As much as a newborn brings joy, it brings an equal amount of responsibility as well. New parents usually go through a bumpy ride when taking care of a baby, which involves issues like lack of sleep, soothing the baby, and feeding. I have always heard that being a new parent is one sleepless night after another, forever trying to learn the ancient art of baby burrito wrapping, and lots and LOTS of stinky diapers.
Hey, none of that is too far off, but I do have some tips that will make the whole first-baby conundrum much easier!
1. How to get the baby to sleep?
Newborns’ sleeping problems come from the fact that inside the womb, it’s always dark and cozy, and the baby is used to that setting. So once they come into our world, they have to adjust to changes in light. Try to keep the room lit up during the day and dim the lights at night.
This will help your little one understand the difference between daytime and night. Your ‘almost sleeping’ baby might look irresistibly cute to you and you’ll certainly get the urge to kiss those chubby little cheeks, but that wouldn’t be a good idea.
Fight the temptation because the baby may take it as a cue that you wanna play with them (or that its lunchtime!), so they might wake up. And remember that it’ll take some time for the baby to get used to the ways of our world, so be patient!
2. How do parents need to take care of themselves in the first 30 days?
As if by some sort of infant sorcery, whenever I was on the verge of falling asleep at night, my newborn would know and immediately start crying. So, for the first few days, I didn’t get much sleep, that’s for sure. And that made me feel tired and pretty grouchy.
Ok, fine, really grouchy! That’s when I knew I had to figure out how and when to sleep.
The solution is pretty simple. I sleep when the baby sleeps. Synching your sleep cycle with your baby’s will help you get enough rest so that you’re fresh and full of energy when you’re awake.
3. How to swaddle a baby?
“Hey, how hard can it be to wrap a baby in a blanket?” I know, I thought the same thing. But there is a sort of “science” to it so that your baby is as safe and comfortable as can be! First off, lay a light blanket down in a diamond shape and fold the top corner about a quarter of the way down. Place the baby face-up on the blanket so that their shoulders are just below that fold.
Then grab the right corner of the blanket, pull it across the baby’s body, and tuck it under the left side. Leave the little one’s left arm out. (And, of course, you can do it from the other side, from left to right.) Pull the bottom corner up and tuck it into the fold you just created over your baby’s right shoulder.
Finally, grab the remaining open corner (the left one if you went from right to left), bring it across your baby, and tuck it under. Now you have your perfectly wrapped baby burrito. Swaddling is actually really important because it makes the baby feel safe and secure. That way, they’ll feel more relaxed and will fall asleep quicker. And you know what that means: you can get some shut-eye too!
4. How to hold a baby?
Here’s one that pretty much everybody has heard at some point in their life, whether they’re a parent or not. Yes, it’s true and extremely important: when holding a baby, you must make sure that their neck is supported.
You can do that by either cradling the baby in your arms or keeping one of your hands under their head. This is because a newborn’s neck muscles are too weak to hold the head up, so you have to help them out with that!
5.Keeping an eye on the umbilical cord
The most important thing to remember about the clamped umbilical cord (or stump) is that it should always be clean and dry. So, until the cord shrivels up and falls off, which might take two weeks or so, the baby should only be given sponge baths.
You can switch to the tub after the cord has fallen off on its own. And if you see any signs of infection like a yellowish discharge or foul smell, you know it’s time to see the doctor!
6. How to bath a baby?
A baby’s skin is super soft, and it can get really slippery after a bath. That’s why it’s extremely important that you be extra careful while removing the baby from the bathtub. I’ve learned that a safe way to do it is by grasping the baby under their arms using both your hands (while supporting their neck and head, of course!).
It’s also worth noting that babies don’t need baths every single day. Otherwise, their silky soft skin can get dried out and irritated. Most doctors recommend doing it about 3 times a week until your little one starts moving more on their own. You know, playing in sandboxes and whatnot!
7. How to Change diapers?
Here’s a task any new parent will become a pro at in no time! I mean, it’s not the most complicated thing in the world: you want to remove the soiled diaper and put a fresh clean one in its place.
But there are some important things to remember. For example, always wash your hands first (and afterward!) to prevent bacteria on your hands from getting on the baby. Also, always wipe front to back – this will help prevent infection, especially for girls.
And make sure the baby’s skin is clean and dry before putting on the fresh diaper to avoid diaper rash. Having some rash ointment is a must anyway. And finally, you should also be careful with the umbilical cord stump when changing diapers. Make sure the diaper doesn’t go up past the umbilical cord if it hasn’t fallen off yet.
Some diapers for newborns have a cutout around the belly-button area to avoid irritation. If yours doesn’t, don’t worry – you can simply fold the diaper down from the top to keep the umbilical stump open.
8. How to Feed your baby?
If a mom can or chooses to breastfeed, then there are some helpful tricks when it comes to a baby’s mealtime. As far as positioning goes, there are actually different ones, from the classic “cradle” to the lesser-known “football hold.” Moms can choose whichever way is more comfortable and safe for them and the baby – that’s the most important thing!
Also, if you have a sleepy newborn that tends to get tired and doze off while sucking, you can tickle their feet as they’re feeding. This will ensure they don’t fall asleep with an empty stomach!
And if a baby’s on formula, the pediatrician will give you all the instructions you need. Just don’t assume that baby bottles always need to be warmed up as you see in the movies. And if you do decide to serve it warm, never use a microwave – it can create hotspots that you might not catch while testing it on your wrist.
A pot of warm water will do just fine. Also, don’t shake the bottle too much – that’s a one-way ticket to a really gassy and uncomfortable baby!
9. How to massage a baby?
Who doesn’t like a good massage? I know I do, and my baby does too! But for a newborn, it’s even more important because it makes their bones and muscles stronger. Not to mention, it’s an amazing way to bond with your little one!
All you have to do is lay your baby on a towel that’s placed on a comfortable surface like a bed. Always massage using a vegetable-based oil. Start with the legs, followed by the arms, then the chest, and finally the baby’s back.
10. How to Bond with the baby?
Bonding will be different for everyone, but the goal is the same: to establish a strong connection between the baby and its parents. This process should start as soon as the baby’s born. All it takes, in the beginning, is a gentle skin-to-skin touch.
Another important thing is to look into the baby’s eyes and talk to them. I know, it seems kinda weird since they don’t understand a lick of what you’re saying, but it does help build that connection.
Also, since a baby’s eyesight isn’t that good, you have to get real close to them while interacting. And, of course, be sure to sneak in lots of kisses while you’re face-to-face!
Did I leave anything out when it comes to caring for a newborn? Let me know down in the comments! If you learned something new today, then share this article with your friends and family.