It’s one of the most joyous days of your life! You’ve just given birth to your new baby and now it’s time to bring your bundle of joy home. The car ride home is full of anticipations, hopes, and dreams. You now travel a well-known road to your home with great caution and with a new outlook on life. You pull up to your house and your new life with your baby will now begin. Welcome to parenthood! Here I will go over some basic newborn care, go over a few things that no one else cares to tell you, and recommend some great websites and books for further references.
Lets first talk about feeding your baby. Whether you choose to breastfeed or use formula, your feeding schedules will pretty much be the same. Of course mothers who breastfeed will tend to become more exhausted much quicker than someone who may formula feed. This is because the mother is the only one who can provide food. I suggest if your using formula to have your partner take a few night feedings so that you can get your much-needed rest. Breastfeeding mom’s… hang in there! It gets better!! No one ever tells you about the pure exhaustion you will experience within the first couple weeks of having your baby. Your baby will most likely eat every 90 minutes to every 2 hours. No one cares to tell you that it may take 15-40 minutes to feed your baby, then you have to change your baby’s diaper, then swaddle and sooth, and then finally get your little one back to sleep. It is very common that by the time you get your little one snug into bed and sound to sleep, that it’s time to start all over again! This will leave you with maybe a 20-30 minute break (if that) before the next feed is due. Now comes the pure exhaustion. I suggest keeping your baby in your room near your bed in his/her own crib or bassinet. This way as soon as you get baby down to sleep you can try to sneak in some much needed rest as well. The old saying “Sleep when baby sleeps” will hold true and very helpful. Don’t be afraid to cat nap throughout the day. This will help you keep your sanity. Put housework and other chores aside for now and concentrate on your baby and resting so that your body can properly heal. Remember it WILL get better and easier. Around 6 weeks your baby will eat every 2 hours to every 2 and ½ hours giving you more time to rest. By the time your baby is 3 months old it is usually okay to let your baby go 3 hours between feedings. Always consult with your pediatrician on how often your baby should eat. Every baby is different and unique and may require a different feeding schedule.
Now it’s bath time! Baths are really not required for your newborn everyday. You will not be giving your baby a full water bath until his/her umbilical card dries up and falls off. This can take 2 weeks or longer. Until then give your baby a sponge bath. I recommend doing this every other day or approximately 2-3 times a week. Your newborn will not be getting into much right now and will not get dirty very easily. Bathing your baby to often may cause your baby’s delicate skin to dry out. To give your baby a sponge bath get all of your bath items together before you start. You will need a towel, a washcloth, baby soap, a clean change of clothes, a clean diaper, and a small bowl of warm water. Now wrap your baby up in a soft towel and begin washing the baby a little at a time only exposing one are at a time. This helps keep baby comfortable and warm. When you get to the umbilical cord stump be gentle but be sure to clean around the base of the stump. Using alcohol rub is not necessary. Once your done you may choose to use a baby lotion, but it is not necessary. Now dress your baby in the clean diaper and clean clothes and your done!
Now that your baby is fed and clean lets get that baby to sleep. Your newborn baby will spend most of his/her first week or two sleeping. The best way to get your baby to sleep is to swaddle him/her in a cozy blanket and place him/her on their back. This is currently the recommended sleep position to help reduce the risk of SIDs. If your baby is not going to sleep very easily there are a few things you can try. Try gently rocking your baby back and forth or side to side. Younger babies will usually prefer to be rocked at a faster pace. Remember to never shake your baby! Also try making a “shhhhhing” noise in your baby’s ear. This mimics sounds that your baby heard in the uterus. These techniques also work well when trying to calm a crying baby. If your baby becomes extremely fussy and cries for over an hour or two, contact your pediatrician to rule out any underlying conditions that may cause your baby to cry.
Now that your little bundle of joy is calm and sound to sleep it’s time for you to also slip into bed and get some rest. This will be your only opportunity to grab some z’s before its time to do the routine all over again. You may want to set your alarm so that you do not over sleep. During the first couple of weeks if your baby does not wake on his/her to eat you will have the responsibility to wake your baby and feed him/her. It is very important that in these first couple of weeks that your baby stays well fed and hydrated. So go on and get your rest, put your household tasks on hold for now, ask your partner for help, and enjoy your new baby!
For further reference check out the following websites: