly. This is an important tip for first-time parents.
The mother shouldn’t do any household chores for some time – the husband or other family members should run the errands or do home-related tasks.
Even if you choose to accommodate the guests, ask them to wash their hands before holding the baby. And PLEASE NOTE! If any one of them has a cold, don’t let them touch your baby.
One more thing – don’t have any scents like perfumes or scented candles in the nursery as baby’s senses and immunity are developing. These smells may be overpowering for them.
Point of concern – Many mommies are worried that their newborns are losing weight in the first week. That is normal. They are expected to lose 7-10% of birth weight because they’re born with extra fluid. After 2 weeks, they’ll be able to recover that weight.
Here are some more points for handling a newborn:
- You need to put your hand or arm behind the baby’s head when picking, carrying or laying them down.
- Never shake them. If you have to wake your cutie up, tickle the feet or rub the stomach.
- You need to avoid bouncy movements as well. If traveling by car, strap them safely with the carrier or hold them near to your body.
Feeding the baby
What should first-time parents know about feeding the baby? It is one of those nicest moments when you can be intimate with them, nurture them and communicate with them in your own special way.
There are two methods of feeding – breastfeeding and formula milk.
All the pediatricians and doctors will advise you to breastfeed the baby for 2 years. It’s because it has both emotional and nutritional benefits. Breast milk contains carbohydrates and proteins that are better absorbed and kept by the baby.
Now, what are some of the considerations in this regard?
The first one is to feed the baby on demand. This will be probably after every 1-3 hours. This frequent breastfeeding not only increases the production of milk but prepares your little one for good nipple sucking as well.
The second one is to refrain from swaddling. It may seem the wrong thing to do since the babies usually feel calm when swaddled. But that would mean he/she will keep sleeping when instead, they should be feeding often.
The third one is to find the best feeding position. There are several breastfeeding positions like cradling, cross-cradling, and inverted side lying. Find the one that works best for you and the baby and hold on to that. You can always switch between 2-3 as well. If you need, put 1-2 pillows under the baby’s head but make sure he latches well.
The fourth one is to not be shy of help. It’s your first time, for God’s sake. Don’t be hesitant in asking different types of questions from your mother, lactation consultants or your family doctor. The right advice at the right time is better than the wrong steps leading to disasters (God forbid).
The fifth one is to don’t give up if your breasts don’t produce milk after 1-2 days. Keep trying for at least 2 weeks. There may be some health conditions that delay milk production. An electric or manual pump can come in handy too.
If you choose not to breastfeed the baby, formula milk is the second option. You can choose from the liquid, concentrate or liquid forms depending on your budget. According to CDC, you should be giving 1-3 ounces of milk after every 3 hours in the first few days.
Over the next few weeks, the duration will increase to 3-4 hours.
After 6 months, this duration will increase to 5 hours. By this time, your angel will start eating soft solid food like a banana, custard or oatmeal.
After 1 year, you can shift from formula milk to plain cow’s milk. To make sure that you are giving the formula milk safely:
- Wash your hands before preparing the formula.
- Follow the instructions on the packaging or consult your lactation consultant.
- If you’re using the scoop to prepare the milk, only use the one that comes with the package. The water used should be at room temperature and the amount should be according to the instructions. Too much water, and your newborn will get devoid of the needed nutrients; too little, and it can cause dehydration.
- If the baby leaves some milk, don’t reuse it. Throw it. Preape a new bottle for the next time.
Whichever route you take, here are a few feeding tips for first-time parents.
1. Burp them after feeding
When your baby drinks milk, some air bubbles go into the stomach and become trapped there. When you do the burping, it removes them and prevents them from gassiness or spitting.
According to Erika Landau, M.D., a pediatrician in New York city says, “This happens more with bottle-fed babies. But breastfeed babies swallow some air as well, especially if the mother has a lot of milk.”
2. Feed them after quick regular intervals
According to CDC, your baby will need milk every 1-3 hours for the first few days. This not only improves your milk production but gives your baby the nipple-sucking practice he needs. This time will expand to 2-5 hours in the first few weeks.
3. Getting a proper latch is important
A good latch is deep and not painful, says TMC’s lactation consultant, Noreen. Your baby’s chin should be deep in your chest and the opening of the mouth should be wide. This video will help you in understadning better.
Bathing the newborn baby
It may seem a bit scary but that’s normal. That’s what this first-time parents guide is for. You’ll surely feel anxious at your first try of bathing but with practice, it will become normal.
Choose a time when you are not hurried and keep all the essentials (bathtub, warm water, cool boiled water, cotton balls, cotton cloth, baby clothes) nearby. Prepare the bath by pouring cool water into the basin or tub followed by warm water. Use your elbow to test the temperature (should be warm but not hot).
Mix the baby soap into the water. First, clean the face of the baby using the cotton balls (move from the middle of the face to the edges). Then remove the clothes before gently placing him in the tub. Place your left arm under his body and throw small amounts of water on the body using your right hand. Clean the body using the cotton cloth.
To wash the back side, hold his left arm with your right hand and allow him to lean forward. Then wash his buttocks and back. After it, dry him up using a clean towel.
Dressing the baby
Newborn baby care is not complete without knowing how to dress them up. I know dressing them up in cute outfits will seem irresistible but comfort comes first for them, right?
So what are the considerations?
The general rule of thumb, according to Lancaster General Health is that dress them up in one additional layer than yourself. In the winter, keep them completely insulated because they haven’t yet developed immunity against cold gales of wind and frost. Cover their head with newborn beanies, their hands with mittens and their feet with socks.
In summer, however, dress them up in a single layer of loose clothing so their bodies don’t overheat.
Remember, babies can not regulate their body temperature till they reach the age of 6 months.
When going out, have them wear a wide-brim heat so they are protected from the UV rays of the sun.
That’s it. I hope this guide for first-time parents was helpful for you, mommies and daddies! We’ll keep updating it with new sections. Til then, happy parenting.
You’ll do great 👍.