After a successful pregnancy, labor and delivery, you’re now prepared to take your newborn home and begin a new phase in your life. However, after you get home, you might think you have no idea what you’re doing!
This article is a guide for first-time parents. Even the most anxious new parents can quickly feel comfortable taking care of a baby with the help of these tips.
Seeking Support After Childbirth
Consider seeking help during this demanding and stressful time. While you are in the hospital, converse with the neighboring professionals. Many hospitals have lactation consultants who can help you start breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. Another great resource is having a nurse show you how to hold, burp, change and care for your baby.
If you require in-home assistance after childbirth, you could hire a postpartum midwife, a baby nurse, or an appropriate neighborhood babysitter. You might be able to get referrals to home health agencies and receive information about in-home care from your doctor or the hospital.
Many times, friends and family want to assist as well. Respect their experience. However, if you don’t feel like hosting or have other worries, don’t feel bad about imposing restrictions on visitors.
Taking Care of a Newborn
Infants’ fragility might be frightful if you haven’t spent much time with them before. Remember the following guidelines:
- Before touching your infant, wash your hands. Due to their underdeveloped immune systems, newborns are more susceptible to illnesses.
- Assure everyone who comes in contact with your baby that their hands are clean.
- Give support to the head and neck of your child. When carrying or laying your newborn down, support the head and cradle it.
- Never shake your baby under any circumstances, whether anger or play. Shaking may cause internal bleeding in the brain and might lead to death. Don’t shake your infant if you need to wake them up; tickle their feet or gently blow on one of their cheeks instead.
- Ensure your child’s safety, whether on a stroller, car seat, or carrier.
- Avoid engaging in any activity that can be harsh or overly bouncy.
Bonding and Soothing
One of the most enjoyable aspects of caring for an infant is undoubtedly bonding. It takes place during the delicate period in the first few days and hours following delivery when parents form a close bond with their child. Physical closeness can promote an emotional connection.
Infants’ attachment influences their emotional development, which impacts other aspects of their life, such as their physical development.
Initiate bonding by cuddling your infant and giving them gentle strokes in various patterns. Also, by holding your baby close to your body as you nurse or cradle them, you, as well as your partner, can benefit from being “skin to skin.”
Babies, particularly those who are premature or have health issues, may respond favorably to infant massages. Specific massage techniques may improve bonding and aid in the growth and development of infants. Ask your doctor for advice. Numerous books and videos discuss infant massaging. However, be cautious because babies lack the strength of adults, so massage your baby gently.
Babbling, singing, chatting and cooing are vocal sounds babies typically adore. You can also use baby rattles to stimulate your baby’s hearing. When your baby is fussy, try singing, reciting poetry or nursery rhymes, or reading aloud while you gently rock or sway your baby in a chair.
Swaddling a Baby
Another calming technique new parents should learn is swaddling, which can be effective for newborns during their first few weeks. While allowing for some leg movement, proper swaddling keeps a baby’s arms close to their torso. Swaddling a baby not only keeps them warm but also seems to provide them with a sense of safety and comfort. The startle reflex, which can awaken a newborn, may be reduced with swaddling.
Here’s how to swaddle a baby:
-The receiving blanket should be laid with one corner softly tucked in.
-Lay the infant face-up on the blanket with the top of their head just above the folded corner.
-The left corner should be wrapped around the torso, tucked under the infant’s back and their right arm.
– Fold the cloth if it gets too close to the baby’s face by bringing the bottom corner over the infant’s feet and drawing it up toward the head. Be careful not to encircle the hips too tightly. Knees and hips should be slightly bowed and turned out. Your baby’s risk of developing hip dysplasia may rise if you wrap them too tightly.
-Only the baby’s head and neck should be visible after you’ve wrapped the right corner around the infant and tucked it under the infant’s back on the left side. By fitting your hand between the blanket and your baby’s chest, you can tell if the wrapping swaddle is too tight or if your baby is breathing comfortably. Ensure the blanket is neither tight nor loose to prevent it from coming undone.
-Swaddling is not recommended for infants older than two months old. Some babies can roll over at this age and swaddling can increase the dangers of them dying (SIDS).
All about diapering or Nappy changing
Before bringing your new baby home, you’ll probably have decided whether you’ll be using cloth or disposable diapers. Regardless of your chosen method, your child will need new diapers roughly ten times per day or 70 times per week.
To avoid leaving your infant unattended on the changing table, ensure you have everything you need before changing your baby’s diaper. You will need the following:
– A clean diaper.
– Fasteners (If using cloth pre-fold diapers).
– Diaper cream.
– Baby wipes (or a container of warm water and a clean washcloth or cotton balls).
Lay your infant on their back after each bowel movement or if the diaper is damp, then take off the dirty diaper. To gently clean your baby’s genital area, use a washcloth, water, cotton balls and wipes. Boys should have their diapers changed carefully because exposure to the air could cause them to urinate. To prevent a urinary tract infection (UTI) when wiping a female, do so from front to back. Apply ointment to treat or prevent a rash. Never forget to wash your hands thoroughly after changing a diaper.
A typical problem is diaper rash. Warm showers, diaper cream and some time out of the diaper usually help the red, bumpy rash disappear in a few days. Most rashes occur due to the baby’s sensitive skin being irritated by the wet or poopy diaper.
Try these suggestions to treat or avoid diaper rash:
-As soon as your baby has a bowel movement, change their diaper as quickly as possible.
-Apply a relatively thick layer of diaper rash or “barrier” cream after gently cleaning the region with mild soap and water (wipes can occasionally be unpleasant). The best creams contain zinc oxide because they provide a barrier against moisture.
-If you use cloth diapers, wash them in dye-free and fragrance-free detergent.
Basics of Bathing
Giving your infant a sponge wash will help them relax and have a better blood circulation.
The navel fully recovers in 1 to 4 weeks after birth.
Your baby boy heals from the circumcision after 1 to 2 weeks.
Giving two or three baths per week is appropriate in the first year. Bathing more frequently could dry out your baby’s skin.
Before bathing your child, get the following ready:
-A gentle, spotless washcloth.
-Shampoo and mild, unscented baby soap.
-Towels or blankets and a soft brush to massage the baby’s scalp.
-A clean diaper.
Choose a safe, flat surface (such as a changing table, floor, or counter) in a warm area for your sponge wash. If there is a sink available, or a basin, fill it with warm (not hot!) water. Your infant should be undressed and wrapped in a towel. Wipe from the inner corner to the outer corner of the baby’s eye with a washcloth (or a clean cotton ball) wet with water only. Use a fresh washcloth corner or a different cotton ball to clean the second eye. Use the damp washcloth to clean your child’s ears and nose. Then soak the towel again, gently wash the baby’s face with soap, and pat it dry.
Bathing in a tub
Once your child can take a bath in the tub, the first few times should be mild and quick. For a few weeks, switch back to sponge baths if the child is upset, then try the bath again.
In addition to the materials mentioned above, include:
2 to 3 inches of warm (not hot!) water in a baby tub for infants. A plastic infant tub that fits in the bathtub is a better size for babies and simplifies bathing.
To prevent chills, take your baby’s clothes off and bathe them immediately in warm water. Make sure that the tub’s water is no deeper than 2 to 3 inches and that it is no longer running. While guiding the baby feet-first, use one hand to support the head and the other to clean the body. Softly lower your infant into the tub until it is up to the chest.
Use a washed-wet cloth to clean their face and hair. Use your fingers or a soft baby hairbrush to gently massage your baby’s scalp, paying particular attention to the region over the fontanelles (weak soft spots) on top of the head. When washing your baby’s head with soap or shampoo, cup your palm across the forehead to direct the suds away from the baby’s eyes. Use water and a tiny bit of soap to gently wash your baby’s body the rest of the way.
To prevent your infant from getting cold during the bath, gently pour water over their body regularly. After the bath, cover your baby’s head with a towel and wrap them up promptly. When a baby comes out after a bath, hooded baby towels are excellent for keeping them warm.
Never leave your baby alone when bathing them.
Care for the umbilical cord and circumcision
Immediately following circumcision, the tip of the penis is often wrapped in petroleum jelly-coated gauze to prevent the cut from sticking to the diaper. After changing the diaper, gently rinse the tip with warm water, then coat it with petroleum jelly to stop it from adhering to the diaper. After a few days, the penis becomes red or irritated, but if the redness or swelling persist or pus-filled blisters develop, an infection may be present. You should immediately consult your baby’s doctor in this situation.
Burping and Feeding Your Infant
You might be unsure about how frequently you breastfeed or bottle-feed your child. Generally, feeding babies whenever they appear hungry or on demand is advised. Your infant may cry, put their fingers in their mouth, or make sucking noises as a cue.
A newborn infant needs feeding every two to three hours. Give your infant the chance to nurse for roughly 10 to 15 minutes at each breast if you’re breastfeeding. Your infant will likely consume two to three ounces (60 to 90 milliliters) of formula at each feeding if you are formula feeding.
It is simple to check that your kid is eating enough when you use a formula, but breastfeeding presents some challenges. Your baby is most likely getting enough food if they appear full, change approximately six diapers per day, pass several stools, sleep soundly, and gain weight consistently.
Observe whether your breasts feel full before feeding your baby and less so after feeding, to determine if your baby is actually getting the milk.
During feedings, babies sometimes swallow air, which can make them irritable. Burp your child frequently to aid in preventing discomfort. If you bottle-feed or breastfeed, try burping your child after 2-3 ounces (60-90 milliliters) or whenever you switch breasts.
Try burping your infant after each ounce when bottle-feeding or every five minutes when breastfeeding if they frequently have gas, have gastroesophageal reflux, or seem fussy during feeding.
Use these burping suggestions:
Hold your infant up straight, placing the child’s head on your shoulder. With your other hand, softly pat your infant’s back while supporting the head and back.
Place the infant on your lap. With one hand, support your baby’s head and chest by placing the palm of your hand on their chest and cradling their chin in the palm of your hand (be careful to grab their chin, not their throat). With the other hand, pat your baby’s back gently.
On your lap, place your infant face down. Gently massage or rub your baby’s back while supporting its head, ensuring it is higher than the child’s chest.
Basics of Sleep
As a new parent, you might be shocked to learn that your baby, who seems to need you all the time, sleeps for at least 16 hours each day.
Most newborns sleep between two and four hours at a time. Because babies’ digestive systems are so small, it is unrealistic to expect them to sleep through the night. Instead, wake them up if it has been four hours since their last feeding.
When should you anticipate your child sleeping through the night? At three months old, most babies sleep through the night (for six to eight hours), However, if yours doesn’t, there is no need for concern. If your infant is gaining weight and seems healthy, don’t get discouraged if they haven’t slept through the night by three months. Babies, like adults, must develop their sleep cycles and routines.
To reduce the risk of sudden death (SIDS), lay the babies on their backs. Other safe sleeping habits include sharing a bedroom (but not a bed) with the parents for the first six months to a year and not putting blankets, quilts, sheepskins, plush animals, or cushions in the crib or bassinet (these can suffocate a baby). To avoid the development of a flat spot on one side of the head, be sure to rotate your baby’s head from night to night.
Many babies have “mixed up” days and nights. During the day, they are more tired, while at night, they are more awake and attentive. Reduced stimulus at night is one method to assist them in regulating their patterns. Use a nightlight or keep the lights dim overall. Keep your baby’s conversations and activities for the daytime. Try to keep your baby awake a little bit longer by talking and playing with them when they wake up during the day.
Bottom Line on A Guide for First-Time Parents
Although managing a newborn may make you feel uneasy, in just a few short weeks, you’ll build a routine and be parenting like an expert! Ask your doctor to offer resources to help you and your baby if you have any questions or concerns.
Authored by Afifa Maryam Siddiqui
Edited by Yara Fakhoury
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