You’ve now tided over pregnancy and the excruciating experience of labour and childbirth, and your little bundle of joy is finally in your arms. The wait is over! But your tryst with parenting has only just begun. As you leave the hospital still a little fuzzy from the ‘miracle of birth’, you may find yourself at a loss of direction, as all those tips and lessons on newborn care basics elude your memory.
Here are some quick yet extremely useful tips on newborn care basics that will see you through the first few crucial weeks of caring for your baby:
Wash or Sanitize Your Hands Before Handling Your Baby
Yes, you need to follow this newborn care basic every time you lift your baby for a nappy change, feeding session, sponge bath, or even if you just want to hold them close for a bit. Newborns have a fragile immune system, which puts them at a greater risk of contracting infections.
The fragility of a newborn’s body can be intimidating, especially for first-time parents. An essential newborn care basic is to always support your baby’s neck and head when lifting them up. If you are carrying your baby in your arms, remember to cradle the head at all times. Similarly, support their neck from below if you are holding them in an upright position.
This newborn care basic tip is non-negotiable. Your little one is not ready for any rough, bouncy, or adventurous activities, and you need to handle them with utmost delicacy. Shaking your baby vigorously either out of frustration or in play can prove fatal, as it can trigger internal bleeding in the brain. You must also double-check if your newborn is securely fastened in the baby rocker, stroller, carrier, or car seat, as any sudden jerks or bumps can cause injury to your baby.
Your baby has spent the past nine months cocooned in the protective shell of your uterus, and all that free space around can make them a little jittery. Swaddling the baby can help soothe them down and limit the chances of them waking up from sleep due to startle reflex. The key here is to keep the arms as close to the baby’s body as possible before wrapping them in a swaddling blanket, while leaving some room for leg movement.
Irrespective of whether you choose to use disposable diapers or cloth ones, it is imperative to keep your baby’s diaper area clean and dry at all times. This can feel like a full-time job since your baby will soil over 10 diapers a day, but you must remove your baby's diaper as soon as it is soiled. Clean the area thoroughly with a soft wet-wipe or wet muslin cloth and allow it to dry completely before putting on a new diaper. Allow your baby to stay without a diaper for some part of the day to air out the skin.
Another newborn care basic that all new parents need to be well-versed with is the bathing schedule for a newborn. Doctors advise against bathing the baby until the umbilical stump falls off, which can be anywhere between 1-2 weeks after birth. Until then, you can give your baby a sponge bath on a secure flat surface such as a changing table or the floor. Once your baby is ready for the first bath, make sure to keep it gentle and brief, and hold your baby securely at all times during the bath. If you're using a tub, make sure the water is only 2-3 inches deep and keep your baby’s head above the tub. If you have to get up to fetch the towel or the baby wash, carry your newborn with you.
The first few weeks are a time when most parents establish a deep bond with their newborns. Cradle your baby as often as possible, encourage skin-to-skin contact, babble, talk, sing, or read to your newborn to lay the foundation of that everlasting love. This is an important part of newborn care basics as well. Your love for your baby will help you overcome the blues, frustration, and exhaustion that are common in the first few weeks of parenting.