This post is for people who have little to no knowledge of babies and newborns, for the folks who are starting from “only seen those things in movies” point.
A newborn is a tricky combination of small and manageable, and explosively unpredictable. And that is stressful!
Let’s go through a few categories of newborn care, highlighting NEED TO KNOW bits of information as some starting points. Ready?
Do You Know How To Hold A Baby?
There are three main parts to focus on when holding a newborn: their head, neck, and trunk.
As long as those body parts are supported, you are doing well! You may not be ready or confident to present your child Simba-style right off the bat, but you don’t have to.
But babies can be held in many positions and with many parts of your body. There is no one way to do it correctly. A couple of rules that are good common sense for these first months: keep them close to your body, use both hands, and keep them warm.
Holding a newborn means paying attention to their head, which may bob and flop, their neck, which needs your support because of their (relatively)massive head, and their body, which can’t really move on its own.
Do You Know How To Change A Diaper?
Frequency: Newborns will work up to soiling diapers about 12+ every 24 hours. In the first days, their digestive system is getting used to function in a new way, so expect one diaper per day of life up until day 4-5. More is ok. Less is cause for closer attention to how much they are eating.
Tools: A clean diaper, wipes, and if you want to use preventative care, some diaper cream or petroleum jelly to keep future poops from getting stuck to their sensitive bottoms.
Step 1 – get the tools ready
Step 2 – access the dirty diaper by taking off outside clothes
Step 3- Open the clean diaper and place it under your baby’s bottom, outside the dirty diaper
Step 4- open the dirty diaper, and fold the front down, containing any mess inside the diaper
Step 5 – wiped your baby’s body with baby wipes
Step 6- Remove wipes and dirty diaper and set to side out of kicking range of your baby
Step 7- apply the cream to the skin, and wipe excess cream from your finger on the clean diaper
Step 8 – place in front of the diaper in front of your baby, open side tabs, and bring to the belly button to close.
Step 9- replace close
Step 10- ensure baby is in a safe place and wash your hands
Feeding: Do you have a plan?
Have you considered how you will feed your baby? Breastfeeding, exclusive pumping, bottle feeding and breastfeeding, formula?
Some things to know about bottles:
If at any point you are planning to use a bottle – or the occasional bottle given by a partner or caregiver, in early weeks, or months from now – babies who breastfeed need to be taught how to eat from a bottle. Consider introducing a bottle between 6-10 weeks of age, so your baby can learn how to transfer milk. Because it’s different than eating at the breast! It is helpful to know about Paced Bottle Feeding, which helps breastfed babies and helps prevent them from developing a preference for bottles over the breast.
Consider making contact with a lactation consultant or IBCLC for help with latch, transfer, or supply issues.
The main point to know with feeding is you your baby will need to eat often! Every 1.5-3 hours at first, and then in longer stretches as they get older. Depending on your baby’s age and weighting the first months, they will need to consume between 1-4 ounces each feeding.
The essential knowledge for infant sleep is they do a lot of it but in fits and spurts. Your infant will need to sleep between 14-18 hours a day! You should have a dedicated sleep space for your infant that has a flat bottom and not toys or blankets. For more essential information on safe sleep, consult the safe sleep guidelines .
How often should you bathe your baby?
There are a lot of opinions about how often you should bathe your baby. The short answer is when they are dirty. Newborns do not get dirty in the same way adults do. For the first few weeks to a month, it is recommended to give your child sponge baths using warm water and very little of the mildest soap.
The “dirt” your child will need help removing is milk and spit up residue from eating, and the dirt and oils that adults leave on them from holding and caring for them. Babies do not sweat, and their skin is still acclimating to life out of the womb for quite some time.
Does your baby enjoy the water?
Do they find it peaceful or relaxing?
Do they get stressed out and scared?
That can play into your choice of how often you bathe your child. Some families choose to make bath time a part of a regular nighttime routine BECAUSE it is such a helpful tool.
It’s 100% up to you.
Resist using baby lotion after baths until your child is closer to 6 months of age. Your baby’s skin is extremely sensitive, and typically diaper cream is the only over the counter emollient that is recommended for infant use.