Nothing is more important and unforgettable than those first few days and weeks spent at home with your newborn child.
In between the guest’s visits and photos being taken, a small being is totally within your care for all of their needs.
Though it may seem overwhelming surrounded with all the baby products you bought, shower gifts, and well-intended advice sent your way, the real basics of care and what your baby needs during this time can really be broken down into these basic areas; feeding, sleeping, diaper care, bathing, and your baby’s health.
What should you do to prepare to care for your newborn?
First, of course, is feeding your baby and he or she will surely let you know when they are hungry.
Whether you have chosen to breastfeed or bottle feed, you and your child will create those first bonding moments during this time as the majority of time will be spent in this area.
Many products out on the market today though will assist in making the feeding process more simple, stress-free, and safe for your baby such as breastfeeding pump systems that will help you collect, store, and feed your baby breast milk.
From manual pumps, electric pumps, and some systems that are even hands-free, giving you more time to spend with the baby, choosing how you feed and then sticking to a schedule and style will help you stay on track those first few weeks.
If you choose to bottle feed, several new and safe bottle choices and baby formula are available. Bottle warmers make heating the food up for a crying baby a much faster process than warming up on the stove used to be.
Once you have your feeding systems in place, enjoy the time holding and feeding your baby in your arms because soon after eating they will probably need to sleep.
Your baby will need a safe and comfortable place to sleep.
Set up the baby’s sleeping area where it is convenient and close to you. There is no typical schedule of sleep for a newborn but they will do a lot of it, usually needing between 10 to 18 hours of sleep a day.
Expect sleep to be erratic and changes in the amount and duration of sleeping in between feedings.
There will often little signs you can look for that will let you know your baby is getting sleepy such as rubbing their eyes, yawning, or staring off into space.
Lots of fancy bedding and extra pillows and blankets aren't needed or recommended in the sleeping area of a newborn. Fitted crib sheets and a waterproof mattress and pads will be the basics of what you needed. For warmth instead of blankets try sleepwear or pajamas and wearable blankets/swaddling blankets.
Taking care of your baby’s diapering needs can be simple too with few helpful tips. An ample supply of newborn diapers (whether cloth or disposable) should always be on hand.
Set up a changing station area with all the necessities like wipes, diapers, diaper rash clean, diaper pail, trash can and ample sets of clean clothes. Try not to wait until the baby’s diaper is obviously full, but instead change frequently to avoid rashes and irritation.
Giving your newborn a bath for the first time can be intimidating.
Questions like what you use for a bathtub, what kind of soap and when to give the first bath are among many you might have.
Typically after the umbilical cord stump falls off or dries up is when the first bath commences.
A sponge bath using a soft cloth and basin of warm water can be done for the first few weeks then moving on to placing your baby directly in the water like a bathinette, plastic tub or kitchen sink once the umbilical cord area is healed. Make the first baths gentle and short with baby soaps and shampoos that recommended. Newborn skin can dry out quickly so baths are not needed more than 3 times a week at first
Your baby’s health will always be a priority and with the many newborn care products on the market, keeping tabs on fevers, runny noses and the like are easier.
It is always good to keep on hand several baby thermometers (oral and rectal) especially when you can’t find one or the batteries need replacing, keeping one in each bathroom and the baby’s room will help.
Below is a short list of other items to keep on hand:
- Nasal bulb
- Small scissors for nail trimming
- Nasal saline solution
- Diaper rash cream
- Antibacterial cream
- Diaper cloths
Overall, there are many things to think about when caring for your newborn baby but if you stick to the basics and prepare in advance you will find it much easier to navigate through this wonderful experience with your child.
Though not a necessity, keeping a journal nearby to document things from routine waking and feeding times to the monumental like the first eye contact or smile, will make for good memories later on and keep you informed on how you and what you and your baby have been doing.