You’ve experienced maternity, labor and delivery, now you’re going home with your new family member and begin a new life. When you’re back at home, you might have no idea what you’re doing! This article will provide some tips for the most anxious new parents, so that you can be more confident in taking care of your newborn.
Seek for Help After Childbirth
During this stressful and overwhelming period, do not hesitate to seek for help when you feel helpless. Speak with the professionals nearby when you’re in the hospital. There are lactation consultants or feeding specialists employed in many hospitals and they can provide help for you to start breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your baby. You may also learn how to carry, burp, change and care for your baby from the nurses in the hospitals.
When you’re back at home from the hospital, you may hire a confinement nanny, whether it’s a freelance or through an agency. However, we’ll suggest you to hire a confinement nanny through an agency, especially for new parents like you! Agency confinement nannies mostly complete professional training before they start to serve their clients. So, you can rely on them to take care of your baby, as well as the new other.
Besides that, your family and friends are always ready to back you up! Even though there are certain points that you disagree with them, don’t dismiss their experience. However, don’t feel bad about having restrictions on visitors if you have other worries or you just don’t feel like having visitors, especially during this Covid-19 pandemic.
Taking Care of a Newborn
Newborns are so fragile and must be handled very carefully. Here are some tips for new parents to remember:
Before touching your child, wash your hands or sterilize them with a hand sanitizer. Newborns are vulnerable to illness because they don’t have robust immune system yet. Make sure everyone who comes in contact with your baby has clean hands.
Always support your baby’s head and neck. When you are carrying your baby upright or laying them down, always cradle and support their head.
Never shake their head under any circumstances, whether you’re angry or playing with them. Brain hemorrhage and possibly death might result from shaking. Do not shake your baby to wake them up; instead, you may blow gently on their cheek or tickle their little feet.
Safely buckle your baby into the car seat, stroller or carrier. Any activity that might be overly rough or bouncy should be avoided or limited.
Do not play roughly with your baby. Remember that your baby is still fragile and is not ready for rough play, for example being jiggled on the knee or thrown in the air.
Bonding and Soothing
One of the most enjoyable parts of caring for a baby is certainly bonding, which takes place during the delicate period in the first few hours and days after delivery when parents form a close bond with their child. An emotional connection can be enhanced by physical contact.
The attachment influences baby’s emotional development and physical growth too. Bonding can also be thought of as “falling in love” with your child. The unconditional love from the parents or other adults in children’s life are essential for their development. Start your bonding process by cuddling your baby and giving them gentle strokes in various patterns. You and your partner can also have a “skin-to-skin” time with you baby by cradling or nursing them.
Babies, particularly those who are premature or have health issues, may respond favorably to infant massage. Certain massage techniques may improve bonding and help in the growth and development of babies. However, babies are very fragile, so massage your baby gently.
Babies usually enjoy vocal sounds like talking, chattering, singing and cooing. It’s likely that your baby will likewise enjoy music too. Other stimulation like baby rattles and musical mobiles can help to boost your baby’s hearing. Try singing, reciting poetry and nursery rhymes or reading aloud while gently swaying or rocking your baby in a chair if they are being fussy.
Some babies may be extremely sensitive to touch, light or sound, and may cry easily, sleep for a shorter period of time or turn their faces away when spoken or sang to. Keep noise and light levels low to moderate if that applies to your baby.
Another soothing technique first-time parents should learn is swaddling, which works well for some babies during their first few weeks. When done correctly, swaddling keeps babies’ arms tight to their bodies and allows some movement of the legs. Swaddling seems to give most babies a sense of security and comfort in addition to keeping them warm. Swaddling may also lessen the startle reflex which awaken a baby.
Here’s the way to swaddle a baby:
- The receiving blanket should be spread out with one corner slightly folded over.
- Ahead of the folded corner, place the baby face-up on the blanket.
- The left corner should be wrapped around the body and tucked under the baby’s back, going under the right arm.
- Fold the fabric down if it comes close to the baby’s face. Bring the bottom corner up over the baby’s feet and draw it toward the head. Make sure not to wrap the hips too tightly. Knees and hips should be turned out and slightly bent. If your baby is wrapped too tightly, it may raise the risk of hip dysplasia.
- Leaving only the neck and head exposed, wrap the right corner around the baby and tuck it under the left side of the baby’s back. Make sure you can fit a hand between the blanket and your baby’s chest to ensure that they’re not wrapped too tightly to allow them to breathe comfortably.
- After two months old, baby should not be swaddled. Some babies at this age can roll over while being swaddled which may result in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
All About Diapering
Before bringing your new child home, you will probably choose between cloth or disposable diapers. Whichever method you chosen, you will need to change diapers for your baby for about 10 times per day, or about 70 times a week.
Make sure you have everything you need before changing your baby’s diaper so you won’t have to leave your baby unattended on the changing table. Here’s what you need:
- A clean diaper
- Fasteners for cloth prefold diapers
- Diaper lotion
- Baby wipes or warm water and a clean washcloth or cotton balls
Lay your infant on his or her back to remove the dirty diaper after each bowel movement or if it is damp. To clean your baby’s genital area, use warm water and a washcloth or cotton balls to wipe gently. You may also use baby wipes. Be careful when removing a baby boy’s diaper as he may urinate when exposing to the air. When cleaning a baby girl’s genital area, wipe her bottom from front to back to prevent a urinary tract infection (UTI). If your baby gets diaper rash easily, always apply diaper lotion when changing diapers to prevent or heal rash. Always remember to wash your hands before and after changing a diaper.
Diaper rash is a typical problem among babies. Warm baths, diaper cream and a little time out of the diaper usually help the red and bumpy rash to disappear in a few days. Baby’s skin is sensitive and easily irritated by the wet or poopy diaper, therefore rashes often happen to them.
Try these suggestions to prevent or treat diaper rash:
- Change your baby’s diaper frequently. As soon as your baby has a bowel movement, change their diaper quickly.
- Apply a fairly thick layer of diaper rash or “barrier” cream after gently cleaning the area with mild soap and water (wipes sometimes can be irritating). The best creams are those that contain zinc oxide because they provide a barrier against moisture.
- Wash your cloth diapers (if you use them) in detergents that are free of dye and fragrance.
- Take off your baby’s diaper for part of the day, so that their skin has a chance to air out.
Call your doctor if the diaper rash lasts more than 3 days or appears to be worsen. It can be a fungal infection that needs to be treated with a prescription.
You should give your baby a sponge bath until the umbilical cord falls off and the navel fully recovers which usually takes 1 to 4 weeks. In the first year, a bath two or three times a week is acceptable. Bathing too often may dry out your baby’s skin.
Before bathing your baby, get the following item ready:
- A soft brush to stimulate the baby’s scalp
- A soft, clean washcloth
- Mild, unscented baby soap and shampoo
- Towels or blankets
- A clean diaper
- Clean clothes
Choose a safe, flat surface (such as a changing table, floor or counter) in a warm room to give your baby a sponge bath. If a sink or bowl is available, fill it with warm water. Get your baby undressed and wrap him or her in a towel. Soak a clean washcloth or cotton ball in clean water and gently wipe your baby’s eyes from the inner corner to the outer corner. Then clean your baby’s ears and nose with the wet washcloth. Then dampen the cloth once again, gently wash your baby’s face with a little soap and pat it dry.
Next, make a lather with baby shampoo, gently wash your baby’s head and then rinse. Gently wash the rest of your baby’s body with a moist cloth and soap, especially the creases in the genital area, behind the ears, under the arms and around the neck. After washing those areas, make sure they are dry before dressing and diapering your child.
The initial baths for your baby should be gentle and brief when they are ready for tub baths. If your baby does not get used to tub bath, return to sponge baths for a week or two, then try the tub bath again.
In addition to the bath items listed above, add:
- A baby tub filled with 2 to 3 inches of warm water (feel the water with the inside of your elbow or wrist to test the water temperature). Make sure the baby tub can fit in the bath tub so that your baby can fit in the tub better and it makes bathing easier to manage.
To prevent chills, undress your baby and place him or her in the water immediately, in a warm room. The depth of the water must not exceed 2 to 3 inches and it is no longer running. Support the baby’s head with one hand and guide the baby in feet-first with another hand. Lower your baby into the tub slowly until it is up to the chest while speaking gently to them.
Wash his or her face with a washcloth. Use the pads of your fingers or a soft baby hairbrush to gently massage your baby’s scalp. When washing your baby’s head with soap or shampoo, cup your hand across the forehead to direct the suds away from the baby’s eyes. Use water and a little of soap to gently wash the rest of your baby’s body.
To prevent your baby from getting cold during the bath, gently pour water over his or her body regularly. After the bath, cover your baby’s head with a towel and wrap him or her up promptly. Use a baby towels with hoods to keep your baby warm after bath.
Never leave your baby alone when bathing him or her. Wrap the baby in a towel and take him or her with you if you need to leave the bathroom.
Circumcision and Umbilical Cord Care
To prevent the wound from sticking to the diaper, the tip of the penis is immediately wrapped with petroleum jelly-coated gauze right after circumcision. After changing the diaper, gently rinse the tip with warm water before coating it with petroleum jelly to prevent sticking. Inflammation or redness of the penis should go away in a few days, but if it persists or worsens, or if pus-filled blisters develop, infection may be present. In this case, you should consult your baby’s doctor right away.
It’s crucial to take care of a newborn’s umbilical cord. While some doctors advise to leave the umbilical cord area alone, others suggest to swab the area with rubbing alcohol until the cord stump dries up and falls off, usually in 10 days to 3 weeks.
Until the cord stump falls off and the area has healed, don’t soak your baby’s navel area in water. The cord stump will turn from yellow to brown or black before falling off and this is normal. If your baby’s navel becomes red or if a foul odor or discharge appears, call your doctor immediately.
Feeding and Burping Your Baby
You might be unsure how often you should feed your baby, whether by breastfeed or bottle-feed. In general, it is advised to feed them on their demand. They may cry, put their fingers in their mouth or making sucking noises as a cue.
A newborn baby needs feeding every two to three hours. Give your baby about 10 to 15 minutes at each breast if you’re breastfeeding. If your baby is on formula-feeding, 2 to 3 ounces (60ml to 90ml) will be enough.
To make sure they are well-fed, some babies may need to be awakened every few hours. If your baby doesn’t seem to be interested in sucking or feeding or if you need to wake your baby frequently, call your doctor.
It is simple to check that your baby is eating enough when you use a formula, but breastfeeding can be a little challenging. Your baby is most likely to get enough milk if he or she changes about six wet diapers and several stools a day, sleeps well and gain weight consistently.
Observe whether your breasts feel full before feeding your baby and less full after feeding to determine if your baby is getting milk. If you are worried about your baby’s development or eating schedule, talk to your doctor.
Babies usually swallow air during feedings, which can make them uncomfortable. You have to burp your baby often to prevent this happening. Try these burping tips:
- In upright position, hold your baby with his or her head on your shoulder. Gently pat your baby’s back while supporting his or her head with another hand.
- Let your baby sit on your lap. With one hand, support your baby’s head and chest by cradling his or her chin on the palm of your hand and rest the heel of your hand on your baby’s chest (do not grip your baby’s throat). Gently pat your baby’s back with another hand.
- Let your baby lay with face down on your lap. Gently pat or rub your baby’s back while supporting his or her head, making sure it is above the chest level.
Before feeding your baby again, if they haven’t burped after a few minutes, switch the baby’s position and try again. When feeding time is over, always burp your baby and keep him or her upright for at least 15 minutes to prevent spitting up.
If you are a new parent, you might be startled to find that your baby who seems to need you all the time actually sleep for at least 16 hours each day. Newborns normally sleep for durations of 2-4 hours. Their digestive system is so small that they need to be fed every few hours, therefore don’t expect your newborn to sleep through the night.
Most of the babies sleep through the night at three months old. However, if yours doesn’t, do not get discouraged because like adults, babies must also develop their own sleep cycles and patterns. Sit and relax as long as your baby is gaining weight and growing healthily.
Keep in mind that your baby must always be put to sleep on their backs to lower the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). It’s advised that babies share a bedroom but not a bed with their parents for the first six months to a year. You must not put blankets, quilts, sheepskins, stuffed animals and pillows in the crib or bassinet to avoid suffocating your baby. To avoid the development of a flat spot on one side of your baby’s head, be sure to change the position of your baby’s head from night to night.
A lot of babies experience “mixed up” days and nights, where they are more awake at night and more sleepy during the day. To solve this problem, use a nightlight or keep the lights dim during night time. Try to keep your baby awake a little bit longer during daytime by talking and playing with them.
We do understand that you might feel anxious about handling a newborn, especially if you are a new parent. A confinement nanny could be a great help during this moment. She will share her experiences and skills with you, as well as demonstrates the right way to take care of your newborn. However, we recommend you to hire one through agency as the confinement nannies are professionally trained by agency before they begin to serve clients. Contact us for more information.