A key to your post-baby sanity is your ability to recruit help. Many hospitals have feeding specialists or lactation consultants who can help you get started nursing or bottle-feeding. For in-home help, you might want to hire a Baby Nurse or a Postpartum Doula to help you for a few weeks after the birth. Relatives and friends can be a great resource. They may be more than happy to help, and although you may disagree on certain issues, don't dismiss their experience. But if you don't feel up to having guests or you may think your relatives would monopolize your time with the baby, don't feel guilty about placing restrictions on visitors.
Handling a newborn:
Newborns are very fragile and may be intimidating. Here are a few basics tips to remember:
- Be careful to support your baby's head and neck. Cradle the head when carrying your baby and support the head when carrying him upright or when you lay him down.
- Be careful not to shake your baby, whether in play or frustration! Vigorous shaking may cause bleeding in the brain and even death. If you need to wake your infant, tickle his feet or blow a gentle kiss on his cheek.
- Make sure your baby is securely fastened into the stroller or car seat. Even for a short trip, it's never safe for one of you to hold your baby in your arms while the other drives. If the driver has to stop quickly, your baby could be pulled from your arms and thrown against the dashboard. It's a good idea to purchase a car seat before the baby is born. There are two kinds of car seats for babies: infant seats weighing up to 20lbs. and convertible seats that can accommodate both infants and older children.
Before diapering a baby, make sure you have all your supplies within reach so you won't have to leave your baby unattended. New parents often say they spend a lot of time feeding and changing their baby. And that's not surprising- babies may use as many as ten diapers a day!
Getting ready: you will need a clean diaper, diaper ointment if the baby has a rash, a container of warm water, cotton balls and a clean wash cloth or diaper wipes. After each bowel movement, or if your baby is wet, lay your baby on his back and remove the dirty diaper. Use the water, cotton balls and wash cloth or wipes to gently wipe your baby's genital area clean. When removing a boy's diaper do so carefully because exposure to the air may cause him to urinate. When wiping a girl, wipe her bottom from front to back to avoid a urinary tract infection. Always remember to wash hands thoroughly after changing a diaper.
Diaper rash is a a common concern. To prevent or heal diaper rash, try these tips:
- Change your baby's diaper frequently; as soon as possible after a bowel movement.
- After cleaning the area with mild soap and water or a wipe, apply a diaper rash or "barrier cream". Creams with zinc oxide are preferable because they form a barrier against moisture.
- If you use cloth diapers, wash them in dye-free and fragrance-free detergents, and avoid drying them with scented drying sheets.
If you have chosen to have your baby circumcised, here are few tips for your baby boy's care. Immediately after circumcision, the tip of the penis is usually covered in gauze coated with petroleum jelly to keep the wound from sticking to the diaper. Gently wipe the the tip with clean warm water after a diaper change. Redness or irritation of the penis should heal within a few days, but if redness or swelling increases or pus-filled blisters form, infection may be present. Call your baby's doctor immediately!
Umbilical cord care in newborns is very important. To help prevent infection, swab the area with rubbing alcohol after each diaper change until the cord stump falls off, usually in 10 days to 3 weeks. The infant shouldn't be submerged in water until after this happens.
Feeding your baby:
Breast or bottle? Your first feeding decision is how to feed your child. Once you've made your decision, you may be confused as to how often your baby should be fed. Generally it is recommended that you feed your baby whenever he seems hungry, which is called on demand feeding.
A newborn baby may want to be fed as often as every 2 hours or perhaps more frequently. If you are breastfeeding, give your baby the chance to nurse about 10- 15 minutes at each breast. If feeding your infant with bottle, he will most likely take about 2-3 ounces of infant formula at each feeding.
Some newborns may need to be wakened every few hours to make sure that he gets enough to eat. If you are formula feeding your child, you can more easily monitor if he's getting enough to eat. After all, what goes in must come out. However if breastfeeding, you may wonder if your baby is ingesting enough nutrients. If he seems satisfied, produces about six wet diapers and several stools a day and is gaining weight regularly, then your baby is probably eating enough.
Babies often swallow air during feedings, which can cause them to become fussy. You can prevent this by burping your baby frequently. When bottle feeding, burp your baby every 2 to 3 ounces. When breastfeeding, burp him each time he switches breasts.
You may be surprised to learn that your newborn, who seems to need you every minute of the day, actually sleeps about 16 hours or more! Usually a newborn will sleep for periods of 3-4 hours. Don't expect your newborn to sleep through the night- because your baby's digestive system is so small, he needs nourishment every few hours and should be awakened if he hasn't been fed in 5 hours.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that you place your infant on his back to sleep to reduce the risk of sudden death syndrome (SIDS). In addition, you should remove all fluffy bedding, quilts, stuffed animals and pillows from the crib to ensure your baby's safety.
Quiet time with your baby:
The special quiet moments Moms and Dads share with their new babies are very important. When you spend time holding him and relaxing together, you let your baby know he is protected. This intimate caring helps you develop a close and secure relationship together. At an early age touching, holding and talking to your baby are very important for both parent and child. Take time to love and talk to your baby, as well as cuddle and massage him to help create a loving family bond.
Visiting your baby's pediatrician:
You will be asked to bring your baby in for a check-up when he is around 2 weeks old. At approximately 6 weeks your baby will receive a thorough physical examination, and will be weighed and measured. At this time, you can discuss any concerns or questions you may have with your pediatric health care professional.
When to call your baby's Doctor:
- The baby is lethargic or difficult to rouse.
- The baby is experiencing rapid or labored breathing (Immediately call 911 if your baby turns bluish around the lips and mouth).
- The baby is vomiting forcefully or has an inability to keep fluids down.
- The baby exhibits symptoms of dehydration (crying without tears, sunken eyes, no wet diapers in 6 to 8 hours).
- The baby has bloody vomit or passes bloody stool.
- The baby passes more than eight diarrhea stools in 8 hours.