Guide for the first time parents
Posted on 10 January 2018
Those first few weeks with a newborn baby can be pretty intense. With so much to remember and so many "firsts" to cover, it's easy to be left feeling a bit unprepared.
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. Physical closeness can promote an emotional connection.
For infants, the attachment contributes to their emotional growth, which also affects their development in other areas, such as physical growth. Another way to think of bonding is "falling in love" with your baby. Children thrive on having a parent or other adult in their life who loves them unconditionally.
Handling a Newborn
If you haven't spent a lot of time around newborns, their fragility may be intimidating. Here are a few basics to remember:
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.
Make sure your baby is securely fastened to the carrier, stroller, or car seat. Limit any activity that could be too rough or bouncy.
Remember that your newborn is not ready for rough play, such as being jiggled on the knee or thrown in the air.
Diapering Dos and Don'ts
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.
Before diapering, your baby, make sure you have all supplies within reach so you won't have to leave your infant unattended on the changing table. You'll need:
a clean diaper
fasteners (if cloth prefold diapers are used)
diaper ointment if the baby has a rash
a container of warm water
a clean washcloth, diaper wipes, or cotton balls
After each bowel movement or if the diaper is wet, lay your baby on his or her back and remove the dirty diaper. Use the water, cotton balls, and washcloth or the wipes to gently wipe your baby's genital area clean. When removing a boy's diaper, do so carefully because exposure to the air may make him urinate. When wiping a girl, wipe her bottom from front to back to avoid a urinary tract infection.
To prevent or heal a rash, apply ointment. Always remember to wash your hands thoroughly after changing a diaper.
Diaper rash is a common concern. Typically the rash is red and bumpy and will go away in a few days with warm baths, some diaper cream, and a little time out of the diaper. Most rashes occur because the baby's skin is sensitive and becomes irritated by the wet or poopy diaper.
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.
Let the baby go undiapered for part of the day. This gives the skin a chance to
If the diaper rash continues for more than 3 days or seems to be getting worse, call your doctor — it may be caused by a fungal infection that requires a prescription.
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.
Have these items ready for bathing your baby:
a soft, clean washcloth
mild, unscented baby soap and shampoo
a soft brush to stimulate the baby's scalp
towels or blankets
a clean diaper
Sponge baths. For a sponge bath, select a safe, flat surface (such as a changing table, floor, or counter) in a warm room. Fill a sink, if nearby, or bowl with warm (not hot!) water. Undress your baby and wrap him or her in a towel. Wipe your infant's eyes with a washcloth (or a clean cotton ball) dampened with water only, starting with one eye and wiping from the inner corner to the outer corner. Use a clean corner of the washcloth or another cotton ball to wash the other eye. Clean your baby's nose and ears with the damp washcloth. Then wet the cloth again and, using a little soap, wash his or her face gently and pat it dry.
Next, using baby shampoo, create a lather and gently wash your baby's head and rinse. Using a wet cloth and soap, gently wash the rest of the baby, paying special attention to creases under the arms, behind the ears, around the neck, and in the genital area. Once you have washed those areas, make sure they are dry and then diaper and dress your baby.
Tub baths: When your baby is ready for tub baths, the first baths should be gentle and brief. If he or she becomes upset, go back to sponge baths for a week or two, then try the bath again.
In addition to the supplies listed above, add:
an infant tub with 2 to 3 inches of warm — not hot! — water (to test the water temperature, feel the water with the inside of your elbow or wrist). An infant tub is a plastic tub that can fit in the bathtub; it's a better size for babies and makes bathing easier to manage.
Undress your baby and then place him or her in the water immediately, in a warm room, to prevent chills. Make sure the water in the tub is no more than 2 to 3 inches deep, and that the water is no longer running in the tub. Use one of your hands to support the head and the other hand to guide the baby in feet-first.
Speaking gently, slowly lower your baby up to the chest into the tub. Use a washcloth to wash his or her face and hair. Gently massage your baby's scalp with the pads of your fingers or a soft baby hairbrush, including the area over the fontanelles (soft spots) on the top of the head. When you rinse the soap or shampoo from your baby's head, cup your hand across the forehead so the suds run toward the sides and soap doesn't get into the eyes. Gently wash the rest of your baby's body with water and a small amount of soap.
Throughout the bath, regularly pour water gently over your baby's body so he or she doesn't get cold. After the bath, wrap your baby in a towel immediately, making sure to cover his or her head. Baby towels with hoods are great for keeping a freshly washed baby warm.
While bathing your infant, never leave the baby alone. If you need to leave the bathroom, wrap the baby in a towel and take him or her with you.
If your infant isn't eating, he's probably sleeping. Newborns log as many as 16 hours of sleep a day but only in short bursts. The result: You'll feel on constant alert and more exhausted than you ever thought possible. Even the best of us can come to resent the severe sleep deprivation.
Remember that everyone makes it through, and so will you. Soon enough you'll be rewarded with your baby's first smile, and that will help make up for all the initial craziness.