Tips for Newborn Care

Handling a Newborn

  • Wash your hands (or use a hand sanitizer) before handling your baby. Newborns don’t have a strong immune system yet, so they are susceptible to infection. Make sure that everyone who handles your baby has clean hands.
  • Be careful to support your baby’s head and neck. Cradle the head when carrying your baby and support the head when carrying the baby upright or when you lay your baby down.
  • Be careful not to shake your newborn, whether in play or in frustration. Shaking that is vigorous can cause bleeding in the brain and even death. If you need to wake your infant, don’t do it by shaking — instead, tickle your baby’s feet or blow gently on a cheek.
  • Remember that your newborn is not ready for rough play, such as being jiggled on the knee or thrown in the air.

Bonding & Soothing

  • Bonding, probably one of the most pleasurable aspects of infant care, occurs during the sensitive time in the first hours and days after birth when parents make a deep connection with their infant.
  • Infant Massage, Certain types of massage may enhance bonding and help with infant growth and development.
  • Infant’s hearing, Babies usually love vocal sounds, such as talking, babbling, singing, and cooing. Your baby will probably also love listening to music. Baby rattles and musical mobiles are other good ways to stimulate your infant’s hearing.
  • Keep noise and light level need to moderate, when your baby is unusually sensitive to touch, light, or sound, and might startle and cry easily, sleep less than expected, or turn their faces away when someone speaks or sings to them.

Swaddling

Swaddling keep a baby warm, but it seems to give most newborns a sense of security and comfort. Swaddling also may help limit the startle reflex, which can wake a baby.

  • Spread out the receiving blanket, with one corner folded over slightly.
  • Lay the baby face-up on the blanket with his or her head above the folded corner.
  • Wrap the left corner over the body and tuck it beneath the back of the baby, going under the right arm.
  • Bring the bottom corner up over the baby’s feet and pull it toward the head, folding the fabric down if it gets close to the face. Be sure not to wrap too tightly around the hips. Hips and knees should be slightly bent and turned out. Wrapping your baby too tightly may increase the chance of his dysplasia.
  • Wrap the right corner around the baby, and tuck it under the baby’s back on the left side, leaving only the neck and head exposed.
  • Babies should not be swaddled after they’re 2 months old. At this age, some babies can roll over while swaddled, which increases their risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Diapering

You’ll probably decide before you bring your baby home whether you’ll use cloth or disposable diapers. Whichever you use, your little one will dirty diapers about 10 times a day, or about 70 times a week.

Diaper rash is a common concern. To prevent or heal diaper rash, try these tips:

  • Change your baby’s diaper frequently, and as soon as possible after bowel movements.
  • After cleaning the area with mild soap and water or a wipe, apply a diaper rash or “barrier” cream. Creams with zinc oxide are preferred because they form a barrier against moisture.
  • If you use cloth diapers, wash them in dye- and fragrance-free detergents.

If the diaper rash continues for more than 3 days or seems to be getting worse, call a doctor.

Bathing Basics

You should give your baby a sponge bath until:

  • the umbilical cord falls off and the navel heals completely (1–4 weeks)
  • the circumcision heals (1–2 weeks)

A bath two or three times a week in the first year is fine. More frequent bathing may be drying to the skin.

Feeding and Burping

A newborn baby needs to be fed every 2 to 3 hours. If you’re breastfeeding, give your baby the chance to nurse about 10–15 minutes at each breast. If you’re formula-feeding, your baby will most likely take about 2–3 ounces (60–90 milliliters) at each feeding.

Babies often swallow air during feedings, which can make them fussy. You can prevent this by burping your baby frequently. Try burping your baby every 2–3 ounces (60–90 milliliters) if you bottle-feed, and each time you switch breasts if you breastfeed.

Burping Strategies:

  • Hold your baby upright with his or her head on your shoulder. Support your baby’s head and back while gently patting the back with your other hand.
  • Sit your baby on your lap. Support your baby’s chest and head with one hand by cradling your baby’s chin in the palm of your hand and resting the heel of your hand on your baby’s chest (be careful to grip your baby’s chin — not throat). Use the other hand to gently pat your baby’s back.
  • Lay your baby face-down on your lap. Support your baby’s head, making sure it’s higher than his or her chest, and gently pat or rub his or her back.

Sleeping Basics

Newborn typically sleeps for period of 2–4 hours. Many newborns have their days and nights “mixed up.” They tend to be more awake and alert at night, and sleepier during the day. One way to help them is to keep the stimulation at night to a minimum. Keep the lights low, such as by using a nightlight. Reserve talking and playing with your baby for the daytime, when your baby wakes up during the day try to keep him or her awake a little longer by talking and playing.

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